Frequently Asked Questions
Welcome to the Ceaser Chimney Service, LLC frequently asked questions. It is our goal to educate our past and current customers on the importance of a healthy chimney. Feel free to browse through some of the more commonly asked questions below and if you don’t see your particular questions feel free to enter it in the space below or call us and speak to one of our team members.
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- How often should I get my chimney cleaned?
- What if I don’t use my chimney?
- What is creosote?
- What is a slow burn?
- What type of wood should I burn?
- How big of a problem is water?
- Why would I need a new liner?
- I had a chimney fire! Now what?
- When I burn a fire in my living room, why do I get smoke in the basement?
- What do I do about animals in my chimney?
This is usually the number one question we get asked, and it can be quite a loaded question. According to the National Fire Protection Agency code 211, “all chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year” and “chimney cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” There are many different types of heating systems, types of wood, and burning habits. It is safe to say no two chimneys will be the same. We have some customers that have their chimney cleaned once a year, some that are cleaned once every two years, and even some that need theirs cleaned twice each year! The safest bet is to call for an inspection once the winter has ended, or at the very latest before the next one begins. Based on what we find, we can better tell you how often to clean your chimney. RETURN TO TOP
-What if I don’t use my chimney?
Unused chimneys have the greatest potential for problems. Most often homeowners tell us they haven’t had their chimney inspected because it hasn’t been used, so it doesn’t need to be cleaned. BIG mistake. You should always have your chimney inspected REGARDLESS of use. Most chimneys vent the exhaust for the home’s heating furnace or boiler. Those gases are highly acidic and will corrode the chimney from the inside out if left unchecked.
Also, chimney brick and mortar is absorbent and soaks up all the water from heavy rains and snows. Once the temperature drops and the wet chimneys freeze, those soaked bricks will pop, crack, and fall apart leading to costly masonry repairs. If masonry damage goes unchecked, more water will find its way into the chimney, flues, and even your roof and house! Most homeowners don’t call until they see evidence of damage from the ground.
By then, the problems usually require more substantial repairs. In recap, the safest bet is to have your chimney inspected every year to ensure it is still structurally sound. RETURN TO TOP
-What is creosote?
Creosote is one of the byproducts of burning wood. It forms when the smoke from a fire cools and sticks to the side of the chimney flue. It can take several different forms. The first type of creosote is a fine, ashy powder. The second is a harder, flaky deposit. And the third and final form is a think, inky, tar-like substance. This third type, called “glaze” is the most dangerous. RETURN TO TOP
-What is a slow burn?
Creosote buildup depends on the main factors: the density of the smoke, how quickly the smoke can exit the flue, and flue temperature. Basically, a hotter fire made with seasoned wood that is receiving plenty of air will build up less creosote. I find a lot of customers tend to get the fire very hot, and then close the air intake, essentially choking the fire.
This is done with the thought that the fire will burn slower, thus releasing more heat. While this may be true, it is EXTREMELY dangerous! A choked fire creates much more thick smoke as the fire fights for air. Also, since the air flow into the stove has been cut off, it slows the exit of air. The result is a LOT of thick, glazed creosote, and in some cases, a chimney fire.
The best way to burn your fire is to start smaller, and allow it to breathe. Never close the air intake more than halfway and always make sure the damper is wide open. RETURN TO TOP
-What type of wood should I burn?
When buying wood, make sure you are buying seasoned hardwood. Seasoned means that the wood was cut down over a year ago and allowed to dry out all that time. Green, or wet wood is wood that was cut down more recently and has not yet dried out. Wet wood is harder to light, and once lit will sizzle and pop.
Also, it will cause more creosote to build up in the flue. The best types of trees to use for firewood are Maple, Oak, and Birch. Pine should never be used as primary firewood as it is softer wood and contains more sap. RETURN TO TOP
-How big of a problem is water?
Water is the most dangerous enemy of a masonry chimney. As stated above, water gets absorbed into the bricks and mortar, which weakens the chimney. Once the winter comes and those wet chimneys freeze, they will crack, pop and fall apart.
Apart from solid masonry, every chimney should have three major defenses against water:
• A chimney cap.
A properly fitted chimney cap will cover, not just one or two single flues, but the entire top of the chimney crown and extend out past the edge of the brick. This will keep the water from rain and snow away from the cement and help it run off the side, away from the brick. Aside from keeping water out the flues and off the chimney, caps serve other several purposes including, keeping animals such as squirrels, birds, and raccoons out of the chimney, as well as keeping leaves and pine needles from falling into the flues.
• Flash Seal
Every chimney is tied into the roof using lead or copper flashing. Over time, that flashing will develop issues due to weather related stress, being stepped on, and animals chewing and scratching at it to get to the warmth behind it. To protect against all of those issues, and more, we seal all the lead surrounding a chimney with Chimney Saver Flash Seal. Flash Seal is an elastomeric sealant specifically formulated for permanent adhesion to asphalt shingles, aluminum flashing, brick, and other chimney and roofing materials. It comes with a 7 year warranty.
As stated above, water absorbing into chimneys leads to numerous issues and repairs. To prevent chimneys from soaking up water from snow and rain, we seal them with Chimney Saver Water Repellant. Once applied the water repellant stops the bricks from soaking up any more water, while allowing water vapors to breathe out from the chimney while it is still in use. It comes with an industry-best 10 year warranty.
Once your chimney has a properly fitted cap installed, sealed flashing, and has been waterproofed, you can have the peace of mind that water will not be the cause of any issues for your chimney any time soon! RETURN TO TOP
Once a flue has cracked, it can allow smoke or fumes to escape the flue system. The best way to repair this issue is to slide a brand new stainless steel liner inside your chimney. We use one continuous liner, not sections spliced together, to reline your chimney.
Only stainless steel parts are used, to ensure it will last a lifetime. Once the liner has been connected at the top and bottom of your chimney, you can heat your home with complete piece of mind! RETURN TO TOP
-I had a chimney fire! Now what?
A chimney fire can be a terrifying thing! If you have had a chimney fire, the first thing to do is call the fire department. They will come out and extinguish the fire and assess the damage. The next thing to do is call a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep to inspect the flue. When we inspect a chimney that has caught fire, we run a camera down the flue to visually check every inch of the clay tiles. When clay tiles are subjected to extreme heat, most often they cannot stand up to the pressure and will crack. In this picture you can see that before the flue was cleaned we couldn’t tell there was any damage to the flue. Once it was swept, we could clearly see the tiles has completely cracked. As stated above, a stainless steel liner should now be installed. RETURN TO TOP
During the winter, one of the most common calls we get is for smoke in the house. If the smoke is coming from the appliance, the cause is simpler: something is wrong with that flue. However, sometimes the smoke will come from somewhere else in the house; another fireplace or stove, or from the basement. In this case you are experiencing something called a crossdraft. This occurs when the appliance is looking for air to feed the fire, called make-up air. Since the house has become air tight due to all windows and doors being shut, make-up air will be pulled from any open air source, which most often is another flue. As the appliance is pumping smoke out one flue, the flue beside it begins to act like a vacuum and suck outside air down, including the surrounding smoke! There are several solutions for correcting a crossdraft, but a complete inspection is needed to diagnose which one to use. RETURN TO TOP
-What do I do about animals in my chimney?
During cold, winter months, many different animals seek warmth and find it in a chimney flue. Squirrels, birds, raccoons, and others tend to scamper down the flue, only to become trapped. During the warmer months of the year while the chimney is not being used, those same animals use chimney flues to build nests, or start a home. We do not remove animals from chimneys. You would need to contact animal control and have them come out to escort them from your premises. Once the animals are gone, we can come out and inspect and/or clean the chimney.
If you havee birds chirping from your chimney during the spring and summer months, those may be Chimney Swifts. Swifts are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and no one can knowingly disturb them or their nests until they are gone. If you have swifts in your chimney, there is nothing to do but wait for the Fall, when they will migrate, and then have the chimney swept and have a cap installed to prevent them from returning. RETURN TO TOP
Did you know that according to the National Fire Protection Agency code 211 “all chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year.” If your heating system hasn’t been cleaned in the last year, call today for your peace of mind!”
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See What Our Customers Are Saying…
“John is very professional and thorough in his work. His price was about 1/3 lower than the others for the same work. He arrived on time, and finished within the estimated time. Excellent job – we are very pleased!”Susan M.
“John is a professional in a business where I’ve encountered a few people that did not meet my expectations. His military background shows through in his work. I’m confident his attention to detail and commitment to doing the job right will ensure we are safe operating our wood stove when winter comes again. My chimney is a bit tricky to reach but he made it look easy. Support this veteran-owned business, you won’t be disappointed.”Bill M.