Our Company Blog

Why Chimneys Leak

Your chimney is designed to withstand time and weather, but it will only hold up as long as it’s properly maintained and used correctly. Part of this chimney care is professional and routinely scheduled services through a licensed and certified chimney sweep company. During these chimney checkups, your system will be assessed for overall safety and structure. Neglecting these appointments can mean a disaster for your chimney, especially when it leads to a leak.

Leaky ChimneysWhat causes a leaky chimney and how to spot it

-Missing chimney caps are a major cause for leaky chimneys because the cap serves as a roof for the flue. Without it, precipitation freely falls into the flue and can damage the system from the inside out.
-Damaged or dislodged flashing allows water into the intersection of the roof and chimney. The flashing should be installed professionally so that it protects against water, and should not be nailed or covered in sealant.
-A cracked or damaged crown can allow water into the system from the top, whether water, snow, or ice. Once the crown is damaged, winter weather can add to the issue and worsen the problem.
-Masonry damage allows water into the chimney through masonry that is damaged or unprotected. Once allowed into the masonry, winter weather can damage the masonry throughout winter through the freeze/thaw cycle. Once the water penetrates the masonry, it can cause leaking in the flue and even more damage to the masonry.
-Sounds of dripping in the fireplace or chimney system
-White stains on the outside of the masonry, red rust stains at the top of the chimney exterior, and green or black stains in the firebox
-Visible water dripping in the firebox or running along the chimney
-Leaks around the chimney or in other rooms of the house
-Smells of mildew or mold

Water Damage

Chimney leaks are 100 percent preventable, and spending the time and money necessary to prevent the leak will prevent damage later. Your chimney leak can cause leaking in the system and throughout the rest of the home, ruining wall coverings, furniture, and wreaking havoc on the chimney system itself.
When there is a chimney leak, it can cause damage to the working parts of the system, rust to the damper, door hinges, and components, stains and deterioration, and clogged cleanout doors and flues.

Professional Leak-Proofing

Our customers in and around Boston depend on us for chimney waterproofing year-round. We replace chimney caps, repair and replace chimney crown, install flashing, and even waterproof masonry for good measure. Our waterproofing services will protect your masonry completely from water penetration while allowing the heat and gases out. This vapor-permeable water repellent allows the masonry to breathe and vent properly, unlike many purported water-repellents on the market.

In order to prevent leaks this spring, make sure your masonry doesn’t have any winter damage that can allow spring showers to penetrate your chimney system. Call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep today and let an expert check out your system for possible leaks and apply a waterproofing agent that will last years.

Dial 617-469-4528 to reach our Boston office today.

What is Creosote?

Many homeowners across the U.S. have been using their fireplaces for several weeks. In that time, the fires have produced soot consistently, and wood fires produce creosote as well. Every fire that burns wood will produce creosote because it is a natural byproduct, but how much creosote is produced will depend on the type of wood you burn.

The Problem with Creosote

Creosote can be no problem as long as it’s cleaned on a regular basis. When cleaned regularly, creosote can be removed safely by a professional using brushes and a vacuuming system during a routine chimney sweep. When these important services are neglected, the sticky creosote can buildup and lead to an obstruction that slows down the air in the chimney system. When homeowners continue to use a dirty system, the airflow slows significantly and the high temperatures cause the creosote to boil and the water in it to evaporate. Once the water evaporates, what is left is a dense, hard mass of concentrated tar–a highly flammable material left right in the line of fire.

Glazed Creosote

A level three creosote buildup is called “glazed creosote” because the creosote takes on a hardened, shiny look after repeated heating and cooling. As the creosote problem worsens, the airflow slows and heated air lingers in the flue, raising the risk of flue fire. When glazed creosote ignites, it results in an intense, fast burning fire that expends a large amount of gas and energy. This burst of energy can crack the flue liner, damage the masonry, and spread to other parts of the house. Other times a flue fire can occur and a homeowner won’t even notice. It’s important to schedule a chimney inspection if you suspect a flue fire. The first flue fire may damage the system, and a second flue fire can travel through damaged masonry to the rest of the house.

Glazed Creosote Removal

Soot and creosote is easily removed during a routine chimney sweep. Glazed creosote, however, cannot be removed using the same methods. Some amateurs may attempt to remove the creosote by prying it away, but this never removes it completely and even leaves scratches and other damage to the liner. Hire a professional who knows the safe and proper methods for glazed creosote removal. At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep we use industrial products to safely remove glazed creosote without leaving any damage to the system. This trusted product can be sprayed or wiped onto the glazed creosote. As it’s absorbed, the creosote flakes away and can be swept away and collected just like soot.

Prevent Creosote Buildup

You can prevent a dangerous and dirty chimney system by scheduling professional services annually and using your system properly.

-Schedule routine chimney sweeps to clean the flue of soot and creosote before a buildup occurs.

-Burn only properly seasoned wood. Green or fresh wood produces more creosote while burning.

-Schedule chimney inspections annually so you can rest assured your system is working properly and the wood is burning completely.

-Pay attention to signs such as flakes in the fireplace or slick, black material on the masonry.

Schedule services with the licensed professionals at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep today. Call 617-469-4528 or schedule online.

How To Hire The Right Chimney Sweep

Your chimney may be the most important system in your house. It’s built to outlast your home and to continue working for a lifetime. However, it will not last without routine services and minor repairs. Your warmth, safety, and home depends upon it. You don’t only need professional services to keep your chimney in the best shape possible, but you also need to choose the right professionals. Anyone with a brush can call themselves a chimney sweep, but it takes certifications, insurance and ethics to have the standards to safely care for your chimney system.

CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps

Since the 1980s the Chimney Safety Institute of America has been the national standard for chimney professionals and service in the US. CSIA certified chimney sweeps (CCS) have been trained in the field and the classroom to provide the best services possible. They are educated and tested over national fire safety codes, industry standards, chimney and fire science. Once certification is reached, CSIA certified chimney sweeps must continue education through re-certification or continuing education credits every three years.

Why A CSIA Certification Matters to Homeowners

The CSIA is a non-profit organization governed by volunteer who are experts in the industry. Their mission includes public and professional education with a commitment to the elimination of residential fires, carbon monoxide intrusion, and other chimney-related hazards to protect homeowners. By hiring a CSIA certified sweep, you are relying on a technician who has proven their technical expertise and dedication to safety as well as the promise to follow a code of ethics.

Code of Ethics

We understand it can be difficult to entrust your home and your safety with strangers. That is why all CSIA certified chimney sweeps abide by a stringent Code of Ethics which protects homeowners from scams. A CSIA member found in violation of this code may have their certification revoked. Without a code of ethics to follow, unqualified chimney sweeps scam homeowners with low estimate repair costs that will not fix the problem or they charge high prices for incorrect work just to make extra money.

At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep, we want to only offer the best to our customers, friends, family, and neighbors. Residential fires and industry scams are a disappointment to us and other certified professionals across the US. Scams are possible only due to the lack of regulations. One woman paid over $4,000 for repairs that were done incorrectly. This is no isolated incident. Hiring amateurs, handymen, and other unlicensed contractors to work on your chimney can mean wasted money and a dangerous chimney. The result can cause damage to the house, or worse–loss of life.

The best use of your money and our time is to schedule routine maintenance so that major repairs are avoiding. Schedule an annual chimney inspection to catch problems before minor problems turn into major work. Hiring professionals for all of your diagnostics, repairs, annual services, and installations means the best for your home.

If you reside in the Boston, Portland, or North Shore area, call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep for your comprehensive chimney care.


Why Some Chimneys Smell

There’s only a few things that can truly ruin your experience with a fireplace and one of them is unwelcome odors. Whether it’s when your fire is out, and you smell odors coming out of your fireplace, or when your fire is burning, it’s never a good thing. Odors in the fireplace and chimney actually always means there’s a problem, and we can help you figure out what.

Smoky Odors While In UseSmelly Chimney's mean it's time to call us

When your fire is burning, you may experience smoky odors. This can be caused from emissions pushing into your living space. Even if you cannot see the smoke, the chimney is most likely not venting properly, pushing particles and gases into your living space and affecting your breathable air.
Solution: Schedule a chimney inspection to determine what is preventing your chimney from venting. It may be a malfunctioning damper, an obstruction, or that you’re using improperly seasoned firewood.

Smoky/BBQ Odors while Fire is Out

When your fireplace isn’t in use, it allows the air inside the chimney to move down into the house and out the fireplace. This is especially a problem during cold weather. Cold air will fall directly into your fireplace and bring its odors with it if there isn’t a door or damper preventing it. During the summer, humidity will mingle with the air in the chimney resulting in smokey odors as well. These odors mean the flue is dirty.
Solution: Schedule a chimney sweep to clean away soot and creosote that creates odors like a barbecue grill or dirty oven. A sweep will also help your system to work more efficiently, raise safety, and lower fire risk.

Mold and Mildew Odors

If your fireplace and chimney are stinking up your house like wet laundry or mildew, there is a serious problem inside. These odors are most likely caused from a chimney leak in an unseen portion of the system, and one that has occurred long enough to cause bacteria growth. Water can cause extensive damage to the masonry chimney and all the parts that help it to work properly.
Solution: Schedule an appointment with a certified professional who can diagnose and correct a chimney leak. Billy Sweet repairs and replaces all the components that prevent water intrusion, including caps, crowns, and flashing. We also offer waterproofing services to protect the masonry from water and extends the life of the chimney.

Whether your chimney odor problem is a new problem, or if you’ve been dealing with it for awhile, it’s not supposed to occur. Any occurrence like this is an indication of a problem, and a problem with the chimney can lead to damage to the home, damage to the chimney, and possibly heath emergencies. Don’t risk it. Don’t endure the frustration and headache of a smoky or stinky fireplace, when you can have the issue assessed and addressed in no time.

Call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep at 617-469-4528 today or schedule services online.

Wood-Burning Tips

January is the coldest month of the year for our customers and for much of the US. Many homeowners buy a home with a fireplace or have a fire unit installed for the ambiance. Others buy them specifically for supplemental heat, depending on fires throughout winter for zone heating and to lower the cost of utilities. You can too, but it’s important to use your fire properly for best results.

Burn Proper FuelWood- Burning Tips

Your wood-burning fireplace or unit should only burn properly-seasoned firewood. That means the wood has been cut to length and stored for 3-6 months before being burned. This time allows for the water in the living tree to dry and burn more completely. Burning wet, fresh, or “green” wood will make it difficult to light a fire. The wood will burn incompletely and produce more creosote and soot which will drop efficiency, cause dangerous buildup, and cause odors. When you burn green firewood you will burn more than twice the amount of wood to reach a desired temperature, and you will spend more time and money on chimney maintenance to boot!

Signs Your Wood is Ready

Your wood is not ready to burn when cut, but you can store it until it’s seasoned. Many homeowners don’t have their own accessible wood supply to cut from, but you can still buy seasoned firewood. All you have to do is find a local supplier who sells seasoned firewood at a reasonable price. Check the wood before you burn it, and make sure you’re getting exactly what you’re paying for.

Signs your firewood is seasoned:

  • The wood flesh is dull in color.
  • The bark pulls away from the wood.
  • Cracks form along the edges of the wood.
  • Wood is light in weight compared to freshly cut.
  • Two pieces produce a hollow sound when hit together.

Correct Use and Maintenance

Part of keeping your chimney and fireplace working properly and lasting a lifetime is using it correctly and maintaining it properly. You should schedule regular chimney sweeps and annual inspections to help determine needs and repairs for your system. Your professional can also notify you of too much residue in the system which may be caused by what type of wood you’re burning, how you’re using your damper, and your burning practices.

  • Never let your fire smolder.
  • Never light a fire in a cold chimney without priming first
  • Never close your damper while a fire is burning.
  • Never burn clothing, trash, or leaves in your fireplace.
  • Follow all the instructions of your trusted chimney professionals, and schedule all necessary appointments and services.

Schedule with us.

Our technicians are certified, our business is licensed, and our craft is exceptional. It’s our priority to bring safety and warmth to our neighbors and customers, starting with you. Call 617-469-4528 or schedule online.