Our Company Blog

Sick Home Syndrome and Your Chimney

Your fireplace is the focal point of your home and the chimney is a permanent fixture. Time and regular use can lead to frustrating odors and even pollution in the home. When the chimney isn’t properly ventilated due to obstruction in the flue or a drop in efficiency, your home can be filled with particulate pollutants, harmful gases, and stagnant, stinky air. In order to prevent your chimney and fireplace from becoming a bother this summer and later when burning season returns, call in the professionals now.

What is Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)?mini house model with red stethoscope around it

Sick Building Syndrome, or SBS, is an actual medical condition in which all the people in a building suffer from the same symptoms caused by the building itself. In some cases, the occurrence of symptoms in all the building’s inhabitants is the only way the illness is connected to the building, and corrected. SBS may be caused by a minor smoke problem, leading to allergies and throat irritation. Other, more serious problems such as mold or bacterial growth and even carbon monoxide poisoning can also occur.

Who is at Risk?

When it comes to SBS, everyone who resides in the building is at risk when the building itself is the problem. Symptoms are most commonly caused by inadequate ventilation, deteriorating fiberglass duct liners, chemical contaminants, biological contaminants, fan coils, traffic noise, poor lighting, and urban pollution. Like any illness, there may be some who are not affected at all. Those most at risk are young children and older adults as well as pregnant women. Some conditions can be serious and life-threatening and should be reported to the doctor immediately. You can prevent your family from becoming ill by maintaining your home properly and repairing problems right away.

Carbon Monoxide Danger

The most serious cause of SBS is carbon monoxide exposure. A slow or fast leak can lead to organ damage, organ failure, and death, and it’s a danger that can be avoided. Don’t run gas-powered tools indoors—even in the garage. Open the garage before starting your car, and have your gas-powered appliance serviced regularly to prevent CO leaks. Additionally, you should have a CO detector in your home, installed on each level, and checked monthly. Finally, pay attention to signs and symptoms which affect everyone in the home. Symptoms of CO poisoning are often confused with common cold and flu or even psychiatric or neurological problems.

Professional Care and Preventative Services

The best way to prevent Sick Building Syndrome from affecting your family is to prevent your home from becoming sick! Schedule chimney sweeps regularly so that your chimney system will be professionally cleaned from top to bottom. Scheduling inspections annually will give a professional a chance to detect hazards before they put your family at risk.

Call and schedule your appointment with Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep today at 617-469-4528.

Winter Damage to Your Chimney

Winter may be over and your fireplace closed down for the off-season, but that doesn’t mean it can’t cause problems for your home. It’s common for even a well- maintained chimney to experience winter damage. Like any system or appliance in the home, it should be serviced regularly in order to prevent serious damage and malfunction from time and use. Scheduling a chimney sweep and inspection in the spring can prevent further damage, allow for easier payment, and lead to a safer and more efficient chimney system.

Common Winter Damage

Your common winter damage can all be detected during a standard chimney sweep or diagnostic inspection. When we complete spring services to our customers at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep, we often find masonry damage, damaged or missing parts, chimney leaks and water damage, and liner damage. Masonry damage and parts damage is most common after a long, bitter winter due to what we call the freeze/thaw cycle.

The Freeze/Thaw Cycle

When water penetrates the masonry, even small amounts of water, you can count on some winter damage when temperatures regularly cycle into freezing numbers. Water enters the system whether through rainfall, snow, or sleet and fills cracks and crevices. This water remains in these spaces as temperatures drop, causing it to freeze and expand. As the water expands, it breaks apart the masonry. When the temperature rises again due to sunlight on the chimney or a fire in the firebox, the ice melts and moves further into the damaged portions of masonry before the cycle repeats and it freezes again. This freeze/thaw cycle occurs all winter long, reaching into your masonry and devastating it if it isn’t corrected.

Spring Repairs and Leak Prevention

You can prevent chimney leaks even when your chimney has winter damage like masonry cracks and gaps. Scheduling services with Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep is your first step in chimney repair and leak prevention.

Routine Chimney Sweeps – The safest and most efficient chimney systems are those that are cleaned regularly and inspected annually, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Sweeps not only keep your flue working properly and safely but during these important appointments, your chimney professional will notice and report any damage that should be repaired.

Annual Chimney Inspections – Like sweeps, inspections keep the system working properly, but an inspection is a thorough assessment of the entire system, including the interior flue. Most chimney damage isn’t noticed by the homeowner because it occurs behind the scenes. When you schedule an inspection with a certified expert, you can rest assured that no hazard has gone undetected.

Masonry Repairs – When your masonry has been damaged by winter weather, you can count on Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep for your masonry repairs. Whether it’s tuckpointing, crown replacement, or firebox repairs, we have got you covered.

Not only do we repair your winter damage, but we can apply a water repellent to help prevent recurrence next winter! Call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep today at 617-469-4528 or request an appointment online.

Don’t Ignore Your Chimney System!

While you work on your Spring Cleaning list, make sure you don’t forget your chimney. Your chimney system matters as much as any other system in your life. You get your oil changed to keep your engine running correctly. You have your teeth cleaned to prevent cavities. Likewise, you should have your chimney system serviced regularly to keep it working safely and efficiently. Your chimney is one of the largest systems in your home. It’s also one of the most dangerous and costly if neglected. A fireplace and chimney add value to any home, but when it’s neglected, it detracts from your home’s value while also putting your family and property at risk. 

Professional Services

Your chimney system should be maintained by a chimney professional with the training and experience to do the work properly. The team at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep are CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps with classroom and field training in both chimney science and technology as well as federal fire safety codes. We have a full selection of chimney services, including CSIA inspections and sweeping.

Why Service Your Chimney?

Whether your chimney has problems or works exactly as it should, your system needs to be serviced regularly. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) agree that the safest chimney systems are those that are inspected annually and cleaned regularly. During these important appointments, your chimney professional will catch minor problems before they turn into major ones. Minor wear-and-tear can be detected and repaired before it turns into serious damage. Having the chimney maintained on a regular basis by a professional is the best way to prevent costly repairs later and to keep your system efficient. Neglecting your chimney system will lead to wasted fuel, difficult-to-light fires, damaged masonry, stains, deterioration, and more. Save time and money by scheduling services this spring.

Your Serviced Chimney

Clean your chimney system this spring and you can avoid foul odors this summer caused by creosote and soot left inside the system. Having the system inspected this spring will help to prevent animal intrusion this spring and summer. Making sure that all parts are in proper working order also means that your system will be protected against water damage and will be ready again to use safely this fall. Don’t wait until the fall to schedule important services for your chimney system. It can be difficult and even impossible to get an appointment in the fall, often called The Fall Rush. If you get an appointment during this time, you may be surprised by reports of damage and necessary repairs. Schedule now so you will have plenty of time to make repairs before burn season. Many homeowners even build the chimney maintenance into their annual spring budget, utilizing tax refunds and taking advantage of end-of-season discounts. Call and find out if Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep has any deals or discounts to benefit your family. 

Schedule chimney services with New England’s chosen professionals today. Call 617-469-4528 today.

Best Sweeps in New England

It takes a lot of effort, training, and experience to get to be the best in any industry. While we put in our fair share of work at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep, we have to put credit where it’s due. A lot of our success is because of the great communities we have served for over 30 years. The communities of Boston, North Shore, and Portland are unique in their own right, are saturated with American history, and have the best of both worlds–big city necessities and small-town values. Once you visit, you’ll want to stay!

Bostonbrick chimney

To talk about your Boston chimney and hearth supplies, you may want to call our Boston office at 617-469-4528. For everything else Boston, you have to see it to believe it! This beautiful community has the finest museums, the oldest architecture, and the best of New England food, festivities, and features for all. 

Local Eats – You can dine in jeans or black-tie and still get the best Boston has to offer. Stop in at Neptune Oyster for clam chowder, fresh fish, and more.  Visit Fenway Park and walk in the same halls as Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. Relive the iconic Revolutionary act with a tour of Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. If you newly reside in the area, scope out your favorite parks to picnic and play. Boston is a great family city, whether visiting or relocating. We even have dog parks for Rover!

North Shore

With all the big-city feel of Boston, but all the small town wonder of ivy, our North Shore communities boast history and culture as well as shore life. Explore the haunting true stories of those lost with a visit to the Witch Trials Memorial and Salem Witch Museum. Take the family on a learning experience at various area farms and finish with some fun at a trampoline park or recreation area. Danvers and North Shore area boast a variety of global cuisine, as well as American style soups and sandwiches, and fine Italian as well. You’ll never get stuck in a rut with all the options you’ll find here. 

Portland

The unique location of Portland makes it wholly unique to the rest of Maine. In terms of weather, Portland is a few weeks behind Boston, and a few weeks ahead of Northern Maine. You can find small businesses throughout the area, even downtown Portland, and as much seafood as you can possibly eat. The area has a variety of neighborhoods and communities, great for families, singles, students, and professionals. We love to work with all types of home and business owners, and Portland is full of life!

If you reside in any of our service areas and haven’t ventured out of the house all winter, now is a great time! The weather is getting more mild by the day, and depending on where you live, spring may be visiting before you know it. 

While you are planning your spring outings, don’t forget to also plan your chimney and vent maintenance. Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep specializes in historical chimneys and winter damage — both commonly seen in our area of New England. We can help you this spring. 

Call one of our offices to schedule with us today.

Boston: 617-469-4528

North Shore: 781-593-2333

Portland: 207-773-7933

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

Causes:
-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.
Signs:
-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.