Our Company Blog

Closing Out Your Fireplace and Chimney for the Season

When the weather turns warm and you only periodically burn a fire, you begin thinking about closing the fireplace or furnace down for the season. Spring can be stressful as you think about spring cleaning along with home, lawn, and auto maintenance, but you can’t overlook the chimney.

Have the Chimney Cleaned

A certified chimney sweep company will offer a thorough cleaning that includes the entire chimney system. Billy Sweet’s chimney sweeps can be scheduled year-round and include:

  • Assessment of accessible portions of chimney’s interior and exterior
  • Assessment of factory-build units for cracks
  • Sweep your chimney with special brushes
  • Check your chimney liner for cracks, gaps, and missing joints
  • Scrub yours chimney’s smoke chamber, smoke shelf, and damper with hand tools
  • Sweep the firebox and clear any ash
  • Remove and brush the grate
  • Check for any fire safety hazards

When your chimney is thoroughly cleaned of soot, creosote, and any leftover debris, you can rest assured knowing it won’t stink through the warm, humid days of summer. By having this sweep done in the spring you will also know it is ready when burn season returns in the fall.

Have the Chimney Inspected

As part of your chimney sweep appointment, you can also schedule a CSIA chimney inspection so that you are aware of major issues with your chimney. If your chimney is damaged it is susceptible to water damage as we enter the wettest months of the year—spring. Water is a nuisance through winter because of the freeze/thaw cycle that can damage your masonry. Water can also be a hazard through the warm months because it can cause mold which can affect the air quality in the house and cause respiratory illnesses.

Seal Off the Chimney

You can lose cool air up the chimney during the summer causing you to spend many times as much on utilities. The best way to prevent conditioned air loss via the chimney is to close the damper. The standard cast iron damper installed at the throat of the chimney doesn’t have a tight seal. Because of the money saved, many homeowners are opting for a top-sealing damper, also called an energy-saving damper. This damper is installed on the top of the chimney at the flue opening and acts as a chimney cap while open. When the damper is closed it has a rubber air-tight seal which closes the chimney off completely from the top. This doesn’t only save on utilities, but also prevents humidity and moisture in through the top of the chimney.

By scheduling routine maintenance now, you allow time to make necessary repairs before burning season. A chimney expert can get work done quickly, but if it’s put off until the “fall rush” it is hard to get an appointment. Avoid problems with your chimney this summer, and make sure it’s prepared for burn season by calling a chimney sweep today at 207-773-7933 or request an appointment online.

Don’t Let Santa Slide Down a Dirty Chimney

You might not give your chimney’s cleanliness a second thought through the holidays—that is, unless you have to be in it! If you wouldn’t slide down a dirty chimney, don’t expect Santa too! Schedule your chimney sweep now and have a squeaky clean chimney for the holidays. dont-let-santa-slide-down-a-dirty-chimney-boston-ma-billy-sweet-chimney-sweep

Why a Clean Chimney is Important

A dirty chimney can bring a host of problems to the homeowner that may not be expected, and definitely unwanted! These problems can range from big to small and can cause substantial damage or minor unpleasantness. When you love your fireplace, have put together your dream home, and have transformed it into a Christmas wonderland for the holidays, you want to have the perfect holiday experience. Don’t leave it to chance. Have your chimney swept regularly.

How Often Should You Schedule a Sweep?

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend regular chimney maintenance such as chimney sweeps and annual chimney inspections. This important preventative maintenance insures your chimney is at its safest and most efficient. What’s more, you shouldn’t do this work on your own. Only a certified chimney sweep has the training and expertise to get the job done, and get it done right.

Schedule a chimney sweep now and avoid:

  1. A stinky chimney. Soot buildup in the chimney can create unpleasant odors that can be unwelcome while you’re hosting holiday get-togethers, dinners, and family visits.
  2. A smokey fire. You may have a buildup or obstruction in your chimney that compromises the updraft causing smoke to escape out the fireplace and into the living space.
  3.  Increased risk of fire. If your chimney hasn’t been regularly serviced you may have a creosote buildup that you aren’t aware of. This increases the risk of fire, putting your home, family, and guests at risk.

Of course there are other perks to having a squeaky clean chimney, fireplace, and hearth. At Billy Sweet we know what’s really important during the holidays. Family. While your family is visiting for Christmas consider taking a family photo in front of a beautiful hearth and mantel. We know that the focal point of most holiday festivities is the fireplace, and we make it our goal to keep your family comfortable this season!

Your chimney works the whole time a fire is burning in your fireplace, and we will work for you too. We’ll do our part, and we need you to do yours. Pick up the phone and call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep and you’ll get professional services every time, fireplace and chimney experts with over 30 years of experience, and your neighbors in the North Shore, Boston, and Portland, ME area. Call Billy Sweet at 617-469-4528 or schedule an appointment online today.

Add a Chimney Sweep to Your Holiday Check List

The holidays can be hectic with meal planning, decorating, shopping, travel plans and more clouding your mind. Therefore, it can be difficult to remember the practical, everyday things. Just as important as having your oil changed before that long trip to visit the in-laws, you should have your chimney swept. Do this before the busy holiday season, when the fireplace is often the focal point for many festivities.

Add a Chimney Sweep to Your Holiday Check List - Boston MA - Billy Sweet Chimney SweepSchedule Now and Avoid Conflicts

The holidays are fast approaching. However, you can avoid the headache of schedule conflicts by calling in advance. If you call now you can have your chimney swept before your holiday festivities. Doing this will most likely get an appointment time that better suits your schedule. Also, to prepare for your appointment we request that you discontinue use of the fireplace 24 hours in advance. This can mean a cold day if you wait until late December for your chimney sweep. Schedule now and take advantage of this mild Boston weather.

The Perks of a Clean Chimney While Entertaining

A dirty chimney comes with a whole host of issues, including decreased efficiency and increased risk of fire. There are other downsides as well. For instance, a dirty fireplace can become stinky, especially when moisture penetrates the masonry. This can be a problem if you entertain during the holidays and use your fireplace as a focal point, as many do. The hearth and mantel is also a popular holiday photo backdrop. A chimney sweep cleans all the parts of the chimney, hearth, and firebox. So, you can also avoid pictures with a dirty fireplace by having it cleaned now.

What to Expect

If you’ve already begun decorating for the holidays, it’s okay. When you schedule a chimney sweep with Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep you can count on a professional service every time. This means that we will get the job done in a timely manner. Plus, we will leave your home in the state we found it when we arrived. We request only that you discontinue use of the chimney 24 hours in advance. This keeps our chimney sweeps safe during the service call. In addition, we ask that you move furniture, objects, and decorations away from the fireplace opening.

In order to do the job quickly, it’s best if there is space for the sweep and his tools at your fireplace opening.

When You Choose Billy Sweet

By choosing the best chimney professionals in the Boston, North Shore, and Portland areas you get the best services at a competitive price. Billy Sweet puts customer safety first every time. That’s why we send a trained and certified technician on each call. You will get a thorough cleaning, a state-of-the-art chimney inspection. Also, any documentation required for insurance, real estate, and personal records. Our chimney experts are available to answer questions during the visit, and will report any concern immediately.

There is really no reason not to schedule your chimney sweep this holiday season. Not only will it be one more important thing off your list, but you also won’t have to worry about it coming into the new year. Plan ahead and take advantage of the benefits of a chimney sweep by scheduling your appointment today!

An expert technician is standing by.

The Dangers of Creosote

If you have a fireplace, you likely know that creosote can be a hazard to your home and family. You probably also have your fireplace swept by a certified chimney sweep each year to remove any creosote buildup from your chimney, and perhaps you even burn the occasional creosote sweeping log to help maintain your chimney. But how much do you know about creosote, how it forms, the dangers it poses and how you can keep it at bay? We’ve put together some basic information on creosote so you can better protect your home and family.

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What is creosote?

As smoke from your fireplace makes its way to the top of your chimney, it cools. As the smoke cools, it causes condensation of the chemicals and water vapor created when wood burns. The substance left sticking to your walls is creosote. All forms of creosote — whether black or brown, sticky or shiny, hard or tar like — can be found sticking to the insides of most chimneys.

Why is creosote dangerous?

As little as a quarter inch of creosote buildup on the walls of your chimney can be dangerous, putting your home at risk of a chimney fire. Highly combustible, creosote can burst into flames if it is touched by a stray spark from your fireplace, or if chimney temperatures exceed 1,000 degrees. If creosote builds up enough in your chimney, it also can prevent the gases created by the fireplace from exiting your home, which can force dangerous carbon monoxide back into your home.

How can I avoid the dangers of creosote?

Using the right wood in your fireplace can slow the buildup of creosote in your chimney. Only burn dry hardwoods that have been seasoned for a minimum of six months. When wood is improperly seasoned and contains moisture, it produces more water vapor when burned and burns at a cooler temperature, which causes the formation of creosote. Make sure that your fire is large enough for your fireplace. If your logs are too small, the fire won’t burn hot enough for your chimney. Your flue also should be fully opened when you’re burning a fire, as a partially closed flue will cause smoke to remain in your flue longer, encouraging creosote buildup.

Of course, the best way to keep your home safe from a creosote fire is to have your chimney swept and inspected each year by a certified chimney sweep. Your chimney sweep will make sure that your chimney is entirely creosote free. During the sweep’s inspection, he also will make sure your chimney does not show any signs of damage from a past creosote fire, which can weaken your chimney and put your home at danger for a future fire.

If you’re overdue for a chimney sweeping and inspection, don’t wait! Putting off your chimney sweeping puts your home and family in danger of a creosote-caused chimney fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Call the certified sweeps at Billy Sweet to have your chimney ready for the fire-burning season.

Proper Ash Disposal

Everyone knows ash to be the most obvious build up that a fire produces, the result of burning wood. But at what point does the ash need to be disposed of? Probably more often than a person would think. Protect yourself and help your plants with these instructions for the correct way to dispose of ash.
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) it is actually a good thing to keep about an inch of ash beneath the grate of your fireplace to insulate hot coals and produce more heat during the winter season. While it does protect the bottom of the firebox and help the coals produce extra heat, too much of it can not only take precious space away from warmth-producing coals, it can be downright dangerous. Even ash that appears to be fully cool can fall onto nearby carpet or rugs and potentially start a fire.

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The best way to dispose of excess ash is to wait at least a day after a fire was lit in the firebox before handing it. If that isn’t possible, wearing protective gloves when handling the bucket and shovel will minimize your risk of being burned. Gently scoop the ash from the firebox and place it in the bucket, leaving any hot coals and a thin layer of ash remaining. This will make your next fire easier to start. Carefully place the bucket in an area clear of any flammable material and away from kids or animals that may be tempted to play in the soft-looking pile. If possible, place a lid on top of the bucket to starve the hot ashes of oxygen, making them cool quicker. Sand will provide a similar reaction, but a lid is more easily accessible for most.

After three days, dispose of the ash in a paper or plastic garden bag. Sprinkling ash in your garden can be beneficial in small quantities, but don’t go crazy. Ash is very alkaline, so too much will change the pH of the soil, and kills your plants.

Besides just trashing your leftover ashes, there are several other alternatives to make use of them. Use your cool ashes to gently exfoliate the glass doors of your fireplace and remove that unattractive residue. If your pet gets into something smelly, rubbing ash on their coat will neutralize any gross odor. In the winter, pouring ash on your driveway and sidewalks melts ice and isn’t as harmful to the soil and concrete as salt is.

We want to ensure that everyone is safe and cozy this fall, and removing the ash from your firebox regularly is a key factor in ensuring that. When we come to sweep and inspect your chimney we will check the firebox to make sure it is in top working order. Give us a call to schedule!