In our area of Boston, North Shore, and Portland, there is a lot of history. Our communities are filled with historical buildings and homes. If you’re a homeowner in the area, you may have a historical home and it’s likely that you also have an old chimney. If you have just acquired your home you may not know much about it! At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep, we get a lot of calls about historic chimneys, and they get a bad rap. In fact, there are a lot of interesting features to old chimneys that many just don’t understand. Here are our favorites:
You may be surprised to find a trap door at the back of the firebox floor. This is not a secret escape or treasure trove, but a pit where past homeowners would shovel and scrape ashes. Many present-day homeowners still utilize this ash pit, and some may even have an easy-access clean-out door. These pits are usually constructed with the home’s foundation and are just as durable, When you use the ash pit, you can have it emptied periodically by your trusted chimney professional and never have to bother with bucket loads and storage of ashes.
In the past, the number of chimneys, or “stacks” was an indication of how many bedrooms were in the home. The more stacks, the more prestigious the home. Today, you may not want to use all of these fireplaces. In fact, you can update them all to a more efficient option when you plan with a professional. Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep can swap your old wood-burning fireplace with a new gas-fueled insert that will neither damage the existing hearth and chimney nor detract from the historical aspects of your home. Our inserts are top-of-the-line units that burn gas or wood, depending on our customer needs. When installed by a professional, you can bet it will add style and beauty to one or more old chimneys.
Many historic chimneys are topped with chimney pots. Though, not in use as much today, these chimney pots extend the height of the flue and narrow the stack, creating a better draft upward. These tops date back to the Tudor Dynasty in Great Britain and have been used on every continent and are designed for beauty and function. In addition to helping the chimney work better, it also protects the flue against water damage.
Do you have a historic chimney that needs a little TLC? We can help. At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep we specialize in historic chimneys, and we love to help homeowners find the love and beauty in these old systems.
When you depend on us for your comprehensive chimney care, we will help to bring your chimney system up to code, work to make it as safe and efficient as possible, and do so at a price affordable to our valued customers.
Call Billy Sweet Chimney at 617-469-4528 and schedule your chimney assessment and maintenance today.
Whether you just bought a home or had one for some time now, you can never go wrong with making some home improvements. Upgrading and repairing your home can add value to the property and also bring you the best enjoyment out of your home. At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep, we help homeowners add value to their homes every day by bringing hearths and chimneys back to life. We specialize in chimney rebuilds, renovations, and restorations. If you have an outdated, neglected, or unsafe chimney system in the Boston, North Shore, or Portland area, we can help.
Masonry and Stone Work
Our team is qualified and experienced, and they have the training and expertise to recreate any design with brick or stone. We only use quality products, and we can rebuild, renovate, and restore your chimney no matter the size or age. When it comes to masonry work, our team always add beauty and value to your property through our best work. Our work is never sloppy, and we offer FREE waterproofing on exterior masonry work.
Specializing in Historic Homes & Chimney Repairs
At Billy Sweet, we are blessed to live in an area filled with history, and many of the homes in our service area are historic ones with historic chimneys. While these systems may still work, many are not up to code and pose a threat to your own historical home as well as the surrounding homes. There is no way of telling how someone previous treated your chimney. Make sure you have your historic chimney inspected as soon as you take ownership of the home and have it restored to code compliance before use.
If you’re looking to rebuild, renovate, or restore your chimney, look no further than the team at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep. We will begin by completing a comprehensive inspection with detailed digital imaging and recommend a course of action based on the video footage. No matter what the problem is, we have the training and experience to fix it. When restoring a chimney, we can address every aspect of the system. We will make sure your chimney is safe from top to bottom with specific detail to the cap, crown, and flashing to prevent future water damage.
We will also ensure a quality liner is in place to keep the fire, heat, and smoke from affecting the masonry and your home. We recommend stainless steel chimney liners, as they last a lifetime. We also recommend hip and ridge style chimney caps designed for high wind areas. Once the chimney is completely restored and ready for use, we can also waterproof it so that time and weather don’t damage your beautiful new masonry chimney.
Scheduling with Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep
Many homeowners may close out a poorly maintained chimney system instead of spending the money and time to restore it. This is a grave mistake! A damaged chimney can lead to serious water damage throughout the home—not just the chimney itself!
Your chimney is a beautiful fixture that adds value to your home. Home buyers want fireplaces for the ambiance and supplemental heat source. You can save money by addressing all your chimney repairs. Call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep today at 617-469-4528 to find out more!
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.
New England has a lot of special features, and many of them have to do with the historic area. Parks, museums, colleges, lighthouses, and even trees are celebrated for their historic relevance. If you’re lucky, your home falls into the historic category with its own history and stories to share. Historic homes can definitely be whimsical and beautiful, but may also be a handful–especially if it has a chimney.
Historic Homes: Blessing or Curse?
Your home may be a beautiful colonial that predates the statehood where you have your residence. You can determine if your home and chimney are historic by contacting your state or local historic society. It may have the original crown moldings, high ceilings, sliding doors, and hardwood flooring. If your historic home was well-built, your historic chimney may be still standing, but that’s not to say it doesn’t need some updates. In fact, if it’s been neglected, your chimney may need serious repairs and possibly a rebuild. Getting the historic society involved may also determine if the chimney is in fact historic, or if it was constructed later, or if it was rebuilt or restored.
Where to Start
If you’re uncertain of the condition of your historic chimney, if you’ve noticed signs of trouble in your chimney or a decrease in efficiency, or if it hasn’t been inspected or serviced in the last 12 months, now is the time to call a professional. Only a professional can determine if your chimney is safe to use, or not.
Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep will complete a diagnostic inspection to determine the condition of the chimney system and use video scanning to survey the hidden portions of the chimney. This will give detailed view of the flue from top to bottom. Once a report is compiled, complete with digital imaging, we can work together with you to create a course of action for repairs or rebuild.
Why Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep
At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep, we specialize in historic homes, and we care about the integrity of your chimney as much as you do. Common problems we see with historic chimneys include noncompliance with current residential codes and safety standards, neglect, and deterioration of the masonry due to coastal air and storms.
We not only pride ourselves on offering expert services throughout our service area, but also our status as CSIA certified chimney sweeps and our experience rebuilding historic chimneys for our customers and neighbors.
If you’re afraid to put your historic chimney in the hands of an amateur, we understand! That’s why we field train our technicians before they take on historic jobs. They’re certified chimney sweeps, experienced masons, and will treat you with professionalism and courtesy. Don’t settle for mediocre when you can have the real deal. Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep has been operating in the area for over 30 years. Our techs are easy to identify, driving company trucks and wearing clear ID tags and uniforms. When the job is complete, our work will speak for itself.
All parts of a home will eventually need an upgrade because time wears down everything. Older homes, which are very common all along the east coast, generally need these updates sooner rather than later. Everything from contemporary style updates to energy savings updates can help bring an older home into the modern world. For homeowners looking ahead to the chilly winter, an update to the chimney or fireplace may be next on the to-do list.
Chimneys can require a rebuild for a number of reasons, but the most common issue involves a partial or complete collapse of the chimney. Collapse occurs when the structure of the chimney has degraded, often due to long term exposure to harsh weather. Masonry chimneys, in particular, can suffer negative effects from weather. The materials used to construct a masonry chimney – brick, concrete, and mortar – all have a very porous nature, meaning they readily absorb water. Absorbing water alone does not have damaging consequences, but when the temperatures drop below freezing, the issues begin. In freezing weather, water undergoes a freeze and thaw cycle in which it continually expands and contracts. The bricks and concrete saturated with water also contract and expand with the water inside, and this results in degraded materials over time. First, the mortar will crack and fall from between the bricks, and the concrete will split. Then, the bricks come loose, and the entire structure loses its integrity. Eventually, the chimney could collapse.
Other problems that may result in a chimney rebuild include earthquakes and chimney fires. Earthquakes can cause irreparable structural damage to the chimney, and older chimneys usually do not have the stabilizing steel rebar that modern chimneys use to protect against this type of impact damage. The rebuilt masonry chimney would contain this rebar to stabilize the structure in case of future earthquakes. Chimney fires can also necessitate a rebuild, especially with older masonry chimneys. These chimneys often utilized clay or mortar chimney liners, which crack and split under the heat of the fire. This destroys the protection provided by the chimney liner and undermines the strength of the structure overall.
While a full chimney rebuild may not seem ideal from the homeowner’s point of view, if only for the cost of it, this process could mean the difference between a safe fireplace and a hazardous one. In order to make the rebuild process easy and effective, a chimney expert must be employed. This ensures proper and safe construction that meets safety codes. If you live in the area of Boston or North Shore, Massachusetts or near Portland, Maine, you can get in contact with Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep for a rebuild inspection and consultation.