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Is Your Chimney Ready for Santa This Year?

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the housePreparing Your Chimney for Santa Photo - Boston MA - Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
I heard St. Nicholas let out a horrible sound.
He was stuck in the chimney, I could only see his foot!
Dangling out of the chimney, blocked with ashes and soot
I knew once he got loose, there’d be no presents for me
Why didn’t I just call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep?!”

The most important time to have your chimney inspected and swept is before the wintertime. This is when you will use it most. Not only will it help Santa deliver your presents, but it will also keep your home safe and your chimney working efficiently!

Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep offers a variety of services to keep your chimney in tip-top shape:

  • Chimney Sweeping

It may sound like a simple task, but it’s not. When it comes to clearing your chimney of ashes, soot, and debris, hiring a professional is your best bet. This will keep your home safe and warm. According to Enlightenme.com, “Dirt can block your chimney’s flue, causing smoke to back up into your home and make your fireplace noxious. Excessive creosote can potentially ignite and cause an uncontrolled fire hazard.” Having your chimney swept annually can not only keep you safe, but will save you money in the long run. In addition, it helps prevent the buildup of creosote and damage beyond normal use.

  • Chimney Inspection

It’s important to have a professional check for cracks in your chimney. This is because they pose a safety hazard, and can even leak harmful gases into your home. According to Home Advisor, “ The smoke from a fire can contain dangerous gases, among them carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that can cause illness, or even death, in large amounts. Cracks in a chimney can leak heat into the surrounding walls, and lead to structural damage or even house fires.” Annual inspections will help you know whether or not your chimney is in a good state, or if it needs to be serviced, repaired or restored. Knowing is half the battle, and Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep is here to help!

  • Chimney Lining

Your chimney liner helps prevent damage to your chimney’s masonry or mortar joints. It helps prevent emissions of harmful gasses, and keeps heat away from flammable materials in your home. Whether your chimney doesn’t have a liner and needs one installed, making sure your liner is in good shape helps extend the life of your chimney and keeps your home safe.

  • Chimney Leaks

If your chimney is leaking, three common areas to check are the cap, crown, or flashing. The chimney cap, or protective cover at the top opening of the chimney, helps keep water and debris out of your chimney. In addition, sometimes this part may be damaged or missing. Below the cap is the chimney crown, which is built to keep the elements away from the chimney opening. The crown may also have cracks or spalling, which could result in water leaks. Lastly, damaged flashing, where your chimney meets the roofline, is another common area for water to sneak into the chimney. Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep can inspect your chimney for leaks and even waterproof your chimney by applying a protective sealant to ward off the elements.

 

If you haven’t gotten your chimney ready for Santa yet, what are you waiting for? Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep is here to help with all of your chimney needs whether you need a sweep, inspection, new liner, or all of the above! Contact us today to keep your family safe and warm this winter.

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.

How to Prepare Your Fireplace for Dangerous Winter Storms

In Boston, we are used to heavy snowstorms and blizzards during the winter. In January and February of 2015, we experienced a blizzard that lasted over six weeks and dumped a record 108.6 inches of snow in our area. Even though long-time residents know how to be ready for these types of storms, Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep would like to remind you of how you can prepare your fireplace so that you will not have to worry about being without heat when the power goes out during a blizzard.

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Schedule a professional chimney sweeping and inspection before winter arrives.

This maintenance task will take care of removing all of the accumulated creosote from the inner walls of your chimney, which increases fireplace safety and reduces fire hazards. During the inspection, our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps will examine the condition of your fireplace and chimney to be sure everything is working safely. If we find any damage, we will make recommendations of the repairs that are necessary for you to use your fireplace safely.

Check the gaskets to see if they need to be repaired or replaced.

You want to ensure that the gaskets on your fireplace doors, damper, and ash dump are providing an effective seal. According to Cabin Living, without a proper seal, too much air can leak into the firebox and cause overfire and permanent damage to your fireplace.

Have the blower cleaned.

If your fireplace is equipped with a blower, you should clean off the dust and dirt from it to protect the balance of the blower. When the blower has too much dust accumulation on its blades, the balance can change and cause the bearings to wear out prematurely. Your fireplace blower typically will not have a filter to keep dust off, so you need to check it regularly to be sure it is clean.

Replace broken or deteriorated bricks in the lining.

When the brick lining is so damaged that it has deteriorated so much that the steel body of the firebox is exposed, the high temperatures can lead to permanent damage. Be sure the bricks are in good shape so you will not have to worry about damage occurring that could make your fireplace unsafe.

Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep is here to help you prepare your fireplace for dangerous storms this winter. Contact us to schedule an appointment for a chimney sweeping and inspection so that you can stay warm and safe this winter.

Chimney water damage and the freeze-thaw cycle

You’re likely familiar with the damage the freeze-thaw cycle can do to the roadways; it’s what causes pot holes to appear each year! Water makes its way into the tiny cracks in concrete, asphalt, or stone. When the temperature drops, that water freezes and expands, causing the concrete, asphalt, or stone to crack or crumble. If you have a home with a masonry chimney, you should be aware that the freeze-thaw cycle can cause the same damage to your chimney’s bricks, concrete, and mortar.

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Water damage and your chimney

Water can cause many problems with your chimney. The freeze-thaw cycle can cause the mortar between your chimney to crumble; it can cause parts of your brick to flake off, which is referred to as spalling; and it can cause your chimney crown to crack and crumble. Over time, if water damage goes unaddressed, it can mean major problems for your chimney. Your chimney’s overall structure can fail, causing it to lean and become unsafe. A damaged chimney also will let water into the rest of your home, leading to water stains on your ceiling and walls, rotting wood on adjacent structures, collapsed hearth support, a damaged firebox, rusted fireplace accessories, and failing hearth structure.

Repairing water damage

The first step in repairing water damage is to find that damage. This is one reason your annual chimney inspection is so important. Your certified chimney technician can find signs of damage early, so that it can be repaired before minor water damage becomes major water damage. In many cases, it will take the work of expert masons, like those at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep to repair your chimney’s water damage. We provide services such as tuckpointing, chimney crown repair and replacement, and removing and replacing spalling bricks.

Preventing water damage

When it comes to water damage and your chimney, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Taking steps to prevent chimney damage now can save you from costly repairs later. Having a chimney cap installed atop your flue can help keep water from running down the interior walls of your chimney. Repairing a damaged chimney crown will keep water from running down the exterior sides of your chimney. It’s important to make sure the flashing around your chimney is secure, and if your chimney is located on a part of your roof that experiences a lot of rainwater or snow, a cricket — a tent-shaped piece of metal — can be installed to divert water away from the chimney. There also are waterproofing sealants that can be applied to your chimney. Those sealants keep water from seeping into your chimney’s masonry while still allowing your chimney to expel the gases created by your fires.

Ultimately, the key to protecting your chimney from water damage is working with your certified chimney sweep to make sure that any problems are caught and addressed early before you have major chimney damage. If you’re overdue for an inspection, or if you’ve noticed cracking masonry on your chimney, call the experts at Billy Sweet today. We also can talk to you about waterproofing applications to protect your chimney.

Importance of a CSIA Certification

When faced with deciding who is actually right and qualified for a job, it is important to look at the certifications of the company and their employees before settling. That mindset applies to doctors and dentists, and it certainly applies to chimney sweeps. In our field, receiving a CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) certification not only gives us the best training in properly cleaning your chimney, it also educates on the best responses to worst-case scenarios like carbon monoxide and chimney fires. Knowing that your chimney sweep has the best qualifications will make Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep the easiest choice for you!

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What we do as a profession was largely unregulated until 1983, when the CSIA was founded. This not for profit organization aims to educate not only those in our field, but also the public on how to maintain and correct any hazards their chimney or venting system may present over time. To become certified, there are two exams based on a comprehensive review time that can happen in person or online. Once those exams are completed thoroughly, a code of ethics is signed to ensure that sweeps can be trusted with the public’s safety. That also is tested through educational classes that discuss upcoming technologies and hard to grasp concepts, like physics through a certified sweep’s entire career.

The CSIA has several goals for their chimney sweeps including the need to fully eliminate any chimney related hazards that could threaten property, pets, and especially human lives. These hazards could come from carbon monoxide or chimney fires from creosote buildup. As certified chimney sweeps, we have several areas of knowledge that are all connected to the main purpose of prevention and education. Besides the basic practice of what we do, cleaning and inspecting chimneys and venting systems, we also involve ourselves with all the minutiae. Knowing all the factors and physics in the development of creosote, as well as the requirements from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) easily separate CSIA certified professionals from the companies that simply have the physical tools for the job. Our continuous education on a comprehensive list of subjects gives us confidence in our practice as well as in our sharing of that knowledge with our customers. We want our clientele to know what to expect from their chimney sweep, and we embrace the challenge to aim higher and know more!

We want anyone looking for a chimney sweep to look first at those that are CSIA certified. Not only are they more educated on what’s important, but they also care more about the home and people that are associated with the chimney. Thank you so much for choosing Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep as your CSIA certified sweeps for over 30 years!