Our Company Blog

What is Creosote and How Does it Damage Your Chimney?

To say creosote is a minor problem would be an understatement. Creosote is neither rare nor harmless. Every wood-burning fire that you burn in your fireplace and chimney system produces smoke that rises up the chimney. The smoke is filled with hot gases, particles, soot, and creosote that covers the chimney interior. Though soot can be corrosive to the chimney liner and masonry, creosote presents a whole different set of problems.What is Creosote - Boston MA - Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep

Creosote Buildup

Soot is made up of carbon, but creosote is made up mostly of tar–a sticky substance that is also flammable. Because of the sticky nature of creosote, it collects easily in a chimney, covering parts, clogging the clean out area, and creating a fire hazard. As the creosote builds up, it can become a serious obstruction–and when it reaches stage 3 buildup it is also difficult to remove.

Stage 3 Creosote

Stage 3 creosote, also called glazed creosote becomes a problem only when the chimney isn’t cleaned regularly. When the creosote isn’t removed on a regular basis, it builds up. When it becomes heated, the creosote boils, causing all the moisture in it to evaporate, and leaves a hardened mass of condensed fuel in the flue. Once it reaches this stage, the creosote can’t be brushed away during a standard chimney sweep. It decreases the chimney’s efficiency, increases the amount of creosote produced by the inefficient fire, and raises the risk of flue fire.

Chimney Damage

Creosote will not damage the chimney when it is cleaned regularly and properly. Once creosote reaches stage 3 buildup it can be difficult to remove without damaging the liner. You cannot remove it with brushes and a homeowner or handyman attempting to do so with tools will cause damage. Additionally, if it isn’t removed, the glazed creosote can cause a creosote fire that damages the masonry, the liner, and even the structure of the chimney. If you suspect a flue fire, you should call a chimney professional for an assessment right away.

Prevent Creosote Buildup

You cannot stop creosote altogether, but you can prevent dangerous buildups.
Schedule Regular Chimney Sweeps Your chimney sweep  appointments will keep your chimney working properly and the chimney professional will assess it with each appointment.
Burn Properly Seasoned Wood – Burning wet or “green” wood that is freshly cut will drop the efficiency of your fireplace. Green wood is harder to light and burns with less heat, often burning incompletely. This leads to more creosote. Burn only properly seasoned firewood in your fireplace to keep your chimney system working properly.

When you do have a creosote buildup in your chimney, it’s important to call the professionals for proper and safe removal. Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep technicians use an industrial product to remove the creosote without damaging the liner and then we clean the entire flue.

Give us a call before you try to remove creosote yourself. It’s harmful to breathe, may irritate your skin, and can destroy your flue if it results in a fire.

Talk to a professional today at 617-469-4528.

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.

Do a Chimney Cleaning and Inspection Before the Rush

Now that summertime is coming to a close and the kids have returned to school, we can enjoy shift into fall. The time of year filled with changing colors, crunchy leaves and pumpkin carving has begun, in addition to the promise of cooler weather. While the first few days of fall might warm up in remembrance of a sizzling summer, the weather will eventually cool off. Before you know it, snow will cover the ground in the midst of a furious New England winter.

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Usually, now is when everyone shuts off the central air conditioning and opens the windows to keep everyone comfortable in the house. For many, starting up the fireplace is a passing thought in the back of their mind, but sooner or later the time will come to build that first fire. These same people who fail to remember their fireplaces until high time must battle the busiest season to find a service person who is free to inspect and clean their chimney.

Instead of rushing right before your holiday get-together to have your chimney cleaned, schedule a date for regular maintenance now. Starting in fall, the chimney cleaning services are swamped, and it lasts through the holidays. Many companies book up several weeks in advance at this time, and as the weeks go by and the temperature drops, any snow and ice may make it impossible to get on the roof anyway.

Call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep today to make an appointment to have your chimney swept and inspected. Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep works out of Eastern Massachusetts, Southern New Hampshire, and the Portland, Maine area.

This business provides reasonably priced chimney sweeping services in addition to inspections that meet the most up to date codes set by the National Fire Protection Association. Along with each inspection, Billy Sweet offers a courtesy video scanning of the inside of your chimney with Chim-scan products. You receive a comprehensive overview of the condition of your chimney with this closed circuit video inspection, and it aids you in making the right decision on repairs and updates.

You should have your fireplace and chimney inspected once every year, but especially if you recently moved into a new house, your fireplace has been inactive for an extended time or if you have run into any problems with the fireplace. The freeze-thaw cycle of a New England winter and any water leaks into the masonry may result in structural harm to the chimney, which needs to be inspected annually. If a fireplace has lay dormant for some time, such as since it was used last winter, pests like birds may have made a home of the chimney and created an obstructed vent. Lighting a fire in a fireplace with a clogged vent poses serious risks to your house and family.

With summer wrapping up and fireplace time quickly approaching, right now is the best time to make your chimney sweep and inspection appointment with Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep.

Watch Out for Chimney Mold

Stop the growth of molds in your chimney by simply preventing water from intruding inside of it. Have your chimney waterproofed.

Stop the growth of molds in your chimney by simply preventing water from intruding inside of it. Have your chimney waterproofed.

What is fuzzy and always found in places where it doesn’t need to be? No, not your family pet, but mold. Mold is extremely dangerous and can grow anywhere. Too often homeowners learn that mold is a problem in their home, and could have been prevented with proper maintenance. However, if it is found in time, it can be removed. To learn more about keeping your chimney mold free, call the experts at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep. These guys can help with sweeps, inspections, and many other fireplace needs!

What is chimney mold?

The mold found inside of your chimney grows the same as any other type of mold you know of.  Mold can grow in less than two days from a spot of standing water.  If chimney mold is left long enough, it can spread into the foundation of your home.  Because mold comes in a variety of textures and colors, you may not notice it when you see it.  This is why it is important to have a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified professional come do your annual sweep and inspection.

How do you get rid of chimney mold?

Once you find out where the mold has begun to grow, you can begin to remove it. Chimney technicians will start by checking for cracks in the chimney’s structure and where flue precipitation collects. They will also do a controlled water test where they spray water on the chimney in increments so they can see where it absorbs. If your flashing has become damaged, there can also be water leaks. Flashing is the group of metal strips that form layers where the chimney and roof meet. Overtime, this can become loose, but can be repaired by your technician.

Even though you can technically remove a spot of mold less than three square feet by yourself, it is still recommended that you call a technician for safety. If it is not removed properly, it can continue to spread. Also, it can cause severe rashes if it comes into contact with your skin.

How can you prevent mold from growing in my chimney in the future?

You cannot prevent mold from growing completely, but you can reduce the chances by having your unit waterproofed. Your technician can have this done in a day if you only need one coat. However, if you live in a wet area, it is often recommended that you have two. This should be done on a dry day for the sealant to have top performance.

The Bird that Loves Your Chimney

Chimney Swifts

These birds are protected by federal law, don't attempt to remove them yourselves.

These birds are protected by federal law, don’t attempt to remove them yourself.

You may have heard chattering, fluttering, and other noises coming from your chimney and wondered, “Are there birds nesting up there?” Quite possibly, chimney swifts have taken over your chimney as their new home. According to the Driftwood Wildlife Association, chimney swifts are fascinating, adaptable birds who learned to nest and roost in chimneys when their native habitat of large hollow trees in forests of North America were cut down. However, if a family of chimney swifts does nest in your chimney, you should be aware that, according to the Humane Society of the United States, these birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and removing or destroying nests with eggs or young can result in fines and penalties. Fortunately, the CSIA-certified technicians at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweeps are familiar with the regulations and habits concerning chimney swifts and can work with you on scheduling your annual chimney sweep around the life cycle of the chimney swift as well as fit your chimney with a customized chimney crown to keep the chimney swifts out, if you would rather not share your chimney with these birds.

Protecting These Birds

The Driftwood Wildlife Association formed a special project to promote the conservation of chimney swifts, and they provide valuable information to homeowners through a website, chimneyswifts.org, featuring articles like “Being a Good Chimney Swift Landlord.” With invaluable tips for those who do not mind sharing their chimney with these birds since they do only nest during the summer season, they recommend having your chimney swept in mid-March to have all of the creosote build-up removed, as this makes it impossible for the chimney swifts to build their nests to the walls without danger of falling. The birds make their return from South America after their wintering is over, and as they are migratory, they tend to return to the same nesting area. Like the Humane Society, this article stresses the importance of chimney swifts being protected by federal law and warns against chimney sweep businesses who illegally remove chimney swift nests and eggs. Be wary of companies who advertise “bird removal,” as this is a blatant violation of state and federal laws that protect migratory birds. Instead, choose a company like Billy Sweet Chimney Sweeps, who is active in promoting chimney swift conservation, to perform your annual chimney sweep.

Proper Removal of Their Nests

While the noises of the baby birds chirping for food can be shrill and annoying, they will not last forever. Just keep in mind that this is only temporary, and after that short period, you will rarely know the chimney swifts are there. However, be sure your damper is completely closed to keep them from flying into your house. The nests of these birds are small, cup-shaped constructions of small twigs glued to chimney walls by the birds’ saliva. Too small to be a fire hazard, you will still need to contact Billy Sweet Chimney Sweeps to remove the nest after they leave in the fall. This is needed to remove bird parasites, and since chimney swifts tend to return to the same nest, you do not want them to try to use the old nest as it will be unstable and probably collapse.

If you would like more information about chimney swifts, contact our knowledgeable staff at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweeps. We are happy to answer any questions you may have as well as schedule a chimney sweep for you or a consultation about chimney crown repair.