Our Company Blog

Common Masonry Repairs Before Winter

As summer begins to quickly fade away, it’s time now to bring attention to your chimney before winter is upon us. Among all the repairs and other activities associated with the warmer summer months, it is hard to think about preparing the upcoming winter. That feeling is completely understandable! However, there are a few reasons why you should focus some attention on your chimney at this time of the year.

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Why should I have to get it repaired?

Your chimney, built in the masonry style, is built of porous materials such as concrete, brick, mortar, and stone. Think of it similar to a sponge in the way they hold water. Though they appear to stand the test of time, without proper care they can begin to crack as the processes of freezing and thawing expands, and then contracts, the masonry. Over time this leads to bricks loosening, and eventually the entire chimney will collapse. As you can tell, winter can be very hard on your chimney. With the addition of intense use of your fireplace during those months, it can amass a variety of problems… that are then ignored over the summer months as it goes unused. It is a vicious cycle!

Besides the expansion and contraction that occurs when water freezes and then thaws in the masonry, water also causes a lot of damage and deterioration to any metal or wood materials that it accesses on the interior of your chimney and in your fireplace such as:

  • Dampers
  • Flue lining system
  • Proximal wood flooring and wall coverings
  • Fireplace accessories

What can I do about it?

Chimney Caps:

Preventing water from damaging your chimney is absolutely essential for the long life of your chimney. Well-designed chimney caps are made of enduring, reliable material that can resist corrosion as well as keep birds and other animals out and off of your chimney. Though there are options that only provide partial coverage, a full coverage chimney cap is an investment that will provide the most protection long-term.

Tuckpointing:

For masonry that does lose mortar during the hard winter months due to temperature fluctuation, tuckpointing is a relatively simple process of tucking mortar into damaged areas. Not only does it reinforce the structure of your chimney, but it is more aesthetically pleasing as well.

Chimney Crown Replacement/Repair:

The crown is absolutely essential in directing water away from the flue and to the edge of the chimney so that it won’t erode any mortar or brick. If your crown is cracked or damaged in any way, the rate of chimney degradation gets increasingly higher.

Chimney Waterproofing:

We have learned that water is very damaging to both the exterior and interior of your chimney. Using a waterproofing treatment is a preventative measure against many of the above issues, as well as allows your chimney to release water vapors that it contains in the masonry while keeping additional water out.

Make your appointment online with us and learn more about your chimney at billysweetchimneysweep.com.

Ensuring That You Have a Functioning Chimney Cap

When you consider the safety and efficiency of your fireplace unit, you might forget one of its most important elements: your chimney cap. Many homeowners and consumers fail to recognize the vital protective measures offered by a functioning chimney cap; they might also be unfamiliar with the tell-tale signs of an issue with their caps.

A chimney cap is a small, relatively inexpensive addition to your home’s fireplace system, yet offers an important degree of protection from various threats.

A chimney cap prevents critters, wind-borne debris, moisture and other elements from entering your chimney and home. It also prevents burning embers from escaping through your chimney and landing on your roof, causing a potential fire. It’s important to ensure that your chimney cap is in proper working order before colder weather arrives.

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Here are a few signs that your chimney cap needs repair or replacement.

Moisture

Moisture causes more damage to fireplaces each year than mismanaged fires, and, left unchecked, has the potential to cause serious, irreparable damage to your unit and home.

If you notice dripping or pooling water in or around your fireplace, moisture has gained an access point in your chimney, and you need an immediate inspection. A working chimney cap will prevent excess moisture from accumulating in your chimney and home.

Drafting Problems

If you notice that your chimney isn’t venting properly or is sending excess smoke into your home, you might have a broken chimney cap that is allowing blockages to build up in your flue.
If your chimney cap becomes clogged with creosote or debris, it won’t vent properly and will send smoke and particulates from the burning fire back into your home.

There are many dangers attached breathing this contaminated air, including smoke damage to your home and severe illness.

Critters or Debris Entering Your Fireplace

Another of the main functions of your chimney cap is to prevent animals or debris from entering your chimney and causing blockages or creating disturbances in your home.

Squirrels, raccoons and birds will often mistake an uncapped or open chimney for a hollow tree; they often get stuck inside the chimney or decide to build a nest in the space, creating a very dangerous situation for themselves and the homeowners.

If you hear frantic scratching or clawing in your fireplace, you may have an issue with a trapped or nesting animal. This is a sign that you chimney cap has significant damage and needs to be replaced or repaired.

Additionally, if you notice leaves, sticks or other debris gathering in your fireplace, your chimney cap is not working properly and needs to be repaired or replaced.

Ensuring That Your Chimney Cap Is In Working Order

If you’ve noticed any of these issues with your fireplace, it’s important that you have your chimney cap inspected by a professional.

A certified chimney inspector will ensure that your chimney cap is in working order, that there are no issues with venting and that you can safely use your fireplace without fear of hazards.

It is recommended that you have your chimney inspected once a year by a certified chimney sweep. Because fall is the most popular time for chimney inspections, you might consider making your appointment before the rush, to avoid delays or wait times.

Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep serves all of the Boston area with professional, certified chimney inspection and installation services.

Call today for an appointment.

5 Important Reasons to Get Your Chimney Swept Before the Fall

Summertime is here, and homeowners are switching on the A/C, spending time outdoors and searching for ways to fight the heat. It’s no surprise that the state of your fireplace is probably the last thing on your mind; after all, you won’t be utilizing it again for at least a few months.

Once September rolls around, however, the temperatures can drop sharply, leading homeowners to consider utilizing their fireplaces for warmth and relaxation.
Unfortunately, many homeowners are unaware of the importance of having their chimney swept before starting that first autumn fire.
Check out these important reasons to get your chimney swept before the fall.

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Avoid the Rush

Once fall arrives, chimney sweeps are very busy; their schedules are typically backed up for days or even weeks at a time. Waiting until fall to schedule your sweeping could mean a long delay or having to shop around for another company that can accommodate you.

You can avoid the rush by getting your chimney swept before fall arrives. You won’t have to wait for an opening, and you can head into the colder season knowing your fireplace is ready for use.

Prevent Chimney Fires

Your chimney functions as the avenue through which dangerous flue gases and other fireplace by-products can pass safely out of your home.
These by-products include water vapor, hydrocarbon, wood particles, smoke, and tar fog, among others. As these by-products flow up through your chimney and mingle with the cooler temperatures at the top, condensation occurs, resulting in a tar-like coating on the walls of your chimney known as creosote.
Creosote is highly combustible, and building a fire in your fireplace when it has an excess buildup of creosote on its walls puts you at serious risk for a chimney fire. Getting your chimney swept regularly, and especially after a long summer of not using your fireplace, is the easiest way to get rid of creosote and prevent a chimney fire.

Prevent Unpleasant Odors

One of the main reasons homeowners invest in a fireplace is to add ambiance and luxury to their home; unfortunately, for homeowners who fail to keep their chimney clean, an unpleasant odor may begin seeping from their fireplaces into their homes during the summer months.
The heat and humidity of summer weather can cause reactions in the creosote and by-products of a dirty chimney, causing the emission of a sour, burnt odor that no homeowner wants to experience.
Getting your chimney cleaned during the summer can help minimize the presence of these bad odors and keep your home clean and comfortable.

Prevent Life-Threatening Gases from Accumulating in Your Home

A blocked or malfunctioning chimney is one of the leading causes of the accumulation of carbon monoxide in homes; in fact, carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for 200 deaths in the United States each year.
It is essential that you get your chimney swept on a regular basis, to ensure that your flue is venting and functioning properly. A regular sweeping will also prevent the accumulation of creosote, acidic water vapors and soot that can cause chimney blockages and thus the dangerous accumulation of noxious, life-threatening gases in your home.

Extend the Life of Your Fireplace

The accumulation of fire by-products in your chimney can cause damage to the structure of your chimney, your home and your fireplace. You’ve made an expensive investment and deserve to enjoy its benefits for years to come.

We Think Portland, Maine is a Special Place

Portland, Maine is such a special place because it is Authentic. The Visit Portland website describes Portland, “With its heady mixture of artistic and outdoor adventures, our region is stylish and sophisticated, yet remains genuine and unpretentious, a place where grey flannel and plaid flannel coexist companionably. And underlying the latest tech, fashion, and culinary scene is a deep sense of continuity” and the entire staff of Billy Sweep Chimney Sweep is in total agreement. We love Portland!

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Portland was originally called Casco during the 1600s and went through several name changes until 1786 when the town was renamed Portland. It was a rail town in the day and an accessible seaport for Canadian exports. The population has grown from approximately 2200 in 1790 to over 66,000 today.

There is so much to see and do in Portland that no one of any age, visitor or resident alike, will ever be bored. Portland’s beautiful island setting offers unique adventures. Whether you are exploring by land or sea in a trolley, ferry, vintage fire truck, or schooner you will find the area breathtaking. Lighthouse tours, art tours, food and beverage tours, and historical tours offer days of fun, education, and entertainment. Portland is a cyclist’s dream. You can even explore Portland aboard a vintage lobster boat. Did someone say lobster? Seafood doesn’t get any fresher and delicious than that which is caught in Casco Bay! You can catch your own during a chartered excursion or enjoy your seafood prepared by the world renowned chefs throughout the area. Besides first class food, Portland’s breweries and wineries have been drawing residents and visitors to taste local beer, wine, and there is even a local distillery of vodka in nearby Freeport.

What goes best with food? Entertainment, and Portland offers a variety of venues including Port City Music Hall, One Longfellow Square, and Portland Ovations. Kids love Funtown Splashtown U.S.A..

History buffs love spending time at the various museums and historical sites in Portland. The Maine Historical Society is located in Portland, as is the Maine Narrow Guage Railroad Company & Museum and the Museum at Portland Head Light which is the oldest lighthouse in Maine, The Portland Observatory Museum is a national historic landmark and is the only signal tower in America. Portland is especially proud of its new Science Center that is “illuminating minds”.

“Uptown” is known as the “artsy” side of Portland, while “Old Port” is known for its entertainment, clubs, and the beer gardens. Sports lovers will want to catch a game when the Portland Pirates (the AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers), Maine Red Claws (the NBA affiliate of the Boston Celtics) or the Portland Sea Dogs (the AA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox) are playing at home.
When winter comes to Portland, it’s time to get cozy and warm in this picturesque town. There is cross country skiing in the local parks, and Deering Oaks Park offers ocean side skiing and skating adventures. As you can imagine, art and artists are prolific in Portland. Well-known artists such as Homer, Marin, and Jamie Wyeth have strong ties to Portland. To learn more about their inspiration and careers, as well as view beautiful works of art, be sure to devote some time to spend along the Maine Art Museum Trail.

There is beauty and and art to most everything in life and Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep knows Portland is a very special place and we are proud to serve its residents.

We Love Serving The North Shore

North Shore, Massachusetts encompasses the area between Boston and New Hampshire. The area is beautiful and coastal. Describing the North Shore must include a special and rich culture in addition to stunning and diverse geography. That’s why the entire staff of Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep loves serving the North Shore.

Here is a list of the cities and towns included in the North Shore area:

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  • Amesbury
  • Beverly
  • Boxford
  • Danvers
  • Essex
  • Georgetown
  • Gloucester
  • Groveland
  • Hamilton
  • Haverhill
  • Ipswich
  • Lynn
  • Lynnfield
  • Manchester
  • Marblehead
  • Merrimac
  • Middleton
  • Nahant
  • Newbury
  • Newburyport
  • Peabody
  • Rockport
  • Rowley
  • Salem
  • Salisbury
  • Saugus
  • Swampscott
  • Topsfield
  • Wenham
  • West Newbury

Geographically, the region has a rocky coastline, marshes, wetlands, beaches, and harbors perfect for recreation, wildlife, and inter-coastal commerce.
One of the best known cities in the North Shore region is Salem, well known for the tragic Salem Witch trials of 1962. The Salem Witch Museum provides an insight to that unique time in our history. The Peabody Essex Museum includes the Ying Yu Tang house which was originally located in southeastern China and depicts the life of the many generations of the Huang family who lived in the home for over 200 years. Gloucester, a fishing town, was venerated in “The Perfect Storm” by Sebastian Junger. Newburyport is the quintessential coastal town with a boardwalk, red-brick downtown, and active commercial wharf. The North Shore area includes activities such as whale watching and harbor cruises, beaches and lighthouses, theatre and restaurants, contemporary and historic architecture. And yet, there is so much more.

Sports fans of the North Shore breathe black and gold in honor of their beloved Bruins. Babies in the North Shore towns (or to parents who once lived in North Shore) are mysteriously born with a Red Sox logo tattooed on their chest. We’re kidding, but the dedication and spirit of Red Sox fans is undeniable. And no matter what happens, The New England Patriots will never lose favor with their devoted fans in North Shore even when the rest of country is badmouthing the team.

Patriotism is also abundant in the area. North Shore is the birthplace of the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. The Atlantic Ocean fosters international commerce as well as provides the freshest and finest seafood in America, which diners enjoy along with their favorite craft beer. Local breweries are abundant. Donut aficionados say the only donut worth eating comes from Dunkin Donuts. If you are lost and ask for directions, if you are told “it’s just past the Dunkin Donuts”, you better ask someone else. Dunkin Donuts is so popular in North Shore you will find one on practically every street.

Residents of North Shore speak with a unique Revere accent. The surest way to unintentionally insult a resident of the North Shore is to remark on their “Boston” accent. It’s not Boston; the speech pattern is a local dialect exclusive to the North Shore.
Ultimately, it’s the people who make the North Shore so special, it’s always been about the people and always will be. Past and present residents of North Shore are strong, determined, loyal, full of community spirit, enterprising, generous, and fun loving. The people of North Shore have learned from the mistakes of their ancestors and work diligently to secure a prosperous and praiseworthy future for generations to come.

“We love serving the North Shore”, is the mantra of the team of Billy Sweet Chimney Service and are proud to bring our chimney services to its residents.