Our Company Blog

Firebrick Patterns for Interior Fireplace

When you invest in a fireplace to add value to your property, you want it to match your home and your tastes. The housing market is trending toward fireplaces now more than ever. Additionally, they aren’t just practical additions to any home, but beautiful as well. When you have a fireplace and hearth professionally installed you get the option to personalize it to fit your exact specifications.

Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep fireplace and chimney experts are not only certified chimney sweeps! We also specialize in masonry construction and repair. We can build a hearth and fireplace from scratch. In addition, remodel an existing one with bricks or stone in a variety of designs.

Installation and Repair

Only a certified chimney sweep can properly construct or repair a fireplace or chimney. Your family’s safety and comfort is too important to leave up to chance. Hire a professional to get the job done right the first time.

  • A professional will choose correct materials.
    Too often, we are called in to repair damage from an incorrect installation. Amateurs and cons often use regular bricks instead of fire bricks to construct the fireplace. They may do this to cut costs or because they simply don’t know any better. However, either way it leads to frequent damage, increased fire risk, and unsightly heat stains.
  • A professional should be able to install any design.
    Whether you want a square or arched fireplace opening, an experienced mason should be able to do it and do it well. Professionals who have the expertise required should be able to assist you in designing your dream fireplace and hearth.
  • A professional should know safety codes and adhere to them.
    Interior fireplaces should abide by safety codes. Firebricks are available and rated as low, medium, or high duty. Also, designs should be compliant for safe use in a fireplace.

Your Fireplace Design

The homeowner has more freedom to design the hearth and mantel than the firebox itself, but there are many patterns that comply with safety standards. Your chimney expert should not only be able to comply with safety standards, but should be experienced in the actual design and implementation of it. The firebox withstands the most abuse of any part of the chimney system, with the highest temperatures for the longest periods of time. If the fire box isn’t constructed properly, you may spend a small fortune in future repairs and damage.

Protecting Your Fireplace Design

Once you’ve settled on your dream fireplace and had it built, you want it to last. With adequate care and professional maintenance to your fireplace and chimney, your system should last the life of your home, but there are certain preventative measures to insure it does. At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep we offer waterproofing services that protects your masonry from water damage. It’s water that does the most damage to the chimney’s masonry, and when water gets into your fireplace, it can mingle with the soot and ash there to deteriorate your masonry from the inside out.

Call Billy Sweet to discuss your firebrick design with a masonry expert today or request an appointment online.

Chimney Pot Jobs in Boston

Chimneys come with a lot of parts! There are chimney flue liners, caps, crowns, damper assemblies, and more. If your home is Victorian-style you most likely have a chimney pot topping your chimney. Chimney pots are effective for lengthening a too-short chimney to improve updraft, thereby increasing overall efficiency. Additionally, they last the life of the chimney. They only require a check-up every decade or so. Plus, they improve the look of the chimney.

Chimney Pot Jobs In Boston - Boston MA - Billy Sweet Chimney SweepThe Job

Being the go-to certified chimney sweep in the Boston area, our technicians at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep are trained and experienced installing chimney pots. Sometimes a homeowner needs a chimney pot for a practical reason other than improving updraft. For instance, in this chimney pot job documented on our Facebook page, the homeowner needed chimney pots in order to allow the smoke and vapor to escape free of debris or obstruction. You can see in the photos that there is a neighboring fence obstructing the chimney’s ventilation.

In order to install chimney pots a few things have to take place. First, the technician should assess the job, then begin by removing the chase cover. Inside the chimney there is a flue liner. Sometimes there is more than one. Each of the flue liners will need a chimney pot. To attach the liner to the pot, your technician will design a carriage specifically for your chimney. Afterwards, they will secure the pots in place. Once the chimney pots are in place, the technician installs the chase cover and storm collar. This is essential for waterproofing, especially in the New England climate.

TrChimney Pot Jobs In Boston - Boston MA - Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep 2usting a Professional

When it comes to making adjustments of any kind to your chimney system, you should never attempt the work yourself. Only a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® (CCS) has the training and expertise to properly install a chimney pot and more. Following any change or installation by Billy Sweet Chimney Sweeps, your technician will provide a report and inspection. This ensures that the job was completed properly.

Only an experienced professional knows when and how to utilize the chimney pot. This also includes how to match the appropriate chimney pot to the the type of chimney flue. Choosing a chimney sweep that not only recommends them, but installs them, is the best option for your home. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends regular chimney sweeps and annual chimney inspections. Doing this will keep your chimney at it’s safest and most efficient. Your chimney sweep should inspect the chimney pot during this inspection.

Before you make a decision about your chimney, or decide to make an online purchase and do the work yourself, you should call a professional. Don’t put your family’s safety and comfort at risk by cutting corners! Call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep or contact us online.

Levels of Chimney Inspection

Before your certified chimney sweep comes, it's good to know the different levels of inspection and what they do in each level.

Before your certified chimney sweep comes, it’s good to know the different levels of inspection and what they do in each level.

While it is accurate to say that no two chimneys are the same, it used to also be that no two chimney inspections were the same. This meant that depending on who you hired to do your inspection and subsequent sweeping, the inspection process could be entirely different, with widely varying degrees of thoroughness. Thankfully, in January of 2000, the Chimney Safety Institute of America introduced three levels of chimney inspection and adopted them into code. This means that any chimney sweep who has been certified by the C.S.I.A. (as any sweep should be if he or she is working on your chimney) will conduct one of three levels of inspection according to exacting specifications.

The 3 Levels of Chimney Inspection

The C.S.I.A. has clearly outlined three levels of chimney inspection. Depending on the condition of your chimney and the dangers that exist inside, one of the technicians at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep will be able to assess which inspection level your chimney warrants. Each inspection utilizes a closed circuit camera to gain a comprehensive look at the flue.

Level 1: The most basic (and most common) inspection looks at all “readily accessible” portions of the inside and outside of the flue, the heating appliance, and its connections.

Level 2: The next level of inspection is recommended when any changes have been made to the heating system. A Level 2 inspection will take a more in-depth look at the chimney and appliance and will include all parts of the chimney made accessible by attics, crawl spaces, and basements.

Level 3: The most comprehensive inspection of all, a Level 3 inspection involves the removal of some components of the chimney or the building to gain full access to the chimney. This inspection is recommended when a Level 2 inspection has indicated that there’s a hidden danger inside your flue.

Read more about chimney inspections here.

Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep is able to serve a wide swath of customers, as we have locations in Eastern Massachusetts, Southern New Hampshire, and Portland, Maine. Contact us today!

Levels of Inspection for Your Chimney

Levels of Chimney Inspections

Everyone that has a wood-burning fireplace knows how wonderful they can be in the cooler fall and winter months but your first actions regarding your fireplace should take place long before you build your first fire of the season. A regular chimney inspection should be performed every year to ensure that your chimney is safe and ready to use. Just as all chimneys are not created equal so to can be said about chimney inspections. In fact there are 3 levels of chimney inspection and all have different qualifications on when they should be performed.

Hire a professionally certified chimney sweep to inspect your chimney each year.

Hire a professionally certified chimney sweep to inspect your chimney each year.

The first and most common type of inspection is a Level 1 inspection. This is the type of inspection that should be performed annually to ensure the safety of your fireplace and chimney. This involves basic examination of all accessible chimney components. This includes both exterior and interior components. While some tools may be required to remove coverings or doors to gain access to certain parts of the chimney there is no work done on the actual structural integrity of the masonry unless obvious flaws are visible prompting your chimney sweep to perform a level 2 chimney inspection.

Level 2 chimney inspections are performed when changes are made to the system or some sort of seismic or weather event may have cause damage to the foundation and structure of the chimney and flue itself. It is also recommended that a level 2 inspection be performed if you have moved into a place with a fireplace. The types of changes that can facilitate the performance of a level 2 inspection include changes in the type of fuel being burned in the fireplace as well as changes to the flue or lining (whether it be materials, positioning, etc.). Level 2 inspections usually involve the use of a video scanning system to inspect the entirety of the interior sections of the flue and chimney. It will also include inspection of the exterior portions of the chimney accessible through the attic and/or crawlspaces. If this turns up additional structural issues a level 3 chimney inspection will be performed.

Level 3 chimney inspections involve an extensive inspection of the entirety of the chimney and flue systems. Removal of part of the chimney structure may be required to properly assess the safety and functionality of the fireplace and chimney and will determine the steps necessary to bring the chimney into compliance with safety codes. This type of inspection is used if some serious hazard exists.

Always remember the old adage “It is always better to be safe than sorry”. Have you chimney inspected regularly to make sure that your system is safe and ready to use and avoid a problem that can cost more than just money.

 

Creosote Buildup in Your Chimney

Dangers of Creosote

When a chimney technician comes to your home for a chimney sweeping appointment, the main focus of their job is removing creosote, a byproduct of combustion that builds up on your flue walls as you use your wood-burning fireplace or stove. How does creosote end up in your chimney?

Danger of Creosote - Boston MA - Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep

Danger of Creosote – Boston MA – Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep

Hot gases rise in your flue when you light your fires, carrying along various particles; that hot gas hits the less-hot flue walls, and liquid condensation results. That condensation turns into creosote.

You’ll want to have those creosote deposits removed because they’re dirty and smelly, and as the creosote thickens on your flue walls, it can make your chimney less efficient than it could and should be. You need to have creosote removed because it’s highly flammable, and left unchecked, it could lead to a chimney fire. If that happens, best-case scenario, the creosote burns and extinguishes, cracking your flue tiles and leaving you with thousands of dollars in necessary chimney repairs. Worst-case, that fire spreads to the combustible materials in your walls and ceiling, and your chimney fire becomes a home fire.

Creosote build-up is an inevitable part of using a wood-burning fireplace, so safer fireplace use means keeping up with regular chimney sweeping and maintenance.

Different Stages Of Creosote

Creosote develops in three different stages in your flue. Stage one and two creosote, which grades from a more powder-y to a puffy or crunchy consistency, can be removed with standard chimney sweeping practices. (A CSIA-certified sweep will use chimney brushes and tools to remove the creosote from the flue walls and contain it in a specially designed vacuum.)

Stage three, or glazed creosote, is tougher — it builds from layers of sticky, liquid creosote that don’t get an opportunity to dry before another layer develops. Those layers eventually turn into a hard, shiny and extremely stubborn glaze. Chimney technicians have to use chemicals to break down glazed creosote, and cleaning that correctly is an involved, painstaking process. Still, it’s important to have glazed creosote removed, because it’s highly combustible, and very dangerous.

How To Minimize Creosote Buildup

The higher the moisture content in your firewood, the more creosote in your flue. In most cases, chimneys that develop troublesome glazed creosote got that way because the homeowner had been using green, wet wood, which burned cooler, smokier and sootier than proper, seasoned cordwood will.

Failing to open your chimney damper all the way, and allowing a fire to smolder, can also lead to more creosote buildup.

The best approach: Open your damper all the way before you light a fire, and make sure to always use seasoned or kiln-dried cordwood. And even as you’re practicing proper fireplace use, have your chimney swept regularly — cleaner chimneys are safer chimneys.