Our Company Blog

Fall Leaves – Keep Them Out of Your Chimney!

As temperatures across the country finally drop, leaves are turning and falling little by little. Make sure these leaves aren’t falling into your chimney and clogging it up. One of the best times of the year for your fireplace may also be the worst if you have a flammable obstruction in your flue. Leaves and other organic materials can be a dangerous hazard if your chimney isn’t capped. Call a chimney expert now to make sure your flue opening is protected with a cap.

Protection from the Top Down

Leaves on rooftopWithout a chimney cap, your flue opening is left wide open so that anything can fall or climb right into it. If you have trees hanging above your house, the leaves and limbs can fall directly into your flue, obstructing airflow and leading to serious fire hazards. The cap also protects your chimney from other hazards.

  • Chimney Caps Keep Water Out
    Your chimney is susceptible to all types of weather if it’s left uncapped. Precipitation can enter year-round, leading to serious water damage whether it’s spring showers, summer storms, winter snow and ice, and more. Protect your chimney system against costly damage by protecting it against water damage with a cap.
  • Chimney Caps Keep Other Weather Out
    Your fire may be affected by wind if it isn’t capped. If you live in an area of high wind, you can have a special cap installed that moves with the wind instead of allowing it to blow into the flue. This prevents gusts from affecting your flame while a fire is lit and prevents drafts from affecting your central air and heating.
  • Chimney Caps Keep Animals Out
    Animals don’t just become a bother in the spring. They can enter your chimney in winter too! If the flue is uncapped, anything can get into it that can get onto your roof—birds, chipmunks, squirrels, and even raccoons. Keeps critters from damaging your chimney, leaving debris behind them, and even dying and becoming an obstruction.
  • Chimney Caps Keep Sparks In
    When your fire burns hot, sparks may rise up the flue and even out the chimney still alight. These sparks can go on to ignite debris on the roof or even dry grasses and brush on the ground. A chimney cap is equipped with a spark suppressant that sends it straight back down the flue.

Don’t light your fire in a dangerous chimney this fall! This is the time for your fireplace to shine, and it can all be ruined when the chimney isn’t capped.

Prevent serious fire hazards by calling the chimney experts at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep today. Prevent water damage, weather interference, and animal intrusion by trusting the professionals this fall. If you’re not certain that your chimney isn’t free of damage or debris this fall, schedule a chimney sweep or inspection today.

Call 617-469-4528 today or schedule an appointment online.

Why Waterproof Your Chimney

Of all the things that can shorten the life of a perfectly good chimney, water is the worst. Not only does water wreak havoc on masonry—the very substance your chimney is made of—but it is everywhere. Water comes in different forms all year round. When temperatures fall, water in the chimney is even worse. Fortunately for our customers with masonry chimneys, there is something we can do to prevent water damage during all seasons, and year after year.

Water and Your Chimneysnowy roof with chimney

Because of the materials that make up masonry, water is best avoided. The porous nature of masonry is perfect for venting your fires, allowing smoke, gas, and heat to release through the brick and mortar. This also allows water in through the masonry—unless it’s prevented. At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep, we recommend preventing chimney leaks before damage occurs.
Your chimney leak can lead to:

  • Rusted parts and assemblies
  • Tilted/collapsed/settled chimney
  • Cracked/damaged flue liner
  • Deteriorated central heat
  • Clogged clean-out system
  • Rotting adjacent wood/wall coverings
  • Water stained bricks/walls

In addition to physical damage, your leaky chimney may also result in a drop in efficiency. A drop in efficiency means a rise in fire risk, putting your home and your family at risk.

Prevent Leaks From the Top Down

In order for your chimney to be truly waterproof, it must have all the necessary parts installed and in proper working order. The first thing we check when we get a call about a leaky chimney is the flashing. It is often improperly installed and a common point of water entry. The chimney must also have a chimney cap and crown to shed water from the top of the chimney.

Once all these components are in place, we can take it one step further by waterproofing the masonry itself. Our waterproofing agent is vapor-permeable which means the heat and gas produced by your fire will still be able to escape but water molecules will not be allowed in. This barrier penetrates deeply into the masonry so even cracks and gaps are protected from water penetration—and this protection lasts ten years!

When to Schedule Waterproofing

If you have never had your chimney masonry waterproofed or it has been more than a decade, it’s time to schedule this important appointment. Other water repellants and sealants from your local hardware store are not enough. In fact, most of them do more harm than good. Most sealants and repellants may keep water out, but also seal gases and moisture IN. This leads to a host of other problems. Let our team at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep do the job, and get it right the first time.

We also install chimney caps, repair and install flashing, replace throat dampers with new, top-sealing dampers with an airtight seal, and repair and seal damaged crowns.

Don’t wait. Have your chimney waterproofed now, and you won’t have to worry about the water freezing in your masonry this winter. Worry about the rest of your summer, and leave the chimney up to us!

Call our Boston, North Shore, or Portland location today.

Best Sweeps in New England

It takes a lot of effort, training, and experience to get to be the best in any industry. While we put in our fair share of work at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep, we have to put credit where it’s due. A lot of our success is because of the great communities we have served for over 30 years. The communities of Boston, North Shore, and Portland are unique in their own right, are saturated with American history, and have the best of both worlds–big city necessities and small-town values. Once you visit, you’ll want to stay!

Bostonbrick chimney

To talk about your Boston chimney and hearth supplies, you may want to call our Boston office at 617-469-4528. For everything else Boston, you have to see it to believe it! This beautiful community has the finest museums, the oldest architecture, and the best of New England food, festivities, and features for all. 

Local Eats – You can dine in jeans or black-tie and still get the best Boston has to offer. Stop in at Neptune Oyster for clam chowder, fresh fish, and more.  Visit Fenway Park and walk in the same halls as Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. Relive the iconic Revolutionary act with a tour of Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. If you newly reside in the area, scope out your favorite parks to picnic and play. Boston is a great family city, whether visiting or relocating. We even have dog parks for Rover!

North Shore

With all the big-city feel of Boston, but all the small town wonder of ivy, our North Shore communities boast history and culture as well as shore life. Explore the haunting true stories of those lost with a visit to the Witch Trials Memorial and Salem Witch Museum. Take the family on a learning experience at various area farms and finish with some fun at a trampoline park or recreation area. Danvers and North Shore area boast a variety of global cuisine, as well as American style soups and sandwiches, and fine Italian as well. You’ll never get stuck in a rut with all the options you’ll find here. 

Portland

The unique location of Portland makes it wholly unique to the rest of Maine. In terms of weather, Portland is a few weeks behind Boston, and a few weeks ahead of Northern Maine. You can find small businesses throughout the area, even downtown Portland, and as much seafood as you can possibly eat. The area has a variety of neighborhoods and communities, great for families, singles, students, and professionals. We love to work with all types of home and business owners, and Portland is full of life!

If you reside in any of our service areas and haven’t ventured out of the house all winter, now is a great time! The weather is getting more mild by the day, and depending on where you live, spring may be visiting before you know it. 

While you are planning your spring outings, don’t forget to also plan your chimney and vent maintenance. Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep specializes in historical chimneys and winter damage — both commonly seen in our area of New England. We can help you this spring. 

Call one of our offices to schedule with us today.

Boston: 617-469-4528

North Shore: 781-593-2333

Portland: 207-773-7933

Why Does My Chimney Deteriorate?

Your chimney is built to last. Professional chimney sweeps and master masons build chimneys that are both beautiful and durable, but even those that are well-made can deteriorate over time. The cause of deterioration can be a wide range of things, but it may be easy to diagnose and prevent with professional care.

Water Damage

Your chimney is most affected by water. Because masonry is made up of many materials (all of which are adversely affected by water), you can count on quite a bit of damage when water is allowed in the system. In fact, if water penetrates the system, it can lead to major deterioration, ranging from simple rust to gaps and voids in the liner and serious structural concerns. Water doesn’t just damage the chimney either, it can cause leaks and damage in all other areas of the home. If you have a leak in your bathroom or kitchen ceiling, you may assume it’s a roof problem and call a contractor, when you should be calling your chimney professional. The first thing we’ll check is your flashing. It’s the most common point of water penetration, and will be the best prevention of deterioration and damage.

Winter Damagecauses of chimney deterioration

If even a small amount of water is allowed into the masonry, the freezing temperatures in winter can cause serious masonry damage. This winter damage is caused from a freeze/thaw cycle in which water enters through small cracks and gaps, then freezes–expanding and breaking apart the mortar around it. When the chimney warms up again, the water melts and moves further into the damaged masonry, repeating the process all winter long. A minor leak or small amount of damage in the fall can become serious damage by the end of burn season.

Natural Occurrences and Fires

Over time your chimney can become deteriorated on the outside because of sunlight, weather, storm winds, and seismic activities. On the inside, your chimney system can become deteriorated when regular maintenance is neglected. The system should be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent corrosion caused from soot, creosote, and moisture. If left in the flue, the liner can become damaged, putting your family and home at risk, allowing carbon monoxide into the living space, and igniting combustibles.

Chimney and Masonry Repairs

No matter what the problems is, big or small, we can repair it at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep. Whether your chimney is new or old, even if it’s historic, we are experienced and trained in repairs and restorations. We complete crown repairs, repointing, relining, and more.

For all of your chimney repairs and preventative needs, Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep has the expertise and materials to get the job done and to get it done right. We stay abreast of fire safety codes and industrial advancements, and all of our techs are CSIA certified chimney sweeps. Call Billy Sweet at 617-469-4528.

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.

winter-storm-chimney-blog-image-boston-ma-billy-sweet-chimney-sweep

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.