Chimney Care Time!
Don’t we all love to curl up by the fire with a tasty cup of hot chocolate and relax? Many homeowners, especially those of us in New Hampshire, will at some point or another burn wood to heat our homes. Late summer is the ideal time to think about our chimneys and make certain they are in good working condition. A chimney’s condition can really affect the health of our family and our home.
Of course many questions come with chimney care and we thought it was best to let the experts handle this one. We recently had a nice interview with Heidi Pompey, owner and marketing manager at Sin Cal Chimney’s out of Weare, NH. Locally owned and operated, Heidi and her husband Kyle started Sin Cal Chimney’s in 2013. Together they have years of business experience and chimney expertise and put a lot of pride in their work. Sin Cal Chimney’s motto (appropriately enough) is “Kiss Your Ash Goodbye” and they provide chimney maintenance and repair throughout southern New Hampshire.
Let’s look at some FAQ and what Sin Cal Chimney’s recommends:
How often should my chimney be cleaned?
Typically your chimney should be cleaned once a year. There are some wood stoves which burn extra dirty and require cleaning twice a year. This is also true of individuals who burn pine or green wood as it produces more creosote.
What is creosote?
Creosote is what sticks to the walls of your chimney or liner and can cause/catch fire.
What is involved with cleaning a chimney?
Some chimney sweeps, not all, will only “sweep” the chimney. We are more detailed than that. When you hire us for a cleaning we will sweep the chimney and clean your appliance (i.e. wood stove, pellet stove, coal stove, fireplace, or furnace) clean out. Our cleaning also comes with a 20 point inspection and estimate for repairs, if necessary.
What is the best time of year to clean the chimney?
Almost everyone waits until fall to have the chimney cleaned and then it is a mass panic to ensure it is done before that first fire. When, truthfully, the best time to have it done is spring. If you have your chimney/appliance cleaned in the spring you will avoid the dirty, bonfire smell in your home, caused by the hardening creosote. And if your chimney does burn dirty it could avoid the creosote hardening over the summer and you needing a roll clean. A roll clean is more expensive because we need to treat your chimney with chemicals and then instead of using a brush to sweep it we use a drill, rod and chain attachment. The chain is used to break the creosote off because it has formed a crusted shell on your flue.
My chimney has stains on the brick, what is this from and how do I prevent it?
The stains could be caused by several things; old flashing which has rusted and now the rust color is staining your chimney, mold, moss or if it is stained black at the top then there could have been a chimney fire at some point. The flashing is easy to replace and it is better to be done sooner rather than later because it will prevent interior water damage to your home. Many people do not know this but your chimney is very porous and absorbs moisture and simple waterproofing can prevent the mold/moss and water from running down the interior of your walls (if it is a center chimney) as well as water in your basement. Waterproofing comes with a 10yr warranty.
How can I prevent a chimney fire?
Chimney fires can best be prevented with preventative maintenance and ensuring your appliance was installed properly. Your homeowners insurance will require them to be inspected before they will cover them.
What takes place during the chimney inspection and at what point should I have this done?
Our inspections cover a variety of items related to fire safety; the exterior of your chimney and deterioration, the flue stability and safety, if your appliance is installed properly and meets required clearances, stability and safety of stove, flashing, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and so on. Our basic inspection hits 20 different points. On request we can also perform a video inspection known as a level II inspection, although there is an additional fee for this. If you live in a condo they may require you to have an inspection performed every year, even if you don’t use the chimney. Also, our stainless steel liners and Class-A chimneys, which come with a lifetime warranty, are wonderful! The manufacturer usually requires you to provide documentation of annual inspections if you ever have a claim! Also, many home inspectors recommend hiring a certified sweep to conduct chimney inspections, as many times they are not permitted to climb on the roof during the inspection. Lastly, anytime you feel as though your heating appliance isn’t functioning properly, you have a back draft, or pieces of your chimney are falling off (pictured at left), these are all excellent times to conduct an inspection.
A BIG thank you Sin Cal Chimneys for answering the Frequently Asked Questions about Chimney care.
For more information or to contact Sin Cal Chimney’s visit their website: http://www.sincalchimneys.com
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A healthy chimney is a happy chimney!