WHAT DOES A CHIMNEY SWEEP DO?
Our chimney sweeping service is unique in that we don’t just do a sweep and run. We go up top to inspect the bricks, crown, flue tiles, flashing, mortar, caps, etc. Then we go down into the basement to inspect foundation and appliance venting systems. As a part of our sweeping process, we will usually remove the damper and get out any debris from behind the rain shelf that other companies surely overlook! After the flue has been thoroughly swept, it will be video scanned to view the condition of tiles and joints between tiles for safety. These pictures can then be emailed right to you! You will also receive a complete written report along with an estimate for any repairs that are needed.
Click on the tutorial button below to learn more about what we will be doing to clean and service your chimney and ventilation system. This tutorial video is brought to you by the Chimney Safety Institute of America, a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to chimney and venting system safety.
CHIMNEY CLEANING AND SWEEPING
Cleaning prices will depend on your home type of chimney. But before we even get to a cleaning quote, an inspection is performed. We always inspect first to determine if cleaning is really necessary. We use plenty of drop cloths to protect the hearth and floor and runners to cover the carpet. Safe, Clean, and Efficient! If you do not need a cleaning, we will complete the inspection and you only pay for the trip charge and inspection report.
About Our Chimney Cleaning Process
Prices will vary based on if you have a masonry chimney made of bricks or stone, a wood stove, or a pre-fabricated fireplace. When accessible, cleaning includes a camera scan of the flue. For masonry fireplaces, we include removing and replacing the damper in most cases in order to do a better job cleaning the rain shelf. The rain shelf is the pocket behind the damper and the smoke chamber, which is the funnel-shaped part of the chimney located directly above the damper. We use RO-VAC vacuum systems to control the dust and suck the soot. This machine minimizes any dust from escaping the work area and permeating through the house. Even the smallest of soot or ash particles will be contained rather than blowing right through the filter as it will with most shop vacuums.
What’s Potentially Different About Wood Stove Inserts?
If you have a wood insert, which is a cast-iron stove inside a masonry chimney, then it should be lined with a stainless steel liner. Inserts are designed to vent into a specific diameter pipe. If you vent into a smoke chamber, which is designed to funnel the smoke from an open fire into the flue, you are at risk of third-degree or glazed creosote forming in your chimney. This exposes you to a high probability of a flue fire and thus is NOT recommended. If you do not have a liner installed we will need to pull out the insert, which can weigh 400 pounds, and haul it away. We will then do a complete masonry sweep and scan. Unlined inserts are considered a code violation. Our recommendation is to have us remove and dispose of these units. If your wood insert is lined, cleaning costs will be the same as a regular masonry chimney.
MY CHIMNEY LOOKS FINE RIGHT? MAYBE NOT.
A chimney problem can’t be diagnosed with just a visual inspection – in that case, the Quality Fireplace technician will suggest doing an internal video inspection where a small camera is inserted into the chimney to video record all surfaces. This will help the technician diagnose your problem correctly, and provide you with the best options for repair.
Chimney internal video inspections are necessary to determine the overall integrity of a chimney and valuable if you are considering buying a home and want a visual record of the chimney’s interior condition.
CHIMNEYS ARE MAINTENANCE FREE RIGHT? WRONG.
Your chimney and the flue that lines it-may add architectural interest to your home, but their real function is to carry dangerous fireplace, wood stove, or furnace gases and smoke safely out of your home. A chimney helps your household air stay breathable … just as your windows and your bathroom, attic, and kitchen vents do. Unlike those other exhaust points in your home, however, fireplace and wood stove chimneys need a special kind of care.
NOBODY WANTS A CHIMNEY FIRE
A chimney fire in action can be impressive. It has been described variously as creating:
- loud cracking and popping noise
- a lot of dense smoke, and
- an intense temperature and
With proper chimney system care, chimney fires are entirely preventable.
MAINTENANCE IS A MUST
Clean chimneys don’t catch fire. Make sure a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep like Quality Fireplace inspects your solid fuel venting system annually, and cleans and repairs it whenever needed. We have a variety of maintenance recommendations depending on how you use your fireplace or stove.
Repair or Replace a Damaged Chimney Crown
The chimney crown (also referred to as the chimney wash) is the top element of a masonry chimney. It covers and seals the top of the chimney from the flue liner(s) to the chimney edge. Most masonry chimneys are built with an inadequate crown constructed from common mortar mix, the same mixture used to lay the bricks of the chimney. This mortar is not designed for and will not withstand years of weather abuse without cracking, chipping or deteriorating – situations that allow air and water to penetrate the chimney. In fact, most sand and mortar crowns crack almost immediately after installation because of shrinkage. A proper chimney crown should be constructed of a portland cement-based mixture and cast or formed so it provides an overhand, or drip edge, projecting beyond all sides of the chimney by a minimum of two inches. The flue liner tile(s) should project above the crown a minimum of two inches. The crown should provide a downward slope that will direct the water from the flue to the edge of the crown. The overhanging drip edge, by directing the run-off from the crown away from the chimney, helps prevent erosion of the brick and mortar in the chimney’s vertical surfaces.
Repair Deteriorated Mortar Joints
Deteriorated mortar joints are entry spots for water. Proper mortar joints have no gaps or missing mortar and are struck, or shaped, in a way that directs water out of the joint. When mortar deteriorates from exposure to weather, it becomes much more absorbent. A common repair for improper or deteriorated mortar joints is called re-jointing or tuck pointing. In this process, the existing mortar joint is cut out to an appropriate depth and the joint is repacked with new mortar compound. The joint then is struck to form a concave surface that will direct water out of the joint. A good re-jointing job, using proper materials, will give the chimney a much longer life span, and often will enhance its appearance.
Repair or Replace Flashing
Flashing is the seal between the roofing material and the chimney. Flashing prevents rainwater or snow melt from running down the chimney into living spaces where it can stain or damage ceiling and walls or wall paneling or cause rot in rafters, joists or other structural elements. In many cases, the flashing is a single L-shaped sheet of metal that is attached to the side of the chimney and the roof. The most effective flashing is made up of two elements, the flashing and the counter-flashing. The flashing or base flashing – an L-shaped element extending up the chimney side and out onto the roof – is attached to the roof and sealed. The counter flashing, which overlaps the base flashing, is embedded and sealed in the chimney’s masonry joints. This two-element flashing allows both the roof and the chimney to expand or contract at their own rates without breaking the waterproof seal in either area. Install a cricket to stop or prevent leaks If the chimney is located on the low side of the roof, where the flow of run-off is directed against the chimney, the installation of a cricket will afford additional protection against water leaking into the home. A cricket is a water deflector that serves to direct rainwater away from the chimney. Crickets are recommended on chimneys more than 3D-inches wide and they are especially important on steep roofs. To set up a time for Quality Fireplace to come out and provide an estimate or to schedule a time for a chimney cleaning, either click or call us today.
When is the last time you thought about the health of your chimney and whether or not it needs repairs? While chimneys can often be thought of as a sturdy part of your home, but they need care and maintenance just like any other part. In Southeastern Wisconsin, it’s a good idea to give your chimney an annual check. A great time for this is before summer and before your fireplace most likely stays stagnant until fall. It is important to know what to look out for in a fireplace and chimney, so here are some signs that your chimney may need a rebuild:
- Shaling: If water has seeped into the gap between your chimney and flue lining, you may begin to see shaling flue tiles fall into your fireplace.
- Whitened bricks: called efflorescence, water seeping into the bricks pulls the natural salts and minerals to the surface. The water evaporates, leaving the minerals behind and weakened integrity of the entire structure.
- Damaged crown: Possibly the most important part of your chimney keeps water and the elements out. If a damaged crown has been ignored, a chimney rebuild is a must.
The best chimney rebuild, of course, is the one you can avoid. So make sure you take the necessary measures to check the integrity of your fireplace and chimney on an annual basis to avoid these dangers.
REAL ESTATE INSPECTIONS
Unless your home inspector doubles as a certified chimney sweep through the CSIA, chances are they don’t have the training, experience, or equipment to accurately detect issues with your chimney. Home inspectors typically can do the equivalent of a level 1 chimney inspection. Basically, they look and ‘inspect’ the chimney components that can be see by the visible eye and call it a day. Unfortunately, that means a lot of hidden issues can easily be missed. We know chimney issues can be a big deal, often costing homeowners thousands of dollars. That’s why we recommend all potential home buyers hire a CSIA certified Chimney Sweep like Quality Fireplace and Chimney Services to provide a thorough level 2 inspection with a high definition video scanner.
Although we hope for best case scenarios of offering homeowners peace of mind knowing their chimney and fireplace are safe, we are confident in our abilities to clean, service, and repair any issues your fireplace or chimney may present with.
Give us a call today or request an appointment below!
Gas fireplaces have become all the rage, and for good reason. They are a highly efficient way to fix cold chimney draft, lower your home heating bill and update the look of a room. However, like all things, they can sometimes breakdown, stop working, and have issues. Quality Fireplace is unique in that we can install gas fireplaces as well as diagnose and repair them when needed.
Gas can be incredibly dangerous, especially if a leak is present and ignored. Call our experts who are trusted repair professionals to quickly assess, diagnose, and repair your gas fireplace to. As gas service experts, we are here when you need us!
Gas Repair & Service $252 includes trip charge, diagnosis, and tune-up.