Q.   How often should my chimney be cleaned?

A.  CSIA recommends an annual inspection to ensure the safety of you and your home. Upon doing an inspection it will be determined if a sweep is necessary. Depending on how often you burn and what type of wood you burn, will also determine how often your chimney needs to be swept. If you have between 50-80 (or more) fires a year, it is likely you need your chimney swept.


Q.   What type of wood should I be burning?

A.    For burning firewood in wood stoves or fireplaces, choose well seasoned wood that has been split for a minimum of six months - one year and stored in a covered and elevated location. Never burn Christmas trees or treated wood in your fireplace or wood stove. All firewood contains water. Freshly cut wood can be up to 45% water!, while well seasoned firewood generally has a 20-25% moisture content. Well seasoned firewood is easier to start, produces more heat, and burns cleaner. The important thing to remember is that the water must be gone before the wood will burn. If your wood is cut 6 months to a year in advance and properly stored, the sun and wind will do the job for free. If you try to burn green wood, the heat produced by combustion must dry the wood before it will burn, using up a large percentage of the available energy in the process. This results in less heat delivered to your home, and literally gallons of acidic water in the form of creosote deposited in your chimney.


Q.   Do I need a chimney cap? Why?

A. Yes you need a chimney cap. It is vital to protect your chimney liner from rain and snow; which can cause deterioration inside your chimney. The chimney cap will also prevent animals from being trapped inside your chimney which can result in the animal dyeing. Dead animals can leave behind hazardous diseases or bacteria. 


Q.   Is there a mess with a chimney cleaning?

A. With chimney doctors method there is no mess left behind. Chimney Doctors uses the most efficient equipment and guarantees there will be no dust left in your house. 


Q.   What is that smell coming from my chimney?

A. This could be a few different factors. One could be dead animals due to the lack of a chimney cap. The smell is due to creosote deposits in the chimney, a natural byproduct of wood burning. The odor is usually worse in the summer when the humidity is high and the air conditioner is turned on. A good sweeping will help but usually won't solve the problem completely. There are commercial chimney deodorants that work pretty well, and many people have good results with baking soda or even kitty litter set in the fireplace. The real problem is the air being drawn down the chimney, a symptom of overall pressure problems in the house. Some make-up air should be introduced somewhere else in the house. A tight sealing, top mounted damper will also reduce this air flow coming down the chimney.


Q.   Why is there cold air coming from the chimney?

A. This could be a drafting issue. This could also be a wind-induced downdraft and can be fixed with a wind cap. Depending on the location of your fireplace, there can be a negative air pressure. This is when the pressure in the upper levels of the house tend to be higher than the lower levels of the house due to the tendency of hot air rising. This is known as the "stack effect". This may also be resolved with a fresh air intake.


Q.   Why is there smoke coming in my house while burning wood?

A.  Just like cold air issues, this can be a drafting issue either from no fresh air intake or the result of pressure difference in the house. Many times it is found that the damper in a fireplace may be used incorrectly. Make sure the damper is open when burning wood. However almost every chimney different which can result in a different diagnosis.


Q.   What kind of tools do you use?

A.  For chimney cleaning each technician mainly uses a flue brush with rods and extension rods, a triple filtered HEPA vacuum, a drop cloth to keep your floor clean, and many different kids of hand brushes. New to sweeping, chimney doctors uses a top fan which creates a vacuum inside the chimney to blow the dust outside your chimney top into the atmosphere. For a Level 2 Inspection a "chimscan" camera is used to get a 360 degree view of the inside of your chimney. 


Q.   What are you looking for during an inspection?

A.   When your technician is inspecting your fireplace and chimney, He is looking for any possible blockage, chimney liner cracks which can cause a house fire, deterioration to your chimney structure, and the creosote build up inside your chimney. Basically your technician is checking to see if your chimney is safe to use.


Q.   How long does a chimney cleaning take?

A.  A chimney cleaning can take one hour to an hour and a half depending on the size of the chimney. To be safe plan for two hours of your time.


Q.   How long does a dryer vent cleaning take?

A.   Depending on the size of the vent and the location it can take an hour.


Q.   How often should I clean my dryer vent?

A.  To prevent a fire inside your dryer, it is recommended to have it cleaned every year. For larger families it is possible to need it cleaned more often.


Q.   What is the CSIA certification?

A.  The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to chimney and venting system safety. CSIA is committed to the elimination of residential chimney fires, carbon monoxide intrusion and other chimney-related hazards that result in the loss of lives and property. To achieve these goals, CSIA devotes its resources to educating the public, chimney and venting professionals and other fire prevention specialists about the prevention and correction of chimney and venting system hazards. Every CSIA certified technician is one who passes the high standards sweep exam and agrees to abide by the CSIA code of ethics. http://www.csia.org/About-CSIA/  


Q.  What is the animal screeching in my fireplace?

A.   In most cases its a Chimney Swift. This is the only bird that can fly up and down your chimney. And they do, looking for places to make their nest. You’ll know you have these uninvited guests when you hear the baby chimney swift birds "screeching". Once these swifts have made their home in your chimney, it is unlawful to remove these birds due to their endangered status. If you have swifts in your chimney, we have to wait until the fall when these birds migrate to remove the nest and install a chimney cap.