What to Do after a Chimney Fire?

Chimney fires are incredibly scary and happen more than most people think. These fires can be explosive or they can smolder, undetectably, for days. While these fires are certainly dangerous, the good news is that they are easily preventable. By working with a chimney sweep in Alpharetta, GA, it is possible to keep your chimney in good working order and fire free. If, however, this news has come a bit too late, we want to relate some advice on how to recover from a chimney fire.

Step 1: Acceptance

We cannot overstate that the most important step in recovering from a chimney fire is recognizing there has been one. As previously stated, there may never be flames or even noticeable smoke, so homeowners will have to look for other clues. Most chimney fire evidence involves a substance called creosote. Creosote is the black or brown by-product of combustion that coats the inside of a chimney. Creosote may be flaky and crusty, or it may be tar-like and drip down the sides of the chimney chute. If the creosote coating the chimney looks like the outside of an over roasted marshmallow, the chance is pretty good that there has been a chimney fire. Other creosote-related evidence of a chimney fire is if someone finds it on the roof or ground, or the roof has been mysteriously damaged. Other signs of chimney fires include damage to the flue, rain cap, TV antenna, and/or masonry.

Step 2: Ask for Help

Upon discovering evidence of a chimney fire, it is extremely important to call a certified sweep to come assess the damage. If the damage from the chimney fire is not attended to, another fire could start, or the chimney/fireplace could malfunction in a number of other ways. We want to be clear that malfunctioning fireplaces can often be deadly.

Step 3: Gather Information

When the chimney sweep arrives, he or she will do an assessment of the damage and recommend the appropriate course of action. In many cases, the sweep will do an external evaluation of the damage and may also use a camera to get a better look inside the chimney chute. Depending on the damage caused by the fire, the fix may be as easy as replacing a rain cap or as involved as completely replacing the chimney and the chase. Common repairs we often have to make after a chimney fire include replacing flue tiles, patching masonry, and rebuilding masonry. Only a certified sweep will be able to tell how much work needs to be done.

Step 4: Act

If the sweep believes there has been a chimney fire, it is probably a good idea to call the responsible homeowner’s insurance company. While chances are that damage caused by chimney fires is covered, there are always exceptions to the rule. If an insurance adjuster says there is nothing the company can do, we recommend going over the policy personally before giving up.

1/22/15

Avoid Chimney Cleaning Scams this Winter

Here at Atlanta Chimney Doctor, LLC, we believe in every person getting a fair price and a good value on their chimney services, whether it be repair, cleaning, or replacement. Unfortunately, there are some dishonest people out there who want to take advantage of people when it comes to their chimneys, so here are 5 tips to avoid chimney-cleaning scams this winter.

Ask for and Contact References

When someone approaches you about providing chimney cleaning or inspection services, make sure you ask for and contact a number of their references. This is probably the first thing that you can do to make sure the company is reputable.

Avoid the “Too Good to Be True”

If a deal sounds too good to be true, it just might be. Make sure that you do not fall for a low price. Instead, contact some other chimney services and get estimates from each. This will give you a better idea of how much you should actually pay for these services.

Take Your Time

You might feel pressured by the chimney cleaner to take action quickly. This may be a sign of a scam. Make sure to take your time and do some shopping around. Despite what the company might be telling you, if they solicited your business in the first place, you have time to do your own due diligence.

Licensure and Insurance

The company should have an up-to-date license and insurance. If they are hesitant to provide these right away, it is probably best that you steer clear. Every chimney sweep should be able to provide copies of their license and insurance right away.

Do Your Own Research

There are a number of online sources that you can check. By doing a simple internet search, you can find a lot of information about a company’s reputation. You can also check the Better Business Bureau website to review any complaints filed against the company or find out if they even exist.

1/22/15

Reasons for Repairing a Chimney Chase

During this time of year, most people have fond thoughts of fireplaces and chimneys. Whether these thoughts have to do with warmth or jolly fat men doesn’t matter. All that matters is that, during the winter, people enjoy the comfort and ambiance of a beautiful fire crackling away. What few people realize, though, is that a fireplace comes with many parts and pieces that make it work and make it safe.

Where Is the Chimney Chase?

One of the most important parts of the whole fireplace construction is the chimney chase. This is the big, long part of the chimney that is easily seen on the side of houses with fireplaces. The chimney chase is responsible for covering the portion of the chimney that expels noxious gases from the home. Without this covering, all people would see would be a big, ugly metal chute attached to someone’s home. In order to make chimneys more visually appealing, home builders usually encase them in the same material from which the home is built. So if the home is made from brick, chances are the chase is brick as well.

Can They Be Damaged?

Unfortunately, there are several things that can damage a chimney chase including chimney fires, water, debris, and age. Chimney fires are a scary reality for anyone who has a chimney. The good news is, however, that they are easily preventable with routine chimney maintenance. The cause of chimney fires is simple: the chimney was dirty. Unfortunately, the repair is not simple as it may require building an entirely new chimney.

Damage by Water

More common reasons for needing expert chimney repair include acts of Mother Nature. Water is a homeowner’s worst enemy and it is no different for chimney chases. Water can easily find its way into the nooks, crooks, and crannies of a chase. Once there, it begins to expand and contract causing the chase to start breaking apart. Water can also cause mold, mildew, and rot to occur inside the chimney which is difficult, but not impossible, to repair.

Damage by Tree

Debris damage can occur from any number of things, but the most common is storms. Just like the rest of a home, chimneys can be severely damaged by falling branches. After a severe storm, it is always a good idea to have a certified chimney sweep come do an inspection of the chimney and all its parts. Many times, structural damage is easier to fix than water damage.

Damage by Time

Time is certainly no friend to a home. While it seems that appliances have a life span of about 10 years, chimneys usually last much longer. The key to making sure that a chimney lasts the lifetime of the house is finding a company that specializes in repairing chimneys. At Atlanta Chimney Repair, we provide thorough routine inspection and maintenance to make sure that a chimney stays in good repair for years to come.

1/14/15

What Causes Smoke Problems with Your Chimney?

Nothing ruins a relaxing evening by a cozy fire more quickly than a suffocating draft of smoke blowing into the house. Not only is this situation potentially dangerous to your physical health, but it will also likely harm your clothing, upholstery, carpets, and walls. Instead of enjoying a peaceful night, you now face the annoyance of removing smoke stains and stench from your home. Fortunately, we can explain the common causes of this issue so that you can easily avoid it. A chimney sweep can inspect your fireplace area and remedy any potential problems.

A Soiled Chimney

Creosote buildup is a natural product of repeated fires, but it also presents a serious fire hazard. In addition, it causes an interruption in the normal flow of gasses, which results in smoke ebbing back into your home. We recommend that you have a chimney sweep remove the residue from the inner surface yearly, or more frequently if deemed necessary. An added benefit of this process is that it allows a professional to check for any damage to the flue, which is another frequent source of dangerous fires and smoke issues.

Damper Obstruction

A damper or chimney cap can become stuck in an improper position, restricting proper gas flow. Debris may also become lodged in these places, preventing normal exchange. A professional sweep can adjust and clean both parts as needed, while inspecting the rest of the inner parts to check for clogs.

Good Home Construction

Ironically, a sturdy and well-insulated house prevents the very flow of gasses necessary for proper smoke ventilation. If opening a nearby window seems to fix your draft problem, your home is probably not allowing enough air exchange. Simply leaving the window slightly open may solve the problem. If this remedy is not desirable, a professional mason can probably install an air vent in your fireplace.

Another home upgrade that may disrupt the proper current is the forced ventilation system. Your fireplace may function best when no interior fans are being used. This is most true when the air return is in the same room as the fireplace.

Good Weather

Again, a seemingly ideal situation is not always ideal for the use of a fireplace. When it is not particularly cold outside, the difference in temperature between the inside and the outside air will not be very pronounced. This situation can prevent the chimney from drawing smoke outside as well as it will on a very chilly day. If this problem occurs repeatedly, you may want to consider waiting until the outdoor temperature drops just a little before you light a fire.

1/06/15

The Importance of Waterproofing a Chimney

Forever immortalized by Mary Poppins, Harry Potter, and Santa Claus, chimneys seem to be the magical epicenter of the home. It makes sense really. There is certainly something special about a fire on a cold winter day, and the long, black tunnel seems to lead nowhere (much like a wardrobe). No matter how old someone is, it is easy to dream up fantastical happenings around a fireplace and chimney. Even though real fireplaces are few and far between, chimneys remain equally important for those homes with gas fireplaces. As many homeowners have become painfully aware, taking care of chimneys is vitally important to make sure fireplaces, either wood-burning or gas, are properly ventilated

Keeping Out the Elements

As most people are aware, chimneys are designed to channel smoke and carbon monoxide out of the home. What few people ever really ponder is how chimneys let those things out but keep rain and snow from falling in. When it comes to preventing precipitation from falling into a home, there are a few things at play keeping the fire dry. The first thing is that when there is a fire in the fireplace, there is an updraft of warm air. This warm air shoots through the top of the chimney, blowing away any rain or snow that might be trying to make its way into the chimney. Another way chimney’s keep precipitation at bay is that most of them are curved, which catches any stray raindrops or snowflakes long before they douse any flames. Finally, many people put one of a number of waterproofing devices on or in their chimneys. The most popular of these devices is called a chimney cap, which is like an umbrella for chimneys.

Leaks Will Happen

Despite the fact that chimneys are well designed and protected, it is certainly possible for them to leak. When chimney leaks happen, it is important to call a professional chimney sweep about repairing the leak and any damage it caused.

When it comes to a leaky chimney, there are a lot of things that could be causing the problem, such as cracks in the crown, flashing, or masonry work, or lack of a chimney cap. In order to fix such problems, we utilize a variety of products and techniques. The most obvious fix for a leak is the installation of a chimney cap. The type of chimney cap a chimney sweep will install depends entirely on the size and shape of the chimney and whether the top of the chimney is flush with the rest of it or has a crown.

Repairing Leaks and Damage

Another thing the chimney sweep will look for is any structural damage. He or she will examine the type and extent of the damage and then decide on the appropriate chimney repair techniques. Once the damage has been fixed, the chimney sweep will use any one of a number of waterproofing products to make sure the damage doesn’t reoccur.

1/05/15