OUR MISSION: Is to Proudly & Honestly Provide "You the Customer" with the Highest Quality Of Work & Sevice While Promoting Chimney Safety Through Our Dedication To The Professional Chimney Industry.
Chim Chimnee Master Masonry "The Pride We Take in Our Craft is Reflected in the Quality of Our Workmanship" Greensboro/Triad Area(336) 274-1070 Michigan Chim Chimnee (248)683-2800 Michigan Oakland, Macomb & Wayne Countie
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should a chimney be cleaned?
All chimneys should be evaluated yearly and cleaned as required. The evaluation is necessary to ensure the chimney has adequate draft, is free of debris and cracks, and has no loose or missing mortar joints. Prefabricated chimneys are always subject to vibration from wind and joints can become misaligned.
Our experience has shown that under “normal burning conditions” it may take about two cords of wood burned in a fireplace to produce enough creosote build-up to warrant cleaning. This is only a rule of thumb and under certain conditions the need for sweeping could be much sooner. When in doubt call Chim Chimnee for a professional inspection and make sure your sweep is a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild of America.
When is the best time of the year to have my chimney cleaned?
We clean chimneys all year long, but the best time is at the end of the heating season. You don't have to wait weeks for an appointment, as in the fall, and if repairs are needed they can be completed easily during the warmer months, so you don't have a chimney fire. Come that first chilly late evening you're all set to start.
How do you clean a chimney?
First we will cover the interior portion of the fireplace with plastic as necessary to contain any soot and dust that's created during the cleaning process. We will then head up onto the roof and, using a combination of long poles, brushes and scrapers, proceed to thoroughly brush and clean the insides of the chimney. A chimney flue is cleaned with special brushes that fit your chimney flue. We clean most chimneys from the outside roof with the damper door closed, as well as inside the house with a vacuum. This method allows for more control of the dust. The brushes are attached to flexible poles, we add pole after pole to push the brush down the flue. The walls of the fireplace are cleaned by hand using wire brushes.
Does the cleaning remove the black from the wall of the fireplace?
No. we can only clean off the soot on the surface of the brick. Each time you burn a fire this black changes according to how hot you burn your fire. There are products available from your local fireplace store that claim to be able to take off the black.
Does the cleaning cause a mess in my home?
No. The first part of the cleaning is done from the outside roof with the damper door closed and the fireplace covered with a tarp. All our equipment is laid out on clean drop cloths in front of your fireplace for the inside part of the cleaning. The hose of our vacuum collects the debris as we brush the chimney from the inside. We only brush the chimney as fast as our vacuum collects the dust. The dirtier the chimney flue the slower we brush.
What are you looking for when you do an evaluation?
We look for the type of chimney you have, the liner type, if present, the size and condition of your chimney flues and condition of the chimney crown and brickwork, the type fuel you burn, both fireplace and stove, and central heating. We also check for code compliance as to construction, clearances to combustible materials, proper stove or insert installation, and proper furnace and/or water heater connections to the chimney flue. We also check to see if you have a chimney cap installed.
What is a flue?
A flue is the passageway inside your chimney that conveys the gases out of the home and into the atmosphere. A chimney houses one or more flues.
How many flues does my chimney have?
You should have one flue for each fireplace, stove, and furnace or boiler. Some homes also have a separate flue for their water heater. Each flue should be capped to keep animals from entering. Gas furnaces and hot water heaters can be clogged by birds and animals, resulting in carbon monoxide build-up.
What is a damper?
A damper is the door that closes the flue, and keeps heat from escaping when the fireplace is not in use.
Do I need a chimney cap?
All chimneys should have caps to prevent leaves, sticks, debris, rain, snow, and most importantly, animals from entering the chimney flue. Caps also can act as a spark arrestor to prevent fires on the roof or trees in close proximity to the chimney.
Will a cap prevent my flue from venting properly?
A chimney cap is designed by codes for your protection. It must be installed and sized properly to vent correctly. In some cases caps actually help eliminate certain downdrafts and improve venting.
Can you repair my damper?
A damper that has come loose or off its bracket can be reseated. However, if a damper has become brittle and parts have snapped off, it cannot be repaired. It must be replaced. A replacement damper is installed on top of the chimney flue and is connected by a cable to an adjustable bracket secured to the wall of the fireplace. This type of damper is air tight thus it effectively prevents heat and air conditioning loss when closed.
My fireplace smokes, does this mean it needs to be cleaned?
Probably so. Please see our web page regarding problem solving. Or call for an inspection.
How are animals removed from the chimney?
All animals are removed with humane methods, and most can be removed within less than an hour. A screen should be installed immediately so the animals can not return
When is the best time to call?
Please call us any day of the week or time of day. You are important to us. If we are not able to receive your call personally, if you leave a message, we will return your call that day or at the most within 24 hours.
For Centuries, the Fireplace has been the Focal point of Family Gatherings Throughout the World. The Tranquility and Warmth of a Glowing Flame brings People Together, Sharing Tales and Forging Friendships, that Endure for Years to Come.
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Q. How often should I have my chimney cleaned? This a tougher question than it sounds. The simple answer is: The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, "Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary." This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem. It takes into account the fact that even if you don't use your chimney much, animals may build nests in the flue or there may be other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use.
Werecommend that open masonry fireplaces should be cleaned at 1/4" of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system. Factory-built fireplaces should be cleaned when any appreciable buildup occurs. This is considered to be enough fuel buildup to cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading to the home.
Q. My fireplace smokes. What can I do?
There are a multitude of reasons for smokey fireplaces. We have included an entire section on smoking problem fireplaces in the fireplace area web page, and we suggest you go there for a better discussion of this problem.
Q. My fireplace stinks, especially in the summer. What can I do?
The smell is due to creosote deposits in the chimney, a natural byproduct of woodburning. The odor is usually worse in the summer when the humidity is high and the air conditioner is turned on. A good cleaning will usually help solve the bad odor problem, but sometimes won't solve the problem completely. We use commercial chimney deodorants and chemical washes that work pretty well to help eliminate that awful odor. 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. When I build a fire in my upstairs fireplace, I get smoke from the basement fireplace.
This has become quite a common problem in modern air tight houses where weather-proofing has sealed up the usual air infiltration routes. The fireplace in use exhausts household air until a negative pressure situation exists. If the house is fairly tight, the simplest route for makeup air to enter the structure is often the unused fireplace chimney. As air is drawn down this unused flue, it picks up smoke that is exiting nearby from the fireplace in use and delivers the smoke to the living area. The best solution is to provide makeup air to the house so the negative pressure problem no longer exists, thus eliminating not only the smoke problem, but also the potential for carbon monoxide to be drawn back down the furnace chimney. A secondary solution is to install a top mount damper on the fireplace that is used the least.
Q. I heat with gas. Should this chimney be checked too?
Without a doubt! Although gas is generally a clean burning fuel, the chimney can become non-functional from bird nests or other debris blocking the flue. Modern furnaces can also cause many problems with the average flues intended to vent the older generation of furnaces. We suggest you check the areas on gas and carbon monoxide for more information.
GLAZED CREOSOTE QUESTION: I have an 80 year old home that was a longtime rental house. I have lived here five years and have been using the fireplace for four of those years. I do not know how long it has been since my chimney was swept (potentially decades, if ever). I just had a chimney sweep at my house and he informed me that the creosote in my chimney was quite thick (he used the term “level 3” creosote). He also said that in the smoke chamber, the brick is stepped (instead of smooth) and that there is a lot of dangerous buildup in there. He recommended two applications of an acid cleaning (which he said are not entirely foolproof, and work better above 45°F) and that we use a chemical when we burn our fire to help “chalkify” the creosote buildup. He showed me the buildup inside with a light and everything he said seemed to make sense. Does this sound like it's on the up and up? I can't find any info on this acid cleaning and I would like to know if this sounds like it is the proper course of action in a case like mine.
ANSWER: What you have described sounds pretty typical. In addition to the chemical treatment that you mentioned, professional-grade chemicals, usually in the form of a powder, can be applied by chimney sweeps to help change the nature of the glazed creosote to a form that can be removed by a professional with a brush Both forms of these products require some heat such as you would find in a small fire in the fireplace.
If the creosote is gummy, about the only way to deal with the creosote is with a chemical treatment or with an acid application. Acid applications are not as commonly used since they are harder to apply and have to be neutralized a few days after application. If the creosote is crusty or fractures when hit (as opposed to gummy) a rotary cleaning can be helpful. Read our position statement on chemical chimney cleaning products here.
HOW DO I KNOW IF HE REALLY CLEANED MY CHIMNEY? In the past, sweeps we’ve hired have always gone on the roof, checked the flashing, the mortar and all the workings of the chimney and then cleaned the chimney from the top of the house. Today, this sweep came in, looked into my fireplace from the bottom and said we don’t need it clean because he can still see the bricks. My asked to have it cleaned anyway. He then grabbed a wire brush and simply rubbed away any buildup from the main opening to the fireplace without even going up into the chimney to clean anything. Am I way off base, or did the sweep charge me without cleaning my chimney?
ANSWER: Your past experiences with chimney sweeps sound as though the sweep did the job he was hired to do. However, your most recent experience sounds a bit odd. If the sweep agreed to do a complete sweeping and only cleaned the brick in the fireplace firebox, you did not get the service that you paid for. A complete chimney sweeping includes the chimney flue and smoke chamber.
In the future you could ask for a Level 1 chimney inspection and a chimney sweeping. If the sweep doesn’t know what a Level 1 inspection is, find one that does. A Level 1 inspection is detailed in the National Fire Protection Association 211: Standard on Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances.
A QUESTION ABOUT RELINING: "I am in the process of accepting bids from various companies to have my chimney relined. I need some education on proper fit of the area between my furnace and the flue.
My furnace has an 8” exhaust. Most of the estimates I have received involve the technician fabricating some sheet metal that funnels down from the 8” pipe to connect to a 6” liner that then goes up the chimney. The furnace in question is an oil furnace boiler that does double duty as my water heater. Most of my estimates for liner replacement are predicated on use of 6” stainless steel tubes to bypass the eroding masonry that now exists. They would then hook up directly to my furnace which currently uses an 8” exhaust to connect to the chimney. I am not sure how this will be accomplished in all cases, but I have been advised of several different methods.
One company pointed out that the difference between the size of the existing exhaust pipe and the liner could negatively affect the draw of the chimney. They stated that the inside of the chimney needed to be gutted, after which it would be able to accommodate a 7” liner. This would result in the difference between the exhaust pipe and the liner of only 1” and that would be sufficient to ensure proper draw.
I have also been told that most modern furnaces use a 6” exhaust port. This further complicates matters, since the furnace I now have is very old and the end of its service life is probably sooner than later.
A 6” liner would fit easily inside the brick chimney, but accommodating a 7” stainless liner would necessitate rebuilding the chimney. This would increase the cost by 100% over other estimates. My question is, can I use a 6” liner with an 8” exhaust pipe from the furnace and still safely operate my furnace?
This leads me to several different scenarios:
Do I pass down a liner through the chimney but not connect it directly to the exhaust port of the furnace?
Do I connect to existing machinery with a 6” liner or a 7” liner?
If I connect with a 7” liner and later have to replace the furnace, am I faced with having to replace the 7” liner with a 6” liner so as to fit the new exhaust?
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