Masonry, Chimney and Fireplace FAQ’s From the Experts at Chimney Cricket

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 Chimney Cricket for a professional inspection.

What Time of Year Should I 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.

What Will You Do When You Come To Clean My 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 the 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.

Will 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.

Will 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 as fast as our vacuum collects the dust. The dirtier the flue, the slower we brush.

What Will You Look 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’s A Flue?

A flue is the passageway inside your chimney that conveys the gases out of the home and into the atmosphere.

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’s 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.

Why Does My Fireplace Smoke?

This could be a number of issues ranging from venting capacity to a blocked chimney or negative pressure in the house. Call Chimney Cricket to come out and determine the official cause.

How Will You Remove Animals?

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’t 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.

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