Our Company Blog

Signs Of A Chimney Fire

When it comes to chimney fires, you may assume you would know if you had one. Fires tend to be loud, hot, and bright, so, should one occur, it would be obvious, right? Not necessarily!

Many fireplace owners discover a chimney fire has happened well after the fact, with no knowledge of it ever occurring. Chimney fires are terrible for the health of your chimney and can lead to extensive damage down the line. They greatly weaken the structure of your entire fireplace and call for immediate action, as far as repairs. A certified sweep can let you know the best steps to take for moving forward and getting your fireplace back to where it needs to be.

If you are worried that you have had a chimney fire, but aren’t sure what signs to look for, check out these clues that may indicate a fire has occurred.

Deformed/Excess Creosote

Generally speaking, creosote is not good for the health of your chimney and, the more of it there is, the higher your risk is for a chimney fire. This substance is highly flammable, which is why having a professional clean it out on a regular basis is so important.

Inspecting the creosote in your chimney can help you decipher whether or not a chimney fire has occurred. If the creosote is puffy-looking or if you notice flakes and other pieces of it scattered throughout your roof or around your hearth, then you should call in an expert right away to take a closer look.

Heat Damage

Too high temperatures in your fireplace can lead to lasting damage down the line. Check your TV antenna, the metal pieces of your chimney, and your roofing materials for potential heat damage. If anything is warped, distorted, or discolored, then you have likely had a chimney fire.

Cracks And Holes

If a chimney fire has occurred, you may notice cracks, holes, or missing pieces throughout your chimney. The brickwork, tiles, mortar, and more will show obvious signs of deterioration that will only worsen if not properly addressed. These cracks will also allow smoke to escape through various parts of the bricks and liner, causing countless ventilation issues.

By getting these problems addressed fast, you save yourself time, money, and loads of stress. Call in an expert as soon as possible, so your fireplace is ready for use all year long.

Give Us A Call!

All in all, having a professional come in and check things over is the best way to ensure your chimney is safe, clean, and strong. If you want to maintain good chimney health for years to come, schedule an inspection today! The staff at Mountain Man Fireplace and Chimney is ready to set you up right so that you can enjoy your fireplace to the fullest anytime you’d like.

Call on our CSIA certified experts now!

By Jake Johnson on February 23rd, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Zen and the Art of Chimney Sweeping

If you grew up watching Disney movies, thinking about chimney sweeps may conjure up images of Dick Van Dyke and crew singing “Chim Chim Cher-ee” in Mary Poppins. Unlike their fictional singing and dancing counterparts, modern chimney sweeps are known for their professionalism and high levels of expertise and training.

A brief history of chimney sweeps

Once your chimney is swept and inspected, you can breathe easy, knowing that you’ve been proactive about minimizing the possibility of fire hazards or toxic carbon monoxide leaks. If you’re ready to schedule your annual chimney sweeping appointment, call Mountain Man Fireplace and Chimney at 303-679-1601!

Once your chimney is swept and inspected, you can breathe easy, knowing that you’ve been proactive about minimizing the possibility of fire hazards or toxic carbon monoxide leaks. If you’re ready to schedule your annual chimney sweeping appointment, call Mountain Man Fireplace and Chimney at 303-679-1601!

While homeowners had been keeping their own chimneys clean for centuries, the chimney sweep profession did not develop until the Industrial Revolution. As the number or homes and businesses in cities steadily grew, master chimney sweeps would hire young boys as apprentices to climb inside the chimneys, scraping the inside of the flue with small, handheld brushes.

This practice fell out of favor around the turn of the century due to several pieces of legislation passed in order to protect the working conditions of chimney sweeps. In addition, new technology and building standards allowed sweeps to more efficiently clean chimneys and flues, eliminating the need to have young boys climb inside the chimney structure.

Since then, the profession has continued to evolve. Modern chimney sweeps are subjected to the oversight of several regulatory groups and must maintain their qualifications in order to be certified. In addition, chimney sweeps are qualified to do much more than just clean chimneys; most are also able to assess the condition of a chimney structure and make some repairs as needed.

How does someone become a chimney sweep?

Many chimney sweeps get their start by finding an older, certified sweep to serve as their mentor. In addition, new chimney sweeps have the ability to attend various industry seminars, classes, and training events to improve their skill sets and knowledge levels.

Professional chimney sweeps traditionally are certified by several different organizations. In the United States, certifications for chimney sweeps are issued by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the Certified Chimney Professionals. In addition, the National Chimney Sweep Guild works to improve the professionalism and perception of the trade by ensuring that high standards of expertise are maintained. In order to become professionally certified by these organizations, chimney sweeps must show a certain level of proficiency in their ability to identify and fix potentially hazardous problems, as well as their knowledge about issues affecting modern masonry chimneys.

What does a modern chimney sweep do?

Modern chimney sweeps are certified technicians who are well equipped to deal with most chimney or fireplace concerns. For most chimney sweeps, the majority of their work involves preventative maintenance and cleaning of chimneys, flues, and fireplaces. While tools such as the traditional chimney brush are still used, chimney sweeps now employ a vast array of more modern tools such as vacuums, cameras, and other electronic equipment.

Certified chimney sweeps have also been trained on how to repair most of the common fireplace hazards, including the removal of creosote, animals or nests, and the repair of dampers or smoke chambers. In addition, some chimney sweeps may be able to complete more extensive or complex repairs including repairing flues, chimney crowns, chimney caps, or masonry structures.

By Jake Johnson on August 29th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Chimney Safety Saves You Money!

The primary reason that Mountain-area homeowners have their chimneys swept each year is safety – none of us want to put our homes at increased risk as the result of a hostile chimney fire.  Of course, it’s also important to remember that it saves you money to keep your hearth appliances well maintained and operating at maximum performance and efficiency!

If you don't have a chimney cap installed, it is imperative that you act now to divert water from your chimney. Over the long-run, water rots your chimney from the inside; costing considerably more money.

If you don’t have a chimney cap installed, it is imperative that you act now to divert water from your chimney. Over the long-run, water rots your chimney from the inside; costing considerably more money.

Here are some fundamental ways to stay safe and save money at home this Spring:

1.  If you don’t have a chimney cap, get one.  Without a cap, rain and snow enter at the top of the chimney – not too much differently than having a hole in the top of your house.  Moisture in the flue not only damages the interior liner (either eroding the mortar joints or causing rust on the steel components) but it washes some of the combustible soot and creosote down the side of the flue.  Now that it’s warming up again, critters like a quiet place to have a litter away from predators.  All of these conditions are going to cost you some serious money to get fixed, but simply having a properly sized cap will prevent this from happening.

2.  If you have a chimney cap, make sure it’s not getting plugged.  Modern chimney caps have a wire screen to act as a spark-arrestor.  This is a valuable part of the chimney system, but also the first place that gets plugged with creosote.  Check for these two signs; if you’re having difficulty getting a fire started when it used to be easy, it’s likely that your chimney cap is partially plugged.  If the cap is blocking the airflow at the top of the chimney, the draft in the flue will be reduced.  Restricted airflow means lower flue temperatures and increased creosote buildup – and it means poorer efficiency.  A poorly operating hearth appliance means extra money spent on fuel and extra emissions entering the atmosphere.

3.  Don’t forget your dryer vent.  Much like their hearth appliance brethren, dryer vents rely on an unplugged venting system for good airflow.  A common symptom of a dryer vent that needs to be serviced is clothes that take extra cycles to get completely dry – and that means spending extra money for each load of clothes.  Obviously it’s costing you extra money if you have to run your dryer longer to dry the same clothes.  A simple mistake many of our customers make is to assume that their dryer vent will get serviced when they have a new dryer installed.  In fact, it’s rare for an appliance installation crew to remove the lint and debris from anywhere other than inside the room containing the dryer.

4.  Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas created by the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons – including cord wood, natural gas, pellet fuel and propane.  Medical research has shown that long term exposure to levels of CO once thought to be ‘safe’ can cause serious health problems including memory loss and lung damage.  The best way to prevent CO production is to have all heating units regularly serviced as part of an annual system of inspection and evaluation.  The best way to detect CO after its production is with a CO Detector.

To receive a Free Copy of the CSIA Bulletin: The Facts About Chimney Fires: Causes and Cures and/or a chimney cap brochure, or for more information about heating with wood, gas or pellet products or for service on all makes and models, call us today at Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney – (303) 679-1601. Semper Fi!

What’s Blocking Your Chimney?

It's important to know what the common causes of chimney blockages are so you can prevent it or remove it if it's already there.

It’s important to know what the common causes of chimney blockages are so you can prevent it or remove it if it’s already there.

While everyone loves a fire in his or her fireplace, no one wants a fire in his or her chimney. Unfortunately, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, chimney fires are more common than you may think, and sometimes you do not even know they have occurred. A dirty chimney is the most likely cause of all chimney fires, and usually the same blockages are the culprits in these accidents. The good news is chimney fires are completely preventable with proper maintenance care like regular chimney sweeps from professionals like Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney Incorporated. Also, knowing what the common chimney blockages are can prepare you to keep these things out of your chimney in the first place.

ANIMALS

Stray animals looking for a dry, warm place to call home may come across your chimney to set up house in the winter. Ranging from nesting birds to raccoons to squirrels, these animals not only cause blockage problems that can lead to dangerous fires, but they can become stuck and create nasty, putrid smells that can invade your home. For your own personal safety, we strongly recommend you call a professional animal removal service to get any animals and nests out of your chimney.

DEBRIS

All year long, leaves, trash, tree foliage, and settlement works its way down into your chimney and accumulates. This may not sound like too big of a deal; however, all of this debris adds up and can cause blockages giving a risk for incomplete combustion and negative air pressure to happen, driving smoke into your house. Settlement buildup can also cause cracks in your flue, which lets dangerous carbon monoxide escape into your home.

CREOSOTE

The most dangerous of the chimney blockages, creosote is the by-product of burning wood, and it comes from the residue of smoke, gases, water vapor, hydrocarbon, unburned wood particles, and other assorted minerals as they exit the fireplace and pass through the chimney. Sticking to the inner walls of the chimney, creosote is brown or black in appearance and can be flaky, crusty, tar-like, sticky, drippy, shiny, or hardened — even all of the above. Extremely flammable and highly combustible, creosote can quickly build up, and if the internal flue temperature is high enough, you have a chimney fire waiting to happen that could possibly burn down your entire house. What’s worse is certain conditions make creosote buildup happen more quickly. Factors that accelerate creosote buildup include restricted air supply from closing the glass doors or not opening the damper wide enough and burning unseasoned wood because the smoke is so much cooler due to the energy being used to burn off the water trapped in the cells of the logs. You can also get a heavier amount of creosote buildup if you overload the firebox in a wood stove in an attempt to get a longer burn.

To ensure your chimney is blockage-free and prevent a chimney fire, schedule an appointment for a chimney sweeping with Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney Incorporated today. A clean chimney is the best prevention against a chimney fire!

Fire Safety 101

Does everyone in your household know what to do in case of a fire? Are you taking all possible steps to prevent this? This should help you get prepared.

Get ready and stay ready. Don't risk your home or your loved ones.

Get ready and stay ready. Don’t risk your home or your loved ones.