Chimney and Fireplace Questions

Find answers to all of your questions below.

Q.1 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 wood burning. The odor is usually worse in the summer when the humidity is high and the air conditioner is turned on. A good cleaning 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.2 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.3 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.

Q.4 I have birds in my chimney. What should I do?

Most likely what you have is Chimney Swifts. These birds are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Act and cannot be removed until they are able to fledge out, (fly out on their own), about 4-6 weeks from when you first heard them. After they are gone we can then clean the chimney flue and we do recommend that you have a chimney cap installed so you don’t run into this same problem next year. It seams like once they find your chimney flue they come back and bring other animals every year.

Q.5 What is a ChimScan?

The chim scan is where we actually run a small camera up the flue liner from the bottom and watch it on a monitor from the fireplace. This way we can see if there are any broken tiles, missing or eroded mortar joints or open voids in your chimney. This is the best and most thorough way to inspect the flue liner because you really can’t just look up or down a chimney and see these kinds of defects or damage.

Q.6 My Damper is Broken

First, our experience has shown us that 90% of the time the damper is just off track or out of adjustment. When we sweep and evaluate your chimney, cleaning and adjusting the damper assembly is part of the process. So, we have 2 options. We can either come out and try to repair the damper or we can come out to sweep and evaluate your chimney which includes sweeping and adjusting the damper assembly.

However there are dampers that cannot be repaired. For these situations, we do have a replacement called a lock top damper. These dampers mount at the top of your chimney and have a stainless steel cable running down through your system to a bracket that we mount in your firebox so you can activate your damper.

The charge starts at $375.00 plus tax for a standard fireplace flue. If your flue is not a standard size we will advise you of the charge and we can order the damper for you.

Q.7 Do you do free inspections?

Inspections and cleanings are our main source of income and we would not be in business as long as we have been if we did those services for free. We do offer a visual inspection at a reduced rate, but please keep in mind that a visual inspection is just that. We will inspect only what we can see and we may miss damage that is not visible to the naked eye. The cleaning and video inspection is the best way to accurately determine the condition of your chimney.

Q.8 Do you carry gas appliances?

We have several gas logs, gas inserts, direct vent, and B-vent gas appliances to choose from. We can do everything except run the gas line to the fireplace. We recommend that you call a gas certified plumber to run your gas line into the fireplace and then we can take over from there.

We would need to come out to your residence to look at the system in question to get measurements and then if you like, we can make recommendations on which gas appliances will fit in your system.