Month: April 2021

Signs that Your Chimney or Fireplace Needs Cleaning or Repair

Like a washing machine that overflows, many home appliances provide obvious evidence that repair is needed, but chimneys are often inconspicuously dirty or in disrepair. Chimney and fireplace upkeep is a matter of home safety, and it is important to schedule routine chimney inspections and cleaning.

fireplace cleaning, alexandria vaAlthough the squeaky wheel usually gets the grease, it can be hazardous to use that policy with regard to your chimney. Sometimes the eye of an experienced, certified chimney sweep is required to spot evidence that a chimney or fireplace needs cleaning or repair. The following, however, are signs that you can see for yourself that fireplace or chimney cleaning or repair are needed.

Smells Like a Wood Fire

If you can smell burning wood even when your fireplace has not been used for a while, it is a sign that your chimney has creosote buildup. Creosote is a highly flammable combustion material produced in wood fires, and the tarry substance sticks to the sides of the chimney flue every time there is a fire. Regular cleaning is important because when there is excess creosote, the threat of a dangerous chimney fire increases. When a chimney fire is continually fueled due to layers of creosote, it will usually destroy the chimney liner and cause a home fire.

Your Fireplace Has Debris Other Than Wood

It is normal to see logs in your fireplace, but if you see bits of clay, it is evidence of a problem. Most chimney flues are built with clay tiles because they are durable and inexpensive. When the clay tiles begin to deteriorate and you see evidence of it, do not use your fireplace again until a chimney professional has inspected the chimney and provided any needed repairs to the liner.

Oftentimes, chimney liner replacement is more practical than repairs. This is partly because of the tedious and expensive procedure involved with replacing clay tiles. In large part, it is because tiles will continue to deteriorate. It is quicker, easier, and, in the long run, less expensive to get a new chimney liner. Most chimney sweeps recommend a stainless-steel chimney liner with a lifetime warranty.

Starting Fires is a Struggle

A dirty chimney that becomes obstructed by layers of creosote negatively affects the chimney draft. It is important to have a strong draft so that the toxic combustion gases created by wood fires do not go into the home. Whenever there is a weak draft, fires in a fireplace can be difficult to get started. If you have been wondering why it is such a struggle to get the warm fires burning in your home, it is probably best to schedule a chimney inspection and cleaning as soon as possible.

white stains on chimney, potomac mdThe Chimney Has White Stains

Chimney leaks and moisture intrusion in a chimney system are notoriously difficult for laypersons to identify in the early stages. One of the more obvious signs that the masonry system has been infiltrated with excess moisture is white staining on the chimney, which is referred to as efflorescence. The staining is a result of salt that evaporates on the brick face. First, water inside the masonry mixes with any soluble salt that may be in the brick material. The water then naturally travels through the masonry to the exterior, leaving evidence of moisture-damaged chimney bricks.

The chimney sweeps at High’s Chimney Service in Gaithersburg, MD, have the training, know-how, and professional certification to identify whether chimneys and fireplaces need cleaning and/or repair. We offer chimney inspections, chimney cleaning, masonry rebuilding, and all other chimney and fireplace services throughout the year. Contact High’s Chimney Service for expert services by calling (301) 519-3500 today.


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chimney sweeping: Taking A Look At the different roles of a chimney sweep

To prevent fire and keep your chimney working efficiently you need to hire a chimney sweep to clean the chimney. Unlike the popular believe where many people believe that the chimney sweep only sweeps the chimney, the professional is involved in other things. Some of the things that the professional will do when you visit him/her include:


Before the professional can start cleaning the chimney he/she inspects the chimney to check on any damage. The professional checks the outside to ensure that the bricks are in perfect condition.

He/she also looks the inside the chimney to see if it needs to be cleaned. Most professionals will recommend that you clean the chimney if the accumulated soot is more than ¼ inch.

Chimney inspection not only helps the professional in identifying the area that need to be cleaned, it also helps the professional in preparing a chimney cleaning quote. The more the damage on the chimney, the higher the fee. The same applies when there is a lot of soot inside the chimney.


After inspecting the chimney the professional prepares the chimney for cleaning. The cleaning process is messy; therefore, the chimney cleaning contractor protects the home from the soot by spreading drop cloths on the floor and furniture. The professional also connects the vacuum cleaner and ensures that it’s working perfectly.


Once everything is in place the professional starts cleaning the chimney. To clean the chimney the professional inserts a wide brush into the fireplace. The brush comes in flexible sections; therefore, if the chimney is longer than expected the professional simply attaches a new section and continues with the cleaning.

The chimney contractor cleans all parts of the fireplace including the smoke shelf, firebox, flue smoke chamber and damper. The length of time used depends on the amount of soot and the repair required.

Smoke test

Finally, the chimney cleaning technician undertakes smoke tests in order to verify whether the chimney has been properly cleaned. To test the chimney the professional lights a small fire in the fireplace. If there are any problems the professional repeats the process all over again.


These are the things that a chimney cleaning professional does. To reap the full benefits of the professional you should hire an experienced contractor. To protect your home you should work with an insured chimney cleaning expert.

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How Often Do You Use Your Fireplace?

Have you ever wondered how many people use their fireplace? There’s practically a fireplace (or three) in homes all across Chicago and the Chicagoland area. The fireplace has become the useable accessory in our family room, kitchen and even the bedrooms. But not everyone uses it…or do they? Here’s what we found out from a poll taken on Houzz.

From 505 votes homeowners use their fireplace:

163 – Everyday

80 – Once a week

37 – Once a month

58 – Once a year

127 – Never

40 – Other…

Now the question remains…are those fireplaces being swept and inspected for worthiness? Fireplaces are beautiful, we love to look at them, and most times, use them too. But be sure to take care of it and have it swept and inspected annually. Call Superior Chimney today for a 14-point inspection at 877-244-6349. . Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook!

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Chimney Cleaning for Better Health

The fireplace is often a favorite gathering spot providing warmth and comfort on those cold wintry days and nights. Just like any other area of your home, the chimney needs periodic cleaning to remove creosote, soot, and other debris that can make your family sick. Here are four ways a dirty chimney can affect your health.

creosote buildup, shawnee ksCreosote Exposure

Creosote is a natural combustion by-product produced by the distillation of tars in wood and fossil fuels. Without regular chimney cleaning, the oily, tarry, and flammable residue will continue to accumulate in the chimney every time you use the fireplace. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), more than 1/8” of creosote in the chimney is hazardous and should be removed. Exposure to creosote can cause various side effects, including skin and eye irritation, abdominal pains, and respiratory issues. Long-term creosote exposure can lead to mental confusion in some individuals. Excessive creosote in the chimney can also cause a flue obstruction increasing the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Hiring a professional chimney sweep to clean the chimney at least once per year will help ensure that the smoke and fumes have a clear exit up the chimney. It is not unusual for small animals like birds, bats, and squirrels to be found building nests in chimneys. Also, on windy days leaves, twigs, and other debris can be blown into the flue if the chimney cap is damaged or missing. The small animals and debris can block the flue, causing increased carbon monoxide gas levels to leak inside your home. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless gas that can have deadly consequences. Symptoms of CO exposure include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. If untreated, it can lead to unconsciousness, organ failure, and death.

Eye and Skin Irritation

When using the fireplace in a sooty chimney, some of the smoke, creosote, soot, ash, and other contaminants may flow into your living space, irritating your eyes and skin. It can also be harmful to the skin resulting in rashes or chemical burns. Inhaling this smokey and sooty air mixture can also irritate your nose, throat, and lungs and cause respiratory issues.

chimney cleaning, Lees Summit moRespiratory Issues

The dirt, dust, and other debris accumulated in a dirty chimney can expose occupants to various allergens that can cause respiratory issues in individuals with allergies, asthma, COPD, and other chronic lung or respiratory conditions. The chimney may also contain mold and bacteria. A dirty chimney also attracts pests such as rats and mice. Even if you’re not using the fireplace, a strong wind gust can blow a concoction of soot and debris into the living space reducing indoor air quality and potentially exposing occupants to harmful contaminants.

Chimney Cleaning and Inspection

Homeowners should have a professional chimney inspection and chimney cleaning at least once per year. If you use your fireplace or stove frequently during the winter, you may need additional sweeping. A professional chimney sweep has the skills, tools, and equipment to thoroughly remove the soot, creosote, and other contaminants inside the chimney so that your family can breathe cleaner air.

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Efflorescence and other Leaky Chimney Signs

A chimney leak is nothing to take lightly, no matter how “minor” it seems to be. If a chimney has begun to take in water, the problem will only get worse over time rather than better.

A leak is defined as any situation in which water from rain or melting snow can get into the chimney system either through the masonry or one of the chimney’s components such as the chimney crown, chimney cap or chimney flashing, which seals the gap between the roof and the exterior chimney.

Here are 4 signs that indicate your chimney is leaking or likely will begin to leak soon.

efflorescence from chimney leak, prairie village ksEfflorescence

Efflorescence is a white, salt-based residue that forms when water moves into or through a chimney’s bricks. The water can come from outside the chimney in the form of rain, or from inside the chimney in the form of condensation.

In either case, efflorescence should not be ignored – particularly when a lot of it is visible on your chimney’s exterior masonry.

Crumbling masonry

Water erodes bricks and mortar. If you notice areas of crumbling within the masonry surface or on the roof near the chimney, the problem could be old age, but it also could be a sign of water damage.

When bricks and mortar are compromised, water can regularly move into the cracks and spaces and begin a cycle of decay. Worsening matters is very cold air temperature, which causes the water to freeze and expand. What starts as a small chimney leak can eventually lead to major structural damage.

Damp walls and ceiling

Dampness on the walls and ceiling near the chimney/fireplace means water is getting in somehow. The source could be leaks in the chimney’s masonry, roof damage or warped flashing that allows water to move down the chimney below the roof.

No matter the cause of the damp sections, the problem must be addressed quickly before your home’s building materials are seriously damaged and/or a dangerous outbreak of mold begins.

Water in the firebox

If your chimney doesn’t have a chimney cap, water in the firebox could be from rain pouring into the flue. If you do have a cap, this sign could point to a leak in the chimney structure.

Water in the firebox often is accompanied by strong musty odors coming from the fireplace. You’ll often notice the smell before you notice the leak.

chimney inspection, lees summit moFirst step: have your chimney inspected

When you notice signs of a leaky chimney, the first thing to do before using your fireplace is to schedule a chimney inspection with a licensed, certified chimney inspector.

The inspection will determine where the leak originates, the extent of the damage and what needs to be done to restore soundness to the chimney.

Solutions may include masonry repair work or rebuilding, repair of the concrete chimney crown, chimney liner repair, chimney cap repair or installation, flashing repair or replacement, masonry waterproofing and other tasks. Only a proper inspection will tell you what is required to solve the problem.

Fluesbrothers Chimney & Fireplace of Kansas City, KS, provides professional chimney inspections, leaky chimney repair, CSIA-certified chimney sweeping and related services that will keep your chimney safe and operating at peak efficiency.

Speak with a chimney expert today at (913) 236-7141 and get on the way to finding and fixing your chimney leak.


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What Not to Burn In Your Fireplace

The fireplace is crackling in your living room as you sit on the couch, polishing off a package of cookies and reading the last page of your favorite magazine. You get up to throw away the empty cookie package and recycle the magazine and then think, “Maybe I’ll just throw both things in the fire! It could use more kindling, after all.” Before you consider burning plastic or magazines in the fireplace, think again!

can you burn magazines in a fireplaceBurning Plastic in a Fireplace is Not Okay

Whether you are considering burning plastic bags, bottles, packaging, or milk cartons, it is not safe to do so. Plastic contains many chemicals. When it is burned, those chemicals are released into the air, making it toxic and unsafe to breathe. It is negative for your health and can cause headaches, breathing issues, and possibly cancer. It is also bad for the environment as a whole.

Do You Have a Chimney in the Boston, MA Area?

If you have a chimney in the Boston, MA area and have questions about chimney use and safety, maintenance, sweeps, or inspections, contact us. Boston’s Best Chimney is a full service chimney company that has been serving the Greater Boston, Massachusetts area since 1989.

Can You Burn Magazines in a Fireplace?

why burning plastic in the fireplace is not okay

This question often stumps people. Magazines are made of paper, after all, which, like wood, comes from trees. If you think more deeply about it, however, you will realize that burning magazines is also not safe. The glossy pages of magazines contain chemical pigments that, like plastic, release toxic chemicals when they are burned.

Both plastic and magazines can cause fires, as they are very flammable. We recommend that you check out our Fire Safety Checklist to learn more about how to prevent chimney fires.

Other Items to Avoid Burning

Using your fireplace correctly is essential to keeping it in good working order and to keeping your family and home safe. With that in mind, here are some other items that you should not burn in your fireplace: 

  • Trash
  • Cardboard
  • Charcoal
  • Dryer lint
  • Driftwood
  • Branches of old Christmas trees
  • Treated wood
  • Certain plants

Though some of these items would be okay to use in a campfire, the guidelines on what is safe to burn in your fireplace are more strict.

What to Burn in  Your Fireplace

Dry and seasoned wood is the only thing that is safe to burn in your fireplace. Seasoned wood has been left to dry for a long time causing it to burn more cleanly. It also makes it easier for you to start the fire by yourself. Check out our blog on the best woods for firewood for more tips on the type of wood to choose.

Get Your Chimney Swept and Inspected Regularly

Whether or not you have made the mistake of burning the wrong materials in your fireplace, it is necessary for your safety to have your chimney inspected annually and swept as needed. The Boston’s Best Chimney team is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and ready to serve you. Click here or call 781-893-6611 to schedule an appointment with us.

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Fabulous Fireplace Mantel Decorating Ideas

A fireplace is typically the focal point of a room. But the mantel that sits above the fireplace can be just as much of a focal point and bring mood, personality and pizazz to the room.

add a fireplace mantel, Shawnee KSIf you don’t already have a mantel

Some masonry fireplaces are built with mantels in place; some zero-clearance fireplaces include mantels in their installation. If your fireplace has no mantel, you can purchase the style that most excites you from a local hearth retailer or online. You also can have a mantel custom built.

Between pre-made mantels and custom mantels, you have a variety of materials and finishes to choose from including wood grain, steel, granite, marble, slate and many others.

Mantel decorating ideas

The #1 rule in any home-decoration project is: do what makes you happy. Here are some ideas for customizing and decorating your fireplace mantel that might accomplish just that.


Your mantel can burst with color year-round with live or artificial flowers. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to transform an entire room with a unique combination of colors across the top of your mantel.

Kids’ artwork

If you have kids, surely they’re creating something great either in school or in personal time. Make a big deal out of these masterpieces by displaying them on your mantel.

Family portraits

Mantels are perfect places to showcase fine family portraits. If you don’t want to go that “official,” try filling the mantel with a selection of smaller framed photos of all the people who matter most in your world.

Seasonal themes

Celebrate the seasons with rotating themes on your mantel. Mini Christmas trees, Hanukkah stars, pumpkins, turkey artwork, snow scenes, bright sunny summer displays – use your imagination and bring all the seasons right into your home.

Fireplace Mantel Ideas, mission hills ksPlants

Potted plants of all kinds add life and energy to a room, and your fireplace mantel is the perfect place to create everything from a tasteful plant arrangement to a flourishing jungle. (Make sure to not let the jungle flourish over the firebox opening!)


Lighting is more than a bulb that fits in a lamp or ceiling socket. Today’s lighting choices include all kinds of unique designs and sizes from tiny string lights to huge multi-light units. Flashing lights, colored lights, twinkling lights – you’ve got plenty of choices for lighting up your mantel.



Whether it’s books you read or older antique volumes you want to display, your mantel is an ideal place to create a mini library.

Don’t restrict yourself with mantel decoration

We’ve listed some of the more popular mantel decorating ideas, but don’t ever feel limited. Mix and match some of these ideas, come up with some cool decorative schemes of your own, pack your mantel with items or place one single standout item on it – as we said, with any home decorating, the choice is always yours to personalize it the way you love most.

Fluesbrothers Chimney & Fireplace of Kansas City, KS, believes everyone should have a beautiful hearth area to enjoy all year long. We also believe in keeping chimneys and fireplaces safe and performing at their best.

We provide CSIA-certified chimney sweep services, chimney inspections, fireplace and chimney repairs and much more. Get your questions answered or schedule an appointment by calling (913) 236-7141.

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Chimney Contractor: Fireplace Safe Tips You Should Consider

While fireplaces are a necessity in almost every home, they pose danger to property, children and even you. To protect your home, children and yourself, you need to observe these fireplace safety tips:

Install safety screens

They are an absolute requirement when you have small children. As you know, children are curious and they will want to touch fire. To protect them you should install a safety screen that prevents them from coming into contact with the hot fireplace glass.

You should note that the screens also have the ability of retaining heat; therefore, you should teach your children to avoid touching the screens at all costs.

Install smoke detectors

Smoke detectors are units that let you know when smoke reaches a given level. This helps you know when your house is at the risk of catching fire. In addition to installing the smoke detectors you should also consider installing carbon monoxide detectors.  As rule of thumb you should ensure that the detectors are installed by professional chimney contractors.

You should note that the detectors need batteries to work; therefore, you should regularly check and replace them.

Schedule regular inspection

Even a simple chimney flaw puts your home and your loved ones at risk. To ensure that your home is safe you should regularly hire a chimney technician to inspect your fireplace. The professional should inspect all the devices and ensure that they are in perfect working condition. If there are some areas that need repair, he/she should let you know about it and fix it.

For ideal results you should hire a professional who specializes in a given type of fireplace. For example, if you have a gas fireplace you should hire a gas chimney contractor to inspect and repair the chimney.

In addition to being able to undertake chimney inspection, the professional should also be able to professionally clean the chimney. This is to get rid of creosote that causes most of the house fires.

Never burn fire overnight

It’s common for some homeowners to leave the fire burning while they go to sleep. While the fire will give you the much needed warmth, it puts your home at great danger of catching fire. The fire can also pollute air with carbon monoxide and other chemicals thus putting you at danger.


These are fireplace safety tips that you need to put into consideration for you to be safe in your home. by putting emphasis on the tips you will not only have an effective fireplace, you will also have peace of mind as you will know that you are living in a safe house.


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Climbing to Reach the Chimney in Spring

Climbing to Reach the Chimney in Spring by Superior Chimney, Lombard, IL

Although a jacket is still needed, it’s nice to be able to go for a walk and enjoy some sun and fresh air. As I take advantage of the ‘no rain’ days, I always like to look at the homes I pass to check out what types of upkeep homeowners are choosing to perform this spring.

I was surprised to find a few people on ladders. One was attempting to clean out the gutters, but a couple people were up by their chimneys. I found that interesting as that’s not a regular site. I noticed one homeowner cleaning out the top of his chimney. It was clear that animals were living in the chimney. The critters had a nice cozy home to live in, but now the homeowner has to clean up the mess left behind. Hopefully, he calls Superior Chimney for a chimney cap.

The next homeowner was a bit more concerned. You can tell he was picking at the mortar in between the bricks on his chimney. It was a very decorative chimney, but as I got closer, it was obvious that it was falling apart. For that type of restoration, you definitely need a specialist like the talented masons we have at Superior Chimney. It’s best he gets that checked out. Part of the chimney or fireplace inspections is to inspect the chimney outside. But if you already know there’s a problem, give us a call and we’ll go up on the roof for you, take pictures and explain exactly what is going on. Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook! Contact us today at 877-244-6349.

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Don’t Go Too Long Between Chimney Cleanings

Cleaning your chimney generally isn’t on everyone’s ‘Honey Do’ list.  It doesn’t look dirty, so why should we clean it?  In a word, safety.

chimney cleaning, rocky hill ctEvery home with a wood-burning fireplace needs to have it cleaned and inspected according to the amount of use it gets.  Guidelines set up by the National Fire Protection Association recommend the chimney and accompanying firebox (fireplace) be cleaned for every cord
of wood burned.

When Should You Have Your Chimney Cleaned?

The best time to have your chimney cleaned is in the spring.  A good way to remember to get it cleaned is just to make it part of your spring-cleaning routine.

What Will the Chimney Professionals do?

First order of business, the technician will visually inspect your chimney.  They will be looking for cracks, leaks, and the general condition of your chimney.

Once the inspection is complete, they will begin the process of cleaning your chimney and fireplace.  This entails using brushes and vacuums to remove all the build-up of soot and creosote inside of your chimney.

The professionals use tarps and drop cloths to cover furniture and carpets to keep the soot from contaminating your home.

Creosote Build Up and Removal

creosote buildup, windsor ctThe next question homeowners ask is what is creosote and why does it need to be removed?  Creosote is a build-up of soot from burning wood.  When wood burns, it deposits black soot on the walls of a chimney.  If those deposits become too thick it develops into very flammable almost tar-like substance.  When embers from a fire get caught in that tar, it can start a chimney fire.  Once a chimney fire starts, it spreads to other parts of the home with lightning speed.

This same tar can clog your chimney, making it difficult for the smoke to rise.  When the smoke doesn’t rise, it comes back into the house.  This will not only discolor walls and furniture, but it can also cause serious health problems.  Itchy eyes and rashes on the skin are just a few of the health issues caused by the returning smoke. If someone in your home has asthma, the smoke can cause an asthma attack.  The only way to prevent a chimney fire is to have a professional chimney company clean your chimney annually.

Leave It To The Chimney Professionals

Can cleaning a chimney be a do-it-yourself project?  No, this is a job best left to the professionals.  Northeastern Chimney, LLC is the logical choice when you need a professional chimney cleaning company.  Our company provides regular training seminars bringing our technicians up to date on current cleaning methods and the newest chimney equipment, giving you the best service possible.  The office staff at Northeastern Chimney is known to have the highest level of customer service in the area.  Despite our vocation, our staff is always clean and punctual.  Each of our techs has a name badge with their picture on it.  We take great care with your home leaving it cleaner than when we came.

Don’t let the chance to keep your family safe and healthy slip away.  Call Northeastern Chimney, LLC, and let us put your mind at ease.

37 Cody St, West Hartford, CT 06110 | (860) 233-5770

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