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The Fall & Your Chimney

Introduction

Fall is here! 

The days are getting shorter. The leaves are changing colors and falling to the ground. It’s getting colder every day. Pumpkin spice is coming out of the woodwork. 

You’re probably thinking that it’s time to light a fire and set the mood! And you might be right, but you shouldn’t take that leap until you get your chimney checked. 

All the leaves falling can actually land in your chimney if you’re not careful. And that could cause some obstructions in your chimney and prevent it from exhausting like it’s supposed to

Plus, you want to make sure the creosote from last year is all cleaned up before you use your chimney. 

In today’s post, I’m going to share with you some thoughts about chimney clean up and preparation for Fall. And how you can hire a chimney company to help you out. 

Fall Clean Up

The first thing you want to do to prepare your home for the fall is actually to prepare the yard for fall as well. 

That means cleaning up the hanging branches, trimming away limbs that might be hanging over your chimney. 

The best way to save on expensive chimney repairs is to do what you can to prevent issues from even happening. Sometimes, repairs are inevitable. But most of the repairs we fix can be prevented with preventative maintenance. 

Keeping your yard clean and clear of debris can help you save on potential repairs to your chimney. Here are a few reasons why: 

  1. Falling leaves can very easily enter your chimney. Dry leaves are flammable. Whereas wet leaves decay, which leaves a musty, sweet smell in your home. 
  2. Empty branches can easily break, splint, crack, and then fall into your chimney. 
  3. Snow weighs down branches, causing them to scrape the sides of your chimney (or even the top). This can affect the wear on the mortar, crown, and bricks. Eventually causing the materials to weaken, leading to leaks, deterioration, or a lot more.

Chimney Obstructions

Your trees probably provide some pretty awesome shade in the summer. And that helps keep your home cool on the hot, humid days. 

But sometimes too much good should come with caution. 

Small twigs, leaves, branches, seedpods, and even acorns can fall into your chimney. That’s one of the biggest reasons you need to have a chimney cap

Believe it or not, we see a lot of homemade chimney caps. These have been made from chicken wire or even a plastic crate covering the chimney. 

It may seem like a good idea, but it’s always best to install a professional grade chimney cap. Not only will caps help keep snow, rain, debris, and some animals from making their way into your chimney, but it will also help minimize wind downdrafts that cause smoke to back up from the fireplace.

Trees & Drafting

Tree limbs that are close to your chimney can easily cause drafting problems.

This happens primarily when the tree limbs are taller than the chimney itself. And those branches need to be cut back.

You need to keep the space above the chimney clear, so that your chimney can draft more consistently. It will also help keep the fire in your home healthy and hot. And able to draw out any smoke and gas.

What’s Next?

The next step, once you have the trees cleaned up, is to get your chimney looked at. You’ll need to have at least a level 1 inspection done by a professionally trained chimney technician. 

The technician will look at your chimney and ensure that it is clean of debris, animals, dry or rotting leaves and branches. 

You can easily reach out to your local chimney company and have a done-for-you solution in no time!

But navigating through all of the chimney companies in your city can be a chore all on its own. And it makes sense, too. 

Hiring anyone to come into your home to fix something like your chimney shouldn’t be a task you take lightly. So I created a list that you can use to make sure you make the right decision when you need someone to help you in your home.

Questions to Ask

When you’re hiring a chimney company, you should always ask the following questions before allowing them to come into your home:

  1. Can the company provide references? 
  2. Does the company carry a valid business liability insurance policy? 
  3. Does the company ensure that a certified chimney technician will be on the job? 

If they guarantee all three of those, then you are in a good spot. The technicians don’t necessarily need to be certified by the CSIA, but I do recommend putting in a bit more due diligence before accepting a certification that’s not by the CSIA. 

This is because certifications are a tricky thing, especially in an unlicensed industry like ours. Any company can craft a list of job-related questions and sell them as an exam and certify those who pass. 

 

Certifications

I recommend you take a few extra minutes in your research before making your hiring decision to learn more about the certification the company has. Here are a few tips to make sure the certification is reputable: 

  • Is the word “certified” just part of the business name or is it an earned designation? 
  • Is the certifying body a for-profit business or non-profit? 
  • Does the certification need to be maintained and renewed through continuing education as the industry evolves, or is it well enough to be certified through a one-time exam? 
  • Is the certifying body well-established or are they relatively new to the scene? New doesn’t mean “bad” but you should make sure the requirements for certification are more or at least equally stringent as those of more established certifications
  • Is the mission statement of the certifying body focused on educating and protecting homeowners or is it more focused on making it easier to earn a certification? 
  • Does holding the certification require following a code of ethics? 

If you can answer all of these questions, then I think it will be safe to allow the company in your home to work on your chimney. 

Please note that If you are hiring a chimney company to install a cap for you, most of the time, they will need to buy the cap themselves. This is primarily for liability and insurance purposes. 

Besides, it’s probably cheaper for them to buy a cap at the dealer discount than for you to buy one at retail cost.

It doesn’t matter if you are in Roanoke, Lynchburg, Blacksburg, or some other city anywhere in the USA — if you have any questions about the safety of hiring a chimney company, please don’t hesitate to email me at mitchell@patriotchimney.net or call me at 540-225-2626. I’m happy to help!

Schedule an Inspection

Patriot Chimney has a few CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps that you can trust with your home and family. 

During your service, you can expect your technician to inspect your chimney with a video camera so we can give a full top-to-bottom, inside out inspection. 

We’re licensed, insured, certified, and guarantee you’ll be happy with your service

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