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Help – Smoke Is Coming out of my Fireplace!

smoke from fireplace causes, Gaithersburg MDIf your fireplace is sending smoke into your home, you wouldn’t be the first. This is a common problem for folks who regularly use their fireplaces. Fortunately, it’s often an easy problem to solve.

Any time smoke is not moving properly up the chimney, you need to reverse the situation. In some cases, a professional chimney technician will be required; in many other cases, you can do what’s necessary to keep your interior air clean and healthy.

Reasons for a smoky fireplace that you can address

Wet firewood: Wood that hasn’t had time to dry out contains a lot of excess moisture that will create huge amounts of smoke when burned. This may be too much for your chimney to vent efficiently. Solve this issue by using dry (seasoned) firewood. Check logs by banging two together: damp wood makes a thud; dry wood makes a hollow sound.

Damper malfunction: If your fireplace damper is warped, overly rusted or corroded with soot and creosote, it may not be able to open fully. This is a common reason for smoke backing up into the house. Have the damper inspected then cleaned, repaired or replaced. And, of course, never forget to open the damper before starting a fire.

Not enough air flow: If your house is particularly “air-tight,” you might not be getting enough drafting air into the fireplace. Smoke needs a certain amount of air in order to follow its logical path up the flue. If this is your issue, opening a nearby window an inch or so should fix it.

Flue is full of cold air: Cold air is heavier than warm air. If there is cold air in your chimney flue, the warm air with smoke in it from the fire may not be able to move up and out. Try blowing warm air into the flue with a hair dryer, or light a rolled-up newspaper and stick it up into the flue to warm the air.

Many issues with drafting can be solved in the above ways. If none of these actions solve the problem, you may need to consult with a licensed chimney repair technician.

Drafting problems that only a trained chimney pro can solve

Improper construction of the chimney: The chimney flue is supposed to be a certain size to properly draft the fireplace it’s connected to. If your flue was not built correctly, you may experience ongoing drafting issues. A chimney inspection is the place to start, after which you’ll be able to make the necessary modifications.

Outside debris in the flue: If you operate your chimney without a chimney cap, all kinds of debris can get inside the flue and hinder drafting. Nests, falling leaves, twigs, small dead animals and other debris must be carefully removed by a professional chimney sweep to restore drafting efficiency.

chimney sweep in Washington DCExcess creosote buildup: Wood fires cause creosote to form in your chimney flue. Creosote is a flammable substance that clings to the walls of the chimney liner and can build up to the point that smoke starts backing up into your home. Certified chimney sweeps have the necessary tools and training to safely remove creosote from your chimney and reduce drafting problems while lessening the chance of a chimney fire.

If your fireplace is sending smoke into your home, try some of the suggestions here. If nothing works, call High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD. We’ll find out what’s causing the problem and get it fixed for you. Give us a call to schedule an appointment with a licensed chimney professional at (301) 519-3500.

What a Chimney Fire Does to Your Chimney

chimney fire prevention, cloverly MD

Ask the average homeowner if they’ve had a chimney fire, and likely they’ll say no. They may be very wrong. Many chimney fires start and go out on their own without people in the home being aware of it. Here are some things you need to know about chimney fires and what they can do to your chimney.

How chimney fires start

Most fires in a chimney begin with ignited creosote, a sticky, flakey or solid substance caused by smoke condensation in the flue. Creosote is highly flammable, with most fires it causes centered in your chimney’s smoke chamber just above the firebox.

Signs of a chimney fire

An active chimney fire may not be a big, blazing event that sends a 4-alarm call to your local fire department. But most fires will give you clues including:

  • Excess dense smoke coming from either end of the chimney
  • A rumbling sound like from a distant train
  • The sound or cracking or ticking

If you notice any of these signs while the fireplace is in use, call 911 immediately and extinguish the fire in the firebox, if you can do so safely.

Signs that a chimney fire has happened

signs of chimney fire, gaithersburg, mdCSIA-certified chimney sweeps regularly see the signs left in the wake of a chimney fire. You can spot some of them yourself.

  • Creosote flakes in the firebox, on the roof near the chimney or on the ground
  • Chips of flue liner tiles in the firebox
  • Discolored or melted roofing material near the chimney
  • Obvious damage to your chimney cap, flue cover or chimney chase top
  • Warped fireplace damper
  • Dark, smoky stains on the masonry near the top of the chimney

How chimney fires can damage your chimney

Your chimney liner – whether it be stainless steel, clay tile or a poured-in-place compound – was designed to withstand a reasonable amount of punishment from heat. But the intense heat from a chimney fire can quickly begin to erode the liner material.

With a damaged chimney liner, the interior masonry of the chimney is now at risk of brick damage. Flammable materials of your house may also be at risk of a fire that’s much more devastating than a chimney fire.

Chimney fires may damage the chimney cap or chase cover, which will then be unable to protect against incoming rain and obstruction-causing debris. A fire can damage parts of the attic or may cause a fire in some of those materials.

The importance of regular chimney inspections and chimney sweeping

There are two times you should contact a local, reputable chimney sweep:

  1. When you know or suspect you’ve had a chimney fire
  2. Once a year for an inspection and cleaning – whether or not there has been a fire

Only a certified chimney technician can properly clean and inspect your chimney and fireplace and recommend needed repairs before early damage gets out of hand. If you’ve had a chimney fire, your inspector will perform a Level 2 chimney inspection that includes the use of video imaging technology to assess the condition of your liner and interior masonry.

High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, provides licensed chimney sweep, chimney inspection and chimney repair services. Call us at (301) 519-3500 to keep your chimney, home and family safe and secure.


Schedule A Chimney Sweep Before The Fall Rush

Getting your fireplace and chimney ready for another winter season involves making sure it’s clean and that the structure and components are all in good shape. For chimneys connected to wood-burning fireplaces and inserts, chimney sweeping is a necessary maintenance task that’s just as important as seeing to any minor repairs that might be needed.

Professional Chimney Cleaning in Cloverly, MDHere are four reasons to schedule chimney cleaning and maintenance before the fall rush

Things are slower in the spring and summer

Chimney sweeps tend to get busy once the cold weather hits. For some reason, that’s the time most people start thinking about what they need to do to get their chimney ready for winter. By scheduling your annual chimney cleaning visit before the weather turns, you have a much better chance of getting your technician to your home at a time that’s convenient for you.

Milder weather is better for certain chimney repairs

Chimney repair work that involves a mortar mixture will be more effective before outside temperatures get seriously cold. This work includes tuckpointing, chimney crown rebuilding, smoke chamber parging, and other select tasks.

Traffic inside your house

Chimney cleaning, damper replacement, fireplace insert installations, firebox repair, and certain other jobs require the technician to access the interior of your home. This foot traffic is less problematic during mild weather than during sloppy, snowy weather.

Safer for the technician

Finally, nice weather makes the outside jobs of repair, component installation, and inspection simpler and safer for your chimney technician.

Why your chimney should be swept once a year

No matter when you’re able to arrange for service, your chimney flue should be professionally cleaned once a year to prevent chimney fires and drafting problems.

Chimney Sweep Services in Rockville, MD CSIA-certified chimney sweeps perform two primary jobs:

Creosote removal: Excess creosote is a chimney fire waiting to happen. Creosote is highly flammable and increases in amount every time you burn wood in your fireplace.

Most fire-safety agencies and chimney-safety organizations in the United States recommend annual chimney sweeping for chimneys that vent wood-burning appliances. The majority of chimney fires are started by creosote, so a yearly visit from a trained chimney sweep is the best way to prevent one of these destructive events.

Obstruction removal: Debris such as falling leaves and twigs as well as the nests of small animals like squirrels and birds can cause drafting obstructions in chimneys. When airflow is restricted, smoke can back up into your home.

Worse than smoke, however, is the carbon monoxide it contains. This gas is invisible and odorless, but it has been shown to be poisonous and potentially fatal to humans and animals. (Note that if your chimney has no chimney cap or flue cover, installing one of these devices will keep debris out of your chimney.)

The best recipe for a safe and reliable chimney

Keeping your chimney running safely and optimally isn’t hard when you remember to schedule your chimney sweep visits, inspections, and repair work early before winter really digs in. By hiring a company that holds certifications through the Chimney Safety Institute of America, you know the work will be done by highly trained and experienced technicians who care about you and your home.

Is it time to get your chimney cleaned and inspected? High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, provides certified chimney sweep, chimney inspection, and chimney repair services that you can count on. Reach us at (301) 519-3500 with questions or to schedule an appointment.


Summer Is the Perfect Time for A Fireplace Makeover

There’s no reason you should live with a fireplace that’s boring and does little or nothing to accent the décor of your home. A fireplace makeover – large-scale or small-scale – can make a stunning difference in the aesthetics of your room and give you yet another reason to enjoy your fireplace.

What is a fireplace makeover?

Fireplace makeover in Gaithersburg MD

We’re not talking here about making any changes to the actual fireplace but rather to everything around it. A fireplace makeover or redesign can include adding a new fireplace surround, mantel, glass doors, decorative safety screen, tool set and more. Let’s look at some ideas that might be perfect for your summer makeover project.

Fireplace surrounds

A fireplace surround is a custom-built or pre-made wall treatment that borders your fireplace. Surrounds can be fashioned of real or faux stone, brick, wood, tile and many other attractive materials. Simple surrounds extend just a foot or two from the outside edges of the fireplace. More elaborate surrounds can take up the entire wall and include recessed shelving areas to add your own tasteful touches. Fireplace surrounds can be built or installed around masonry fireplaces or factory-built zero clearance fireplaces.


If your fireplace doesn’t have a mantel above it, this one makeover project alone can add significant elegance and beauty to your hearth area. Mantels serve not only as aesthetic pieces but also as shelving for books, portraits, antiques, flowers, kids’ artwork and anything else that enhances your hearth area.

Glass fireplace doors

fireplace service in Gaithersburg MDSophisticated glass fireplace doors are a perfect finishing touch to any fireplace makeover or refacing project. Along with looking gorgeous, they provide solid protection against drafts and fireplace debris as well as a barrier for young children and pets. Glass doors are available in many shapes, sizes, finishes and design styles, making it easy to find a set that delights you.

Fireplace screens

Another way to raise the aesthetic quality of your fireplace area is with a protective fireplace screen.

While a screen won’t control air drafts, it is an excellent way to keep popping embers from getting on carpet, flooring or nearby furniture. Fireplace screens also serve as protection for kids and pets when the fireplace is in use. Lots of styles and colors are available.

Tool sets

What fireplace could be complete without a handsome tool set at the side of the firebox? Tool sets typically include a broom, tongs, a poker and a shovel that add beauty and help you tend your fire.

More fireplace-area remodel/makeover ideas

Add even more luster and charm to your hearth area with:

  • A lovely hearth rug
  • A sturdy log storage rack
  • Stylish matches and a match decanter
  • Logbarrow for great looks and convenience in hauling logs
  • A designer hearth pad

Summer is the perfect time to plan and execute the fireplace makeover you’ve been dreaming about. High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, can help you find all the items you need and perform all necessary installation or customization work to totally renovate your hearth area. Find out more about a summer fireplace makeover by calling (301) 519-3500.


What it Means When Your Chimney Leans

Chimneys should stand straight up and tall, never pitching to one side. If you’re noticing that your chimney is leaning, it may mean that there’s damage to the chimney itself or the footing beneath it. Because it’s not always easy to tell just by looking that a chimney is leaning slightly, here are some signs to look for.


Leaky chimney: A chimney that leans could also be leaking through cracks in the bricks or mortar. Often a leak is the first clue.

Loose bricks: Bricks that are loose or decaying along with deteriorated mortar joints and crumbling around the base of the chimney are all signs that your chimney may have started to lean or soon will.

Tilting Chimney Repair in Poolesville, MDCaulking in the gaps: If there is caulking filling spaces between the exterior walls of the home and the chimney, the previous owner may have been trying to address the gaps caused by a leaning chimney. (You may also notice unfilled, open gaps.)

Flashing issues: If the flashing strips that seal the gap between the roof and the chimney are dislodged, it may mean that the chimney has moved. These and any other signs of a leaning chimney should be evaluated by an experienced chimney sweep/chimney inspector.

Why chimneys lean

The key to solving any chimney problem is discovering what’s causing it. Chimney inspectors can determine the cause of a leaning chimney and recommend the best solution. Here are five


Depending on the severity, normal house-settling and foundation-settling can cause a chimney to lean.

Lack of proper footing

Chimneys at older homes sometimes were built without a solid concrete footing, which can lead to a leaning chimney.

Footing not reinforced

If your chimney’s footing wasn’t properly reinforced, it may start to crack and cause the chimney to lean.

Footing too small

The footing should extend at least six inches beyond every side of the chimney structure. Additionally, a footing that was built too shallow is prone to cracking and shifting under the chimney. (Note that any footing built of inferior concrete is much more likely to crack over time.)

Chimney inspection in Poolesville, MDSoil problems

When the soil beneath the footing is too loose to bear the weight, shifting can result in a tilting chimney. Aside from the issues mentioned above, earthquakes, major damage from a chimney fire and an improperly built chimney can lead to a leaning chimney.

Certified chimney inspections

If you know or believe that your chimney is damaged, your first action should be to call out a CSIA-certified chimney inspector. Only through a proper inspection will you be able to spot early signs of damage and address the issue before a costly and dangerous problem arises. Inspectors who carry certifications through the Chimney Safety Institute of America will examine the entire chimney structure and its components. If damage within the flue is suspected, they will use video imaging technology to allow them to see exactly what’s going on and suggest the best chimney repair work to fix it as quickly as possible. Are you living with a leaning chimney or other forms of chimney damage? High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, provides expert chimney inspection, chimney repair and full-service chimney sweeping. We’ll help you keep your chimney safe and efficient all year long.

Call (301) 519-3500 to get problems solved fast.


Brush Up on Your Fireplace & Chimney Terminology

How much do you know about your fireplace and chimney? Here are some common words and terms you may have heard but weren’t sure of their meaning.

Professional Chimney inspection in Poolesville MDASH DUMP: A space beneath the fireplace where ash can be collected and then removed.

BAFFLE: A device that manages the direction of flue gases and can cause fires to burn more efficiently.

BLOWER: A fan inside a fireplace/stove that blows heat into the room.

CARBON MONOXIDE: A toxic gas produced by wood or gas fires, particularly when combustion is incomplete. Carbon monoxide can cause sickness and death.



CHIMNEY CAP: A full-width component that covers and protects the entire top of the chimney. Both chimney caps and smaller flue covers keep rain, snow, animals and debris out of the flue.

CHIMNEY SWEEP: The name given to the process of cleaning creosote and obstructions out of a chimney flue. It’s also the name for individuals who do this work.

CHIMNEY LINER: Typically made of clay tile, metal or a poured-in-place compound, chimney liners run the length of the flue to protect masonry and provide a smooth, properly sized channel for smoke to move up and away from the home.

CREOSOTE: The byproduct of smoke combustion that can form as a sticky, flakey or solid substance inside the flue. Creosote is highly flammable and should be removed by a trained chimney sweep once a year.

Chimney Crown Repair in Glenwood MDCHIMNEY CROWN: The sloped concrete covering at the top of the chimney designed to protect the flue and masonry from water damage.

DAMPER: Dampers open and close to control the flow of air between the home and the outside environment. Most are installed just above the firebox. Others are placed at the top of the chimney.

DRYER VENT CLEANING: An important service offered by some chimney companies to prevent fires by removing blockages from the vent systems connected with clothes dryers.

FIREBOX: The open compartment in a fireplace or stove where wood and gas fires are created.

FIREPLACE INSERT: A factory-made appliance that goes in the firebox of a masonry fireplace. Inserts can run on gas or wood and are significantly safer and more efficient than standard fireplaces.

FLASHING: The material that seals the gap between the exterior roof and chimney to prevent water from running down into the home. Flashing also is found on roof valleys to channel water.

Chimney Liner Repair & installation in Travilah MDFLUE: The inner passage inside a chimney used to draft smoke and gasses. Technically not a “chimney” but rather part of it.

MASONRY CHIMNEY: The most common chimney style, built of bricks and mortar. Masonry chimneys are constructed by hand, differentiating them from other types of chimneys that are made in a factory.

MASONRY FIREPLACE: Refers to the “standard” fireplace built into a wall using bricks, stone or other materials.

PELLETS: Small nuggets made of sawdust or other wood refuse that are used by some fireplaces, inserts and stoves.

SMOKE CHAMBER: The area just above the fireplace and smoke shelf and below the bottom of the flue.

SMOKE CHAMBER PARGING: The process of adding a layer of mortar to the chamber to allow smoke to draft more smoothly. Most smoke chambers need this service periodically.

SMOKE SHELF: The area between the smoke chamber and firebox.

SOOT: Powdery carbon particles created during combustion, particularly when the fuel burns only partially.

THROAT: The area just above the firebox into which smoke and gasses enter. Dampers located here are called “throat dampers.”

VIDEO SCAN: Technology used to inspect the inside of the chimney flue and other hard-to-access areas. Chimney sweeps use video scans to detect otherwise unseen flue or liner damage.

High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, presents this concise glossary of chimney and fireplace terms to help you know more about the parts and structures that make up your system. When that system needs cleaning, inspections or repairs, count on the certified chimney sweeps at High’s to get the job done right the first time. Reach us at (301) 519-3500.


3 Ways to Keep Your Chimney Clean & Safe Between Chimney Sweep Visits

If you use your wood-burning fireplace, the chimney is going to collect its fair share of creosote and soot. There’s nothing you can do about that. But there is something you can do about how much buildup is added to the chimney each burning season.

The reason this is important is because creosote is highly flammable and is the cause of most chimney fires each year in the United States. You should schedule annual service from a certified professional to do the bulk of the cleaning, but you also can do your part to help keep your chimney clean between chimney sweep visits.

Creosote in Chimney, Fulton MDFirst thing to know: smoke = creosote

Creosote is formed when wood smoke condenses in a chimney flue. Although the process can be a little scientific, the simple way to see it is: the more smoke, the more creosote.

If you’ve run a fireplace for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that sometimes wood can burn and produce minimal smoke, while other times a huge amount of smoke comes off the fire. Your goal is to burn fires that produce as little smoke as possible. Here are three ways to do it.

Burn only dry (seasoned) wood

Recently harvested logs still contain considerable moisture, which makes considerable smoke when burned. Logs that have been allowed to dry for six months or more will not produce huge amounts of smoke.

Additionally, hardwoods like walnut, oak, sycamore and ash burn hotter and usually aren’t as smoky as softwoods like pine, redwood, juniper and fir.

Ensure a proper draft (air flow)

For wood to burn efficiently, it needs the right amount of oxygen. Air flow is what allows for intense burns with minimal amounts of the wood left unburned and less smoke created in the process.

Elements that will affect how much air gets to your fireplace fires include:

Air-tight house: If little or no air can flow into your home, little or no air flow is going to be available for your fire. If you suspect this is the case, crack a window or two when using the fireplace.

Faulty damper: The damper that sits above the firebox is there to regulate air flow. If it’s rusted or damaged and can’t fully open, you may not be bringing enough air into your firebox. Have the damper inspected and either repaired or replaced.

Obstructed flue: Leaves, twigs and other tree debris along with the nests of squirrels, birds and other small animals can create a major air-flow obstruction inside a chimney. A proper chimney cap will block these obstructions, so if you have no cap, get one installed. To have obstructions cleaned out, make an appointment with a professional chimney sweep.

Chopped Seasoned FirewoodNever burn anything except actual firewood in your fireplace

While firewood does produce some smoke that leads to the formation of creosote, it doesn’t produce nearly as much as items such as painted wood, pressed board, cardboard, clothing, plastics and paper products.

It is never advisable to use anything other than tree logs as fuel in a wood fireplace, stove or insert. Aside from excess smoke, these materials can produce fumes that are full of dangerous (and possibly deadly) toxins that should not be inhaled by people or pets.

By following these guidelines, you’ll be helping to keep your chimney clean and efficient between visits from your chimney sweep.

Need help with chimney issues? High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, provides certified chimney sweep, chimney inspection and chimney repair services to ensure the safety and integrity of your chimney/fireplace system. Get your questions answered or schedule an appointment by calling (301) 519-3500.

How Chimney’s Become Damaged and Dirty Over the Winter

Long Maryland winters mean a lot of fireplace use for many people. After months of running your fireplace, it’s not uncommon for minor damage to have occurred as well as the accumulation of excess creosote and soot. Let’s look at some of the reasons that chimneys become damaged and dirty over the winter.

Professional Chimney Sweep Poolesville, MDCreosote and Soot

Wood-burning fireplaces create a creosote every time a fire burns. A byproduct of the combustion process, creosote can be flakey, puffy or solid, but in all forms it’s highly flammable. Both creosote and soot in sufficient amounts can ignite and start a chimney fire. Each substance needs to be cleaned out of your chimney once a year by a certified, professional chimney sweep.

Chimney cleaning not only addresses the creosote issue, it addresses any obstructive debris (leaves, twigs, nests of small animals, etc.) that may be hindering efficient smoke-drafting.

Masonry Issues

A thorough chimney inspection at the end of each burning season is a smart move, because severe winter weather and the intense heat from fires can cause various levels of masonry damage. Cracks in mortar joints often lead to serious structural compromise when water moves into the cracks, freezes and expands.

Masonry also can be affected by a cracked or broken chimney liner, which allows corrosive gases to regularly contact internal bricks and mortar. A damaged chimney cap and warped or missing flashing can put chimney masonry at risk for decay. By having your chimney inspected once a year, you can spot early signs of masonry problems and get them fixed before more serious damage occurs.

Chimney Crown Repair, Poolesville, MDChimney Crown Damage

The cement crown at the top of your chimney is prone to cracking, which will lead to the same kind of problems as when bricks and mortar crack. Infiltrating water can cause chimney crowns to deteriorate, especially when the temperatures outside cause the water to freeze and expand, breaking apart the cement. When caught in time, minor chimney crown damage often can be resolved by waterproofing. When severe damage is present, the crown may have to be rebuilt.

Leaky Chimney

After a hard winter, homeowners sometimes notice signs of a leaky chimney. If your chimney is leaking but you don’t know exactly why, schedule an inspection from a CSIA-certified technician. Fixing a leaky chimney isn’t always a complicated job, but the first step must be determining what’s causing the leak and how extensive it is.

Signs of a chimney leak include:

  • Water on surfaces inside the firebox
  • Unpleasant odors coming from the fireplace
  • Efflorescence (white stains) on exterior chimney masonry
  • Damp patches and/or discoloration on walls or the ceiling near the chimney
  • A fireplace damper that squeaks and won’t open and close properly

Start with a Chimney Inspection

After a busy burning season, your chimney and fireplace may have sustained damage that you aren’t able to see and evaluate. It’s always best to let chimney service experts take a look at your chimney system once a year and then give you recommendations on what kind of chimney repair work is needed to restore safe and efficient operation.

High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, offers basic and comprehensive chimney inspections, chimney repair, chimney sweeping and other key services to keep your chimney running at its best all year long. Get your questions answered or schedule an appointment by calling (301) 519-3500.

Surprising Things That Happen To Chimneys In The Spring

Chimney swifts & chimney repair in Mclean VAAnother brutal winter is over, and it’s time to forget all about your chimney and start getting ready for better weather with so much to do. Well, not exactly. Just because you aren’t regularly using your fireplace doesn’t mean that your chimney doesn’t need some attention. Here are some things that can happen to your chimney in the spring and how to address them.

Animals and their nests

Operating a chimney without a full-width chimney cap or at least a basic flue top cap is asking for trouble.

In the spring, small animals such as squirrels, birds, bats, raccoons and others love to set up home and build nests in chimneys. The nests, and the animals themselves when they die in the chimney unable to get out, create drafting obstructions. The result? Sluggish fires, lots of smoke and a backup of deadly carbon monoxide.

Leaky chimney

Chimney leaks often get noticed in the spring when rains are the heaviest in many regions of the country. Over the winter, water may have gotten into the mortar joints or cracks in the chimney crown where it froze, expanded and caused significant damage. With heavy rains, large amounts of water can move into the chimney and start a cycle of decay and deterioration.

Chimney component damage

As noted, water can cause damage to various parts of the chimney. But so can springtime events such as gale-force winds and pounding hail. Components of a chimney that can take a beating by the elements include chimney caps, chimney chase covers, chimney crowns, roof flashing and top-sealing dampers. The problem with chimney damage is it doesn’t reverse itself. Once it starts, it keeps going until very serious problems have to be dealt with.

Chimney Sweep In Gaithersburg, MDCreosote and Soot

Without a thorough chimney cleaning each spring, when warmer weather arrives your flue may begin to send off some pretty powerful odors caused by a buildup of creosote and soot. This problem is worsened if there is a chimney leak that allows water to get into the mix. Creosote should be removed once a year, not only to keep odors at a minimum but, more importantly, to reduce the chance of a chimney fire when you start running the fireplace again in the fall.

 inspections & chimney sweep

Fire-safety and hearth-industry agencies throughout the United States recommend annual chimney inspections and chimney sweeping by trained, certified technicians. Inspections are ideally scheduled during the spring months so any damage that may have occurred during the burning season can be spotted and fixed. Leaks can be repaired to prevent widespread damage during the rainy months.

Chimney cleaning, which includes removing creosote, soot and obstructions like those mentioned above, is the best way to prevent destructive chimney fires when you start using your fireplace again. Most chimney companies are less busy during the spring, so that’s another good reason to arrange for service at this time of year. High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg MD is ready to help with chimney cleaning, chimney inspection and all types of chimney repair. All our work is performed or overseen by a CSIA-certified professional. Get your chimney into top shape and ready for next winter by calling (301) 519-3500.


3 Pro Tips for a Stunning Fireplace Upgrade

Is your fireplace starting to get boring? Could it do with an upgrade to bring the excitement back and add some elegance in the process? Is the big problem simply that it’s not producing enough heat? If you answered yes to any of these questions, read on for some good news.

Upgrade the look of your hearth area

fireplace upgrade in Washington d.cThere are many ways to beautify a hearth area.

Fireplace mantel installation: For many people, a fireplace just isn’t complete without a stately mantel on top of it. Use your new mantel for displaying photographs, vases, antiques, kids’ artwork, mirrors, clocks – you name it.

Add a fireplace surround: The entire wall area around your fireplace can be transformed with a custom-built or factory-made fireplace surround. Choose from many beautiful materials including stone, brick, granite, wood and more.

Install glass fireplace doors: A new set of lovely glass fireplace doors will add eye-appeal to your hearth area all year long. Plus they provide a layer of protection for kids and pets after the fire dies down.

Add a set of fireplace tools: Tool sets can include a shovel, poker, brush, log-lifter and more, all displayed in a handsome stand. A decorative log holder is another idea to upgrade the look of your fireplace area.

 Upgrade your level of heat

If your fireplace upgrade plans center more around getting extra heat out of your fireplace than enhancing its appearance, consider the advantages of a fireplace insert.

With an insert, you don’t have to construct anything, because the unit fits right into your existing masonry fireplace’s firebox. Inserts are made for both wood and gas fuel, and they deliver high levels of safe, useable heat.

Heat-efficiency ratings for fireplace inserts typically range from 70% up to 85% and even higher. This rating tells you how much of the total heat the appliance produces will be available as heat within your home.

By comparison, your current masonry fireplace may not be rated any higher than 20%, and even that may be a stretch. Masonry fireplaces, while they look awesome, aren’t known as high heat producers. A gas or wood insert will not only give you the heat you want but will add significant beauty to your hearth area as you choose among the many finishes, colors, design styles and options available.

Upgrade your masonry fireplace’s performance

Masonry Fireplace inspection & CleaningIf you love your masonry fireplace, then give it the TLC it needs to operate safely and at peak performance. Start by scheduling an annual visit from a certified chimney sweep to remove flammable creosote and drafting obstructions from your flue. Then bring in a professional chimney inspector to evaluate the condition of your chimney and fireplace and recommend (and perform) any needed repairs. A chimney in good shape will allow the fireplace to work so much more efficiently and safely. As you can see, there’s no reason you have to keep living with a dull hearth area or an underperforming, unsafe fireplace.

High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is ready to help with all your desired fireplace upgrades from appliance and mantel installation to complete inspection and chimney cleaning work. Call the trusted experts in the DC area today at (301) 519-3500.