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Why Is Cold Air Coming from My Fireplace?

The question about cold air coming from the fireplace is a question many homeowners have. Fortunately, there are only a few possible causes and several very effective remedies.

chimney cap installFireplace and chimney basics

The basic structure and operation of a fireplace and chimney is something most homeowners readily understand. There’s a firebox, where fires burn, and a chimney, up which go smoke and combustion gasses. The path for smoke also is a path for air. When a fireplace isn’t in use, cold air from outside can come down the chimney into the home, and warm interior air can escape up through the flue.

Ways to prevent cold air entering your home through your fireplace

Keeping your home warmer in the winter can involve a couple steps. Step one is stopping the cold-air draft.

Fireplace damper:

The damper that sits above the firebox should be able to close fully and make a tight seal. Remembering to keep the damper closed when the fireplace isn’t being used will block the cold air that wants to enter your home.

Over years of use, dampers can become rusted or warped. If you suspect this may be a problem, have your damper inspected by a certified fireplace/chimney inspector.

Chimney plug:

Also known as a chimney balloon, this product fits up in the chimney and is inflated, creating a solid barrier against incoming air. Chimney plugs can be used any time you’re not burning a fire as an extra layer of protection. If you forget about the plug and light a fire, it will deflate on its own to allow smoke to exit up the chimney.

Fireplace doors:

Another way to keep cold air out of your room is to install a set of fireplace doors. Quality fireplace doors will create a strong seal at the mouth of the firebox and prevent air circulation when you’re not using your fireplace. Not only will doors keep your home warmer, they look fantastic, too.

gas chimney

Consider an upgrade with a fireplace insert or ZC fireplace

If you’re using a traditional open masonry fireplace, drafts of cold air are something you’re going to have to deal with, like it or not. However, you can completely eliminate these drafts by adding a powerful new fireplace insert to your existing firebox.

Inserts are built in a factory and run on wood, gas or pellets. They work on a closed-combustion system that produces and retains much larger amounts of heat than a masonry fireplace. They have their own vent pipe, which goes right up the chimney.

Zero-clearance, or ZC fireplaces, also are factory built, but unlike inserts, they’re installed into a new area in a wall within your home. These appliances are powerful heat producers and never allow the cold-air drafts that keep your home chilly.

Wood, gas and pellet ZC fireplaces, like inserts, have heat-efficiency ratings of 80% and higher. Compare that to ratings of 10% or 20% common with traditional masonry fireplaces. This means the majority of the heat the unit produces will be available as heat for the home.

As you can see, cold air entering your home through your fireplace is a problem that can be addressed. High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, can help with inspections, repair and the installation of components, fireplace inserts and ZC fireplaces. Get on the road to more warmth by calling us today at (301) 519-3500.

Know the Protective Components of Your Chimney

chimney cap installation gaithersburg mdAs solidly built as chimneys are, they need a number of components to keep them working safely and efficiently. Let’s look at some of these chimney components and find out what they do and why it’s important.

Chimney flue

The flue, often just called the “chimney,” is the vertical interior passage that allows smoke to move up and away from the fireplace. A sturdy flue serves as a protector for nearby combustible materials of the home by containing intense heat and toxic gasses.

Flues are commonly constructed of brick and mortar (masonry) and hold up well for many years. Eventually, however, cracks in the masonry can begin letting water into the system, where it will start a cycle of decay until the flue is no longer safe to operate. Leaky chimneys need prompt professional attention.

Chimney liner

Chimney liners are built or installed on the inside of the flue to add even more protection to the home. Liners can be made of metal, clay tiles or a poured-in-place compound. As with the chimney’s masonry, if cracks appear in the liner, heat and gasses can escape and cause damage.

Assessing the condition of a chimney liner normally requires the services of a certified chimney inspector, who will use various tools including video technology to look at all the surfaces of the liner.

Roof flashing

Flashing is the metal strips that block the gap between the external chimney masonry and the roof. Without a layer of flashing, rainwater and water from melting snow can run down into the home and cause rotting and decay to walls, insulation and other structural components.

Incoming water also can begin to harm the exterior masonry of the chimney in areas the average person can’t see. Flashing is one of the easiest ways to prevent some very expensive damage.

Chimney crown

The chimney crown is the cement layer that seals off everything at the top of the chimney except for the flue pipes. Like the chimney cap, the crown shields the flue from water and moisture. Crowns usually are beveled to allow water to run away from the flue opening.

Cracks in chimney crowns can happen after years of use. If caught early, the cracks can be sealed to prevent further damage. In some cases, a crown will have to be rebuilt.


Located just above the firebox, the damper is open when a fire is burning to allow a smooth path for smoke and toxins to leave the home. A damper that won’t fully open can cause smoke and dangerous carbon monoxide to back up into the home.

After many years of service, dampers can become rusted and warped, making it impossible to close them completely when the fireplace isn’t in use. Damaged dampers can be repaired or replaced.

rockville md chimney rebuilding service

Chimney cap

The chimney cap sits atop the chimney and provides protection against incoming rain and snow as well as debris such as leaves, twigs and small-animal nests.

A good chimney cap also acts as a barrier to keep shooting sparks and embers from flying out the top of the chimney and landing on the roof or in the yard. Damaged chimney caps can either be replaced or repaired.

High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is here to help keep all your chimney components and your chimney itself in excellent working condition. We provide a full menu of chimney cleaning, chimney repair, component installation and chimney inspection services. Learn more or schedule an appointment by calling (301) 519-3500.

Why Is My Fireplace Cold & Drafty?

Cold And Drafty Chimney Assuming your fireplace and chimney system are in overall good working order, the answer why your fireplace is cold and drafty is fairly straightforward. Cold air from outside is getting into the chimney and flowing down to escape from the fireplace. There are several ways you can prevent this problem or lessen its impact.

If you’re using a traditional masonry fireplace, you have what’s known as an open system. That means there’s a clear path from the top of your chimney to the opening of the firebox for air to move. Keeping a masonry fireplace from being cold and drafty during the cold months requires several steps.

Make sure your throat damper is in good shape

The throat damper, located just above the firebox and operated with a handle, is a key line of defense against cold drafts. When new, dampers create a tight seal, usually metal on metal, and block out the cold air.

Over time, dampers can become rusted and warped, thereby compromising their seal. If your damper is damaged, it can be replaced. Also: it’s easy to forget to close the damper when the fireplace isn’t in use, so make a mental note to do this.

Chimney damper in Fulton MDTop-sealing damper

If your throat damper is in questionable shape, or if you simply want an added layer of protection, consider having a top-sealing damper installed. These components sit at the top of the chimney and close tightly to prevent air from entering the flue.

As long as your throat damper can still open fully (necessary for efficient fires and proper drafting) it’s often more economical to install a damper up top rather than replace a faulty throat damper.

 Fireplace doors

As you can see, our suggestions so far are targeting the problem of incoming air. Fireplace doors are another way to target this problem. A sturdy set of new fireplace doors can be kept closed when the fireplace isn’t being used and provide a strong barrier against infiltrating cold air. Not only do fireplace doors keep the cold air out, they also look fantastic and will add an immediate touch of elegance to any fireplace.

Install a fireback

Usually made of cast iron, a fireback is a large plate installed inside the fireplace to protect the firebox. It also absorbs heat from the fire and radiates it out into the room. A fireback doesn’t address air flow, but it definitely adds a significant warming effect and creates a more comfortable living environment.

Add a fireplace heater

Another way to increase the heating efficiency of a masonry fireplace is to add a fireplace heater. These devices take air inside the room, circulated it through the heat inside the fireplace, and send it back to the room. Because fireplace heaters work on a closed circuit system, they won’t send smoke into the room along with the warm air. These are some ways to deal with a cold and drafty fireplace. Along with improving heat efficiency, you also want to make sure every part of your fireplace is safe and working properly. They way to do this is with regularly scheduled chimney cleanings, chimney inspections and prompt repairs of damaged masonry or components.

High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is standing by to help with all your fireplace cleaning, service and maintenance needs. Call us today at (301) 519-3500.


What Type of Fireplace Do You Have? Here’s how to Tell.

Although every type of fireplace burns fuel and provides a degree of warmth, not every fireplace is the same. Depending on the type you have, certain maintenance tasks will be necessary to keep it safe and operating at peak levels. Let’s look at the most popular fireplace styles.

Open masonry fireplace in Fulton, MD Open masonry fireplace

These are the traditional fireplaces, built into a wall by a mason and often surrounded by brick, stone or other materials. Unless the fireplace has been retrofitted, it burns wood logs.

Masonry fireplaces look fabulous and add a rustic touch of charm to a home, but they’re not particularly good heat producers. The open design of these fireplaces allows about 80% or more of the heat they create to be lost up the chimney.

Maintaining a masonry fireplace centers around cleaning and inspection. Wood fires produce creosote, which builds up in your flue and can ignite and start a chimney fire. Certified chimney sweeps use specialized tools to remove creosote and other obstructions from your chimney to keep it safe for use.

Gas & wood Inserts

Inserts are built in factories and are sized to fit directly into the fireboxes of masonry fireplaces. Fireplace inserts are powerful heat producers and add a stunning decorative accent to your home.

Gas inserts should be inspected annually to ensure that the components and gas line connections are in good shape.

Wood inserts, like any wood-burning appliance, need yearly service from a chimney sweep to remove creosote and soot from the vent pipe. Fireplace inserts require venting, but not with the existing chimney. Custom vent pipes are included with both styles of inserts.

Zero-clearance gas and wood fireplacesWood Burning Fireplace in Poolesville, MD

These appliances get their name from their heavy-duty insulation properties that make them safe to install within virtually any wall in the home with no clearance required between the unit and adjacent wall materials and flooring. Similar in performance to fireplace inserts, ZC fireplaces are self-contained units that are installed in places other than the firebox of an existing fireplace.

Zero-clearance fireplaces retain the heat they produce – as much as 80% to 90% of it – and send the heat into the room rather than up the vent pipe. A gas model needs annual safety inspections; a wood-burning model needs inspection along with professional cleaning of the vent system that comes with the unit.

Gas log sets

Gas logs are used in an existing wood-burning fireplace. When professionally installed, these devices create safe warmth and a lot of beauty, with logs that look remarkably similar to real wood.

A gas log set gives you lovely fires but none of the mess and professional cleaning requirements of a wood fireplace.

No matter what type of fireplace you have, it can bring you many years of pleasure and enjoyment. The key to getting the most out of your fireplace is to stay on top of maintenance, which means regular inspection and necessary repairs. For wood-burning units, proper maintenance includes chimney/vent pipe cleaning once a year.

High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is ready to help keep your fireplace safe and running at peak efficiency. We offer CSIA-certified chimney sweep services, fireplace and chimney inspection and repairs on all types of fireplaces and heating stoves. Call us today at (301) 519-3500.


Damaged Chimney Signs & Symptoms

Chimney Masonry Repair in Fulton MDA fully functional chimney is a safe chimney. A damaged chimney can be dangerous. Fortunately, you can spot many signs of chimney damage and arrange for the necessary repairs before the problem gets out of hand. Here are four areas of chimney damage/chimney issues to be on the lookout for.

Leaky chimney signs

Water in the firebox: If you see water inside your firebox, likely it means there’s a leak somewhere in the system.


White stains on masonry: White stains (efflorescence) are caused by naturally occurring salt and mean that water is getting into the masonry.

Foul smells coming from the fireplace: Excess moisture inside the flue often is caused by a leaky chimney. Moisture mixes with soot and creosote and produces strong odors.

Structural damage 

Crumbling on the roof: Masonry damage often leaves areas of crumbling on the roof near the base of the chimney.

Leaning chimney: If a chimney has begun to lean to one side, it indicates a significant level of damage that needs to be addressed before using the fireplace again.

Missing bricks: When bricks fall completely away from the chimney or parts of the bricks are missing, water damage is often the reason.

Black staining at the top of the chimney: This could be caused by the excess, thick smoke produced by a chimney fire.

Damage to chimney components

Damaged chimney cap: Any compromise to the vented areas of a chimney cap mean that unwanted obstructions could get into the flue and cause drafting issues.

Cracks in the chimney crown: Crown damage commonly begins with small cracks, which expand over time due to freeze-thaw cycles. Water inside the crown structure eventually can destroy it.

Flashing problems: The flashing that blocks the gap between the chimney and the roof should be flat and secure in order to keep water from running down into the home. Warped or deteriorated flashing needs to be replaced.

Chimney liner damage: If the chimney liner begins to break apart or degenerate, you may notice pieces of it in the firebox. You also may be able to visually see some parts of the liner to determine if damage is present.

Chimney Flue Cleaning in Glenwood, MDIssues inside the flue

Aside from what’s listed above, two serious issues can take place inside the flue.

  1. Excess creosote buildup: Creosote is formed when wood burns. The substance is flammable and responsible for most chimney fires in the U.S. each year.
  2. Outside obstructions: Things such as small-animal nests, dead small animals, leaves, twigs and other debris can narrow the smoke passage and cause smoke and carbon monoxide to back up into the house. In both these cases, professional chimney sweep services are called for.

As a homeowner, you can keep a close eye on your chimney and its components and be able to tell when something is wrong. However, your “novice” inspections are no replacement for professional chimney inspections performed by certified technicians. If you watch your chimney and schedule annual inspections by a pro, you’ll be taking a big step toward keeping your chimney safe and running optimallyHigh’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, provides everything you need for a safe chimney including certified chimney sweep, professional inspection and expert repair services. Call (301) 519-3500 with questions or to schedule an appointment.



How to Get Your Chimney Ready for Santa Claus

Chimney sweep in Potomac MDIt’s that time of year again – the time good old Santa Claus hitches up his sleigh to the reindeer and heads to the homes of every good boy and girl and shimmies down chimneys to leave brightly wrapped presents for the kids. Okay, none of this may be true, but it’s not a bad idea to think it is when it comes to taking care of your chimney.

Let’s look at four ways you can prepare your chimney for Santa and in the process keep it running at max safety and efficiency.




First, Santa needs to be able to get into the chimney

If your chimney is full of accumulated leaves and twigs and dust and bird nests and possibly the bodies of small animals who have died in the chimney, Santa might not even fit into the flue. So, step one in getting your chimney ready for a visit from the Old Man is to have all the obstructions cleaned out.

Doing this will also allow your fires to burn more efficiently and keep smoke drafting up the flue rather than backing up into your home.

Next, Santa can’t afford to get too dirty

Creosote and soot inside a chimney can seriously mar Santa’s pristine red-and-white appearance. If Santa went down a chimney packed with these smoke byproducts, he would emerge looking like he’d been dragged through the mud.

Removing creosote and soot from your chimney also brings the benefit of significantly reducing the chance of a chimney fire – most of which in the U.S. each year start with ignited creosote.

Masonry repair in Poolesville, MDChimney repairs 

Santa isn’t getting any smaller as the years pass, so your chimney might be a tight fit for him. The last thing you need is for his sizeable girth to push against already compromised bricks and mortar joints and cause the whole chimney to come tumbling down.

Damage from water infiltration, house-settling, seismic events and plain old age can cause chimney masonry to degrade. Once the structure is sufficiently compromised, it can begin to fall apart and create a danger for everyone near it. It would be a good idea to repair damaged masonry before Santa arrives.

Finally, don’t smoke out Santa

You’ve decided to leave a low fire burning in the fireplace during the night. Hopefully you’re burning dry (seasoned) logs that produce minimal smoke. Sure, Santa can come down chimneys when the fireplace is in use, but he’s only human, and if you’re burning wet, unseasoned wood, he’s going to get smoked out before he can drop off the presents and eat whatever snack you left for him.

By burning dry wood only, you create much less smoke, which means less creosote and soot buildup as well as less smoke emissions going out into the atmosphere. Plus, your fires will start easier and burn better.

Of course, it’s unlikely that Santa will be dropping down your chimney this holiday season. But if you go about chimney maintenance as if he really was going to pay you a visit, you’ll have a much cleaner, safer and efficient chimney to enjoy all winter long.

High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is standing by this winter to help with the very best in certified chimney sweep services, chimney repair and chimney inspection. We’ll get your chimney in great shape for the long winter season – and maybe for a special visit from you-know-who. Call us at (301) 519-3500.


Maximum Efficiency from Your Fireplace This Winter

Fireplace Cleaning in Fulton MDThe only thing better than a fireplace in the winter is an efficient fireplace in the winter. By following these six tips for max fireplace efficiency and safety, you’ll make a big difference in how much you enjoy your fireplace during the cold months.

Tip 1: chimney health 

This tip means to schedule chimney sweep service and fireplace/chimney inspection before the season kicks in. Chimney sweeps will remove flammable creosote and draft-hampering obstructions from your flue, while an inspection will uncover any part of your fireplace system that needs service.

Tip 2: Use dry firewood

Logs that haven’t had time to fully dry out (usually takes six months to a year after chopping) burn inefficiently and produce a lot more smoke than dry logs. Logs that are dry make hotter fires that burn longer and look spectacular.

2a: When storing your firewood outside, set the stack on a rack or pallet to keep it off the damp ground. Store wood in an area that is shielded from rain. If you prefer to use a tarp covering, make sure the ends are open so air can circulate.

2b: Remember that different types of wood have different burn qualities. For hotter, longer-lasting fires, go with hardwoods like maple, elm, oak and beech. When you want a shorter burn time, use softwoods like cedar, fir and red pine.

Wood Burning Fireplace in Poolesville, MDTip 3: maximum performance

When stacking logs, make sure to leave some breathing room in between them. Some people say to start your fire from the top down; other say burn from the bottom up. Whichever way you go, a trick to getting really blazing fires is to start with a relatively small log stack and get it blazing well before adding more wood. Try this and see – and feel – the difference.

Tip 4: Keep the firebox clean

The more clutter of ashes and charred wood in your firebox, the less air that can get in to intensify your fires.

Shovel out debris regularly – and wash/scrape off any soot or creosote on the firebox walls to reduce the chance of fire.

Tip 5: Remember to close the damper after a fire

After your logs are finished burning, preserve the heat that’s in your home by shutting the fireplace damper. A house will retain a certain amount of fireplace-produced heat after the fire is over, but all that heat will go right up the chimney if the damper is left open.

Tip 6: Safety precautions

  • Burn only wood in your fireplace – no household trash, plastics, cardboard, furnishings or any other material.
  • Never use gasoline, lighter fluid or other accelerants to start a fire.
  • Know the signs of a chimney fire: large amounts of dark smoke from either end of the chimney; a clicking/tapping noise; a rumbling sound like a distant train. Call 911 if you notice any of these signs, and put out the fire in the firebox, if safe to do so.
  • Keep young children and pets away from the fireplace while it’s in use; purchase a fireplace screen, if necessary.
  • Make sure you have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors properly installed inside your home.

High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is here to help with CSIA-certified chimney sweep, chimney inspection and chimney and fireplace repairs. We’ll do the job right the first time to ensure safety for you and your family. Call us today at (301) 519-3500.


Warning Signs Your Wood Stove Needs Replacing

Damaged Wood Burning Stove in Fulton, MDMany homeowners depend on wood-burning stoves for heat. And if your heating stove is more than 15 years old, you are probably wondering when it will need to be replaced. Keep an eye out for one or more of the following warn signs that indicate it’s time to replace your wood stove.

It was manufactured before 1995

If you have a wood stove that was manufactured before 1995, its time to consider a replacement, older wood stoves are not as efficient and produce a lot more pollution than newer models.

In 2015, the EPA made the most significant changes since 1988 with the introduction of Step 1 of the revised performance standards. The new rule requires manufacturers of wood-burning stoves and heaters to emit no more than 4.5g of smoke per hour.

It was a significant reduction in pollution compared to old stoves that release up to 30 grams of smoke per hour.

And to meet these strict new government standards, wood stove manufacturers made significant changes to its internal design. As a result, more modern EPA-certified wood stoves are more efficient, burn cleaner, and are easier and safer to use.

Signs of warping or cracking

Many wood stoves are built to perform for decades. But the lifespan of your wood stove will largely depend on the quality of materials. While most woods stoves are made from steel or iron, the grade of these materials and quality of workmanship will largely determine the life expectancy of your model. In the last 20 years, imports have flooded the market. Many of these imports use lower grade materials. Although wood stoves that are made from iron or steel are designed to withstand a regular wood-burning operation, the repeated heating and cooling can eventually cause warping. Also, excessive creosote inside the stove can cause a fire. The extremely high temperatures can also cause the stove to warp, and you may notice some cracks near the bolts or welding.

If your wood stove is showing signs of warping or cracking, it is no longer safe to use and should be replaced.

Wood Stove Installation in Poolesville, MDIt produces a lot of smoke

A small amount of smoke is reasonable, especially when starting a fire. But if your wood stove is producing more smoke than normal, your stove may have problems that need a total replacement. The baffle plate or catalytic combustion may be damaged, and there could be water leaks or other damages. A smoky stove is also very inefficient to operate and produces much less heat. Since smoke also causes excessive pollution, including creosote, it’s a sign that it’s time to replace your heating appliance.

 excessive creosote

Older wood stoves are not clean burning devices and require frequent cleaning to prevent the accumulation of creosote and other residues. And if it’s been quite some time since your last stove cleaning, there may be an excessive accumulation of creosote, soot, and other debris in the stove, stovepipe, and vent. Creosote is the primary cause of residential fires. A fire that starts in your stove can quickly spread to your stove pipe and other combustibles throughout your home. So, if you have a lot of creosote in your stove, it’s time to switch to a cleaner-burning EPA-certified wood stove.

You need to use more wood fuel than in the past to get the same level of heat

If your stove is consuming more wood fuel than before to maintain the desired heat, then there may be issues with its heating efficiency. The performance of your wood stove can degrade over time due to warping, air and water leaks, and other problems. Replacing an inefficient wood stove with a newer model will reduce your energy costs. Newer EPA-certified models produce up to 50 percent more heat while consuming 1/3 less fuel.

Clean-Burning & Long-Lasting Fires

Chopped Seasoned FirewoodA lot of times when fires in a fireplace are less than spectacular – when they’re too smoky, don’t last very long, produce excess soot and creosote – it’s not the fault of the fireplace. Often, the only problem is the wood that’s being used.

Not all firewood logs are the same. They look pretty similar, but it’s what’s underneath the patterned bark that makes all the difference. Here are a few things to know when choosing firewood for clean-burning, long-lasting fires.

  1. Select dry wood

Seasoned, or dry, wood logs burn hotter and more efficiently while creating less smoke than wet, unseasoned wood. Plus, they ignite easier and hold their flames longer.

Fires that produce tons of smoke also produce quite a bit of flammable creosote, which sticks to the walls of the flue and can lead to a chimney fire. In fact, most chimney fires happen because homeowners neglect to have their chimneys properly cleaned and inspected on an annual basis.

Dry wood logs have certain characteristics:

  • Grayish or dark color
  • A hollow sound when you bang two logs together
  • Lightweight, not too heavy
  • Cracks/splits at the ends of the logs
  • Bark that easily flakes away .

Store your logs the right way

    Beautiful Wood Burning Fireplace In Fulton, MDLogs stored outside should be set on some kind of small riser/pallet to keep them off the damp ground. Cover the stack with a waterproof tarp, but leave the ends open so air can circulate within the logs and aid in the drying process.

    1. Give your fire what it needs: air

    Air (oxygen) is a key component in creating fire. For a fire to build to roaring proportions, a sufficient amount of air is required. Accomplish this by not stacking logs too tightly together in the firebox.


    Additionally, make sure the house has some circulation (crack a window, if necessary), and keep your chimney free of obstructions and built-up creosote to ensure plenty of draft.

    Important note: Chimney cleaning is not a job for the average homeowner. The best choice for this work is a professional chimney sweep who is licensed, insured and certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). This ensures that the job will be done right and safely.

    1. Choose the right logs for the desired burn time

    Logs from hardwood trees will burn longer and hotter than logs from softwood trees.

    Hardwoods include:

    • Maple
    • Oak
    • Beech
    • Hickory
    • Alder
    • Walnut

    Softwoods include:

    • Douglas fir
    • Cedar
    • Redwood
    • Juniper
    • Pine
    • Spruce

    If you chop your own firewood . . .

    After chopping your own wood, exercise patience in the drying process. Depending on the density and moisture, freshly chopped wood can take between six months and a year to fully dry out. Plan accordingly as you build up your supply from season to season.

    High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, believes every home should have a stunning fireplace to enjoy during the cold weather and at other times. Part of that enjoyment comes from a fireplace and chimney that are clean and in tip-top shape. Let us help you keep your fireplace or stove working right. We offer certified chimney sweep, chimney inspection, fireplace, stove and chimney repair and all related services. Give us a call today at (301) 519-3500.




    Chimney Sweeps vs. DIY for Chimney Cleaning & Service

    Chimney Inspection in Fulton, MDWithin the fireplace and chimney services industry, the 2016 scuffle between the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and Angie’s List is fairly well-known. For those of you not familiar with the issue, here’s the thumbnail version.

    Angie’s List, a popular article mill, posted a piece that implied that homeowners could properly clean their own chimneys. Knowing this was false, misleading and dangerous information, the CSIA got to work and forced Angie’s List to remove the article titled “How to Clean Your Chimney.”


    In a letter to the president of Angie’s List, shown here on the CSIA blog, CSIA President Mark A. Stoner wrote:

    “Encouraging the average homeowner, who does not meet the (National Fire Protection Association’s) definition of a ‘qualified agency’, to perform his or her own chimney service [. . .] is not only irresponsible and negligent but could lead directly to the loss of life or property due to a chimney fire or carbon monoxide intrusion into the residence.”

    Stoner continued: “By posting this article to its website and promoting it via social media, Angie’s List has effectively endorsed this content and it should be held liable for any and all damages ensuing from a homeowner’s adherence to instructions therein.”

    Why DIY chimney cleaning is not recommended

    Mark Stoner of the CSIA was right in pulling out all the stops to get Angie’s List to remove that article. While there are some fireplace and chimney maintenance tasks the average homeowner can perform safely and effectively (cleaning the firebox; doing a general inspection of chimney masonry or some of the chimney’s components), cleaning creosote out of a chimney is not one of them.

    Professional chimney sweeps go through a rigorous process to obtain valued certifications from the CSIA and other hearth-industry agencies. These include:

    • Certified Chimney Professional
    • Certified Master Chimney Technician
    • Certified Chimney Sweep
    • Certified Chimney Reliner

    Chimney Sweep in Poolesville, MDIndividuals who hold these and other high-level certifications have demonstrated that they understand the multiple elements of a chimney’s operation and structure and have shown specific expertise in using the tools and equipment that are industry-standard in cleaning chimneys.

    Don’t let a “handyman” work on your chimney

    When you allow an untrained individual to clean or do other work on your chimney, you’re setting yourself up for some potentially serious problems.

    Creosote, which forms in a chimney every time wood burns, is highly flammable and is the cause of most chimney fires in the U.S. each year. Cleaning creosote out of a chimney often is a challenging job – even for a professional. Creosote can present as a flakey, sticky or solid substance. Each form requires specific actions for effective removal.

    Certified chimney sweeps make use of electric and hand brushes, specialized solvents, scrapers, vacuums and other equipment to safely remove creosote without damaging the chimney’s interior masonry or liner.

    Just as you would only go to a qualified physician to perform an important medical procedure, you should only hire a qualified, certified chimney sweep to clean your chimney. This professional will know a lot more about the cleaning process and chimneys in general than any “average” person.

    High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is staffed with trained, experienced, certified chimney professionals. When we clean your chimney, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing it was done correctly and in accord with all safety precautions. Give us a call at (301) 519-3500 for your next professional chimney service.