Air Duct Cleaning

Fireplace Safety: Why Regular Chimney Cleaning Matters

Professional Chimney SweepThe safest fireplaces and chimneys are those that receive regular cleaning, repair and maintenance by certified technicians. If this service is neglected, it won’t take long for your chimney to experience a dangerous buildup of creosote and soot. Smoke-drafting obstructions, a common problem if you use your chimney without a chimney cap, also can lead to dangerous operating conditions.

Here are the primary reasons regular chimney sweep services are so important.

First, can you do the job yourself?

Some homeowners think they can clean their own chimneys, but rarely is this the case. Professional chimney sweeps have special tools like rotating brushes, hand brushes, vacuums, scrapers and powerful cleaning solvents that work together to rid your flue of flammable creosote and soot. It’s unlikely the average homeowner has this equipment or the skill and training to use it.

Creosote removal

Creosote is a byproduct of smoke and may appear as a flakey, sticky or solid substance. It’s the cause of the majority of chimney fires in the U.S. each year. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends annual chimney sweeping for chimneys connected to wood-burning appliances, because even less than an inch of this compound is enough to start a potentially fatal chimney fire.

Signs of a chimney fire

Not all chimney fires are obvious. Some are small and extinguish on their own. But even small fires can damage the chimney liner and the interior masonry, which leaves combustible materials of your home vulnerable.

Common signs of a chimney fire include:

  • An unusually large amount of smoke pouring from the top of the chimney or flowing into the room
  • A ticking or tapping sound
  • The sound of rumbling, like a distant train

Removal of obstructions

Creosote in ChimneyIn addition to removing creosote, chimney sweeps also remove obstructions in the flue caused by an accumulation of leaves, twigs, small-animal nests and the like. These obstructions will make smoke draft improperly and back up into the home, carrying with it deadly carbon monoxide.

You can keep all debris out of your flue by having a quality chimney cap installed. Chimney caps cover the flue opening to prevent water intrusion (and subsequent water damage), and the sides are made of a material that allows smoke to move through them while keeping outside junk outside where it belongs.

What you can do to ensure the safety of your chimney

Where creosote is concerned, the less smoke your fireplace produces, the less creosote buildup you’ll have to deal with. Here’s how to create less smoke:

  • Burn only dry (seasoned) wood
  • Don’t stack logs tightly together – they need space to gather oxygen
  • Ensure sufficient air within the home is getting to the fireplace (crack a window, if necessary)
  • Keep your flue clean so smoke can travel up it smoothly
  • Make sure your flue opening isn’t too small for the fireplace
  • Make sure your chimney is tall enough (minimum 10 feet high and extending at least two feet from the roof)

By you doing your part and letting a certified chimney sweep do his or her part, you can rest easy, knowing your chimney is clean, safe and working at peak performance.

High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is ready to help with all your chimney cleaning, chimney inspection and chimney repair needs. We’re certified by the CSIA and guarantee workmanship and customer service that’s unmatched in our region. Call (301) 519-3500 today with questions or to schedule an appointment.


Effects Temperature Changes Can Have On Your chimney

chimney caps The weather here in the Washington DC metro area can change quickly. Mild autumn temperatures can turn bitterly cold overnight and then back to normal. During the winter, the temperature often rises above freezing. These big temperature shifts are hard on your home’s chimney. The freezing and thawing cycle they cause can weaken its structural integrity. There are steps that you can take to prevent your chimney from being damaged by the wear-and-tear of our winter weather.

Why Freezing and Thawing Damages Chimneys

Bricks and mortar are naturally porous. They absorb moisture—from rain and melting snow—much like a sponge. When temperatures dip below freezing, the water that’s seeped into the masonry expands as it freezes. When the temperatures rise, the masonry contracts as the water thaws. This process of expanding and contracting weakens the bricks and mortar causing it to crack, splinter or break. If failing bricks aren’t replaced and broke mortar isn’t repaired, your chimney can begin to tilt or lean. It could, eventually, collapse if too much of the masonry is weak and damaged.

How to Prevent Weather Damage

There are three ways that you can prevent your chimney from being damaged by the freezing and thawing cycle.

  1. Invest in a Chimney Cap

chimney dampersA chimney cap is an affordable investment in your chimney that you’ll benefit from for years. The primary purpose of a chimney cap is to prevent rain, sleet, and snow from falling down the chimney. It acts like an umbrella, covering the chimney’s opening. It prevents water from running down the chimney and seeping into the masonry from the inside. An added benefit is that it has metal mesh around the sides. The mesh barrier prevents stray sparks from landing on the chimney and animals from flying in or making a nest inside.  

  1. Have the Masonry Waterproofed

Treating the exterior of the chimney with a waterproofing sealant prevents water from seeping into the masonry from the outside. It’s important to choose a waterproofing sealant that’s designed for chimneys. It should be 100% vapor permeable so that condensation produced by the fire can pass through the masonry instead of accumulating inside the chimney.

  1. Schedule Annual Chimney Inspections

The National Fire Protection Association recommends a professional inspection of the chimney every year to prevent a house fire and carbon monoxide exposure. Another benefit of a chimney inspection is that a certified chimney technician will look for signs of water intrusion and water damage. During their inspection, they will notice cracked bricks or broken mortar that have been damaged by the freeze-thaw cycle. They will determine how the water go in. After the inspection, they will recommend the best solution to repair the damage and prevent future water damage. The sooner water damage is discovered, and future damage is prevented, the more money you will save.

Repairing a crumbling chimney is expensive. You can avoid that cost by taking these steps to protect your chimney from our erratic weather. The CSIA- and CCP-certified chimney technicians on our team are experts at chimney maintenance and repair. We are trusted by residents throughout Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland.

Spring Cleaning: Air Duct Cleanings

air duct cleaning montgomery county mdSpring has sprung, which means it is time to get on your spring cleaning for your air ducts. At High’s Chimney Service, we are proud to be your go-to source for quality chimney services for over 30 years. To ensure your chimney is cleaned to the highest standard, we use our professional chimney cleaning equipment to get the job done right. When it comes to your air ducts, it is vital to have our trusted company clean your vents and ducts for the safety of you and your family. Listed below are some general signs that your air ducts need cleaning.

  • When it is time to have your air ducts cleaned, many homeowners will begin to notice unfamiliar odors coming from their vents. These odors can be musty and unpleasant to breathe.
  • If you begin experiencing breathing problems due to allergies while in your home, you may need an air duct cleaning to help remove dust and pollutants.
  • A common sign that you need an air duct cleaning is having dark areas formulate around your vents.
  • If you dust often but notice your dust comes back quickly, this is often due to dirty air ducts blowing into your home.

If you are interested in learning more about our air duct cleaning in Montgomery County, MD, contact us today at 1 (888) 444-4712. It is easy to schedule an appointment online or by phone. We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook.