Our Current Blog Articles
October 12, 2017
Common Signs of Chimney Damage
At A Sweep Across the Bay, we think that if you have a wood-burning fireplace, it’s important to know common signs of chimney damage. With hurricane Irma passing through recently, a quick visual inspection could save you both money and headaches down the line. Our experts can also come out to inspect your fireplace and chimney, and if we find any damage or issues, we’ll provide the necessary repairs or maintenance to keep your fireplace safe to use.
Here are some common signs of chimney damage:
Made out of metal or masonry, chimney cap covers are added to the top of your chimney and stop water from getting into the masonry underneath. Look for any chips or cracks in your masonry chimney cap, as well as any pooling water or areas that are missing or discolored. If you have a metal chimney cap, you may see holes, rust, or cracks, anchor points on top of the cap, and connecting joints missing sealant or with cracked sealant. These are all warning signs and if you don’t get the needed repairs right away, your home could suffer water damage.
Your brick or stone chimney needs to have the right water seal, so water will just bead up and run off. If you find water pooling in mortar joints you may need the water seal to be reapplied. We can check it out for you, but if you see water dripping or pooling on the inside of your fireplace let us know right away. That means you have a chimney leak that needs to be repaired as soon as possible.
A powdery white residue found on your chimney bricks is called efflorescence. It is a sign of water penetration and it can be a big problem. When moisture moves through the bricks, it leaves behind white mineral deposits and can lead to the deterioration of the bricks and the mortar. If you find it, we can put in a new chimney liner that can help resolve the problem.
If you notice the chimney bricks or stones flaking, that is known as spalling. It is caused by water penetration and results in losing the face of the chimney masonry. If you see pieces of brick or stone on the ground or on your roof, give us a call so we can help you fix the spalling.
Flashing keeps water and moisture from getting into your home at the seams where the chimney and roof meet. However, we need to make sure your metal flashing was installed properly. Sometimes the flashing is pinned or nailed to the mortar, and then the top portion of the flashing is caulked. But this does not work well and often ends up popping loose and creating cracks in the caulking of your roof flashing.
Even if installed properly, flashing can fail, letting moisture damage your chimney. Irma’s powerful winds could certainly have caused damage to your flashing, so look for clues such as rust spots, loose flashing joints or holes. This needs your prompt attention, so don’t delay repair.
You should have your fireplace and chimney checked for common signs of chimney damage and get them taken repaired right away. If you don’t, the repairs can end up bigger and more expensive. Our experts at A Sweep Across the Bay in Tampa Bay can inspect your fireplace and chimney and help repair and maintain your fireplace to keep you and your house safe from fires and water damage. Let us keep you safe and able to enjoy cozy nights by the fire.
September 18, 2017
How to Care For Your Chimney
At A Sweep Across the Bay in Sarasota, we know that understanding how to care for your chimney is important because a buildup of creosote can expose the framework of your home or building and cause a chimney fire. It can also reduce the draw and the efficiency of your fireplace, and create a carbon monoxide hazard. If you need help with your chimney, our experts can inspect your chimney and keep your home and family safe.
We recommend that every chimney should be inspected and cleaned once a year even if you don’t use your fireplace or stove that often. This is the national standard set by the National Fire Protection Association. We also suggest you have your chimney inspected and cleaned when you move into a new home – you never know how well the previous owner kept up on proper maintenance.
The first step in how to care for your chimney is to conduct an inspection to find any problems you have, such as animal infestations in your chimney. Did you know that birds, squirrels, raccoons and other animals often use your chimney for their homes? This makes your chimney unsafe until the nesting debris and animals have been removed.
If we find some safety issues, you will want to get them taken care of right way. If you don’t, you may have more extensive repairs, higher costs, and possibly property loss or a fire. Having your chimney repaired will ensure it is in proper working order. Not only creosote and pests but sometimes moisture can damage masonry and the chimney lining. An inspection will make sure your chimney, lining, and venting systems are installed properly, adequate for your home, and are in good working conditions.
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, open masonry fireplaces need to be cleaned when there is an ⅛ inch of soot buildup and possibly even sooner if there is any glaze in the chimney system because it could cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading to the home.
We suggest you get the inspection and subsequent chimney repairs done before the burning season begins. If you use it periodically during the year choose a convenient time and do the inspection at that time each year. If you move into a new home, we would be glad to make sure the chimney is working properly.
Calling our team at A Sweep Across the Bay is the first step in learning how to care for your chimney. We will inspect for creosote building, blockages, damage, and animal infestation. We are a full-service company offering installations of hearth appliances, fireplace and chimney inspections, chimney repairs and restoration, chimney sweep services, chimney liner installation, wood and pellet stove service, new fireplace inserts, as well as the humane animal removal of raccoons and squirrels from chimneys and attics. Give us a call today, and we’ll make sure you can really enjoy your warm, cozy fire.
August 10, 2017
Get an Early Start on Preparing Your Fireplace for Winter
You’re just a few months away from cooler overnight temperatures. That means it’s time to get an early start on preparing your fireplace for winter. Our fireplace experts at A Sweep Across the Bay in Sarasota can make sure your fireplace ready for those nights when a cozy fire feels just right. Keep your family safe with help from the experts!
The list below includes a few things that need to be addressed if you want to get an early start on preparing your fireplace for winter. By tackling this now, issues can be fixed without stress.
- We recommend that you get a fireplace and chimney inspection According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, there are different levels of inspections, but at the very least you should have an examination of the chimney’s exterior and interior structures, as well as all connections.
- Did you know that even a tiny crack in your flue can create a fire? With A Sweep Across the Bay, our technician will check for the soundness of the chimney and the flue and also make sure it was installed the right way. In addition, we’ll make sure the fireplace is free of obstructions and combustible deposits, even clean your chimney if needed.
- The fireplace mortar needs to be checked out too. If it is damaged or there are bricks that have become loose or cracked, it could allow moisture to get into your chimney. Moisture can cause damage, and you will want to have it repaired quickly.
- If you have a gas-fueled fireplace, don’t forget to have the blower cleaned because it doesn’t have a filtering system to prevent dust from clogging it up.
- Does your chimney have a cap? If not, you should have one installed. It will help keep rain out of your chimney and prevent animals from getting in. Chimney caps can also help prevent fires if they have a mesh spark guard that stops burning embers from flying out of the chimney.
- We’re sure you already know this, but make sure your wood is dried and stored properly. Also, choose the right type of wood so you can have a good fire and the least amount of flammable creosote deposited in the chimney. Seasoned hardwoods burn longer than softwoods but softwoods are often better because they don’t leave smoldering and smoky wood coals behind.
When cooler weather comes to town, here are a couple tips for safe and enjoyable fires:
- A good habit to get into is to always close the glass doors or metal curtains in front of your fireplace. This will stop the embers from jumping out and possibly starting a fire.
- Skip using flammable liquids to start a fire. Use small pieces of dry kindling to get your fire going. Also, always put the logs on the metal grate near the back of the fireplace, but not too many. This can make the fire too hot, which may cause a chimney fire or flue damage.
Now that you know how to get an early start on preparing your fireplace for winter, contact the fireplace experts at A Sweep Across the Bay. We can take care of everything for you, and you can rest easy knowing that your fireplace is safe and ready for enjoyment.
July 12, 2017
Should You Install a Fireplace or a Wood Stove?
Everyone enjoys the warmth and coziness of a real fire, but should you install a fireplace or a wood stove? A Sweep Across the Bay in Sarasota has over 40 years of hands-on experience in the chimney, fireplace, and wood stove industry. We can explain the differences and the benefits of both and help you decide what’s right for you.
Of course, the cost is always a big factor, but since both a fireplace and a wood stove’s pricing varies greatly depending on the style, size, and setup you want, for this comparison we won’t focus on price. Instead, we will look at the safety, appearance, environmental concerns, and efficiency of both a wood stove and a fireplace.
Wood fire sparks can suddenly fly out of fireplaces and cause damage or injury. Choose a fireplace that has a good screen or door to keep the hot embers in the fireplace. Wood stoves have a door but sparks can still escape when you are tending to the fire.
You want to make sure to keep people and pets safe from the fire. Fires in a wood stove are a little more protected behind the stove door than the open fire in a fireplace, but there is still the potential for injury by touching the wood stove or the glass door of the stove. You should consider safety gates in both fireplaces or wood stoves.
Fireplaces can get a buildup of creosote and byproducts in the chimney. That’s why you should always have your chimney cleaned regularly and we can help you with that also. On the other hand, EPA-certified freestanding wood stoves offer a complete combustion process that burns away the byproducts and are not as susceptible to creosote buildup as fireplaces.
The beauty of a fireplace is so stunning, it is the focus of the home and the place everyone gathers. Now, especially with so many options for masonry fireplaces, like brick, stone, marble, veneer, and tiles, your fireplace can reflect the architecture and design of your home as well as bring a welcoming atmosphere of comfort. The ambiance created by the flames of a fireplace is very appealing to most homeowners.
Wood stoves also come in a variety of styles including modern, rustic, and traditional that can create a beautiful accent to your room. Although perhaps designed more for practicality than beauty, the glass doors of a wood stove still offer a view of the dancing flames of the fire.
Another factor when deciding if you should you install a fireplace or a wood stove is the environment. Burning wood doesn’t release any more CO2 than a decaying tree, which means it is carbon neutral. EPA certified wood stoves with their closed combustion burning systems are also low in harmful emissions, are more efficient, and can lower your utility bills by supplementing your heating.
We know that wood is cheaper than gas, pellet, oil, or coal. But, a lot of the heat from the fireplace escapes out of the chimney. Wood stoves are more efficient and produce more heating power than open burning fireplaces. However, some new fireplaces can heat at efficiencies that are near those of wood stoves and are certified as low emission appliances. You still get the gorgeous view of the fire but it can also effectively provide heat.
These considerations can help you answer the question: should you install a fireplace or a wood stove? Our experts at A Sweep Across the Bay in Tampa offer installation, repairs, and ongoing maintenance for both fireplaces and wood stoves. We are the ideal company to help you decide what will work best for your needs and lifestyle.
June 12, 2017
3 Types of Chimney Liners
Our chimney experts at A Sweep Across the Bay in Sarasota can tell you which of the 3 types of chimney liners will be best for your home. According to a Chimneys.com article, there are several factors that guide which flue liner will work for your chimney, including the type of chimney you have, the kind of flue appliance, and how it’s going to be used.
Everyone wants a fireplace in their home but most people don’t really know too much about chimneys. If you want to build a new one or re-line your chimney there are some things that are important to know because you don’t want to end up with a liner that may be inadequate for your needs.
Did you know that current construction and safety standards require a flue liner in all chimneys? Before 1930, a flue liner was not required. It is very dangerous to use a fireplace or wood stove without a flue liner. Sometimes a house may have a flue but it is built the wrong way or the lining has deteriorated. Either way, it can be very unsafe.
If you’re not sure if your chimney has a liner or feel like your chimney liner may not be working properly, our experts can inspect your chimney and recommend the right one. What happens is, if there is a crack in the flue, the combustible parts of the home are exposed and create a high risk of a fire. Another concern about flues is if they do not fit it could potentially cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which is tasteless, odorless, and invisible.
You really should have your liner inspected every year, cleaned periodically and replaced if it is damaged or improperly built. There are three types of flue liners that you should consider, including metal flue liners, cast-in-place flue liners, and clay chimney flue liners. Let’s take a look at the differences between these liners.
Metal Chimney Liners
There are several kinds of metal chimney flue liners. Rigid metal flue pipes can be used with straight chimneys that have no bends or offsets, but flexible liners are available in a wide range of diameters. Metal flue liners need insulation as well. Available in all types and sizes and easier to install, metal stainless steel flue liners are recommended by many fire protection experts. Aluminum liners are cheaper than stainless steel liners, but can only be used for some medium-efficiency gas appliances. Steel flue liners can be used for all types of fuel-burning, including gas, oil, and firewood, providing excellent protection.
Cast-in-Place Chimney Liners
If you haven’t heard of a cast-in-place liner, it is a flue liner constructed with poured cement. It can be less invasive, require less labor, and be cheaper than having to rebuild a clay tile liner. It works with all types of fuel-burning chimneys and can handle the harmful effects of acids, condensation, and heat. A cast-in-place flue liner and clay chimney flue liners both last for about 50 years.
Clay Chimney Liners
Clay tiles are less expensive and last a long time, which makes them a very popular flue liner. As we mentioned, clay tiles can last for 50 years but if you do need to replace a clay liner it is very labor intensive because you have to tear out the clay tiles (sometimes the chimney wall has to be torn out also) and install new ones.
When you need to decide which of the 3 types of chimney liners fits your home, our chimney experts at A Sweep Across the Bay in Sarasota can help you make that decision. We are a family owned and operated business with over 40 years of experience in cleaning, repairing, and maintaining chimneys. If you're looking for a chimney sweep or flue repairs, want to install a new fireplace or insert, or have an unwanted visitor residing in your chimney, give us a call.