Company Blog

Fireplace Safety Tips

We will be using our fireplaces and heaters before we know it. It’s always good to be reminded of some things that can help to keep us safe and sound during the coming Winter season.

BEFORE: Getting ready to burnFireplace Safety Tips Image - Greenville SC - Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps

Wood (fireplaces, freestanding heaters and wood stove inserts)

  • Inspect chimney and appliance annually. Use a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep.
  • Install a chimney cap to prevent critters and tree debris from entering the chimney and creating blockages.
  • Install smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector. Replace batteries regularly.

Gas (gas log, b-vent, direct vent, vent free appliances)

  • Get annual check-ups by qualified technicians. Check out gas line connections, burner and control valves.
  • Supervise children, elderly and animals around hot glass. Teach about risk of burns when the appliance is on and shortly after – until surfaces cool down.

Electric

  • Regularly check out cords, wiring and plugs to discover wear spots or exposed metal.
  • Do not run cords under carpet, rugs, runners, furniture or appliances.

DURING: While using the system or appliance

Wood (fireplaces, freestanding heaters and wood stove inserts)

  • Make sure the damper is open before lighting a fire.
  • Seasoned wood is easier to light and burns more efficiently.
  • Don’t burn colored newspapers, sales papers or plastic.
  • Don’t use gasoline or kerosene or lighter fluid to help start a fire.
  • Keep flammable materials (curtains, furniture, bookshelves, stacks of books or newspapers, etc) at least 3 feet from the woodburning area.

Gas (gas log, b-vent, direct vent, vent free appliances)

  • Read operations manual for vent-free appliances (gas logs). Do not exceed burn time specified by the manufacturer. If you do, there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Make sure damper is permanently clamped open when using vented gas logs. Always check before turning on gas logs to make sure the damper is open.
  • Pay attention to any changes in smell or the look (size or color) of the flame. Changes can indicate that the appliance is not operating correctly.

Electric

  • Never use extension cords!
  • Never block any vents (intake or exhaust). Unrestricted airflow is necessary for proper operations.

AFTER: When it’s time to clean up.

Wood (fireplaces, freestanding heaters and wood stove inserts)

  • Keep damper open until all coals and embers are totally burned out.
  • Do not leave the house or go to bed until fire is totally burned out.
  • Use non-combustible (metal) container for ashes. Keep them away from the house structure. Wait until completely cold before dumping. It might be good to have two containers and alternate use allowing time for ashes to completely go cold before dumping.

Gas (gas log, b-vent, direct vent, vent free appliances)

  • Keep children, elders and animals away from hot glass or metal parts until completely cooled down.

Electric

  • Unplug appliance when not in operation and during thunderstorms.

It’s that time — time to enjoy the pleasures of a warm hearth over the coming winter season. We here at Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth wish you joy and many toasty evenings! Be Safe!

How can I GUARANTEE to get my Chimney Serviced BEFORE Thanksgiving or Christmas?

Why is it SO HARD to get an appointment BEFORE Thanksgiving and Christmas?How can I GUARANTEE to get my Chimney Serviced BEFORE Thanksgiving or Christmas- Spartanburg SC- Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps

  1. I know it seems early to be talking about these Holidays in August, but that’s a REALLY good question for RIGHT NOW! Here’s a couple of REALLY good reasons what that happens.
    Supply and Demand: The demand for services during the Winter season usually exceeds the supply of qualified technicians to perform the needed services. Kinda like trying to get your air conditioner fixed in July.
  2. Quality: Premium companies usually have the longer wait lists. Word gets around.

SUGGESTIONS TO EASE THE PAIN:

Regular users (weekly fires throughout the Winter season):
If it’s already Mid to Late Summer, GO AHEAD and get your service appointment set RIGHT NOW! You may still have a short wait, if you choose to book with a company that has a good reputation and has been around long enough to have a solid repeat clientele base. However, it’s a cinch that getting it done at the END of summer will have you ready to go when you want to use it for your special occasions – no waiting.

Holiday (Thanksgiving/Christmas) users:
Call to make your appointment NO LATER THAN Labor Day. The longer you wait to call for an appointment, the longer you will wait for an appointment. It’s a fact of life in the chimney service world. With the premium companies, their procrastinator clients (the ones who don’t remember to get it done in the Spring) start calling in AUGUST because they know the drill. Truth is: by October you likely can’t get a definite appointment until close to Christmas – if you’re lucky.

Home Sales/Houses under Contract:
This is a hard one. There’s ALWAYS a limited window for the inspections to take place. The best thing to do is call AS SOON AS THE CONTRACT IS SIGNED and get on the waiting list and be as flexible as possible. Most professional companies will work hard to take advantage of any schedule changes that will allow them to get you worked in as quickly as possible — if you give them enough lead time. I know we do. It helps tremendously if we can have 2 to 3 weeks lead time during the Winter season.

  •  Note to Buyers: It’s important to get the recommended Level 2 inspection done if your purchase is contingent on having a working fireplace. This is especially important if there has EVER been a wood stove vented though a fireplace or into a masonry chimney.
  • Note to Sellers: Be as flexible as possible in providing access. While it might be scary, not knowing what will show up, professional companies know the difference between normal wear and tear and actual damage or construction defects that can impact usability.

Worst Case Scenario for everyone:
Pick the company you prefer to work with based on quality, training and experience. Take their first available appointment. Professional companies will work hard to get you moved sooner when they have pop-up openings due to schedule shifts. These companies are usually worth the wait.

Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth is proud to be one of those premium professional companies. Call our friendly office staff (864-682-5422) or email (bluesky@sweepstuff.com) to set an appointment for your annual chimney service.

3 Ways Water Ruins Your Chimney

Chimneys sure are high, but they are not necessarily dry. As one of Upstate South Carolina’s premier chimney service companies, those of us at Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps see water as your chimney’s biggest adversary.

3-Ways-Water-Ruins-Your-Chimney-Spartanburg-Greenville-SC-Blue-Sky-Chimney

You might be able to leave a leaky faucet alone for a while, but a leaky chimney is another story. Small chimney leaks can very quickly lead to big chimney leaks, and big, expensive problems.

Unfortunately, it’s not at all difficult for water to find its way into a chimney that has not been adequately protected from the elements.

While we can certainly find resolutions for your leaking chimney, your best bet will always be to prevent leaks from the beginning. Water intrusion left unmanaged, can cause significant damage to the chimney structure as well as areas adjacent to your chimney. This damage is often expensive to repair.

Here are just a few ways that water can harm your chimney:

  • Water weakens your chimney’s masonry. There are a number of ways that your chimney brick and mortar may react to rainwater.
    Crumbling, cracking, or bricks falling apart altogether.
    Spalling (when the face of the bricks appears to have popped off).
    Holes in header joints
    The more your masonry breaks down in this way the more easily water will be able
    to get into your chimney and, possibly, into your home.Water creates cracks and/or voids inside and out.
  • Water creates cracks and/or voids inside and out. Water can cause both on the inside and the outside of your chimney.
    The relentless freeze/thaw cycle can also cause the bond to break between the brick and the mortar.
    Water washing over the exterior surface of the brick can erode out thin mortar joints.
    Water washing over the inside of your chimney can cause gaps to develop between the flue tiles. This would allow toxic gases attack the brick and mortar of your chimney from the inside out. In some cases it could cause the gases to leak through into your living space instead of venting safely outside.
    In some cases the damage may permit water to get inside your home, where it can stain the walls, ceilings, and floors around the chimney.
  • Water can cause mold, mildew, and lichen to grow on the exterior of the chimney.

If you find yourself dealing with water issues with your chimney, call Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth at (864) 682-5422 or fill out our online form to make an appointment with us today. We can help!

We are proud members of the South Carolina Chimney Sweep Guild, the North Carolina Chimney Sweep Association, and the National Chimney Sweep Guild. We are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fireplace Institute.

 

Buying a house? What about the chimney?

The list of inspections is endless and each one has the potential to open a nasty can of worms. (Termite letters, Home Inspections, Electricians, Plumbers, HVAC, Radon, etc.)

Why isn’t inspecting the chimney on that list? Ask anyone who assumed that their “new” long awaited fireplace is user ready only to find out long after the closing that (because of age, damage or just plain bad construction), it will require an additional large investment to be usable. They’ll say it should be….for sure!

Buying a house What about the chimney img - Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps - Blue Sky ChimneyRECOMMENDATION:

Get the chimney its own inspection by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep – BEFORE signing on the dotted line.

  • Some issues that are revealed by a thorough inspection may be normal wear and tear or maintenance. These type things may not have a real bearing on the purchase of the house. No house is perfect and no chimney is perfect.
  • On the other hand, there may be serious damage or construction flaws that will be expensive to remedy. Better to know this before committing to buying the house with the fireplace of your dreams, only to have your dreams turn into nightmares.

Things you’ll want to find out…

  • Is it dirty? You can’t really tell whether a chimney has problems if it’s dirty. Go ahead; get it cleaned, so the surface of the flue can be inspected properly.
  • If it’s masonry built
    • Is the liner the right size for the fireplace opening?
    • Is the chimney tall enough?
    • Is the liner installed properly?
    • Has it ever had a wood stove installed in the fireplace or attached to the chimney? If so, a closer look is merited.
    • Is the liner broken?
  • If its manufactured prefabricated
    • Are all the pieces there?
    • Are all the pieces put together correctly?
    • Are there pieces that are not supposed to be there?
    • Is the chase cover rusted?
    • Has it been damaged or modified? Modifications can make it unsafe to use.
    • Does it have gas logs? Or a gas starter?
    • What happens if it has gas installed and it’s not supposed to? Yes, there are prefab fireplaces that are not supposed to have gas appliances installed in them.
  • Can it be used in its present condition?
  • If it cannot be used as it sits, what options are there for making it usable?

Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps | Bless Your Hearth has the expertise to inspect your chimney and let you know what is so about it. They are capable and qualified to make suggestions for resolutions and/or repair most any issue that may be revealed during the service.