Company Blog

Chimney Draft (or Draught, if you are British)

Smoky fireplace?  There might be a problem with your chimney’s draft.

Spring is in the air!  Yes, it is, but according to our friend, the groundhog, it looks like we will still have a few winter nights in front of us.  It’s as important as ever not to neglect your chimney maintenance.  While this is usually done before the burning season starts, if it hasn’t already been taken care of, there is still a need to have that annual sweep and inspection scheduled to make sure the unit is safe to use.

What is chimney draft?

It is important that your chimney’s draft is in good working order so that the exhaust fumes that accumulate during the burning process can be removed from the home. As the air in your chimney gets warmer and warmer as your fire gets hotter and hotter, it begins to pull air through the firebox.  This creates “draft”.

What can happen to affect or change the draft?

  • Creosote is released during the burning of fire and clumps together inside of your chimney. It can collect on the interior walls of the chimney, clog dampers, and/or chimney caps.  If an excessive amount of creosote collects in your chimney system, it can disrupt draft.
  • The insides of older chimneys (wythes) can collapse, creating blockages that inhibit draft.
  • Chimneys may have construction defects that cause smoke spillage into the living space. When the fuel is wood, this spillage can be seen easily (smoke).  When the fuel is gas, this spillage is invisible.

What happens when the draft is changed?

When there are draft problems, toxic gases such as carbon monoxide (created as a by-product of burning anything) are not able to escape the home properly.  Since CO is colorless and odorless (invisible), you cannot tell when it begins to fill a room unless you notice symptoms of exposure.

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

If you feel this may be a possibility in your home, please schedule an inspection immediately.  It is always recommended to have an annual chimney inspection by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) professional.   CSIA has created a set of guidelines to make sure that the job is done to leave you safe and getting the most out of your appointment!

When you need to schedule your appointment (or if you have any other chimney related questions) call Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth.


Spring Checklist for Your Chimney

Why Springtime Is The Right Time for Chimney Service

Spring has come! Time for your fireplace and chimney to rest from all the hard work they put out during the cold months. It's also time for you to have them inspected, cleaned, and if necessary, repaired.

Spring has come! Time for your fireplace and chimney to rest from all the hard work they put out during the cold months. It’s also time for you to have them inspected, cleaned, and if necessary, repaired.

Spring in upstate South Carolina is an ideal time to get your chimney in perfect working order. Here’s why:

  • Spring follows a winter during which your fireplace or woodstove worked hard and likely accumulated creosote buildup and potentially experienced some wear and tear. It’s advisable to address these problems before they worsen over time, inflicting more damage on your chimney and the surrounding areas of your home.
  • Spring is optimal for chimney maintenance because chimney sweep companies are less busy during this time. In fall, on the other hand, our schedules tend to be jam-packed with customers wanting us to get their chimneys ready in a hurry for the winter. You’ll find it easier to get onto our schedule immediately if you schedule your work done during our off-season.
  • Another added bonus: If your chimney is cleaned during the spring, then the stinking heat of summer won’t bake your chimney so that it releases icky campfire-like odors into your home. These odors are usually the result of built-up soot and creosote or even mold and mildew—all issues that are addressed and corrected during one of Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps’ inspections and cleanings.
  • Furthermore, if you take care of your chimney in the spring, at the first sign of fall you won’t have to hesitate before lighting a fire in your fireplace. You’ll be completely confident that a fire can be safely lit.

One of our C.S.I.A. certified sweeps will be able to thoroughly inspect your chimney for signs that a cleaning or repair is necessary, but there are ways you, too, can identify potential problems with your chimney or heating appliance after a long burning season.

Your Chimney Checklist

If your answer to any of the following questions is yes, we advise you contact one of our chimney professionals to address changes or updates that may be necessary to keep your chimney operating safely and efficiently.

  1. Has your chimney been swept in the last year? Almost all national chimney and fire safety organizations recommend that a chimney be professionally swept once a year.
  2. Did you install new energy efficient doors or windows? Many of our customers are surprised to find how drastically these changes can affect chimney draft—something our chimey sweeps can easily remedy for you.
  3. Do you still have a throat damper? If your old chimney still has a damper located just above the firebox—known as a throat damper, which is notoriously leaky—we recommend you update your chimney with a top-sealing damper. These new state-of-the-art dampers create airtight seals at the top of your chimney and can end up saving you hundreds of dollars a year because they keep all your expensive conditioned air inside your home.
  4. Is there an unpleasant odor coming from your fireplace? If so, it will only grow more exaggerated during a South Carolina summer. The truth is that your fireplace should have little to no odor. Musty or campfire-like smells are usually a sign that your chimney either needs to be cleaned or is water-damaged. Both problems need to be addressed as soon as possible to minimize the risk of a chimney fire or water damage.
  5. Is your chimney masonry stained or showing signs of disrepair? Loose bricks and crumbling mortar aren’t just cosmetic problems. They’re signs that water is penetrating your chimney. This is a problem that only grows worse with time. One of our chimney masons will be able to make needed repairs, including brick replacement, tuckpointing, and waterproofing, shoring your chimney up from the elements so that it remains safe and dry.
  6. Are you noticing leaks? If you’re seeing leaks—or evidence of leaks—in or around your chimney, contact us immediately. It’s important to hire a chimney professional to repair your leaking chimney and not a roofer, as we know chimneys and chimney flashing, and roofers know roofs. Call the right person for the job the first time, and you’ll be assured the problem will be fixed for good.
  7. Do you have a “funny feeling”? If you have a feeling that something is just not right with your chimney or heating appliance, give us a call. We are more than happy to take a look at your chimney and advise you about whether or not everything is operating efficiently and safely.

Schedule an appointment with Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps today by using our online appointment form.