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How to Pick a Chimney Company You Trust

When it comes to chimney safety, the whole industry is incredibly under-regulated. This is not only a danger to residential areas but also a misfortune for buyers. Even though the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) was established in the 1980s and quickly became the national standard for chimney safety, homeowners are still not very knowledgeable about fireplace and chimney standards and safety regulations. The truth is not all chimney companies are the same and neither are all chimney sweeps.

Why You Should Never D-I-Y

When it comes to your chimney system, it is never a good idea to fix the issues on your own. You wouldn’t build your own transmission or build your own house, you should never repair your own chimney either. This task should only be handled by a professional. They know how to clean it properly without damaging the liner or other parts. They can recognize minor damages before they become major ones. And they are full of chimney-related knowledge because they have had plenty of classroom training and field training along with re-certification.

The CSIA Difference

When a chimney sweep is CSIA-certified, you can fully trust them to take care of your chimney. In order to be CSIA-certified, they must:

  • Study residential fire codes and chimney sweeping
  • Attend a review day in person or online
  • Pass an one-hour, 100 question exam
  • Pass a 90-minute exam on residential code
  • Sign a CSIA Code of Ethics to protect consumers and to help prevent scams in the industry. If a member is found in violation of the code of ethics, their membership could be revoked.
  • Must go back to be re-certified every 3 years by credits or exams

It takes lots of time and money to become CSIA certified. This certifications is vital to help consumers decide whether a chimney sweep is an amateur or a professional. Some other ways to figure out if you can trust the chimney company you choose include memberships such as National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) and manufacturer certifications, such as the National Fireplace Institute.

Take the time to do your own research, read online reviews, and check out each of their credentials. When you do make an appointment, make sure you are comfortable with every person you’ve spoken with at the company. You should schedule an appointment with the industry’s best–a company with excellent reviews, training, certifications, expertise, and more – choose Hudson Chimney! Call us at 904-282-4159 or contact us online.

Chimneys Need Proper Maintenance

Your chimney is designed to last the lifetime of your home — and it will, with proper care and maintenance. The most common issue with chimneys is neglect. A majority of flue fires begin as a result of the chimney not being cleaned. Most chimney leaks occur because of a minor issue being overlooked and later becomes a major one. And most obsolete chimneys are forgotten long before they stopped working.

Routine Maintenance

At Hudson Chimney, routine maintenance is very important to us. Proper maintenance will prevent the following issues:

  • House fires
  • Home and chimney leaks
  • Respiratory issues
  • Waste of fuel and utilities
  • Expensive repairs
  • Animal intrusion and damages

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) along with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) both recommend annual routine chimney sweeps and annual chimney inspections for the safest and most efficient chimney system. A damaged chimney is not only be a fire hazard during the winter, but it can also lead to structural damage and leaks during the summer. In fact, an inefficient chimney could cost you up to 3 times in utilities annually. Don’t let a neglected chimney become a problem – schedule our professionals to take a look now!

Chimney Sweeps

When you schedule a chimney sweep with Hudson Chimney, you will get the professionalism and expertise from our knowledgeable crew. Our sweeps are not only CSIA-certified, but they also can get the job done quickly without leaving a mess in your home. The sweeps will clean any debris, soot, and creosote in your chimney system, including the fireplace, alongside an inspection with documentation for your records.

Chimney Inspections

We offer CSIA inspections year-round, which include Chim-Scan video scanning. We offer Level 1, 2, and 3 inspections, and we will definitely not miss a thing! You should perform a Level 1 inspection annually. If you haven’t had your chimney inspected by a professional in the last 12 months, call Hudson Chimney now to schedule yours.

Chimney Repairs

Schedule your routine maintenance in the spring gives you ample time to repair your chimney system before fall arrives. If any part of your chimney system is damaged or missing, it can be very dangerous. At Hudson Chimney, we make chimney and fireplace repairs year-round, including masonry repairs, relining, cap, damper, flashing, and crown installation and repair, and more. We are the #1 choice in comprehensive chimney care and continue to serve Northeast Florida’s families and businesses – we can help you too!

Are you concerned about spring showers, hurricane season, or summer heat and humidity? Ask a Hudson Chimney expert about waterproofing services! We can apply a simple protective water repellent to your masonry to prevent water penetration and damage. Call Hudson Chimney now at 904-282-4159 or schedule it online.

Why Do I Have a Discoloration on My Chimney?

Your chimney is not only used for heat and comfort, but also aesthetics and beauty. Just as a chimney can save homeowner’s money in utilities and add value to the property, it can just as easily decrease the value if it’s neglected or damaged. When your chimney becomes discolored, it becomes obvious there is a problem. Oftentimes, the color can tell you what the problem is.

Stains on the Exterior

White Stains – When water passes through the masonry, it leaves behind minerals like water molecules. If you have white stains on the exterior surfaces of your masonry chimney, your chimney is being affected by water. This is especially common in ocean regions where there are a lot of salts in the air, such as in our service area.

Red Stains – Red stains are common toward the top of the masonry chimney. They are a result of a corroded and rusted chimney cap. A damaged chimney cap may allow water inside, allowing the rusty water to run down the chimney face.

Stains on the Interior

Green/Black Stains – Noticeable stains on the inside of the chimney system are often a result of water damage. Greenish/black stains are a direct result of mold and mildew. The bacteria and spores are likely present in the air and affecting the quality of the air you breathe.

Black/Brown Stains – Caused by soot and creosote, these common stains are mostly found in the firebox. A regularly cleaned and maintained fireplace will not stain. Soot stains may be an indication of a dangerous overproduction of carbon monoxide in the chimney.

Stains on the masonry are not the only kinds of stains that may indicate a dangerous hazard. If you have any type of heat appliance including gas fireplaces or electric heaters, you should be aware of the surrounding space. For instance, if the wall near your heat appliance appears discolored, the heat is affecting it. Most of the building materials that make up your home are flammable, including wood, insulation, wiring, wall coverings, and window treatments. When heat affects the area around the appliance, it still weakens the beams and materials over time, drying them and making them brittle while increasing their fire risk.

No matter what the discoloration or where it occurs, it indicates a problem. If you have noticed a change in appearance, a stain, or otherwise discolored area of the chimney’s masonry or area nearby, you should call a professional for an assessment. Hudson Chimney provides important services such as chimney inspections that can keep your family safe. Remember to schedule your inspection annually, especially if you notice a change or a problem in your system.

Call Hudson Chimney at 904-282-4159 or contact us online!

We Are a Full-Service Chimney Company

Hudson Chimney of Middleburg, Florida has been providing comprehensive chimney care for the area since 1979. Our full-service chimney and hearth care include chimney and fireplace maintenance, repairs, diagnostics, and sales and installations. Our technicians live and work in the area, so we have the neighborhood advantage. We know the local fire safety codes and even work together with local businesses and contractors to make safety a priority in our communities, no matter who’s doing the work. Hudson Chimney goes above and beyond, also providing dryer vent cleaning and installation to further keep families safe from accidental house fires.

Preventative Care

Our comprehensive list of chimney services starts with and includes preventative maintenance. Chimney fires are 100 percent preventable. Chimney leaks are 100 percent preventable. Dryer vent fires are 100 percent preventable. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) both recommend routine chimney sweeps and annual inspections for the safest and most efficient chimney system. Safety and efficiency go hand-in-hand. If your chimney’s efficiency drops due to neglect, it becomes less safe and results in damage and health emergencies.

When you schedule your preventative care with Hudson Chimney, don’t forget our waterproofing services, seasonal preparation, and routine inspections and sweeps that keep the chimney working properly year-round.

Repairs and Installations

Whether you need a repair, or a part needs completely replaced, Hudson Chimney has you (and your chimney) covered. Common repairs we see here at Hudson Chimney include tuckpointing, firebox repair or rebuilds, masonry repairs, stain removals, mortar crown repairs and installations, and relining. There are many issues minor and major that may require repairs, but if you’re proactive about chimney care, you will avoid the major repairs that cost more time and money than you’d like.

Extend the Life of Your Chimney

Maintaining your chimney system properly will allow you to save more, work less, and your chimney will last as long as designed. Not only that, but a well-maintained chimney and fireplace are easier to convert to a new fuel such as a wood-to-gas conversion, and easier to install a new insert to bring up efficiency.

Choosing a full-service chimney company like Hudson Chimney today means you don’t have to worry about your chimney tomorrow. Whether you’re scheduling preventative care, repairs, conversions, or even have an emergency with your chimney system, you can call Hudson Chimney. Our chimney sweeps are certified and experienced in all aspects of chimney maintenance and repair, as well as fire science, and fire safety.

If you’re in the Middleburg, Florida area, including St. Augustine, Gainesville, and Clay, Duval, Putnam, St. Johns, Barker, Bradford, Alachua, and Nassau counties, we will come to you. If you aren’t within this area of service, please give us a call and see if we can still help you with all your chimney and fireplace needs! At Hudson Chimney, it’s our goal that all of our neighbors in Northeast Florida are comfortable and safe this season and year-round.

Call Hudson Chimney 904-282-4159 or contact us online today.

The Home Inspector is Not a Chimney Expert

Whether you’re a homebuyer, looking for a home to purchase, or a seller looking to sell a house, your chimney needs some attention. Before a sell, you might find yourself scheduling a home inspection. Depending on the realtor associated with your sale, the seller may pay for and schedule the inspection, or the buyer may. Regardless, you will want a chimney expert to check out the chimney system—because the home inspector won’t!

Disclosure Statement

When you’re buying or selling a home, there is a disclosure statement that includes known issues with the property. Oftentimes, instead of scheduling an inspection with a chimney expert, a seller will include the chimney in the disclosure statement. This frees them of costs and damages that may be associated with the chimney system. This may seem A-okay, but it can cost you more than you bargained for in the long-run. If you think the only thing you’ll be paying for when you take ownership of your house is a chimney inspection (required by most homeowners insurance), think again. If the previous owners don’t have an up-to-date chimney inspection, there is probably neglect and damage behind the scenes. These costs will add up quickly, and will likely mean you can’t use your fireplace until it is repaired.

The CSIA Signature

To ensure you have a safe chimney—or at least an accurate report of condition—you need to look for the CSIA signature on the report. This means the inspector is a classroom trained, tested, and field trained certified chimney sweep, with current membership in the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), the nation’s standard for chimney professionals.

The CSIA Inspection

A home inspector will focus on the structure of the chimney and note visible issues.  A CSIA certified chimney expert, however,  will assess it from the inside out. Hudson Chimney, Jacksonville’s choice for chimney care for over 30 years, inspects chimneys year-round. Not only do we offer level 1, 2, and 3 inspections, but we proudly use a Chim-Scan camera to view the inside of the system, hidden to the untrained eye. Our technicians do not miss a chimney issue, large or small. If you are selling, we are happy to complete a level 2 inspection (required for land transfers and sales) and provide you with a thorough report for your potential buyers.

The best way to make your house more desirable is to leave no questions for the potential buyers. If your realtor has a current chimney inspection in-hand when speaking with potential buyers, they’re more apt to view it as what it is—a benefit. An inspection report is necessary for insurance policies, code enforcement, and more. Leaving it up to the home inspector is like hiring a veterinarian to remove your appendix. Professional training doesn’t always transfer to other uses.

Save time and money by hiring a chimney expert to assess your chimney. Call Hudson Chimney at 904-282-4159 and schedule your chimney inspection today.

How to Remove Ashes from Your Fireplace Safely

Every day that you burn wood in your fireplace, you are creating ash. Over the course of an entire winter, you may have to remove ashes from your fireplace countless times. It’s a headache, but it’s necessary. Leaving them in the firebox can crowd your fire, make it difficult to light and maintain, and even cause wood and hot ashes to fall out of the fire! Don’t risk it, remove the ashes regularly, and remove them safely.Removing Ashes from Your Fireplace - Jacksonville, FL - Hudson Chimney

Use Appropriate Tools

You can find fireplace accessories at a home improvement store. Make sure they work for you, because not everyone is the same. Be sure the shovel is long enough that your face and hands are away from the hot fire. Homeowners who have asthma or chronic respiratory illnesses may choose to wear a face mask while cleaning ashes from the fireplace. Make sure that your clothes are not loose and that hair does not drop close to the fire. It is best to remove ashes when the fire is out or very low. Removing red hot coals is dangerous, even if you have an appropriate metal bucket to store ashes in. Scoop the ashes into your metal bucket, and carry them outside to cool at least 5 feet from your house. If you save ashes for various uses, you may have a metal trashcan with a lid to dump them into. Keep this container away from flammables.

Reasons to Save Your Ashes

Your ashes are going to continue to build up throughout burning season, with you removing them regularly. Leave ¼ inch each time in order to insulate the bottom of the firebox. The rest can be useful for many purposes.
Cleaners: Add water to a small amount of ashes and polish silver, doorknobs, and chrome. Larger amounts mixed with water can clean stoves, ovens, and pots and pans.
Deodorizer: Dust a handful of cool, dry ashes into your pet’s fur to neutralize odors and deter mites and ticks.
For the Garage: Toss ashes onto slick sidewalks and driveways to prevent slips and falls. Pour onto oil spills on the driveway and in the garage.
For the Garden: Sprinkle ashes over soil to change the alkaline levels for certain plants to thrive. Putting along the edge and in between rows also deter bugs and slugs.
Get Creative: You can use your ashes to make lye, which you can use to make homemade soap products.

If you think your fire is producing too much ash, there may be a reason. Avoid extra ashes by building the best fire possible.

Have you been avoiding your ashes, only emptying it when it’s absolutely necessary? Like so many other things, a routine will help you stay on top of the problem. Have your chimney system swept regularly to in addition to emptying the ash so that the flue will be clear of soot, creosote, and debris as well. Even if you use an ash dump for your ashes, it should be cleaned out regularly by a professional. You really can’t go wrong with professional services. Call the chimney and fireplace experts to learn more about your fireplace and chimney system, and for valuable services that keep it working for you.

Call Hudson Chimney at 904-282-4159 today.

Start the Year Off with a Clean Dryer Vent!

Even if your Christmas list didn’t include home maintenance, there is time to start on the right foot. You can save money this year, and improve your household safety, when you start the year off with a clean dryer vent.

Why Clean the Dryer Vent?

  • Prevent Fires
    There are 2,900 home clothes dryer fires reported each year, causing around 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. In fact, failing to clean the clothes dryer is the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires. These fires happen more in January than any other month, and when they happen during the night, the family is less likely to escape unscathed. The best way to prevent devastating fires is to keep the dryer vent clean.
  • Raise Efficiency
    The average homeowner doesn’t realize that a clothes dryer is designed to last 10 years, and designed to dry a load in ONE CYCLE. If your dryer takes more than one cycle to dry a normal-sized unit, there is a problem with the appliance. The most common problem is a dirty/clogged dryer vent. Not only is it a fire hazard, but it wastes electricity and shortens the life of the appliance!
  • Save Money
    If your dryer takes 2 or 3 cycles to completely dry a load of clothes, your dryer will only last 3-5 years when it should last ten. It will use 2-3 times more electricity and will cause other issues with your home year-round.
  • Damage to Home Interior
    When the dryer vent is clogged and efficiency drops, heat and moisture can push into your house. Many homeowners assume it is normal for your dryer to produce heat, and it does—but it should escape by way of the vent! There is a problem with the dryer vent if your dryer feels hot to the touch, heats the room where it’s installed, or causes condensation in the home. Condensation and heat inside your house can cause wallpaper and paint to buckle.

Call a Professional Today

Most homeowners buy a large appliance like a clothes dryer and has it delivered. This is not a professional installation and does not mean it’s ready to use. Only a professional knows there are the manufacturer and local codes that affect the way your dryer is installed. In some cases, these specifications will determine whether or not your appliance is covered by its warranty.

  • The dryer duct should be 4 inches or more
  • The dryer vent should be less than 25 feet
  • Dryer vents should be independent systems and terminate outside
  • The dryer vent termination hood should prevent backdrafts
  • Metal transition ducts should be used between the dryer and the exhaust duct
  • Flexible transition ducts are not safe for use in attics, crawlspaces, or inside walls

These safety standards are for safety and efficiency. Taking care of your dryer vent now, starts the year off right. Make sure your family is safe from a dryer vent fire, and save money in 2018.

Contact Us

Call Hudson Chimney at 904-282-4159, and ask an expert about dryer vent services today.

Why Using a CSIA Certified Sweep Matters

When it comes to owning your own home, most homeowners not only take pride in it, but also take care of it. A person doesn’t buy a sports car and then forget to change the oil, rotate the tires, and wash it regularly. The same is true of your house. In order for your home to last a lifetime, it needs certain things. The plumbing may need to be repaired, the electrical box upgraded, and the chimney system cleaned. You wouldn’t hire any old amateur to repair your plumbing or rewire your breaker box, so why hire one to service your chimney?

The Chimney System

The chimney has an important job to do. It vents harmful gases and particulate pollution out of the home, and in doing so helps your fire to burn properly and keeps your family safe. It is one of the biggest most important systems in your home, and just like the rest of your house or your car, it will go quickly downhill if neglected. The best way to ensure your chimney lasts a lifetime is to schedule maintenance, repairs, installations, and construction with a certified chimney sweep only.

CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps (CCS)

The nationally recognized standard for the chimney industry is and has been the CSIA certification. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) has been the industry standard since its inception in the 1980s. The chimney industry is still widely under-regulated, so it’s important to avoid scams and amateur work. Hire the best every time when choosing CSIA certified sweeps.

Field and Classroom Trained – Your CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep (CCS) has invested time and money into this certification. He or she must:

  • purchase study materials,
  • attend an in-person review session,
  • take the review online,
  • or attend a National Chimney Sweep Training School.

Tested – After completing the classroom training, each student must pass a one-hour exam based on chimney sweeping followed by a 90-minute open-book review based on International Residential Code. This standardized method of testing means that every certified sweep has the knowledge required to get the job done.

Code of Ethics – Each CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep (CCS) must sign a Code of Ethics designed to protect homeowners from scams in the industry. If a sweep is found to be in violation of this code, he can have membership revoked.

Continuing Education – Because the chimney industry changes along with safety codes, technology, and even trends, there is a need for chimney sweeps to stay ahead of the changes. Each CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep (CCS) must re-certify every three years through examination or education credits.

Hiring the Best

You may find there are several CSIA certified chimney sweep companies in your area. It’s up to you to choose the best one for your home. Hudson Chimney is not only CSIA certified, but also holds membership in the National Chimney Sweep Guild, the Georgia Chimney Sweep Guild, and the Florida Guild of Professional Chimney Sweeps. We don’t just say we’re the best; we are the best, serving the Jacksonville, Florida area for over 30 years. Call Hudson Chimney today to find out what our certified chimney sweeps can do for you. Dial 904-282-4159 today.

Top Mount Dampers

Chimneys are made of many parts, some hidden completely and some right in the open. All the chimney’s parts are vital to its function and should be assessed annually, repaired as needed, and professionally serviced. The damper is one part of the chimney that is completely hidden from the homeowner’s view, and it may be the oldest part—in most need of repair or replacement.

The Problem with Throat Dampers

Traditional masonry chimneys were equipped with throat dampers, commonly made of cast iron or another sort of metal. These dampers can become rusted over time, especially when the chimney hasn’t been properly maintained. Throat dampers can become rusted, become stuck in open or closed position, or even break. A homeowner may go days or weeks without even realizing the damper has malfunctioned. A faulty damper can cause a loss of heated or conditioned air, can raise the risk of flue fire, and can expose your family to toxic carbon monoxide gas.

Top Mount Dampers

At Hudson Chimney, we have been servicing chimneys in the Jacksonville, Florida area for over 30 years. When it’s time to replace a damaged throat damper, we recommend top mount dampers. Top mount dampers, also called energy top or energy saving dampers, have many benefits that you don’t see with a traditional throat damper.

  • Protect the chimney from top to bottom. The top mount damper functions as a chimney cap, keeping animals, precipitation, and wind out of the chimney opening. Unlike a cap, the top mount damper closes with an airtight seal. You don’t have to worry about water leaking into your flue from the chimney cap or debris falling into it. Your chimney will be closed at the top, protecting the whole flue from top to bottom.
  • Save energy with a top mount damper. The top mount damper closes with a tight seal so that drafts do not affect your home’s temperature. Not only does the damper prevent cold drafts from blowing in throughout winter, but it also prevents the loss of conditioned air in the summer. In fact, homeowners that chose to install a top mount damper save 8 percent on annual utility costs and up to 30 percent on heating costs!
  • Easy to install, replace, maintain, and use. Instead of installing a throat damper inside your masonry, you can choose to have a Hudson Chimney expert install a top mount damper on the top of your chimney. The installation will be completed in one appointment, and you’ll be ready to use your new damper. The damper is engaged and disengaged by way of a cord that reaches from the damper to the hearth opening. Using your new damper is as easy as pulling the cord. Just don’t close the damper when a fire is burning, because the seal will prevent proper ventilation.

Contact Us Today

Not convinced the top mount damper is the way to go? You can talk with a Hudson Chimney expert at your convenience when you call 904-282-4159. Ask about top mount damper installation and other ways we can help you stay safe and save money this year.

Safety Tips for Holiday Decorating

The holiday season is your fireplace’s time to shine. A fireplace can help you keep your crowd warm, but it is also the focal point of many holiday decorations—even serving as a backdrop for family photos. While you’re making it look its best for the holidays, remember that the fireplace is dangerous if precautions aren’t taken while decorating and operating.

Decorating the Mantel

If your chimney system and hearth are properly-constructed, there shouldn’t be any risk in decorating your mantel.

  • If your flue lining system is in good shape, you can hang a wreath or decorations onto the face of your chimney without fear of it getting heated. Just make sure that you get professional advice about how to add fasteners to your masonry.
  • When decorating the top of your mantel, make sure that items are secure. Branches and flowers should be in an appropriately-sized vase that holds them securely and will not tip over. Loose items like pine cones or nuts should be in a dish so they do not roll. Any garland or lights should be secured with hooks.
  • Traditionally, stockings are hung over the fire because socks were once hung at the hearth to dry or warm. If your fireplace can dry wet socks, imagine what can happen if store bought stockings are left to hang over the fireplace. Most stockings sold in the US are made of highly-flammable synthetic materials. If you choose to hang your stockings from your mantel, make sure they are easily removable so that you can remove them before lighting a fire. Designate a place for the stockings, away from the fireplace until it’s time to hang them again.

Decorating the Hearth

Your hearth may very well be your favorite part of your fireplace system. Many homeowners put their own personal touch into the design of the hearth itself, and decorating it is no different. If you choose to place freestanding decorations near your hearth, keep them a safe distance away, or to the side of the fireplace, on the outside of the fireplace screen. Items that are flammable or in danger of falling into the fire should be moved away before lighting it. Never decorate your fireplace door, screen, or opening.

Decorating the Tree

As long as you purchase appropriate lights for your tree, water it regularly, and place it away from the fire, you shouldn’t have a problem with your Christmas tree. Avoid vintage lights that are not tested for safe use by today’s standards. Bubble lights and early electric lights (typically big-bulb) can get too hot for a natural cut-tree. Do not place candles near your tree, or on your tree, and stand your tree far enough away from the fireplace opening so that it won’t reach it if it tips over.

Fire Safety

Christmastime is a good time to check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Make a fire escape plan with your family, including two ways out, and practice it. Discuss fireplace safety with family and guests, and oversee decorating and fireplace operation to avoid accidental injuries and fire.

Click here to learn more about safe holiday decorating. Hudson Chimney’s first concern is the safety of our customers. Call Hudson Chimney at 904-282-4159 if you have questions or concerns.

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