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Chimney Swifts are Coming

Spring can bring a lot of trouble for a chimney in North America. Rain can penetrate a vulnerable system and cause water damage, humidity can mingle with a dirty chimney and cause unwelcome odors, and animals can get in and damage the entire system. Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do about them.

The Uncapped Chimney

Your chimney cap is important for the safe function and protection of your chimney year-round. When a fire is burning, the cap keeps sparks from leaving the flue opening. It also can prevent wind gusts from affecting your fire, and will keep water from falling in when it’s raining. Additionally, equip your cap with a metal mesh perimeter to keep small and large animals out during the burn season and the offseason.

It’s important to prevent animal intrusion because no matter how big or small they are, they will most likely leave damage. Clawed animals will scratch the chimney liner, regardless of material. A small scratch becomes a vulnerable place that is more easily damaged by corrosive chemical byproducts of your fire. It also promotes buildup because even slight damage can slow the airflow in the flue. Animals that come into the chimney and leave on their own often leave bedding, fur, droppings, and more behind them. These materials are flammable and can affect airflow. Although many chimney professionals offer sweeps and humane animal removal, it may be that the animal cannot be removed.

Federally Protected Swifts

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects chimney swifts and makes it illegal to remove them or to tamper with them in any way. This means that once a swift is in your chimney system, they cannot be removed, and you cannot light a fire or do anything to harm them while they are there. They will leave on their own once nesting season is over, but this could take up to 90 days! These birds even bring their friends, resulting in swarms of birds in one chimney. Instead of dealing with the hassle of having hundreds of birds in your chimney all summer long, allowing them to possibly damage it, and leave clutter for you to deal with later, prevent them from getting in in the first place.

What You Can Do

You can prevent chimney swifts from getting in by making sure your chimney is properly capped. Small animals can also get inside through damaged or dislodged caps. In fact, anything that can climb or fly onto your roof can also climb or fly into your flue. If you don’t want the swifts in your chimney system, but want to help them find adequate and safe habitats, you can build a swift tower . These birds historically nested in hollow trees, which grew scarce as North America developed. There are some homeowners that choose to let swifts nest in their chimneys, using a chimney cap with a special design. While we don’t recommend it, we do clean up after them and make sure your chimney is ready for a fire when fall arrives.

Want to learn more about chimney swifts? Talk to an expert at Hudson Chimney and call 904-282-4159!

Spring Rains and Leaking Chimneys

Florida has been experiencing a lot of rainfall this spring. If you have a chimney system in your home, you may be noticing more than just the rainfall outside. You may also are experiencing some leaks indoors. At Hudson Chimney, our professionals are here to help you solve any leaky chimneys this spring and summer. Learn some of the causes of chimney leaks and best ways to prevent them below.

Common Causes of Leaks

Your chimney system can easily get leaks, even a minor damage can cause a leak. And a small leak can lead to major damage down the road. At Hudson Chimney, our certified technicians have plenty of experiences working with leaky chimneys. Although the causes are very easy to pin down by our professionals, we want to help you understand it. Here are some of the potential causes of a leaky chimney.

  • A flashing problem – Damaged, missing, or improperly installed flashing is a leading cause for chimney leaks. The flashing protects the vulnerable intersection of the roof and chimney, and an experienced professional must install it to avoid flashing problems later on. The flashing is usually the root issues behind any chimney leaks, so that’s why our technicians begin by checking the flashing first!
  • A missing or damaged cap – Your chimney cap protects the flue opening from weather, animal intrusion, and more. If the cap isn’t appropriate for your flue, it could be the cause leaks. If it’s installed improperly, it may break away from the flue and allow water in. This is a huge concern when summer rains are heavy, as a flue without a cap is wide open for rain to fall directly in.
  • A cracked crown – The chimney crown must be inspected and repaired. Even a well-constructed crown can become cracked due to constant exposure to the sun and weather. A chimney professional can also repair it if the damage is caught in time. This is why annual chimney inspections are incredibly important.
  • Masonry damage – Like the crown, if the masonry is damaged, even minor cracks, it will allow water to penetrate the system. Water is a nightmare for masonry and your chimney, so you must be proactive when it comes to protection your masonry against water invasion.

Prevention Against Leaky Chimneys

Proper maintenance and regular check ups of your chimney will protect you from getting a leaky chimney. By scheduling your routine chimney sweeps and annual inspections, you will be able to catch and repaired any damages before it worsens to a leak. You can protect your masonry by scheduling a professional waterproofing services. At Hudson Chimney, we trust ChimneySaver Water Repellent to protect our chimneys, especially when it comes to our friends, neighbors, and customers in and around the Jacksonville, Florida area. This vapor-permeable repellent keeps water from getting in, while still letting gas, heat, and moisture out.

Preventing a chimney leak is the best thing you can do to protect your home and family against the heavy rain and storms this summer. Call the professionals at Hudson Chimney and talk to us about waterproofing your chimney system before it’s officially summer. Give us a call at 904-282-4159 or contact us online.

Bird and Animal Nesting Prevention

You hear about it happening to other people, but you’ve never thought that it would happen to you. An animal has made its way into your chimney! Birds, critters, or anything that can climb on your roof could get inside your chimney. Or worst, the intruders have made your chimney their home. What do you do now? We are going to learn some of the problems that comes with animals and critters invading your chimney, and how our professionals at Hudson Chimney can help get rid of this problem or preventing it from happening in the first place.

The Problems With Animal Intrusion

If your chimney cap is missing or damaged, you may end up with a animal trying to make a nest in your flue. Once inside, they may build a nest, carrying in debris that could ignite or block the flue completely. They may also leave behind a flue obstruction that might smell so foul that it could run you out of the house. If the animal does end up leaving on its own, they could still potentially leave behind nesting materials such as feathers, fur, and even droppings.

Additionally, small mammals may climb out of a chimney using their teeth and claws, scratching and damaging your flue liner. Small scratches on the surface of the liner may not seem like a big deal, but these scratches will collect creosote and soot that continues to corrode the already damaged area. This will eventually become a hazard, which could cause major issues for your masonry and put your safety at risk.

Chimney Swifts

Critters are not the only thing that can make its way into your chimney flue. You may hear the chirping of birds from time to time. A bird may fly in and out of your chimney, or they may even move into your chimney completely! Chimney swifts are a species of bird that move into chimneys and nest in them.

In fact, chimney swifts naturally nest in hollow trees. When North America began to colonize, this eventually lead to more chimneys than hollow trees, so these birds adapted. Now they nest in chimneys, and if your chimney isn’t capped, they’ll be in yours too. Chimney swifts are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and they are unlawful to be removed or harmed while staying in your chimney. You may even want us to come do a humane animal removal, but this is even unlawful for us. Chimney swifts cannot be removed or tampered with. We can only wait and hope they leave on their own, which can take up to 90 days from the time they move in and nest.

Humane Animal Removal

We believe that when it comes to your chimney, you’re better safe than sorry. If you hear an animal in your chimney (even a bird), you can call us at Hudson Chimney, and we’ll determine whether the animal can be removed or not. Our process is safe for both the chimney and the animal, and shouldn’t interfere with your home at all.

If you need to schedule an appointment for animal removal, call us at 904-282-4159 today.

Install a Chimney Cap to Keep Birds and Animals Out

Your chimney works constantly to vent harmful byproducts from your home, and it’s efficiency can be greatly affected by outside factors. The chimney cap is the remedy. The cap is designed to keep outside factors from getting in! It literally caps the top of the chimney, fitting over the flue, preventing weather and wildlife from getting in, and some models even prevent wind from affecting the flue as well.

Keep Wildlife Out of the Chimney

Without a chimney cap, your flue is the perfect home to a variety of small animals. Any critter that can climb to or land on your roof can also climb into the chimney opening. Critters love the chimney because it’s dry, warm, and seemingly safe. What we know as humans, though, is that it’s not safe. It’s unsafe for the animals as well as for the humans.

  • Animals leave debris behind.
    Debris is left behind in the chimney even after the animals leave. Birds leave their nests and feathers behind, and chipmunks and squirrels leave their bedding and food crumbs. Nests, leaves, feathers, and other debris can and will ignite, causing a flue fire that is very preventable.
  • Animals leave droppings behind.
    Droppings left inside the chimney flue can release toxins into the air that your family breathes. It can also result in foul smells that disrupt your life, especially during the summer when the chimney isn’t being used.
  • Animals scratch the lining of the chimney.
    When small animals climb out of the chimney, they often scratch the liner with their claws. This can be a serious problem because the scratch is a weakness in the liner that may go unnoticed, allowing heat and hazardous gasses to escape the flue and transfer to the home. The scratch can also collect excess soot and creosote, causing more deterioration in an already weak spot.
  • Animals can get stuck.
    When an animal cannot get out of the chimney, it will get stuck and die, resulting in a blockage and a nasty odor. There is no mistaking the smell of decomposition, and if this occurs in your home, it will overpower everything else.
  • Some animals cannot be removed.
    A species of migratory birds called chimney swifts nest in chimneys throughout North America during the spring months. Since this bird is federally protected, not even a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® (CCS) can legally remove them. While some homeowners opt to allow the birds access to their chimneys, it is best to prevent their entrance in the first place. Hundreds of birds can inhabit the same chimney, and they are a loud and raucous little group. They will stay in the chimney until their eggs are hatched and young-lings can fly, which can be months.

You can still enjoy wildlife, while not allowing them to enjoy your chimney!

To avoid housing the forest’s friends, you should schedule a chimney sweep as early as possible after burning season is over, and then close out the system for the season. Be sure to have your chimney sweep check that the cap is intact. At Hudson Chimney, we install a variety of custom and standard caps, and all of them can keep animals out of your flue.

Call Hudson today at 904-282-4159 to discuss what a new chimney cap can do for you!

Be Sure No Animals Have Taken Up Residence in Your Chimney Before You Light a Fire

Hearing strange noises coming from your chimney is a sure sign that birds or other animals like squirrels or raccoons have mistaken your chimney for a tree and moved inside for the winter. If you have a family of birds or animals living inside your chimney, you should never attempt to smoke them out by lighting a fire. This can result in severely burning or killing the animals and creating an even larger problem. Our staff at Hudson Chimney is used to dealing with these critters invading chimneys, and we can safely remove them to allow your fireplace and chimney to be used without problems. We would like to tell you more about how to deal with birds and animals in your chimney by sharing with you some information from Chimneys.com.

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BIRDS

Typically, birds will build nests on the smoke shelf or just above the damper, but some types of birds build their nests on the sides of chimney liners. You can even have multiple bird nests inside your chimney at one time. The biggest problem you can have with a bird nest in your chimney is that the nest can block your flue, and this can lead to carbon monoxide being forced back into your home. As nesting materials are highly flammable, there is also the risk of a chimney fire. Birds also carry diseases like histoplasmosis, which can cause blindness. If you have migratory birds such as chimney swifts living in your chimney, it is illegal to have these birds removed. You will have to wait until the late spring when they leave their nests to have these nests taken away from your chimney.

SQUIRRELS

Squirrels build nests by packing them very tightly, which makes them difficult to remove. Hudson Chimney has heard reports of chimney sweeps needing hours to remove nests that were over 15 feet long! Not only do the nests of squirrels block the flue of your chimney, but squirrels themselves can open up the damper and enter your home to cause even more damage.

RACCOONS

If you have a raccoon in your chimney, we strongly recommend that you leave its removal to professionals and do not attempt to get the animal out yourself. Raccoons can be very aggressive and will bite you. They also carry diseases like rabies and roundworm.

HOW DO I KEEP BIRDS AND ANIMALS OUT OF MY CHIMNEY?

The best way to keep these critters from taking up residence in your chimney is to have a good quality chimney cap installed at the top of the chimney. Be sure the cap is equipped with metal mesh siding, and you will also want to choose a cap constructed from copper or stainless steel as birds and animals can tear up caps made from aluminum.

Heard sounds of birds or animals coming from your chimney? Contact us at Hudson Chimney as soon as possible to ask for our help on removing these critters safely.

All About Chimney Crowns

Just as you would think from the name, chimney crowns sit at the very top of masonry chimneys to prevent water and animals from getting inside the chimneys. A crucial part of a masonry chimney system, your chimney crown needs to be in good condition to best protect your chimney. If your crown is suffering from hairline cracks, your chimney could be in danger of even more cracking and spalling damage. Luckily for the residents of the Jacksonville, FL area, Hudson Chimney specializes in repairing and building chimney crowns. We would like to tell you more about this important part of your masonry chimney by sharing with you some information from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) about chimney crowns.

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What exactly does a chimney crown do?

Covering the top of the chimney to seal it from the flue liner to the chimney edge, a chimney crown constructed by Hudson Chimney provides a downward slope to direct water from the flue to the edge of the crown. Without a chimney crown, the entrance to your chimney is wide open and can easily be invaded by water from rain and melted snow and animals such as birds, raccoons, and squirrels. Both water and animals will do a lot of potentially expensive damage to your masonry chimney, which is why it is so important to have a properly built chimney crown on the top of your chimney.

What kind of damage can water and animals do to my chimney?

The CSIA calls water the biggest enemy of masonry chimneys because it erodes away bricks and mortar. Hudson Chimney often sees spalling damage, which is caused when water that has penetrated masonry materials freezes within those materials, it expands. As the water thaws out, it forces the bricks and mortar to crack and break apart. If this type of damage is left untreated, the structure of your chimney is in jeopardy as it could collapse. The greatest type of damage done by animals has more to do with the nesting materials they leave behind in your chimney. Abandoned animal nests in a chimney create dangerous hazards such as fires ignited from the materials and debris and flue blockages that can cause poisonous gases like carbon monoxide to be forced back into your home.

What are the details of a properly built chimney crown?

Constructed from a Portland cement-based mixture, a proper chimney crown should be installed so that it provides an overhang projecting beyond all sides of the chimney by a minimum of two inches. Hudson Chimney additionally ensures that the flue liner tile projects above the crown also by a minimum of two inches.

Concerned about your chimney crown? Contact Hudson Chimney to inspect the condition of your crown and make recommendations for repairs or a rebuild. You can trust us to protect the inside of your chimney with a correctly constructed and installed chimney crown.

The Advantages of a Top-Sealing Damper

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), a damper is an important component of every chimney. Essential for an energy-efficient home, the damper keeps the heat in and the cold air out of your house, which saves you money on heating bills. Your damper is also used to control the flow of smoke, gases, and the other byproducts of combustion up the chimney to exit your home. Available in two different types, you can choose between the throat damper and the top-sealing damper. Also known as the traditional fireplace damper, a throat damper is installed right above the firebox and is found in many old masonry chimneys. However, this type of damper has many flaws and issues. At Hudson Chimney, we strongly recommend the top-sealing damper over the throat damper. We would like to tell you more about the benefits of these dampers.

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This clip is courtesy of Richie Baxley at Environmental Chimney Service in Asheville NC.

A top-sealing damper serves two functions, allowing you to “kill two birds with one stone.”

One of the main benefits of a top-sealing damper is that it also serves as a chimney cap when the damper is closed, and, to be honest, this type of damper actually gives you better protection than an ordinary chimney cap. Equipped with a silicone rubber gasket that seals in heat and air conditioning as a damper, a top-sealing damper also gives you an air-tight seal to keep out water, debris, birds, squirrels, and raccoons — just as a chimney cap would. When our customers need a new chimney cap, Hudson Chimney will recommend that they install a top-sealing damper instead of a chimney cap. Some models of top-sealing dampers come with caps, so even when the damper is open, your chimney is still protected from debris and animals.

A top-sealing damper will save you both energy and money.

Throat dampers just do not completely seal as well as top-sealing dampers. You will not have to worry about cold air, ice, and snow entering your flue to create a cold core in your chimney. A cold core tries to cool your home at the same time that your heating system is trying to warm it up, which wastes both fuel and money. As a top-sealing damper sits atop your chimney, cold air never even has a chance to get anywhere inside because your entire flue is sealed air-tight with the silicone rubber gasket. Believe us when we say you will save money on both cooling and heating bills when you install a top-sealing damper.

A top-sealing damper is easy to operate.

With some throat dampers, you must practically stick your head up the fireplace to open and close them. When you have a top-sealing damper, opening and closing the damper is simple. A stainless steel cable from the damper drops down the chimney and connects to an easily-accessible handle which is mounted inside the firebox. Different models will have different opening and closing methods, but Hudson Chimney guarantees you will find all easy to use.

Want to know more about the benefits of top-sealing dampers? Contact Hudson Chimney to find out even more advantages to this type of damper.

Don’t Procrastinate Chimney Maintenance and Repairs

Believe it or not, spring is on its way, and fireplace season will be slowing down. To be sure your chimney is safe after a long and cold winter, scheduling your annual chimney sweeping and inspection now is essential, especially if your chimney is in need of important repairs. At Hudson Chimney, one of our busiest times of the year is the spring, and if you procrastinate for too long, you may have to wait for several weeks before you can arrange an appointment for our certified technicians to visit your home to clean, examine, and repair your chimney. According to fire safety organizations such as the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), it is recommended you schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection once every year. We would like to share with you the important chimney maintenance steps our chimney technicians will take to find essential repairs needed to make your fireplace and chimney system safe.

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CHIMNEY SWEEPING

When the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified sweeps at Hudson Chimney clean your chimney after winter, our main concern is removing all of the creosote deposits that have accumulated on the walls of your chimney. Forming naturally as the by-products of combustion (smoke, gases, tar fog, vapors, etc) exit the cooler walls of your upper chimney, creosote is the highly combustible result of the condensation that occurs. Creosote can be either black or brown, and its appearance can vary. Whether it is sticky and gummy, crispy and brittle, or shiny and hard, creosote, especially in large amounts, is extremely flammable, which makes it the cause of a majority of chimney fires. Getting rid of these creosote buildups after winter’s heavy fireplace usage is essential to the safety of your chimney.

CHIMNEY INSPECTING

Hudson Chimney takes pride in performing detailed post-winter chimney inspections because we want to find any damage that needs repairing to ensure the safety of your fireplace and chimney. Of course, we seriously examine every part of your chimney; however, there are specific repairs we are looking for, including the following:

damaged or deteriorated masonry — Loose bricks and chipped mortar on the exterior of your chimney are sure signs of water penetration damage, and this alerts us to the possibility of water leaking inside your chimney that creates even more damage to its interior. If this masonry damage goes unrepaired, you will end up with costly repair work, including a possible rebuild of your entire chimney.

cracks in the chimney cap — Your chimney cap serves as protection from both water and animal intrusions of your chimney. A deteriorated chimney cap serves no help at all to your chimney. We can repair cracks and other damage to chimney caps as well as install new caps if the existing caps are beyond repairing.

cracks and holes in the chimney flue liner — Water leaks can cause serious damage to the liner of your chimney that can endanger your family’s health. A deteriorating flue liner allows toxic gases like carbon monoxide to leak into your home. Repairing or replacing a damaged chimney flue liner will keep those gases exiting out of your chimney instead of infiltrating the interior air of your home.

Save yourself the hassle of waiting for weeks to maintain your chimney after winter by contacting Hudson Chimney now. We are happy to schedule an appointment for your annual sweeping and inspection as well as perform all necessary repairs.

The Importance of a Chimney Cap

Does your chimney have a cap? A chimney cap may seem insignificant and maybe not that important, but it serves a variety of functions to protect your chimney and home! The Chimney Safety Institute of America suggests that all chimneys have caps as a preventative measure against damage and for safety reasons. If you do not have a chimney cap or your chimney cap needs to be replaced, it is important that you call Hudson Chimney  as soon as possible to install a cap in order to prevent the damages associated with not owning one.

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There are many reasons why it is important to keep your chimney capped. A chimney cap stops rain from getting into your chimney, preventing water damage to both your chimney and your home. Water damage can cost you a lot of money in repairs as well as destroy your chimney if not confronted quickly. While a chimney cap is important to preventing water from entering your chimney, water damage can also be prevented by having the professionals at Hudson Chimney apply a sealant to the exterior of your chimney.

A chimney cap also keeps animals out of your chimney, which can create noise, smells, and provide them an entrance into your home. Chimney caps prevent environmental debris, such as sticks and leaves, from entering your chimney as well, which can cause dangerous chimney fires. Having debris or animals in your chimney can also block smoke and fumes from efficiently leaving your chimney, which will lead to improper ventilation that will not allow dangerous fumes to exit your home. Because they prevent things from entering and blocking your chimney, chimney caps ensure that your chimney’s air flow runs efficiently. Chimney caps also help to eliminate downdrafts, which blow cold air as well as fumes from your fire back into your home. A chimney cap also protects your chimney liner and prevents sparks from flying out of your chimney and lighting things on fire.

If you are looking for a sturdy and durable chimney cap that doesn’t rust, Hudson Chimney can install a stainless steel cap for you. However, you also have the options of having a copper, galvanized, or aluminum cap installed. Consult with an expert at Hudson Chimney to determine the best cap for your chimney. No matter your choice, chimney caps are one of the least expensive chimney repairs that can be made as well as one of the simplest. Therefore, it makes financial sense to have a chimney cap installed rather than waiting for damages to occur that will cost you more!

So if you don’t have a chimney cap or if your chimney cap needs to be replaced, give Hudson Chimney a call as soon as possible. The professionals there will be sure that you have a cap installed that will protect your chimney and home.

Scheduling your Chimney Services before the Busy Season

Chimney service companies tend to get busy as the fall and winter approach. If you live in the Middleburg, Florida area you may think that booking an appointment to have your chimney swept and inspected is something that can wait. After all, you live in the sunshine state, right? But you would be wrong. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that chimneys be swept by a professional on an annual basis. No matter where you live, the fall and winter are when chimney service companies get booked up. If you want to use your chimney safely and efficiently this winter, you will want to have the professionals at Hudson Chimney clean and inspect it.

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Having your chimney cleaned and inspected can help it to run more efficiently, save you money, and keep your home warmer. Most importantly, however, having your chimney cleaned is important to keeping your home safe from house and chimney fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other hazards presented by owning a chimney.

The professionals at Hudson Chimney will work to remove creosote from your chimney. Creosote is an extremely flammable substance that forms when hot gasses and smoke cool in your chimney. Not only can creosote cause fires, but it blocks toxic gasses and smoke from leaving your chimney. When creosote is allowed to accumulate, not only does your risk of fire and dangerous fumes increase, but creosote will build into a caked on substance called glazed creosote, which can only be removed by a professional with strong chemicals. Having your chimney cleaned and inspected annually can help prevent glazed creosote from forming.

The experts at Hudson Chimney will also inspect your chimney for water damage which can cost you a lot of money (and even destroy your chimney) if not properly attended to. They will inspect your chimney for the various causes of water leaks and recommend any repairs that need to be made. You can then set up an appointment with Hudson Chimney to install a chimney cover, have a water repellent applied, or anything else that needs to be done to provide you with a leak-free chimney!

Your chimney will also be inspected to make sure that the appliance was properly installed and that your chimney and appliance are compatible. A flue that is too small for the appliance will not allow for proper ventilation, causing hazardous fumes to enter your home. A flue that is too big for the appliance will accumulate creosote quickly. The technicians at Hudson Chimney will also check to make sure that there are no blockages in your chimney that could cause improper ventilation. Having a chimney cap or damper installed will help to prevent animals and debris from entering the chimney.

So if you have not scheduled your chimney service appointment for this year, call Hudson Chimney as soon as possible to book your appointment before the busy season starts!

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