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Is Your Chimney Up to Modern Standards?

When you decide to buy an older home, it is important to realize the responsibility you will have as a homeowner to keep up with the maintenance issues and updates that can be involved. If your house has a fireplace and chimney, making sure everything meets current building codes and standards is crucial. You do not want to risk having to deal with a chimney fire or a carbon monoxide leak in your home because your chimney and fireplace system are not up to codes. Our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney technicians at Hudson Chimney have much experience with bringing older chimneys up to modern standards and can inspect your fireplace and chimney system to make any recommendations to update your system. While we have seen chimneys that do not meet the current height requirements as well as chimneys that have suffered major spalling damage that has jeopardized the structural soundness, the most common update we do is to install a new chimney liner because the chimney is unlined. Many older homes have unlined chimneys, and this can be quite a hazard. We would like to tell you more about the importance of chimney liners by sharing with you some information from the CSIA.

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Why is a chimney liner so important?

Chimney liners serve three essential functions:

1. To protect your home from heat transfers to combustibles.

Without a chimney liner, the high temperatures from a fire can easily ignite combustible materials such as wood.

2. To protect the bricks and mortar of the chimney from corrosion from the byproducts of combustion.

Studies have proven that when combustion gases are allowed to penetrate into masonry materials, the life of the chimney is reduced. A chimney liner keeps these acidic gases from eating away at the mortar joints of your chimney.

3. To provide a correctly sized flue for the optimum efficiency of your heating appliance.

In order to function properly, modern fireplace inserts and stoves need a correctly sized flue. If the flue is too large, you can experience draft problems that will lead to smoke lingering too long inside your chimney, to the accelerated accumulation of creosote, and to the production of carbon monoxide.

If your older chimney is unlined, Hudson Chimney can increase the safety and efficiency of your heating appliance and chimney by installing a new liner. After inspecting your chimney, we will recommend the type of liner you need. Not only do we offer stainless steel liners, but we can design and install a custom liner to correctly match the size of your heating appliance. Contact us today to schedule an inspection of your older chimney to be sure it is up to modern standards.

Celebrating National Chimney Safety Week

Whenever September arrives, Hudson Chimney knows that not only will we be busy preparing chimneys in the Jacksonville, Florida area for the upcoming fireplace season, but we will also be getting ready to celebrate with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) during their annual National Chimney Safety Week, which occurs the last week of September (September 27 – October 3, 2015). This is an opportunity for chimney professionals across the country to educate people about fire and chimney safety before the weather starts getting cold. A fireplace and chimney system can present many hazards, so it is important to know and follow safety practices whenever you use this part of your home. The last thing you would want to happen this winter is a devastating chimney fire because you neglected to schedule your annual chimney inspection. The Director of Education for the CSIA, Ashley Eldridge says, “Fires in chimneys can start for a variety of reasons. They can be poorly built, or incorrectly designed, or the chimney flue sees a buildup of creosote over time. If you’ve ignored the need for an inspection, you are taking a risk.” Other than having your chimney professionally inspected every year, the CSIA offers other things you should do to reduce your risk of a chimney fire, and we would like to share them with you.

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Your chimney is not the only part that should be inspected.

Your wood-burning or gas fireplace should also be examined by a professional to be sure no potential hazards exist. A wood-burning firebox could also have a large buildup of creosote, and this can be an extremely dangerous situation. Ensure your firebox is free from any creosote accumulation before you light a fire inside it. Gas and propane logs may not produce any soot or creosote, but they can deposit corrosive substances within your chimney. Ceramic logs in gas fireplaces can also deteriorate and clog the vents and pilot light. Having the logs checked in your gas fireplace can prevent chimney fires and other fireplace issues that can happen when the pilot light and other connectors are not correctly working.

Be prepared for all severe weather hazards.

To be sure you are ready for a severe storm, such as a hurricane, the CSIA suggest three steps:

1. Know your risk.

Before leaving home in the morning, check the weather reports to be sure you are prepared for any coming weather event.

2. Take action!

Find out more about what kind of weather your area should expect this fall. Make an emergency supplies kit. Come up with a communication plan for your entire family in case of an emergency.

3. Be a force of nature.

If a hurricane or other severe weather storm is heading your way, spread the word! Inspire your friends and family by letting them know how you have prepared for the potentially bad weather.

If you would like to learn more about National Chimney Safety Week, contact us at Hudson Chimney. We are happy to educate you on fire prevention!

Draft/Flow: Summertime Chimney Issues

Unpleasant odors coming from the fireplace can, unfortunately, be common problems in the summer due to draft and flow chimney issues. Although fireplace odor issues can be the result of creosote accumulations or birds or animals living inside the chimney, quite often the bad smell is simply old smoky air from the chimney. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), the air flow in your house is constantly moving, even though you cannot see it. Most often, air tries to flow out through the upper parts of your home, and air flows into the house through its lower part to try to replace the air that left. To better understand draft and flow, Hudson Chimney would like to tell you more about some of the things that influence the actual flow of air into and out of your home.

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WIND-LOADING

The effect on interior house pressures caused by the wind, wind-loading takes place when wind hits your home and creates high pressure on the side it hits and low pressure on the downwind side. If you open windows or doors on the windward side, this will help both to pressurize the house and increase the chimney draft. On the other hand, if you have your windows or doors on the downwind side opened, this can depressurize the house and allow the smoky air from the chimney to enter your home by backdrafting.

INTERIOR MECHANICAL DEVICES

Clothes dryers, kitchen, attic, and bathroom fans, and central vacuum systems can remove large volumes of air and cause depressurization that leads to backdrafting. This often results in negative pressure around your fireplace, stove, or other heating appliance. Forced-air furnaces also take a large amount of air away from a home. When these systems have leaky ducts, it can negatively affect draft by causing air to be blown into the attic or crawlspace.

WEATHERIZATION

When you get your house weatherized to keep cooled air in during the summer and heated air in during the winter, you can possibly seal your home off too tightly to the point where air cannot flow properly. This leads to the stack effect, which is where warm air rises to the highest level and creates a pressurized area. The stack effect can be behind several chimney draft issues.

Noticing signs of chimney draft problems this summer? Contact us at Hudson Chimney to find out how we can help you solve these issues.

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 Value of a Video Scan Inspection

Whenever your chimney is inspected by one of our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps from Hudson Chimney, you will be able to see exactly what we saw, thanks to video scans from the Chim-Scan Closed Circuit Internal Evaluation System. A video scan inspection can be extremely valuable, especially if damage is found to your chimney during the inspection. Our sweeps benefit from these video scans as well as they are able to see every inch of the inside of your chimney when they use this camera technology. We would like to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we have encountered about Chim-Scan video inspections.

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What exactly is the Chim-Scan Closed Circuit Internal Evaluation System?

Explained by the company that creates and manufactures this system, a Chim-Scan is a remote imaging video camera that has been specifically engineered to be moved up and down inside a chimney. This provides both our chimney sweep and the homeowner a video scan of each inch of the interior walls of a chimney. When this Chim-Scan system is used, everyone can see an up-close view of parts of your chimney that are extremely difficult to see by regular means.

What makes a video scan important in a chimney inspection?

Required by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in their Level 2 and Level 3 chimney inspections, video scans are so important to Hudson Chimney that we also use them in our basic Level 1 inspections. One of the main reasons why we feel this way is the ability of the Chim-Scan camera to spy every inch of your chimney’s interior. This allows us to spot hazardous damage that we could have missed seeing if we did not use this tool. You could have damage to the inside of your chimney that needs to be repaired before you can safely use your fireplace. An example of this damage are cracks that could allow the poisonous gases created by combustion to enter your home. Also, if you need to report any damage to your home insurance agent, a video scan can give you the evidence your agent will need to file a claim.

What are the other advantages of video scan inspections?

Along with discovering hard-to-see damage, a video scan inspection can also be used to determine details about damage from a chimney fire, uncover improper repair work, and find animals and/or their nests within a chimney. A crucial part of a chimney fire investigation, a video scan can help diagnose the cause of the fire and the amount of any damage which happened in the fire. You will also be provided with written reports, photographs, and/or video recordings after a video scan inspection.

Discover the value of a video scan inspection. Contact Hudson Chimney today to schedule your annual chimney sweeping and inspection.

Don’t Wait Until Fall to Schedule Your Chimney Sweeping

Although it may seem far away, the month of September will be here before you realize it. Did you realize that many national fire safety groups like the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommend that you have your chimney professionally swept and inspected before lighting the first fire of the year? The reason behind this recommendation is to be sure that your fireplace and chimney system works properly and safely so that you will not experience any hazardous problems during the winter. September begins the busiest time of the year at Hudson Chimney for our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps. Their schedule will be packed full through December cleaning chimneys across the Jacksonville area, and scheduling an appointment during these months can be difficult. You may have to wait several weeks to be able to arrange your annual chimney sweeping on the date and time you need. We suggest to our customers to go ahead and schedule this important chimney maintenance task in the late summer before fall arrives to be able to get the appointment at a time that is convenient. To let you know what you can expect from a cleaning from our chimney sweeps, we would like to tell you more about this service.

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Hudson Chimney takes care to keep your home clean as we sweep your chimney.

Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps begin the sweeping process by covering the area surrounding your fireplace with tarps to protect your home from soot, dust, and other debris. A high-speed vacuum cleaner will also be set up over your fireplace opening to keep dirt from entering your house.

Hudson Chimney sweeps your chimney clean from its top to its bottom.

Our sweeps will use hand brushes as well as brushes on rods to scrub the walls of your chimney clean from the floor of the firebox all the way up to the top of the flue. Your damper will also be cleaned, inspected, and adjusted. Our chimney sweeps will focus on removing all of the accumulated creosote deposits to prevent a dangerous and possibly devastating chimney fire. Creosote is a natural compound which is the residue of the byproducts of combustion of a wood-burning fire and can be extremely flammable. You will be able to safely light fires without any worries of creosote deposits causing problems after your chimney has been swept by Hudson Chimney.

Hudson Chimney performs a professional chimney inspection as part of the sweeping process.

To ensure your chimney is free from hazardous blockages and has no damage, our chimney sweeps will use a close-circuit video camera to get a close look at the interior of your chimney. The exterior of your chimney will also be inspected, and our certified sweeps will pay close attention to the condition of your bricks and mortar. After the sweeping and inspection has been completed, our sweeps will provide a written document of their findings, and they will be sure to explain everything to you so you understand the condition of your chimney.

Don’t wait until the fall to schedule your chimney sweeping. Contact Hudson Chimney today to make an appointment for this essential annual chimney maintenance service.

Summer Storms Can Damage Chimneys

Since we call Northeastern Florida our home, Hudson Chimney is familiar with the heavy rains that come with summer storms, and we are very experienced with the damage these rainstorms can do to chimneys. Repairing leaky chimneys and preventing further water penetration of masonry chimneys are two jobs you can trust our certified chimney technicians with performing. We would like to tell you more about the damage water leaks can do to your chimney and your home as well as the preventive measures we can take to protect your masonry chimney from the heavy rains of the summer storms we frequently see in our area.

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THE DAMAGE DONE BY WATER PENETRATION

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), water is your masonry chimney’s biggest enemy. Since chimneys are built using materials like brick, mortar, concrete, stone, flue tile, steel, and cast-iron, they are seriously compromised by water leaks because every one of these building materials are negatively affected by direct contact with water. What kind of damage can water penetration do to your masonry chimney system and home? Examples of the expensive and possibly dangerous damage from water leaks include the following:

  • rusted fireplace and chimney parts
  • rotted wood that surrounds your fireplace
  • stains on the walls and ceilings around your fireplace
  • deteriorated exterior chimney
  • cracked or damaged flue liner
  • collapsed hearth support
  • leaning or collapsed chimney structure

THE PREVENTION OF WATER LEAKS

The certified chimney technicians at Hudson Chimney offer a couple of ways to protect your masonry chimney from water penetration and remove the possibilities of water leaks, including:

Waterproofing

Using a 100% vapor permeable formula that allows your chimney to still be able to “breathe,” our chimney technicians will apply this formula to let water that has already penetrated your masonry chimney escape, which will prevent future damage such as spalling and erosion due to the freeze-thaw process. Furthermore, the waterproofing formula keeps water from entering from the outside to protect your masonry chimney from water leaks and other deterioration. You can trust Hudson Chimney to never use paint or clear sealers as these may cause even more spalling damage by trapping water vapors and moisture inside your chimney.

Flashing

A poorly done flashing job can actually cause water to penetrate your chimney because water from rain and melted snow can enter through gaps in the flashing. Our technicians will customize the flashing to properly fit around your exterior chimney where it meets the roof. We will work with a licensed roofer to guarantee the flashing has been done correctly.

Be prepared for the heavy rains from the upcoming summer storms. Contact Hudson Chimney to prevent water penetration damage of your masonry chimney.

All About Jacksonville

In 1979, Mark Hudson founded Hudson Chimney to provide professional fireplace and chimney services in Northeastern Florida. Certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) as a chimney sweep and a dryer vent technician, Hudson is proud to serve the city of Jacksonville and works hard on community projects to make Jacksonville an even better place. We would like to tell you more about this beautiful city we have served for over 30 years.

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WATER ACTIVITIES

With over 22 miles of beaches, Jacksonville is home to three beaches: Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and Neptune Beach. Our beach areas offer dining, entertainment, lodging, and recreational activities for the entire family. Fishermen have the best of both worlds in Jacksonville with freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities. You can even deep sea fish in the Atlantic Ocean. The St. Johns River flows through the city and provides a place to kayak and paddleboard.

ARTS AND CULTURE

Named as one of the top 25 destinations for the arts in this country, Jacksonville is home to several museum, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA). At MOCA, you will find over one thousand works of art, such as painting, photography, sculpture, and printmaking. You can also find live theater and live music throughout the city as well as festivals throughout the year that celebrate jazz, blues, and country music.

SPORTS

Sports fans have a lot to enjoy in Jacksonville. You can watch professional football by going to see a Jacksonville Jaguars game, and you can catch one of the biggest professional golf tournaments, THE PLAYERS Championship. Golfers can even play a round at the site of this tournament. Outdoor sports enthusiasts can enjoy biking, hiking, canoeing, surfing, and other activities along our scenic waterways.

HISTORY

Filled with multiculturalism, the history of Jacksonville can be found throughout the city. One of the city’s most important historical sites is Fort Mose, which was both the earliest legal settlements in America for free Africans and the precursor site to the Underground Railroad. For a deeper look at the history of Jacksonville, tour one of our historical museums, such as the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society that shows what life was like in 19th century Florida.

SHOPPING

Whether you prefer shopping at a mall, at locally-owned boutiques, along the beachside, or in a downtown setting, Jacksonville is filled with opportunities to shop until you drop. If you like to save money, you will enjoy shopping at our two outlet shopping centers. No matter your budget, shopping enthusiasts will love what our city has to offer.

Want to know more about Jacksonville? Contact Hudson Chimney to find out our favorite places and things to do in this beautiful city.

What Causes a Leaky Chimney?

Do you have a masonry chimney? If you do, you may already know that the likelihood of having a leaky chimney can be quite high. Why are masonry chimneys so likely to experience water leaks? The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) answers this question by stating that water is the biggest enemy of a masonry chimney. Every component of your chimney can possibly suffer expensive and extensive damage when water penetrates into your chimney. Stained ceilings or walls, loose bricks and chipped mortar on the exterior of your chimney, and musty or moldy odors coming from your fireplace are all signs of a leaky chimney. If you have seen any of these signs, it is crucial to contact a professional chimney company like Hudson Chimney to locate the source of the leak and make repairs so that your fireplace and chimney system can function safely and properly. But, what exactly can lead to a leaky chimney? We would like to tell you four problems that allow water to easily penetrate your chimney.

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1. DAMAGED OR MISSING CHIMNEY CAPS

Chimney caps are your least expensive preventive measures against water penetration because they cover the top of your chimney. Freezing temperatures and destructive animals trying to get into your chimney can cause cracks and other damage your chimney cap. When your chimney cap is damaged (or even worse, missing completely), water from rain and melted snow can easily get into the masonry work of the interior of your chimney. Hudson Chimney offers a wide variety of chimney caps, and our certified technicians can install a custom-fitted cap to protect your chimney from water leaks.

2. DETERIORATED CHIMNEY CROWNS

Located directly beneath the chimney cap, a chimney crown is constructed from concrete and used to seal the opening of your chimney. Unfortunately, your crown could be made from the wrong or ineffective material, or it could be improperly installed. In these situations, damage and deterioration will occur sooner than later, and you will have an opening to your chimney where water can easily enter. The masons at Hudson Chimney can repair damaged chimney crowns as well as correctly install custom-made crowns to keep the water out of your chimney.

3. DAMAGED FLASHING

Flashing is sheeting made from metal that is placed between your chimney and your roof to protect this area from water leaks. Easily improperly installed, not every chimney company will the time to customize the flashing itself for a perfect fit. Our technicians will customize flashing by carefully measuring each part of your chimney and its surrounding areas on your roof so that it fits exactly and leaves no holes or cracks, which allow water penetration of your chimney.

4. WORN OUT MORTAR JOINTS

Water deteriorates the essential mortar joints that hold your chimney together and creates holes and cracks within the masonry. In the winter, water trapped in your chimney freezes and thaws, which leads to the bricks breaking and crumbling, and this will cause even more water leak problems. Fortunately, Hudson Chimney can do masonry repairs using the tuck pointing process. Once we have completed these repairs, we can apply a waterproofing treatment that will ensure that your masonry work in your chimney is protected from any water leaks in the future.

Dealing with a leaky chimney? Contact Hudson Chimney to schedule a visit from one of our certified masons to fix your water penetration problems.

All About Chimney Swifts

If you have ever heard chattering, fluttering, and other noises coming from your chimney as the weather gets warmer, there is a good possibility that chimney swifts have taken over your chimney as their new home. These migratory birds are named for their habit of nesting in chimneys. Once a family of chimney swifts has nested in your chimney, it is illegal to remove them. Some of our customers choose to share their chimneys with these birds every year. However, Hudson Chimney is often asked how to prevent chimney swifts from setting up their summer homes in their chimneys, and we recommend installing a chimney cap with mesh siding to keep these birds from ever entering your chimney. We would like to tell you more about chimney swifts and what you can do about them nesting in your chimney.

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What exactly are chimney swifts?

According to the Driftwood Wildlife Association’s project to promote the conservation of chimney swifts, they are fascinating, adaptable birds who learned to nest and roost in chimneys when their native habitat of large hollow trees in forests of North America were cut down. The birds make their return from South America after their wintering is over, and as they are migratory, they tend to return to the same nesting area. However, if a family of chimney swifts does nest in your chimney, you should be aware that these birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and removing or destroying nests with eggs or young can result in fines and penalties.

What should I do if I would like to share my chimney with chimney swifts?

On the Driftwood Wildlife Association’s website, the article “Being a Good Chimney Swift Landlord” offers invaluable tips for those who do not mind sharing their chimney with these birds. Because they do only nest during the summer season, this article recommends having your chimney swept in mid-March to have all of the creosote build-up removed. An abundance of creosote deposits makes it impossible for the chimney swifts to build their nests to the walls without danger of falling. This article also stresses the importance of chimney swifts being protected by federal law and warns against chimney sweep businesses who illegally remove chimney swift nests and eggs. Be wary of companies who advertise “bird removal,” as this is a blatant violation of state and federal laws that protect migratory birds. Instead, choose a trusted company like Hudson Chimney to perform your annual chimney sweep. Even though the noises of the baby birds chirping for food can be shrill and annoying, they will not last forever. Remember that this is only temporary, and after this short period, you will practically not even realize the chimney shifts are there. However, be sure your damper is completely closed to keep them from flying into your house.

What should I do after the chimney swifts leave in the fall?

The nests of these birds are small, cup-shaped constructions of small twigs glued to chimney walls by the saliva of the chimney swifts. Too small to be a fire hazard, you will still need to contact Hudson Chimney to remove the nest after they leave in the fall. This is needed to remove bird parasites. Additionally, as chimney swifts tend to return to the same nesting spot, you do not want them to try to use the old nest as it will be unstable and probably collapse.

What if I want to prevent these birds from nesting in my chimney?

A good quality chimney cap that is equipped with mesh screening is the best prevention against chimney swifts moving into your chimney. Hudson Chimney sells and installs a variety of different caps, and we can advise you on the best time to install your new chimney cap.

Want to know more information about chimney swifts? Contact Hudson Chimney to learn more about these birds as well as about chimney cap installation.

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