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Chimney Sweeping Logs Are Not a Substitute for a CSIA Professional

Have you ever wondered why you need to have your chimney professionally swept annually? Of course, your chimney gets pretty dirty from regular fires in the fireplace, but soot and dust is not the most important reason for this maintenance task. Your chimney should be cleaned professionally once a year to remove the accumulated creosote from the inner walls of the flue. A compound that forms naturally as a result of the combustion process of burning wood, creosote is extremely flammable and is the main cause of chimney fires. It is essential to get all of the creosote out of your chimney so you can enjoy your fireplace without worrying about this fire hazard. You may have seen chimney sweeping logs, a product that claims to remove and reduce creosote from your chimney, and considered that they could be a substitute for a chimney sweeping by one of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney professionals from Hudson Chimney. However, this is not the case, and chimney sweeping logs can even lead to dangers in your home. We would like to tell you more about why you should never substitute a professional chimney cleaning by using chimney sweeping logs.

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WHAT CHIMNEY SWEEPING LOGS DO

Burning a chimney sweeping log in your fireplace or stove releases chemicals that use catalytic action to remove a portion of accumulated creosote from your chimney. These chemicals cause creosote to flake off and break away from the chimney wall. While this product does remove some of the creosote, the CSIA has its concerns. The claims of chimney sweeping logs are not completely accurate and can lull homeowners into a false sense of security.

THE RISKS OF CHIMNEY SWEEPING LOGS

As we said earlier, creosote is very flammable, so when pieces of creosote are falling down your chimney after flaking off, they could easily catch on fire and lead to a devastating chimney fire. Even if the creosote does not ignite on its way down, the pieces end up at the bottom of your chimney to gather on the smoke shelf and form together to cause yet another fire hazard. Any creosote remaining in your chimney, whether or not it is stuck to the walls of the flue, poses a dangerous fire hazard.

WHY A PROFESSIONAL CHIMNEY SWEEPING IS SO CRUCIAL

Firstly, you can trust our CSIA-certified sweeps at Hudson Chimney to completely remove all of the creosote from your chimney. We know far too well the dangers of creosote, and we take great care to be sure we have gotten all of the accumulated deposits out of your chimney. Not only do we thoroughly clean your chimney, but we also provide a professional inspection with every chimney sweeping. Our sweeps will closely examine the interior and exterior of your chimney to look for any damage that needs to be fixed for your fireplace and chimney to function effectively and safely. If any debris such as nests from birds and animals or leaves are blocking your chimney, we will also remove the blockage to prevent any accidental fires or carbon monoxide leaks.

Have you had your chimney professionally swept this year? Stay away from chimney sweeping logs, and contact us at Hudson Chimney to make an appointment for a safe chimney this winter.

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.

How Ivy Can Damage Your Chimney

Although the look of ivy climbing up your masonry chimney can be a beautiful sight, this climbing vine can actually damage its structure. Especially if your home was built before 1930, ivy may cause deterioration of the bricks and mortar of your chimney. Masons did not use mortar mixed with Portland cement to construct homes until after 1930, and the earlier mortar mixes are not nearly as strong and durable, according to Today’s Homeowner. Climbing vines like ivy can easily grow into any existing cracks in the bricks and mortar, and this growth can quickly worsen that damage. Our staff at Hudson Chimney knows that many people love the appearance of climbing vines growing against their chimneys, but we would like to tell you more about why ivy and other similar plants can damage your chimney.

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What kind of damage can ivy and other climbing vines do to my chimney?

Certain types of ivy such as English ivy grow very aggressively and will attach themselves into cracks and other eroded areas in the masonry materials of your chimney. Additionally, it can be challenging to even see spalling and erosion damage of the bricks and mortar when your chimney is covered by ivy. One of the biggest problems with ivy growing into your masonry chimney is that if you attempt to pull away any ivy growth to check for cracked or missing bricks, you risk the possibility of pulling down your entire chimney structure.

What can I do if I want to keep the ivy growing on my chimney?

Hudson Chimney can professionally inspect the condition of the masonry materials of your chimney to see if it can support the growth of climbing vines without suffering from further damage. Well-built masonry chimneys typically do not have problems with damage from ivy and other climbing vines. Our expert chimney technicians will know if your chimney was built with mortar containing Portland cement, and we will make any necessary repair recommendations that should be done that will allow you to keep your ivy growing against your chimney.

Does Hudson Chimney have any recommendations of better climbing vines to plant?

We do suggest that you avoid any aggressive vines such as English ivy. Virginia creeper and Boston ivy are great alternatives to consider planting. You can also keep these vines from growing directly against the chimney by installing a support made of wire, lattice, or trellis around your chimney. Non-attaching climbing vines such as roses, wisteria, clematis, and jasmine can easily grow along this type of support without any possible damage done to your chimney. Even better, you can move the support to make chimney inspections and repairs easier.

If your older chimney is covered with ivy, contact us at Hudson Chimney. We can inspect the condition of your chimney to be sure no damage has been done.

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.

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.

Diagnosing a Smelly Chimney

In the summer, our staff at Hudson Chimney gets a lot of questions from our customers asking why their chimneys are so smelly. Several things can be behind unpleasant chimney odors, and these bad smells entering your home through the chimney and fireplace are intensified by the heat and humidity of summertime. Our certified chimney sweeps are very experienced with stinky chimneys and fireplaces, and they understand how to get rid of any bad odors from your hearth. To help you understand how chimneys can be smelly enough to affect the living spaces of your home, we would like to tell you more about the reasons behind stinky chimneys.

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NEGATIVE AIR PRESSURE

How do unpleasant odors enter your home through the fireplace and chimney? The answer to this question is negative air pressure in your house. If you seal up your home too tightly during the weatherizing process to prepare for the summer by keeping the cold air conditioned air indoors, this can force smoky air to enter your home from the fireplace instead of exiting out the chimney because the air has no way of escaping. Our chimney technicians at Hudson Chimney know how to deal negative air pressure problems. We have found that installing a top-sealing damper will promote proper air circulation and eliminate issues with negative air pressure.

CREOSOTE

Creosote is a natural compound that forms as a result of the combustion and condensation processes that occur when burning wood, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). Made up of amorphous carbon, creosote clings to the inner walls of your chimney and will form large deposits if you allow them to accumulate by not scheduling a professional chimney sweeping every year to have them removed. These deposits are not just dangerous because they are extremely flammable, but they also smell badly. Creosote gives off a sour, acrid odor which is worsened by heat and humidity in the summer. Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps at Hudson Chimney can easily take care of this problem by performing a thorough chimney cleaning and removing the source of this unpleasant smell.

OTHER CAUSES OF BAD ODORS

If you notice musty odors, your chimney may be suffering from chimney leaks. To prevent water from rain and melted snow from penetrating your chimney to create bad smells, our chimney technicians at Hudson Chimney can protect your chimney from water leaks by installing a chimney cap on the top of your chimney. This chimney cap will also prevent birds and animals from getting into your chimney to nest, which also causes unpleasant odors. Debris from their nesting materials and their droppings can smell badly, and in a worst case scenario, a bird or animal could possibly get trapped within your chimney and even die. This situation will result in very unpleasant odors within your chimney that could affect the living spaces in your home.

Do you have a smelly chimney? If so, contact Hudson Chimney so we can diagnose the odor problems and make your living situation better.

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.

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