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Water Damage and Your Chimney

Since your chimney extends from your roof, it is exposed to all of the elements of weather, including rain and snow. While masonry chimneys are built to last the lifetime of a house, this constant exposure to water from rain and melted snow can cause damage and deterioration to a chimney, especially if it is neglected. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) claims that water is the biggest enemy of a masonry chimney and recommends regular maintenance to prevent expensive repairs due to water penetration damage and deterioration. Hudson Chimney would like to tell you more about how water damages your chimney and how we can help prevent this damage and deterioration.

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How can water damage my chimney?

According to the CSIA, all of the masonry materials that are used to build a chimney can suffer from accelerated damage after being exposed to water for a long period of time. Water causes the bricks and mortar to erode, and during the winter when the temperature drops below freezing, any water that has been absorbed into the bricks and mortar will freeze and expand. When the weather warms up, this water will thaw and cause the masonry materials to crack and break apart. This type of damage is also known as spalling, and if left unrepaired, it can lead to bricks and pieces of mortar falling from the chimney as well as the collapse of the entire structure. If water leaks into a chimney, it can also cause rusting damage to the liner, damper, and other metal components, and it can even damage the interior of your home by staining ceilings and walls.

How can Hudson Chimney protect my chimney from water damage?

Our CSIA-certified chimney technicians have several ways to prevent water penetration of your chimney: chimney caps, flashing, and waterproofing.

Called the least expensive way to prevent water penetration of a chimney, a chimney cap keeps water from even entering into your chimney. We have several different types of caps, and our chimney experts can help you find the perfect cap for your chimney and install the cap to completely cover the opening. Chimney caps have other benefits as well, including keeping birds and animals out of the chimney and preventing hot embers and sparks from jumping out of the chimney to ignite an accidental fire. We also have chimney caps that can help improve the draft in your chimney if you have problems with backdrafting.

Consisting of pieces of metal, flashing wraps around your chimney where it meets the roof to keep water from getting in at that point. In our years of working on chimneys, we have seen inadequate flashing systems that are coming apart and actually let water enter into the chimney. We construct customized flashing systems to completely protect your chimney from water penetration. We also work with state-licensed roofers to ensure the flashing fits correctly along the roof.

Using a 100% vapor permeable formula, our chimney technicians can waterproof your chimney by applying a coat of this formula to your entire chimney. We use ChimneySaver products that are designed especially for chimneys. This formula provides a barrier on your masonry chimney that keeps water from leaking into the bricks and mortar but allows fumes and vapors to easily escape so that they do not become trapped to cause further damage.

Protect your chimney from water damage this winter. Contact us at Hudson Chimney to schedule an appointment for one of our water penetration prevention services.

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.

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.

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!

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.

Does My Chimney Have Draft Issues?

Since your chimney is a venting system, draft issues can affect the performance of your fireplace and chimney. Draft problems can cause different outcomes, and repairing a draft issue depends on what is causing the problem. At Hudson Chimney, we often get calls from customers who are unsure if and how draft could be affecting their chimneys. We thought we would share some information from Mother Earth News  about how to tell if you have a drafty chimney and how to identify what is causing the problem.

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You have a hard time lighting a fire.

If you cannot seem to get a good fire burning in your fireplace, there is a good chance your chimney is too cold. Cold temperatures have an effect on chimney draft. If you feel cold air coming from your fireplace, you may need to prime the flue before starting a fire. Simply light a rolled-up newspaper and hold the flame as high as you can into your chimney until you can feel the draft reverse.

Smoke blows into your house from the fireplace.

Sometimes, this problem can be solved simply by repairing the damper to ensure it fully opens to allow smoke to properly exit out of the chimney. However, other things can lead to smoky fireplaces, including cold chimneys. The size of your flue can also cause draft issues that lead to smoke blowing into your home through the fireplace. If you only notice a smoky fireplace on windy days, you may need a new chimney cap to keep wind patterns from reducing the chimney flow. You can contact Hudson Chimney to take care of these problems that are causing draft issues for your chimney.

You notice unpleasant odors coming into your home from your fireplace.

If your home is noticeably smoky smelling and you are not burning a fire in your fireplace, negative air pressure is most likely the reason for the odor entering your house through the fireplace from the chimney. Many times when people weatherize their homes to heat and cool more efficiently, they can seal up windows and doors too tightly. This creates the need for more air to be brought into the home through the fireplace, and this air brings along the smoky smells of the chimney. An easy way to combat negative air pressure is to slightly open up a window to allow more air to enter the house.

Are you dealing with any of these chimney draft issues? Contact Hudson Chimney to schedule a consultation with our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps to professionally diagnose and solve this problem for you. We work hard to keep your fireplace and chimney working safely and properly.

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.

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