THE BLOG

02
Mar

 

Spring is just around the corner, and with the warmer weather comes some possible unforeseen fireplace and chimney maintenance needed! From critters to leaks, it’s important to have the upper hand to avoid larger problems down the road.

 

 Often, homeowners don’t even begin to think about having their fireplace and chimney cleaned or inspected until the colder weather decides to show face in the Fall. However, there are several reasons that Spring is the better choice!

  •  During the Fall our wait times for a chimney cleaning and inspection can book out up to two months in advance. By scheduling in the Spring, after you are done using your fireplace for the season, you will be ahead of the game when the cold weather hits – and no crazy wait times!
  • Inspections take a look at the entire operating system, to make sure there are no visible defects and safety standards are met. This allows us to make necessary adjustments or repairs if needed, prior to burn season. Allowing our customers to be able to enjoy their fireplace the entire season, without a hitch.
  • Spring brings along with it little critters, that love nothing more than to build their nest and have their babies in your fireplace chimney. As cute as baby birds, bats, raccoons, and squirrels are, most of us (I’d hope) would prefer if they did not take up residence in our homes. Having your fireplace and chimney inspected will allow us to ensure that a proper cap or top-sealing damper is installed at the top of the chimney, to keep the animals and debris out!
  • April Showers may bring May flowers, but they also bring leaks to unsuspecting homeowners. It is important to have the exterior chimney inspected to make sure that everything is sealed tightly, and there are no masonry, chimney flashing, chimney cap or chase top issues present.
  • What’s that smell?! If you have a woodburning fireplace it produces a substance called creosote. This tar-like substance sticks to the walls of the fireplace flue, it is what is cleaned off the flue when we perform a chimney cleaning. When the rain and humidity that comes along with the warmer weather reaches the creosote, it can cause an unpleasant odor in the home. Cleaning of the firebox and flue is the first step to ridding your home of this unpleasant odor.

 

Contact us for your free quote today! We would love to have one of our Certified and Fully Insured Chimney Technicians get you all squared away this Spring!

-Serving South East Wisconsin & North East Illinois –

 

11
Dec

Chimney Fires – Be In The Know!

This time of year there is nothing more enjoyable than cuddling up in front of your fireplace, and enjoying the Holiday season. Unfortunately for most of us, the last thought on our mind is the dangers that lurk in our fireplace and chimney. If proper maintenance and care are not a forethought, the enjoyment can be short lived. This is why annual chimney cleanings and/or inspections are so important!

When a flue has a buildup of creosote and hasn’t been properly maintained, it opens up the chance for a chimney fire to occur. Although the term “chimney fire” sounds as if the fire is contained to the chimney, they are capable of damaging structures, burning down homes, and can be a grave risk to homeowner’s and their families.

Chimney fires can be quiet and homeowners may not even know that they have occurred. Without enough oxygen and fuel to produce a dramatic fire, you may not even be aware that a chimney fire has occurred until your annual chimney inspection. Even though these chimney fires may not be as dramatic as their counterparts, the temperatures reached within the chimney are such, that damage can be done to the chimney structure itself and have the ability to make their way to the combustible portions of the home.

However, many chimney fires produce a low roaring sound. Often sounding similar to a jet engine or freight train in the middle of the home. They often produce mass amounts of dense black smoke, and neighbors may notice sparks and flames jetting out of the top of the chimney.
Not only can you both hear and see the chimney fire occurring, but you may notice a strong burning smell coming into the home.

If you are experiencing a chimney fire it is imperative that you contact the local emergency services by dialing 911.

Preventing A Chimney Fire

Wood burning fireplaces and wood stoves, provide a wonderful way to heat the home. However, you want to make sure that you are burning aged, dry, hard woods. Well-seasoned firewood enables the wood to burn hotter and cleaner. Too much moisture, and you will be sacrificing the amount of heat available to the home and will increase the amount of creosote buildup in the chimney.

A chimney’s job is to effectively move smoke out of the house as rapidly as possible. This means you want to make sure that your damper is open, and you are allowing enough air through to allow the smoke to be drawn up and out. A smooth transition in the smoke chamber, also helps with helping the smoke not to linger. The longer it takes the smoke to vacate the chimney, the more creosote buildup you will find.

Have your chimney and fireplace cleaned and inspected annually! CSIA recommends having your fireplace cleaned and inspected approximately every cord and a half of wood. If you are using your wood burning fireplace/woodstove to heat your home for the entire Winter season, you may need to have service provided more frequently.

23
Feb

Leaks – Your Chimney May Be The Cause…

With the Spring warm up in the not too distant future, leaks are an ever looming problem for homeowners. Often homeowners will contact their local roof repair company in hopes to stop a leak, but don’t be surprised when they refer you out to your local CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep!

Water intrusion is one of your masonry chimney’s worst enemy, and here in N.E Illinois and S.E Wisconsin, between the rain and snow we see a lot of it! Maintaining proper preventative measures, as well as catching any potential leaks early, you can help to prolong the life of your masonry chimney. Helping to prevent costly repairs down the road. One of the best ways to keep your masonry chimney in tip-top shape, is to keep up with your annual chimney safety inspection, with a CSIA Certified company.

We here at Pratt’s have decades of experience both preventing and repairing chimney leaks, in local area homes. The most common reasoning for leaks are as follows:

Do You Have A Chimney Cap?

Often referred to as a rain cap or spark arrestor, the metal cap that sits atop of your chimney is one of the first steps to preventing water, debris, and animals from entering your chimney. When your rain cap is missing or damaged there is nothing stopping the moisture from  coming down the chimney, and even into your firebox. Here at Pratt’s Chimney we do install Stainless Steel chimney caps, which help to make sure that the weather we do experience, is not able to corrode and rust the caps. Allowing them to be long lasting tools in preventing damage from outside sources.

Is Your Crown Cracked?

Located at the top of your masonry chimney you should find a concrete shelf known as the concrete crown. It’s job, is to protect the chimney and flue underneath. Slightly angled, and overhanging by several inches, your chimney crown also helps to wick water away from the brick/masonry underneath.  Often when subjected to freeze/thaw cycles, you will find that the expanding and contracting of the masonry materials will cause cracks in the concrete crown. Often these cracks start small and if caught early enough, are able to be sealed with CrownCoat, which helps prevent moisture from entering into the brick of the chimney. When these cracks are allowed to continue to expand, you will often notice a leak and even parts of the crown beginning to crumble away.

Bricks & Mortar Deteriorating?

When it comes to your bricks and mortar joints, once cracked they become much more absorbent. Water can seep in through cracks causing a leak on the interior of your chimney as well as further deterioration of the structure of the chimney. When caught early enough we are often able to tuck-point the chimney, or cut and replace brick. If it goes on long enough it can eventually lead to needing an entire rebuild of the chimney as well as other costly repairs.

Has Your Flashing Pulled Away From The Chimney?

Flashing is located at the base of your chimney, creating the seamless conversion between masonry and roofing. Its purpose is to prevent water from seeping between the chimney and roofing causing unsightly leaks into the home. While still allowing the masonry to expand and contract with temperature changes. Many times, after wear and tear from the elements, said flashing will pull away from the chimney masonry. Often, if you are not yet at the point of needing to be completely replaced, we are able to seal the flashing to help prevent or stop leaks.

Preventative Maintenance…

The most important preventive maintenance for leaks,  is waterproofing (sealing) the brick.  We use a sealant manufactured by Chimsaver. Chimsaver is a water based sealant that is warrantied for TEN YEARS!  If you have never had your masonry chimney waterproofed give us a call. It will be the most important Spring-leak maintenance you can have done.

 

 

 

 

15
Feb

What To Expect With Your Pratt’s Chimney Cleaning

You’ve taken the first step as a responsible fireplace/chimney owner, and scheduled a cleaning and inspection with one of our certified techs! Now what?

To help, we have put together a step by step guide to help walk you through how to prepare and what to expect during your cleaning.

Before Your Appointment: 

  • We do ask that 24 hours prior to your chimney cleaning and inspection, that you do not have a fire in your fireplace. This allows the chimney to cool to a temperature that allows our technicians to clean properly without risk to our tools and the techs themselves.
  • It is helpful to make a list of any questions or concerns you may have, for our technicians to go over at time of service.

When We Arrive:

When our technicians arrive one of our main concerns is making sure that when we leave, we leave your home soot and dust free. Our technicians take special care in, laying drop cloths to protect your carpets/flooring from any dust/debris and running their Triple HEPA Filtered Vacuum during the entirety of the cleaning.

After taking the proper precautions, our technicians will begin the inspection/cleaning process. With our cleanings we do ask for about an hour of your time, this allows the technicians plenty of time to fully inspect and clean the firebox and flue, as well as address any questions or concerns either you or the technician may have. If you are new to owning a fireplace please do not hesitate to let us know! Our techs will be more than happy to do a complimentary 4-1-1 session to make sure you know how to use your particular set up properly and as efficiently as possible.

With Pratt’s you will receive a thorough and detailed cleaning, and be provided a full top to bottom Safety Inspection. This is to make sure your fireplace and chimney are up to code and that there are no visual defects, making it unsafe to use. If an issue is noted our technicians will provide an estimate for repairs and do have camera capability to provide pictures whenever possible. We strive and hold all of our technicians to a standard of service we would want to have in our own homes. Safety for your family and home are our top priority!

 

If you have yet to schedule your chimney cleaning and inspection and would like to do so, please feel free to fill out the contact form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible!

Contact Us!

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