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Common Issues Found During Chimney Inspections

Everyone knows that an annual chimney inspection is the best way to make sure that your fireplace and chimney system are safe and working efficiently. When you hire a quality chimney service like Owens Chimney Systems, you can be sure that every aspect of your chimney will be inspected. If there is anything that needs to be repaired or cleaned, we will make sure that it gets taken care of thoroughly and in a timely manner. But you may want to know exactly what a thorough chimney inspection means.

What Will Your Chimney Technician Be Looking For?Common Issues Found In Chimneys Image - Charlotte NC - Owens Chimney

There are many things that your chimney sweep will be looking for. First off, they will begin by looking for a dangerous level of creosote buildup. Creosote develops when the smoke from your wood fire drifts up the chimney and hits the colder surface of the interior closer to the top. That smoke contains formaldehyde, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, benzene, other chemicals, and water vapor. When that water vapor hits the cool chimney surface, it condenses and forms creosote, and that’s trouble because it’s highly flammable. Your chimney technician will remove that creosote so that it doesn’t catch a stray spark and start a dangerous chimney fire.

The chimney technician will also be looking for obstructions, like trash, twigs or dried leaves that may have blown into your chimney. Another obstruction might be a bird’s nest or squirrel’s nest left behind; many times these creatures will build a nest in your chimney to keep their young out of the wind and also safe from predators. When they move out, the nest is left to dry out. These obstructions are also dangerous spark catchers.

Another thing that your chimney technician will be looking for is structural damage. This can be from an undetected chimney fire, which could cause your mortar and bricks to be weakened and unsteady. They will also look for damage to particular parts of your chimney and fireplace, like the flashing, the chimney crown, the damper system, or the firebox. Sometimes something as simple as precipitation can hit these parts and wear them down. Or if that rain turns into sleet, you may be seeing mortar damage from the freeze-thaw cycle. In this case, the precipitation gets into the pores of the mortar and then freezes and expands, which causes those pores to get bigger, and this in turn weakens the mortar. Over time, this will cause weakening of the chimney’s structure.

Just a Good Cleaning

Whether your chimney has creosote buildup, structural damage, or just needs a good cleaning, you’ll want to call in a chimney sweeping company that you can trust, and that company is Owens Chimney Systems. We are CSIA certified and hold numerous awards and certifications. Call us today and schedule an inspection so that you can spend long, cozy evenings worry free in front of your safe fire.

Published by James Owens on November 16th, 2017 and tagged with: Tags: , , | No Comments

Chimney Relining and Restoration

Were you, as a chimney owner, aware that your chimney has a liner? Many people aren’t, and yet this is such an important part of your chimney. When you hire an excellent, highly qualified chimney service like Owens Chimney Systems to inspect your chimney, you can be sure that this will be something we are checking.

What is the Lining?Chimney Relining and Restoration Image - Charlotte NC - Owens Chimney

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, a chimney liner is “A clay, ceramic, or metal conduit installed inside of a chimney, intended to contain the combustion products, direct them to the outside atmosphere, and protect the chimney walls from heat and corrosion.” In other words, it’s a liner for the inside of your chimney that will direct the smoke up and out of your house while protecting the chimney from the damaging effects of the smoke and fire. When you think about how important your chimney is, you can definitely understand why it’s so important that this liner isn’t damaged.

What Can Damage the Liner?

The first thing your chimney inspector will need to know is what your chimney liner is made of. Traditionally, chimney liners were made of clay tiles. Over time, however, many clay liners were replaced with stainless steel – and that’s a good thing. Stainless steel liners are less susceptible to damage from the corrosive effects of creosote buildup. They can also withstand the effects of a quick heat up from your fire with less damage than clay tiles. Not only can heat and smoke damage your chimney liner, but so can the freeze-thaw cycle damage your clay tile liner.

No Liner?

Some chimneys may not have a liner, especially if the chimney is an old chimney. If this is the case in your home, you are facing a potentially dangerous situation. In fact, according to the CSIA website, it’s almost a criminal situation to let your chimney stand without a chimney liner. A chimney without a chimney liner can cause structural damage to occur.

What To Do?

The first and most important thing for you to do when it comes to your chimney liner is to give Owens Chimney Systems a call. We will give your entire fireplace and chimney a thorough inspection, including looking at the state of your chimney liner. If they determine that your chimney liner is constructed of clay tiles and that these tiles aren’t in the best condition, we may recommend that you replace this with a stainless steel liner. If this is the case, our technicians will be able to do this job in a knowledgeable, professional manner using the highest quality liner. We’ll also be looking to see if your chimney has undergone structural damage, and recommend any needed restorations or repairs. If this is the case, we have the experience and expertise to do the job right! No matter what the circumstances, the best call you can make is to Owens Chimney Systems!

Published by James Owens on November 2nd, 2017 and tagged with: Tags: , , , | No Comments

Thinking About Switching to Gas?

There’s just something about a beautiful wood fire. The crackling and popping of the wood, the smell of burning wood, the itchy eyes from the smoke, the sore back from cutting wood…wait a minute! For some people, a wood fire is amazing. They love going out in the great outdoors, cutting down trees and chopping up the wood. Starting a wood fire is therapy for them, part of the relaxation process. But for other people, it’s all about sitting in front of the flame. For those people, it might be time to think about replacing that wood burning fireplace with a gas burning insert.

Pros of Converting to Gas

Thinking About Switching to Gas - Charlotte, NC - Owens Chimney SystemsAs mentioned above, one disadvantage of burning wood is a smoke filled room. If you or a loved one suffers from asthma or another lung disorder, a smoke filled room can be more than just an inconvenience, it can mean a trip to the emergency room. When you burn wood in your fireplace, water vapor, gases, and chemicals such as benzene, acetaldehyde, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are released into the air. While most of this goes up the chimney, some gets back into the house. In addition, if the wood is too wet, lots of smoke is produced and the room could get very smoky. If you already have a lung condition, these particles can aggravate it. Switching to gas will alleviate this problem by getting rid of the wood. You can also leave the glass doors shut when you use gas, so the fireplace exhausts to the outdoors.

Another issue with burning firewood is inconvenience. Sometimes you have plenty of time to lay the wood and to set the kindling and to make sure the fire keeps burning. But sometimes you don’t. Think of the times when you’ve just wanted to sit down and enjoy a fire without all the fuss. Gas gives you that option. With a flick of a switch, you can turn a gas fire on and off. No mess, no fuss, no time spent building and maintaining a fire.

Get A Level 2 Inspection

If you’re thinking of switching from wood to gas, call Owens Chimney Systems to schedule a Level 2 inspection. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) requires Level 2 inspections after changing your heating system. Whether you decide to use a gas insert, vented gas logs, or vent-free gas logs, make sure to call qualified, experienced professionals like those at Owens Chimney Systems. Each of these options has things which make them a good option. For example, a gas insert or vent-free gas log is a great choice for desired warmth. If you don’t care about heating your home, but just like the look of a fire, a great choice is vented gas logs. Whichever choice you make, the choice of who to call to install and inspect takes no thought: Owens Chimney Systems. Call today for that Level 2 inspection – before the calendar fills up!

Published by James Owens on October 19th, 2017 and tagged with: Tags: , , | No Comments

Causes of Chimney Leaks

There’s not much worse than getting a leak – whether it’s in the washing machine hose, the roof, or the dishwasher. These tend to be pretty easy to detect and, usually, they’re pretty easy to fix as well. Even if you have to call in a professional, it’s usually not a ‘rip up the house’ type of job. If your chimney leaks, however, you might be looking at a major repair job. It’s absolutely best to stay on top of chimney repairs so that it doesn’t end up being a long, expensive job.

Signs Your Chimney Is LeakingCauses of Chimney Leaks Image - Charlotte NC - Owens Chimney System

So, how do you know that your chimney is leaking anyway? There are several things you can look for. If your damper assembly or your fireplace accessories are rusty – that might be a sign that something is leaking. Another sign of leaks can be found by looking at the mortar and bricks of your chimney. If this area is flaky or crumbly, it could be that there is a leak somewhere. Also, look around the fireplace. If the wallpaper or paint around the chimney looks bubbly or weak, or if the ceiling is weak and discolored, you could very well have a leak in your chimney.

What Could Be Causing Those Leaks

And now, to get to the heart of the matter: what might be causing those leaks? There are several different places that your chimney could be leaking. First, let’s consider the flashing. The flashing is designed to provide a seal between your chimney and the roof. When bad weather hits, high winds, hail…that can cause some damage to the flashing. Over time, it can cause small holes to appear, or, in cases of severe weather, it can cause it to come loose. If this happens, the seal is broken, and you will have leaks.

Another thing that could be causing leaks is a broken, cracked chimney cap. The chimney cap is designed to keep things out of your chimney – whether that is animals, garbage, twigs, and leaves, or precipitation. So when that cap gets cracked or worn, you’re at risk for water leaks running down your chimney, causing damage to the interior of your chimney.

The chimney crown is also at the top of your chimney, but its purpose is to protect the outside of your chimney from the wearing effects of precipitation. So if your chimney crown is damaged, or if you don’t have a chimney crown, you are risking having your chimney’s exterior exposed to the weathering that rain can cause on the bricks and mortar of your chimney.

Call in the Professionals

Whatever the cause of your leaky chimney, your best defense is a good offense. And in this case, your offense comes in the form of the quality, professional service you’ll get from Owens Chimney Systems. We’ll be able to inspect your chimney and find the source of any leaks, and then repair what needs fixing. Give us a call today!

Published by James Owens on October 5th, 2017 and tagged with: Tags: , , | No Comments

Protect Your Chimney With A Chimney Cap

Do you know what the number one cause of issues with your fireplace and chimney system is? If you’re thinking creosote build-up, think again. How about obstructions, such as nests, dried papers, dried twigs, and leaves, or even dead animals? Nope.

Using the wrong type of wood or wood that hasn’t been cured long enough? No and no. The thing that can, over time, cause the most damage to your chimney is simply this: water.

The Damaging Effects of PrecipitationProtect Your Chimney With A Chimney Cap Image - Charlotte NC - Owens Chimney

Rain is such a great thing when we need it… It leaves the ground green and the air smelling fresh. But rain can damage your chimney. It wears away at the brick and mortar and, if your chimney structure isn’t stable, can get in the cracks and trickle into the actual fireplace. Even a slow, indiscernible leak can cause big problems as it wears away at the interior of your chimney. If you happen to notice that the wallpaper or paint around your fireplace is starting to peel or flake, chances are you have a leak.

Other elements of your chimney can be damaged as well. Things that may happen include water trickling down, your dampers could rust, the wood surrounding your fireplace could rot, or your hearth support could collapse. By leaving the damage unrepaired, you could be looking at major chimney repairs, and that’s hard on the old pocketbook!

Protection From Rain, Sleet, and Snow

You may wonder how to protect your chimney from the effects of precipitation. After all, you can’t stop the rain from falling! You can, however, add protection to your chimney by installing a chimney cap. A chimney cap is designed to keep rain out of your chimney and to keep flying sparks or embers from getting out of your chimney and onto your roof. It has the added benefit of keeping animals out as well!

A chimney cap fits over the top of your chimney, shielding the interior from the wearing effects of precipitation. It is very important that you get the right sized chimney cap to fit your chimney so that if doesn’t interfere with draft while still keeping critters and precipitation out. So is it possible to find a chimney cap that fits your chimney exactly? You bet it is!

Custom Fitted Chimney Caps

You may worry that you won’t be able to find the perfect fitting chimney cap for your chimney. We at Owens Chimney Systems have the solution to that problem: we don’t just sell chimney caps, we manufacture them as well. We offer a wide variety of styles and sizes so that you know you have the perfect chimney cap for your chimney. If you’re not 100% sure what would work best for your home, we can offer expert advice to make sure you’re satisfied.

If you’re in the market for a chimney cap, whether as a replacement for a broken cap or because you don’t have one, Owens is the business to call. From choosing a cap to installation, we can offer you a quality experience that’ll leave your chimney protected.

Published by James Owens on September 21st, 2017 and tagged with: Tags: , , | No Comments

Dangers of Using Your Fireplace Without an Inspection

There are definitely some things that you shouldn’t put off. If you put off getting your tires changed, you might end up on the side of the road with a blow-out. If you put off getting your roof fixed, you end up with lots of leaks. But if you put off getting your chimney inspected, there are several dangers you might face.

Chimney FireDangers of Using Your Fireplace Without an Inspection Image - Charlotte NC - Owens Chimney System

One of the dangers of not having your chimney inspected on an annual basis is a chimney fire. There’s more than one way that you could be facing this danger. The big thing you usually associate with causing a chimney fire is creosote build-up. Creosote makes a mess, there’s no doubt of that, but that’s not the only problem with this black, nasty substance that’s left on your chimney’s interior in the wake of the smoke escaping your chimney.

Creosote is extremely flammable and leaving it in your chimney fire season after fire season is just asking for a chimney fire. This can sometimes be a roaring, crackling, terrifying fire which causes a house fire, but more likely, it can be something that takes place that you don’t even realize is happening. This is a dangerous situation because there could be structural damage that needs to be addressed and you don’t even realize it exists.

Another danger of not having that chimney inspected is fire because of obstructions. If you don’t get your chimney inspected, you could have dry nests, dried leaves, and twigs, or even just paper and other garbage left in your chimney, and when you light a fire, any random spark could cause a chimney fire.

Structural Damage

Have you ever brought your car into the garage because you just can’t figure out what’s wrong with it? Everything looks good to you, but it just isn’t running smoothly. The same can be said of your fireplace and chimney system. Although it might look just fine, your chimney could have suffered damage from a hidden chimney fire, from severe weather conditions, or just from everyday wear and tear. If you have structural damage, you could have leaks, which will just cause more damage, both to your chimney and to the interior of your home. Not only this but if your chimney is too damaged, you could be allowing dangerous carbon monoxide to build up in your home rather than escaping through the chimney. And if there’s damage on the outer edge of your chimney, you might just have falling bricks to watch out for!

Don’t Neglect Your Inspection

The simple solution to these problems is just this: call Owens Chimney Systems today and schedule your annual inspection before the fall rush hits. Don’t get caught with an unsafe chimney when you could have our CSIA certified professionals checking out all the cracks and crevices, making sure that no dangers are left undiscovered.

Published by James Owens on September 7th, 2017 and tagged with: Tags: , , | No Comments

Beat the Fall Rush and Schedule Your Chimney Sweeping Now

These last days of summer are so precious! It’s time to take one last trip to the beach before the chilly days of winter. In the midst of all the business, there’s one job that you best not neglect – getting your chimney inspected and cleaned before you’re ready to use your fireplace again!

What Will An Inspector Do?Beat the Fall Rush and Schedule Your Chimney Sweeping Now Image - Charlotte NC - Owens Chimney

One of the things your inspector will be looking for is creosote. When you burn a fire in your fireplace, the smoke that is released up your chimney contains a lot of different substances:
“water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles, hydrocarbon, tar fog and assorted minerals”. When the smoke hits the top of your chimney, where the bricks and mortar are cooler, the vapor condenses and forms creosote. Creosote is thick and sticky, or maybe even hard and a shiny substance which just happens to be incredibly flammable. If this substance gets to be an eighth of an inch or more, the Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that you have your chimney cleaned.

Another thing that your chimney inspector will be looking for is obstructions of any kind that might put your chimney at risk for a chimney fire. If you’ve waited until the end of the summer to get your chimney cleaned, you might have several things in your chimney that could easily cause a fire. This includes debris or old papers that have blown into your chimney, dry leaves or twigs, or even bird or other animal nests.

Because your chimney is dark and out of the way of the wind, precipitation, and other predators, it makes an ideal place for an animal or bird to raise their young. When the happy family moves out, the nest remains, getting dryer and dryer. When you light a fire, a spark could reach that obstruction and start a chimney fire. It’s very important that these obstructions be removed so that your home and family stay safe and sound.

Chimney Fires

Did you know that your chimney can have structural damage? It looks like an incredibly sturdy structure, and it actually is. But over time, all things can have damage from wear and tear and weathering, your chimney included. Another little-known fact is that you can have a chimney fire without even realizing it. Your chimney inspector will also be looking for any type of structural damage that will need to be repaired before you use your fireplace.

Hire CSIA Certified Professionals

Now is the time to get a call in to schedule your chimney inspection and cleaning – before the big fall rush hits. Make sure you call CSIA certified professionals like those at Owens Chimney Service to make sure that you have top-notch service from highly experienced technicians.

Published by James Owens on August 18th, 2017 and tagged with: Tags: , , | No Comments

Twenty-first Century Hearth Appliances

Fireplaces have been giving people pleasure for years. Early in our country’s history, homes were heated by crackling fires in the fireplace, but no one ever claimed that these fireplaces were efficient or even that effective. Over time, as furnaces became the way to heat homes, fireplaces became more of a luxury used as a place of comfort, but not used for heating a home. In recent years, however, fireplaces have undergone many transformations, and they are not only decorative but can add real value in the form of helping to heat your home.

Gas Burning AppliancesTwenty-first Century Hearth Appliances Image - Charlotte NC - Owens Chimney

One trend in 21st-century heating appliances is using gas as a heat source. This can include gas stoves, gas inserts, or even gas fireplaces. But what are the benefits of using gas? One of the obvious advantages of gas as a heating source is convenience. You don’t have gather logs or clean up their mess after. Push a button and the flame appears. Gas is also a relatively cheap fuel source. For some people, the inexpensive convenience is great. But the best reason for burning natural gas is the effect that gas has on the environment.

According to Project Greenify, “the dirty truth is that wood burning fireplaces emit 28 lbs of particulate emissions per MMBtu(s) of heat output (soot and ash) as opposed to natural gas which produces up to 99% less (about .28 lbs/MMBtu). This means that natural gas fireplaces pose less of a risk of in-home air pollution or smoking out one’s neighbors as well.” In today’s world, this is something that everyone needs to take into consideration.

Converting Your Current Fireplace

The question that you might be asking is, can my current non-efficient fireplace be converted to a more money and heating efficient appliance? The answer is yes. Your fireplace can be converted to whatever type of fuel you’re interested in using: pellets, propane, or natural gas. A properly fitted insert causes your fireplace to actually facilitate combustion. This means you will be able to use your fireplace to actually heat your room without worrying about heat escaping up your chimney.

Call Owens Chimney Systems

If you’re looking to convert your fireplace to a more efficient heating source, call us at Owens Chimney Systems. Whether it’s adding a gas insert into a pre-existing fireplace or doing a total remodel by adding a gas fireplace or gas stove, you can count on us to give you great advice on what will work best in your home. And after you’ve made a decision, you can trust our professionalism and expertise to install your new product. Call us and you’ll soon be enjoying your fireplace without worrying about your money going right up to the chimney!

Published by James Owens on August 4th, 2017 and tagged with: Tags: , , , , | No Comments

Have Your Gas Fireplace Professionally Serviced

If you own a wood burning fireplace, it’s pretty clear the effects burning a fire has on your chimney. The smoke that is released has plenty of gases and chemicals that can stick to the inside of your chimney in the form of soot and creosote. This is why the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends having your chimney inspected and cleaned on an annual basis. If you own a gas fireplace, you might think that inspection and cleaning aren’t as important. Gas burns clean, right? Why add the expense of an annual inspection and cleaning to your budget? If this is the way you’ve been thinking, please think again!

Advantages of Gas Burning FireplacesHave Your Gas Fireplace Professionally Serviced Image - Charlotte NC - Owens Chimney

The first advantage that comes to mind when considering a gas burning fireplace is the convenience factor. Let’s face it – finding trees that need to be cut down, cutting them down, cutting up the wood into usable-sized pieces, transporting and unloading and stacking that wood – we’re not talking about just a little time and effort here. Although this can be a satisfying workout, sometimes you just don’t have the time. With a natural gas fireplace, this effort is non-existent. You push a button and you have a fire. It’s as easy as that.

Another great thing about gas is that there’s a lot less mess. You don’t have to scoop out ashes once a week, and you don’t have the soot and creosote build-up you’ll have with wood. To top it off, gas is a cheap fuel, which means that, unless you have ready access to free firewood, you’ll be saving some money when you choose gas over wood.

Cleaning Your Gas Fireplace

So if burning gas is, indeed, a cleaner option, why is yearly servicing important? According to the CSIA website there are a couple of good answers to that.

First, your gas appliance will run more efficiently than a wood fire, and that means cooler. While that’s good when it comes to your heating bills, it’s not so great when it comes to combustion. In order to have enough draft to make your venting system work properly, it needs to get to a sufficient heat level. It’s important that you have your gas appliance checked by a professional to make sure that level is met, or you may be putting your family at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Second, when not enough heat is generated, the interior of your chimney will remain cool. This allows the water vapor that is produced from burning in your fireplace to condense on the cooler surface. When this happens, it can cause corrosion on the interior of your chimney, which can lead to a dangerous breakdown in the makeup of your chimney. This, again, can put your family in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Professional Service

If you haven’t had your gas fireplace serviced in awhile, now’s the time to call in professional help. We at Owens Chimney Systems are dedicated to ensuring that your gas fireplace system is clean, safe, and in great condition to give you a beautiful, efficient experience.

Published by James Owens on July 21st, 2017 and tagged with: Tags: , , , | No Comments

Advantages of Summer Chimney Repairs

Winter weather is great for some things. Skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, making snow angels – all of these things just couldn’t happen in the summertime. Summertime has some things that just aren’t as much fun in the winter, as well. You’d get pretty chilly walking around in shorts and a tank top, and swimming just isn’t as much fun once the weather dips below 65 or 70 degrees. Even picnics are more fun when the weather is warm!

Another thing that is better accomplished once the weather turns warm is having your chimney repaired. Here are some reasons why!

TuckpointingSummer Chimney Repairs Image - Charlotte NC - Owens Chimney Systems

The mortar of your chimney, like practically anything else, is going to suffer from weathering. The drumming of rain or sleet on the mortar that holds your brick, block, or stone chimney together will cause it to wear down and become unstable, and that can cause a dangerous situation for a homeowner. The process of removing that mortar and replacing it with new is called tuckpointing. This is a job that is best done during the warm summer days.

Mortar is directly affected by the temperature. In the cold winter weather, your mortar will have a slower hydration. When the water in the mortar freezes it will expand and cuase your mortar to crack. This is not to say that it is impossible to do mortar replacement during the winter. However, there are many steps which must be taken, and the price of repairs will increase. Add to this the possibility that the mortar may not set right or freezing may occur which will damage the consistency of the mortar, and it just doesn’t seem like it is worth the risk – instead, have it repaired now, when the temperatures make it an easier repair job.

Flashing Repair

If you’ve noticed that your chimney is starting to leak around the fireplace, it is most likely that you’ve have some type of damage to your chimney flashing. Chimney flashings are the metal sheets that you can see around where your chimney meets your shingles, and it plays an extremely important role in making sure that leaks don’t occur. Many times a chimney isn’t actually attached to the frame of the house, and so, when the normal settling that happens in every house occurs, cracks can appear and leaks will then happen. Flashing is also susceptible to normal wear and tear from the weather, and it can also rust through. When that happens, you’ll probably notice leaks starting to occur.

The process of having your flashing repaired is best accomplished during the warm summer months simply because it’s easier for your chimney repairman to get on your roof when there isn’t snow or ice present. Also, outdoor work is safer for our team during the summer months.

Call Owens Chimney Systems!

Whatever the chimney repair job is that you are considering having done this summer, or if you need an initial inspection, give us a call at Owens Chimney Systems  to make sure that the job is done right!

Published by James Owens on July 6th, 2017 and tagged with: Tags: , , , | No Comments