Ropes Training – Raising the Standard of Safety

July 7, 2019 | A Day in the Life

Long time, no updates! We have made it a top priority this year to attend as many hands on training classes as possible to stay at the top of the industry. One of the most important classes we have attended so far this Summer is ropes training and safety. Jim Brewer is a legend in the chimney sweep industry and our team recently made the visit to train with him at the Fire Service & Codes Enforcement Academy in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. The two day class went over basic safety precautions, proper ways to protect a clients roof while using ropes, knots, and most importantly hands on training at the Academy. The reality of our industry is that most sweeps are inspecting a home or performing a repair alone. Using the old style OSHA safety harness, if you fall off a roof alone you have no way to self rescue … Continued

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Remodeling Dangers – Potential Issues With Factory Built Fireplaces

February 23, 2019 | Chimney Basics

Avoiding Issues with Combustibles When remodeling a home with a fireplace, certain safety issues arise if proper care is not taken during the process. Factory built (prefabricated) fireplaces all come with very specific instructions as to where combustibles can and can’t be placed. This is where having or obtaining the manufacturers installation instructions is key. Fireplace Remodeling Step one Step one should always be finding the installation manual specific to your fireplace. The easiest way to find your installation guide is looking inside of the fireplace firebox for the data plate. Your data plate will provide you with the manufacturer and model of the fireplace and then you can typically find the manual online. If the data plate is no longer visible, painted over, or not found, contact your local chimney professional and they may be able to help. Fireplace Remodeling Step Two Now that you have your manual, make … Continued

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The Return of the Chimney Swift

February 23, 2019 | Chimney Basics

Did you have a problem with birds in your chimney last year? Make sure to have a proper chimney cap installed before the Spring this year to avoid that problem again. You may have read in one of my previous blogs about the chimney swift, a migratory bird that is very prevalent in our area. As much as we would like to protect our Chimney Swifts, it is not healthy to have them in your chimney. Dangers of Birds in Your Chimney The number one danger that comes to mind is Histoplasmosis. Histoplasmosis is a type of lung infection. It is caused by inhaling Histoplasma capsulatum fungal spores. These spores are found in soil and in the droppings of bats and birds. This fungus mainly grows in the central, southeastern, and mid-Atlantic states. Bird Mites – A tiny mite that is only half-millimeter long in size is often carried by Chimney Swifts. Once … Continued

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The daily battle for a chimney sweep, staying clean

January 20, 2019 | A Day in the Life

Daily and Long-Term Hazards Staying safe is a constant concern for a chimney sweep. Not only are we on roofs, in attics, and crawl spaces, we also have to worry about the hazardous long-term effects of creosote to our bodies and prevent inhalation and interaction as much as possible. Creosote is a natural byproduct of combustion but it comes with a nasty side effect for humans with long-term exposure to it, cancer. Skin cancer, lung cancer, and testicular cancer are the most common for a chimney Sweep to content with. Skin cancer from constant cleaning and repairing systems covered in creosote and let’s not forget clothing. Lung cancer from inhaling creosote while sweeping a system or even after the service with soot floating around in the work vehicle. Testicular cancer you would think would be the strange one but take into consideration the amount of creosote that can get trapped … Continued

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Carbon Monoxide

January 13, 2019 | A Day in the Life

  Let’s talk about a very serious topic, Carbon Monoxide (CO). Carbon Monoxide is a odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas that can be deadly to humans and animals. Carbon Monoxide is a natural byproduct of combustion and one of the purposes of why things such as fireplaces, gas dryers, and furnaces have venting systems to get deadly gases out of the home. According to the CDC, each year more than 400 Americans die from unintentional Carbon Monoxide poisoning, 20,000 visit the emergency room, and over 4,000 are hospitalized. This a a staggering number that could be drastically reduced with the installation of Carbon Monoxide detectors in the home. Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning – Dizziness – Feeling weak – Headache – Upset stomach – Vomiting – Confusion – Chest pains Symptoms are often described as “flu-like” and sleeping or drunk individual are more likely to die from Carbon Monoxide poisoning … Continued

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Metal surrounds

January 12, 2019 | A Day in the Life

Popular around the 1980’s, the metal surround can be seen throughout Jacksonville and Northeast Florida. Some of these systems are still operational and one potential hazard of the metal surround is its tendency to trap combustibles around the flue termination, something that can be a huge potential fire hazard. A typical metal surround: Now for a look inside the surround: This is what I typically see around the surround, keep in mind this is a high heat area where the flue gases terminate. Here is where it gets a little more complicated.. some surrounds have exposed outer flue liners so if you try to clean the surround out without dismantling the upper section, you can push debris into the liner where it drops down towards the interior fireplace and is now stuck between the liners! Another potential issue that comes up with this design is they do not come with … Continued

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Ever wonder what it looks inside a masonry chimney?

January 10, 2019 | A Day in the Life

Due to a collapsed top crown, here is a good look. This shows what eventually happens when deterioration wins the battle against a chimney crown. Once we reach this point massive amounts of water intrusion and further damage becomes priority. Please take care of your crown before it reaches the point of no return.

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Sometimes sharing is NOT a good thing

January 10, 2019 | Dangers!

If you live in a multi-family condo or apartment you may have a situation where several flue systems are sharing one common space. The concern when this happens is that all parties need to maintain their chimney system to help ensure the safety of everyone in that shared space. This is not always the case and typically the property management company does not have definitive guidelines for maintenance or unsafe systems. The example above is one common situation where four condos are sharing one chimney chase. The condo inspected had a system that was no longer safe for use and using the system could have led to fire and or carbon monoxide entry into the condo, or even adjacent condos. Currently, the only proactive prevention you can take is to make sure you have the appropriate amount of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home and always have multiple … Continued

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Improperly sized chimney caps

January 10, 2019 | A Day in the Life

Already in 2019, I have inspected three homes where a 8″ chimney cap was “installed” into a 10″ flue termination. The obvious is that the person installing these chimney caps knows exactly what is going to happen eventually, along with the water intrusion damage that will occur when it does happen. What isn’t obvious is that a chimney cap was incorrectly installed and even the active water intrusion can be hard to spot until it progresses. This drone image shows a 8″ cap that was at one point installed into the 10″ flue termination. As you can see, the end result is wind removing the chimney cap, sometimes turning it into a giant metal frisbee (huge liability issue). When you are having your chimney cap replaced ask for proof of measurement. This issue could not be seen from ground level (it was blocked by the shroud) and the client was … Continued

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Dryer Vent Safety

January 6, 2019 | Common Questions

It may not be one of the most exciting things to do (kinda like having your car worked on), but performing regular maintenance on your dryer venting system is essential for safety and also extends the life of your dryer. Consider this, a dryer vent is only four inches wide and even with 1/2″ of buildup around the inside of the vent, your dryer vent is now only flowing through a three inch opening. As the dryer vent becomes more and more restricted, it causes the dryer to work overtime and the additional buildup of lint can easily cause a dryer fire. The danger can be even greater if you are using gas dryer, you now add in the extra hazards of carbon monoxide and potential gas leaks. In summary, always be proactive about dryer maintenance and always make sure a professional is servicing your system such as a CSIA … Continued

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