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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Chimney Swifts

January 21, 2019 | Training and tips

Chimney Swifts – Understanding The Basics If you are looking for a chimney sweep in Jacksonville to help you with chimney swifts or you would just like more information about these curious little birds, you are in the right place. Let us start with the basics.  What Are Chimney Swifts?  Chimney swifts (Chaetura pelagica) are a medium-sized type of swift, which feed primarily on flying insects, and on spiders. Uniquely, they build their nests almost exclusively on human-built structures – particularly chimneys – hence the name. They are found throughout the entire Eastern United States and are rarely seen west of the Rocky Mountains. Why Do Chimney Swifts Nest In Chimneys?  Before European colonists arrived in North America, chimney swifts rarely nested in human-built structures. The birds preferred to nest in hollowed-out trees. When possible, chimney swifts will still build their nests in trees but land development has limited the … Continued

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How often should I remove ash from my fireplace?

January 21, 2019 | Training and tips

This is a question that comes up a lot when talking to homeowners about fireplace maintenance. The first assumption would be to remove the ash between each fire, but the this is actually not the optimum timeframe. A one inch layer of ash on the floor during heating season is actually what is recommended by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. The layer of ash works with the hot coals and creates more heat to fuel the fire, helping in a cleaner burn. While around one inch is a good number to stick with, if the ash starts building up too much, it can trap hot coals between the fireplace grate and the ash, causing premature deterioration of the grate. It is also the important that if you have a ash dump that it has been inspected and is free of combustibles. Also, do not dump your ash until it … Continued

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Dampers for masonry fireplaces

January 21, 2019 | Training and tips

Older masonry fireplaces may or may not have been installed with a damper to prevent conditioned air from leaving the home. If your fireplace is one that does not have a damper, several options exist. Below are a few of the options starting with the least expensive. Flue balloon Flue balloons are sold online and come in a variety of sizes to fit the opening (smoke chamber) just above your fireplace. They are a simple design, you inflate them in place inside of the fireplace and deflate and remove the flue balloon when you would like to use the system. This is the least expensive option and it works rather well considering the cost. Be sure to remove the flue balloon before use, it will make a horrible smelly mess if caught on fire. Top mounted damper I will be the first to admit that this is not my favorite … Continued

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The top-down burn

January 21, 2019 | Training and tips

My favorite way to start a fire indoors and out is a method called the top-down burn. The interesting thing about this method of starting a fire is that it is the exact opposite of what most people do! To start, put the very largest pieces of wood front to back on the very bottom. The next layer up, use slightly smaller pieces of wood but stack them side to side on top of the largest bottom wood. Continue this process until the firewood has reached fifty percent of the height of the fireplace, and make sure each layer is progressively smaller and switching one layer front to back, one layer side to side. Once you are at the top, this is where you will only have very small wood pieces (as small as shavings) that can be very easily started with little or no effort. The fire will start … 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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Don’t forget about kickout flashing

January 12, 2019 | A Day in the Life

One common issue I see is where flashing is replaced on a chimney with replacing the kickout flashing. In Florida we have to constantly battle water and considering the amount of water that runs off of a roofline, kickout flashing can divert thousands of gallons of water over time. Here a something that you might find very interesting. During a rain storm that dumps one inch of rain if your have 1,000 square foot of roof, over 600 gallons of water will run off! Jacksonville Florida receives over 50 inches of rain per year so that is over 30,000 gallons of water coming off of your roof per year! Let’s have a look at the long-term impact of forgetting this key element: The first two photos show a chimney chase that had developed large hole following the pathway of travel starting where the kickout flashing is missing. Here is another … Continued

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A quick tip for potential homeowners

January 12, 2019 | Training and tips

Sometimes I come across a situation where the sellers have either painted the attic (white most of the time) or try to keep me from inspecting the attic area. The is a instant red flag and once I gain access, typical I find a lot of damage. Just a few instances of severe attic damage from a previous fire and one attempt at hiding the damage by painting the attic. Always make sure the attic is inspected when buying a home, it could potentially cost you thousands of dollars!

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Drone inspections with pets on location

January 10, 2019 | A Day in the Life

A few things to take into consideration when inspecting with a drone, does the client have pets and will the pet be upset or possibly destroy your drone. The safest option is to have the client bring the pet inside since most animals have not seen a drone before and the reaction to it could be bad. For example, a few years ago when I got one of my drones I was testing it in my back yard. My wife let the dog out while I was flying the drone and it led to one pissed off French Bulldog! One last thing to mention if you are a drone owner. Territorial birds can and will quickly destroy your drone. If you see a swarm of birds chasing your drone or a larger bird of prey getting close to your drone, bring it down quickly!

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A roofing disaster

January 10, 2019 | A Day in the Life

On one of my inspections yesterday, I encountered an absolute mess of a job performed by a roofer I will not mention. A new roof was installed a few months ago without replacing the chimney step and counter flashing and now the deteriorated flashing has started to allow water intrusion into the home. The roofer was called out again and this was the initial fix: 🤦‍♂️ Not only did they not replace the flashing (again), they covered the cracks on the crown with sealant that I now have to remove before correctly repairing the crown. All of this could have been prevented if the job was done correctly in the first place and it would have also prevented the water damage that is now inside of the home.

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