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Improving Your Indoor Air Quality

Air is an absolute necessity. Without air, survival is impossible for us. The risk is always there; various scientific organizations are constantly evaluating the state of our oxygen supply, with some being bold enough to predict when it will run out (if the current rate of decline remains consistent). Air pollution is a constant drain on the fresh air supply, both inside our homes as well as in the world outside of it. Granted, we still have a relatively abundant supply of oxygen; however, according to the National Geographic, a great percentage of the air in our atmosphere today is greatly polluted.

Indoor Air Quality - South GA - Homestead Chimney

Here at Homestead Chimney Service, we understand that as homeowners it is a top concern for you to make sure that your home’s indoor air quality (IAQ) is at the highest level possible to ensure that you’re providing your family with the safest environment possible.

A Clean House is a Happy House…Right?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air is often more than 10 times (and sometimes more than 100 times) more polluted than outdoor air. This can be attributed, at least partially, to the use of harsh cleaning chemicals and solvent-based cleaners. Not only are they potentially toxic to everyone in your home (especially those little ones that always seem to be opening up that cabinet under your sink), they are also one of the most notorious air pollutants present in one’s home.

Smoke in Your Home is a Definite IAQ Killer

The presence of any smoke inside your home is a definite detriment to the air quality. We’ve all been inundated with ads telling us how harmful smoking can be, and doing it in the house is even more detrimental. Minimizing the presence of smoke in your home is of the utmost importance as far as your IAQ is concerned. Harmful smoke is not caused by tobacco products alone however; unmaintained chimneys are another major obstacle. Your fireplace is a potential source of carbon monoxide (CO) and combustion pollutants, especially if it’s not properly maintained. Try to resolve these issues as soon as possible to ensure an improved level of air quality.

Excess Moisture can have Damaging Effects on your Health

The accumulation of excess moisture can and will lead to mold growth under the right conditions. The accumulation of moisture can lead to various scenarios that all lead to air pollution. It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores in your home; some mold spores can be found floating through the air and in the dust in your home. The mold spores will not grow if moisture isn’t present. If there is mold growth in your home, it must be cleaned up; the water problem that allowed the mold to grow in the first place must be fixed as well. Having an inspection completed by a professional will be your best course of action. If the mold is cleaned up, but the water problem isn’t fixed, then, most likely, the problem will return shortly after it’s cleaned up.

Adequate Ventilation is a No-Brainer

Your home needs to be well ventilated in order to ensure the proper flow of air in and out of your home. Open the doors and windows around your house to ensure that air can freely flow in and out whenever possible. Make sure to check that all your venting systems are working properly and are free from and defects that could cause them to negatively impact your home’s IAQ.

It’s important to consider the potential effects of indoor air pollution carefully. Keep woodstove and fireplace emissions to a minimum. Make certain that doors in old woodstoves are tight fitting. Use properly seasoned wood. Have your fireplace, flue, and chimney inspected annually; promptly repair cracks or damaged parts. Blocked, leaking, or damaged chimneys or flues release harmful combustion gases and particles and even fatal concentrations of CO. Proper maintenance is the key in this equation. If you have questions or concerns about your home’s IAQ, please give us a call. We’d love to work with you. Contact us and let Homestead Chimney Service help you today.

Dryer Vent Safety

Many homeowners make the mistake of overlooking the maintenance and care of their dryer vents, leading to a very unfortunate accident. Learn about dryer vent safety.

Safety should be every homeowner's top priority. Don't forget to have regular cleanings and inspections of your dryer vents.

Safety should be every homeowner’s top priority. Don’t forget to have regular cleanings and inspections done for your dryer vents.

Common Chimney Problems

It is common that since you do not use your chimney everyday, you may not think about the repairs that come along with it.  The worst part is that if you let these repairs go without attention they could potentially worsen and cause damage to the chimney and to your home.

The first step is to have someone who is Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified.  You also want to make sure that they are someone that they are commonly recommended, so you know their work is always solid.  For chimney assistance, contact the professionals at Homestead Chimney Service today.

What can go wrong?

Being aware of the problems that will reveal themselves over the life of your chimney will help you be preventative and save money.

Being aware of the problems that will reveal themselves over the life of your chimney will help you be preventative and save money.

Even though you do not want to think about it, there are many things that can go wrong inside of your chimney that may look small and turn out to be big problems.  One of the main things is the water that can enter your home and cause mold to form.  If you live in an area that has extremely wet weather you will have to pay closer attention.  If your flashing becomes loose, cracked, or missing a professional may be able to caulk it is caught in time.  If not, it may need replacing.

Also, the bricks of the chimney can become cracked and a great place for water to collect.  Your technician will be able to examine the damage and figure out the proper way to fix it.  Lastly, they may suggest that you have a chimney cap installed to protect from water, animals, and debris.

After your chimney is fixed a water test it needed to see if any water is still absorbing into the unit, and if so you will probably be suggested to have it waterproofed.  Any experienced professional can do this in a day.  The sealant spray used will need at least six hours to dry so make sure you pick a day that has a dry forecast.

What happens if the repairs are not fixed?

Other than becoming a bigger issue in the chimney, the effects could eventually harm your entire home.  The mold that grows in the chimney can spread to the foundation of your home and the air you breathe.  Also, other broken parts or chimneys that have not been cleaned properly can start an unwanted fire. The best way to avoid these kinds of problems is to ensure regular maintenance to your chimney.

 

Help! My Chimney Stinks

In spite of all that goes on inside it, your fireplace and chimney should be virtually odorless. In addition, the room in which your fireplace or stove is located should not have a smoky, campfire-like smell either. In fact, the presence of an unpleasant smell—or of any smoke inside your living space—almost always indicates that your chimney requires some professional attention. In other words, if your chimney stinks to high heaven, it’s your chimney’s way of telling you that it’s sick.

If handing out clothespins to visitors isn't an option, getting that smelly fireplace looked at should be a top priority!

If handing out clothespins to visitors isn’t an option, getting that smelly fireplace looked at should be a top priority!

Homestead Chimney serves customers throughout south Georgia and north Florida, many of whom complain of chimney odors, especially during the hot summer months when their chimneys are essentially left to bake and the humidity mixes with the contents of the chimney, releasing the smells from years of fires.

What’s Causing My Fireplace to Stink?

We often recommend starting the chimney odor removal process with a good chimney sweeping. Otherwise attempting odor removal is a lost cause—like putting perfume on an unbathed person. By having your chimney cleaned, you’ll be removing all the built-up creosote that has accumulated. Creosote, which is a byproduct of burning wood, is usually what creates that strong smoky smell.

Still other people say they detect a musty, mildew smell. This type of smell tells us that water is getting inside your chimney and that water damage may have occurred. In addition, the propagation of mold inside your chimney can be a detriment to your family’s health. There are many ways Homestead Chimney can keep water out of your chimney in the future, including installing a chimney cap or top-sealing damper and waterproofing your chimney’s exterior.

If your chimney is drawing smoky smells directly into your living space this is a pretty good indication that your chimney has a drafting problem, which may be caused by a blockage or by an improperly sized chimney.

Lastly, animals and birds may have nested inside your chimney and become trapped there. If you think you smell a dead animal inside your chimney, a professional chimney sweep will be able to remove it, deodorize the area, and equip your chimney with the necessary components to keep animals out in the future.

For more information on deodorizing your chimney and preventing future odors, contact us today.

Carbon Monoxide: an Overview

There are many gases in the air that we breathe every day, however with the right levels they are actually beneficial to us.  However, carbon monoxide is not one of them.  When homeowners do not have their maintenance done in a timely manner, they will be in danger of this problem and many others.  Thankfully, the professionals at Homestead Chimney are here to keep you and your family safe!

Annual chimney cleaning and inspection is the best way to minimize any risk of a blockage causing a disruption to air flow.

Annual chimney cleaning and inspection is the best way to minimize any risk of a blockage causing a disruption to air flow.

So, what is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide is one of the most dangerous gases, partly because it cannot be seen or smelled when it is in the air.  It is extremely toxic and will compete with oxygen levels in your blood stream.  CO levels can be fatal because it can have your entire room filled before you even realize it.  The early symptoms of exposure are similar to flu symptoms and include nausea, dizziness, headaches and fatigue.  The longer you are exposed the more complicated the symptoms will be, including chest pains and even fatality.

How is carbon monoxide poisoning diagnosed?

If multiple people in your surroundings start to feel these symptoms, you should evacuate the area immediately and have a professional come check out the area.  Even if you turn off what is causing the leak, your place will still need time to air out.  You will need to then make your way to a physician.  If you only have a minimal case, they will probably treat you in office.  However, for extreme cases, you may be sent to the hospital to receive oxygen until levels are stable.

How can you keep carbon monoxide out?

Carbon Monoxide can be associated with the use of everyday appliances, as well as your chimney.  You should always be prepared and have knowledge on what to do in the event of an emergency.  Also, you can now buy CO alarms for your home so that there is an extra source of detection.  To get the best performance, spread them throughout your home on all levels.  They can also be connected; so that when one sounds you can hear them anywhere in the home.  These are not the same as a smoke alarm, so you should have both installed.

Lastly, keep your maintenance up to date.  It is important that you have your inspection and sweep at least once a year to keep damages and blockages from affecting your chimney.

 

 

All About Liners

Your chimney’s liner protects the exterior masonry from intense heat. This extends the life of your chimney…and minimizes fire risk.

All-About-Chimney-Liners-South-GA-Northern-FL-Homestead-Chimney-Service

Moisture Causes Mold

Let’s Talk Mold

As you may already know, water is your chimney’s biggest enemy. It can cause structural damage by getting into your bricks and mortar, rusting and corrosion damage to your chimney parts, and, even more dangerous, mold spores to grow inside your chimney walls. When mold begins growing inside your chimney, it spreads quickly, entering your home, causing illness to you and your family. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a guide to mold, moisture, and your home, and they recommend the best solution for ridding your chimney from mold is having a professional chimney sweep performed on your chimney by a Chimney Safety Institute of America-certified chimney sweep like Homestead Chimney Services. We want to highlight the main points from the EPA guide so you can know for certain if you do have mold in your chimney.

Mold can cause a variety of health problems, including respiratory problems.

Mold can cause a variety of health problems, including respiratory problems.

  • Why is mold growing in my chimney? If you do not have a properly fitted chimney cap on top of your chimney, you are getting both leaf debris and water in your chimney. Mold spores can be on the leaf debris, and the cool, damp environment of your chimney is the perfect atmosphere for mold growth.
  • How do I know mold is growing in my chimney? The obvious tell-tale sign is a dusky, dank smell coming from your fireplace. You may notice yourself or other family members feeling sick. If the mold has spread, you may be able to see the mold around your fireplace on the bricks, or even on the walls around the fireplace.
  • Can mold cause health problems? For those with asthma, mold can cause serious breathing problems, and if someone has mold allergies, he or she can become very sick. Mold produces allergens, breathing irritants, and in some instances, toxic substances like mycotoxins. Allergic reactions include hay fever symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and a skin rash. If someone has a lung disease, the effects of mold can be dangerous and even life-threatening.
  • How do I get rid of the mold in my chimney? Your first step to getting rid of the mold is to schedule a professional chimney sweep from Homestead Chimney Services as soon as you know mold is growing inside your chimney. We will come to your home and professionally remove the mold along with creosote build-up and soot in your chimney. The next step is preventing the mold from coming back. Our technicians can inspect your chimney cap and replace it if it does not fit to keep debris and water out. We can also look at your chimney’s ventilation system to ensure proper ventilation is happening. You may need flue liner repair to protect your chimney walls. We at Homestead Chimney Services are experienced in all of these repairs and can get your chimney serviced to be completely mold-free.

Mold in your home is never a pleasant thing to endure, and chimney mold can enter your house and spread quickly if you are not prepared to deal with it as soon as possible. If mold gets into the walls of your home, you will have costly repairs of replacing dry wall, insulation and even duct work. Proper maintenance of your chimney is your best prevention, and having an annual chimney sweep and inspection go a long way in protecting your family from the dangers of mold. Contact us at Homestead Chimney Services today to schedule an appointment for your annual chimney sweep.

Spring Means Chimney Repair

As days grew shorter and the weather got colder, many of us retreated indoors to the warmth of our homes and hearths.  For those of us who made use of a fireplace during these cold weather months, spring is a great time to make sure chimney system is in good working order following this period of extensive use.  Take this opportunity to call a chimney service technician to inspect your chimney system.  If your inspection uncovers any issues, you’ll be able to address it early on, before it gets big, expensive, and potentially dangerous.  Water penetration, a damaged flue liner, and deterioration of mortar joints are just a few issues that’ll require prompt attention.

You shouldn't attempt chimney repairs on your own. Not only is it dangerous for you, but it also puts your home in danger in case the issues aren't correctly addressed.

You shouldn’t attempt chimney repairs on your own. Not only is it dangerous for you, but it also puts your home in danger in case the issues aren’t correctly addressed.

Wait…That’s not Supposed to be There   Chimneys are notorious for leaking; the reason for these leaks is almost always compromised flashing, which is designed to keep water out of the chimney, thereby protecting both the flue and roof.  Flashings are made from a variety of materials, including aluminum, copper and galvanized steel.  You’ll want to have new chimney flashing installed if yours is missing, rusted through, falling out, or completely covered with roofing tar (this is a common short-term fix that’s sure to be hiding bigger problems).  Many homeowners also opt to have new flashing installed when having new shingles put on because they want it to last as long as the new roof.

Ushering Harmful Byproducts out of Your Home   Problems in your chimney’s flue can present serious risks to your home and family, because it’s no longer able to perform its primary function: to safely contain and vent the products of combustion to the outside of your home.  If your current liner was installed improperly or is deteriorating, it is recommended that you either have a new one installed or, if possible, have your current liner repaired.  Several different relining options are available—clay and stainless steel are the most popular—depending on both the type of flue liner you currently have and the overall condition of your entire flue.  Because of the critical job completed by your chimney liner, it is a critical part.  Every chimney needs a working liner.

Out With the Old, In With the New   The mortar used to construct your chimney is exposed to the elements on the outside and the heat from your firebox on the inside, which greatly speeds up the weathering process.  Because of this, it is common for it to crumble and fall away, leaving open areas between the bricks, thereby compounding an already bad problem and leading to even more issues.  The process for repairing your damaged mortar is known as repointing; the damaged, old and loose mortar on your chimney is removed from the joints between the bricks and replaced with new mortar.  Only a skilled professional should perform this work because it requires an experienced hand.

It’s easy to understand why annual chimney system inspections are strongly recommended.  In fact, more frequent inspections are recommended for chimneys and flues that endure heavier usage.  A proper inspection of your chimney by a qualified chimney professional should include a thorough examination of the external structure to look for signs of deterioration or weakness, as well as a visual inspection of the flue inside your chimney.  NFPA code states that cracked chimney liners constitute a significant safety hazard and must be replaced.  The chimney professionals at Homestead Chimney Service are fully prepared to meet all of your chimney inspection and repair needs.  Contact us today!

6 Questions for Your Sweep

When you schedule your annual cleaning and inspection, make sure you are hiring a certified professional. How do you know what to look for? Start here.

Understanding what chimney sweeps do and how to hire the best takes a bit of the guesswork out of this aspect of home maintenance.

Understanding what chimney sweeps do and how to hire the best takes a bit of the guesswork out of this aspect of home maintenance.

Common Chimney Repairs

Nothing Lasts Forever

Every chimney repair call we get at Homestead Chimney Service is different — chimneys are complex systems to start with, and every home has its own characteristics and idiosyncrasies and experiences that can lead to a problem that needs fixing.

But there are a few things that are common to every chimney system — the constant onslaught of weather and sun, the effects of time and home settling — that make certain repairs more common than others.

Sometimes, parts of your chimney can be repaired if noticed early enough. There are times though, when performance and safety demand replacement parts.

Sometimes, parts of your chimney can be repaired if noticed early enough. There are times though, when performance and safety demand replacement parts.

Curious about whether your issue might have something to do with a common repair need? Here are a few of the most common chimney repairs we do here at Homestead.

Chimney Crown Repair and Resurfacing

When you consider the direction that precipitation and baking sun-rays are traveling, it seems pretty safe to assume that any chimney part directly in line with that would get a pretty good and consistent beating. And your poor chimney crown, horizontal at the top of your flue, does indeed get a healthy share of the effects of heat and moisture. It’s not uncommon for cracks or spalling to result. Depending on the extent of the damage, Homestead techs can resurface, repair or rebuild a crown so that it’s able to effectively move water away from your flue and masonry again.

Chimney Cap Replacement

Another part at the front lines of weather abuse, the chimney cap is a small but very necessary part of your system, helping to keep moisture and animals from getting into your flue. Galvanized caps can rust, improperly sized or installed caps can fail and even well-made chimney caps can get damaged or lost in particularly bad storms. Our technicians can install a great cap that’ll do its job through years of use.

Chimney Damper Replacement

A stuck, rusty or otherwise damaged throat damper gives us two logical options: repair, if possible; or replacement with a new top mounted damper. The latter has marked benefits — these contribute to a serious increase in energy efficiency, which saves fuel and money, and since top mounted dampers also close off the top of the flue completely with a gasket (instead of partially closing with a metal plate down in the throat), you’re also getting great water protection.

Flue Liner Repair and Replacement

A damaged flue liner usually results in impeded draft, impeded safety and often accelerated damage to your chimney, too. We use HeatShield flue liner repair products to bring damaged clay tile liners back to a whole and smoke-tight state.

Chimney Repointing 

When mortar joints crack and recede, your system is opened up to increased moisture intrusion and decreased stability. By repointing — removing damaged mortar joints and replacing them with fresh joints — we can strengthen your chimney again.

Do you want to know more about Homestead Chimney’s repair services? Just give us a call — we’re always glad to offer information, help and impeccable service!