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Preventing Winter Damage

Winter may be your fireplace’s time to shine, but it can be the hardest on your chimney system. Winter damage can lead to unexpected costs when you need repairs in the spring. Like so many other household systems, it’s easier and cheaper to prevent damage than it is to repair it.

Chimney Leaks and Winter Damage

One of the most devastating things that can happen to your chimney is a leak. Because masonry is constructed of materials that are adversely affected by water, it is the one thing that can damage your chimney from the inside-out, oftentimes before you even notice!

When water penetrates the masonry, it causes rust, deterioration, mold, and more. When temperatures drop, it damages the masonry itself through a freeze/thaw cycle. First, water collects in cracks and crevices in the masonry. As temperatures fall, the water freezes and expands, breaking apart the masonry. When the chimney warms up either from a fire or because of the weather, the water melts and moves further into the newly damaged masonry. Temperatures drop again and the process continues. The freeze/thaw cycle can continue throughout winter, leading to structural damage, serious masonry damage, and chimney leaks that affect not only the chimney but also your home. Preventing Winter Damage - Seattle WA - Pristine Sweeps

Preventative Measures that Work

The best way to prevent winter damage is to make sure your chimney system is functioning properly and is in good shape. If the chimney has spalling mortar, a deteriorated crown, a missing or damaged cap, or flashing, it is more likely to be affected by winter damage. Many of these issues are overlooked by a homeowner who doesn’t know what to look for. If the chimney is seen by a professional, these issues can be repaired and the damage can be avoided.

Schedule Routine Maintenance – Both the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recommend regular chimney sweeps and annual chimney inspections for the safest and most efficient chimney system. These appointments may be the only time an expert gets a look at your chimney system. Take their recommendations seriously.

Make Necessary Repairs Before Winter – If you have a small amount of damage to your masonry in the fall, it can be a large problem by the time spring arrives. The freeze/thaw cycle is only allowed to ruin your chimney if it’s first allowed to penetrate the masonry. Make chimney repairs as soon as you know they’re necessary.

Schedule Waterproofing Services – Let Pristine Sweeps apply a coat of ChimneySaver to your chimney. This vapor-permeable product is designed to allow gases out of the masonry, but prevents penetration by water molecules, even repelling it. When your chimney is coated with ChimneySaver, your masonry will not be affected by water. It doesn’t change the appearance of your masonry at all; however, it prevents stains that would be caused by water. ChimneySaver comes with a 10-year warranty and is eco-friendly. With all the benefits, there isn’t a reason not to let Pristine Sweeps waterproof your chimney.

Call Pristine Sweeps at 206-574-8414 or schedule online now.

By Aaron Woodward | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Fire Safety Tips for Winter

Practicing Fire Safety Photo - Seattle WA - Pristine SweepsWinter is in full swing now, even in mild Seattle, and you’re likely using your fireplace regularly, if not daily.

As members of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) we strive to educate our customers about fire safety. Since our start in 2008 we have made it our top priority at Pristine Sweeps to put our customers safety and comfort above all else and over the years we have even learned a thing or two because of our continued education through CSIA, but also through our experience. No matter how long you’ve had a fireplace, it’s never a bad time to review safety precautions or learn something new.

Treat fire as a danger.

Fire isn’t only dangerous because it is hot and can burn you. Fire also produces harmful byproducts like carbon monoxide that can cause illness and even death.

Teach everyone in your home consistent rules for the fireplace.

You won’t have to worry that someone else is being unsafe with your fireplace if you teach them how to operate it correctly and safely. Set boundaries for people in your home whom you don’t want operating your fireplace. This is important! This can be the one thing that keeps you from costly damage and even injury later (not to mention an insurance claim).

Use proper fuel only.

You should only burn proper fuel in your fireplace. Burning trash or clothes can mean sparks or flames flying out of the fireplace, or up the chimney, igniting debris in the flue. Burning improper fuel also increases the production of soot and creosote, which leads to creosote buildup. A creosote buildup is highly flammable and can also obstruct the airflow required for the chimney to work.

Build a proper fire.

Instead of the traditional fire with kindling on bottom, struggling to light the larger fuel on top, try the top-down burn. It is the opposite of everything you know about fire-building, with the larger logs at the bottom, then medium logs and sticks, with the kindling on top. This creates a cleaner burn because the fire, ashes, and coals fall, igniting the fuel below (bonus: less sparks fly from your fireplace as a result).

Remove wood ash.

Remove wood ash before it crowds your fireplace. If too much ash is allowed to build up in your fireplace it can make it difficult to feed your fire without wood, coals, and ashes falling onto the hearth or out of your stove door. Make sure you clean the fireplace or stove of ashes regularly, allowing for some to blanket the bottom to insulate your coals. Ash removal can be dangerous if you don’t have the proper tools which include a metal bucket and a long-handled shovel. Be sure you do not store hot ashes inside the house, as they can ignite for several hours after removed.

While you only use your fireplace for a few months out of the year, it’s important to remember fireplace safety year round. This includes child-proofing your fireplace and scheduling routine maintenance that keeps your fireplace and chimney in tip-top shape.

Schedule with Pristine Sweeps and worry less. There is always a chimney and fire expert waiting to talk to you.

By Aaron Woodward | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment