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Frequently Asked Questions

Chimney Breakdown and other fags on Chimney damages




What's Happening in Your Home?



What Does the Inside of a Chimney Look Like?

What Does The Inside Of A Chimney Look Like?

The inside of a chimney holds separate chambers, called flues, that service different heating equipment in your home.  In this chimney, Flue A services a fireplace or woodstove, and Flue B services a furnace.

A safe, healthy flue carries (or vents) the byproducts of fuel burning including carbon monoxide safely to the exterior of the home.

An unsafe, unhealthy flue can allow these byproducts into the home.  Creosote buildup within the flue can also provide the hazard of fire.




In this chimney, Flue A, servicing the fireplace or woodstove, has a creosote buildup, cracked or missing pieces of linear, and eroded brick and mortar.  The condition of Flue A can lead to fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Flue B, which services the furnace of the home, shows how moisture can leach into the home, causing wall damage, as well as cracked and missing tiles, leaving the possibility of carbon monoxide leakage into the home.

Your sweep can find why these conditions exist and how they can be fixed for a safe and healthy flue.


How often should my chimney be cleaned?

All chimneys should be evaluated yearly and cleaned as required. The evaluation is necessary to ensure that the chimney has adequate draft, is free of debris and cracks and has no loose or missing mortar joints. Prefabricated chimneys are subjected to vibration from the wind, and the joints can become misaligned.

When is the best time of the year to have my chimney cleaned?

We clean chimneys all year long, but the best time is at the end of the heating season. You don't have to wait weeks for an appointment, as in the fall, and if repairs are needed, they can be completed in the spring and summer. Come that first chilly late summer or early fall evening, you're all set to start a fire.

How do you clean chimneys?

A chimney flue is cleaned with special brushes that fit your chimney flue. We clean most chimneys from inside the house. This method allows for more control of the dust. The brushes are attached to flexible poles. We add length to the pole to push the brush up into the flue. We do this only as fast as our special vacuum collects the debris. The walls of the fireplace are cleaned by hand using wire brushes.

Does the cleaning remove the black from the wall of the fireplace?

No. We can clean off the soot only on the surface of the brick. Each time you burn a fire, this black changes, based on how hot you burn your fire.

Does the cleaning cause a mess in my home?

No. By cleaning the chimney from inside your home we have control over the dust. All our equipment is laid out on clean drop cloths in front of your fireplace. The hose of our special vacuum collects the debris as we brush the chimney. We can only brush the chimney as fast as our vacuum collects the dust. The dirtier the chimney flue, the slower we brush.

What are you looking for when you do an evaluation?

We look for the type of chimney you have; the liner type, if present; the size of your chimney flues; the type fuel you burn, both fireplace, or stove; and central heating. We also check for code compliance as to construction, clearances to combustible materials, proper stove or insert installation, and proper furnace and/or water heater connections to the chimney flue. We also check to see if you already have a chimney cap.

What is a flue?

A flue is the passageway inside your chimney that conveys the gases out of the home and into the atmosphere.

How many flues do I have?

You should have one flue for each fireplace, stove, and furnace or boiler. Some homes also have a separate flue for the water heater.

Do I need a chimney cap?

All chimneys should have caps to prevent leaves, sticks, debris, animals and most importantly, rain and snow from entering the chimney flue.

Will a cap prevent my flue from venting properly?

A chimney cap is designed by codes for your protection. It must be installed and sized properly to vent correctly. In some cases caps actually help eliminate certain downdrafts and improve venting.

Can you repair my damper?

A damper that has come loose or off its bracket can be reseated. However, if a damper has become brittle and parts have snapped off, it cannot be repaired and must be replaced. A replacement damper is installed on top of the chimney flue and is connected by a cable to an adjustable bracket secured to the wall of the fireplace. This type of damper is air tight and helps cut down on heat and air conditioning loss when closed. When opened the damper also has a cap built onto it to keep out debris, rain, snow and animals.

My fireplace smokes, Does this mean it needs to be cleaned?

Maybe. The chimney must have proper draft and capacity in order to convey the smoke and gases up and out the flue . Draft is the air pressure that forces room air into a heating appliance or fireplace and pushes the smoke up. How strong that push is depends on the difference between the pressure of the air inside the house and the air inside the chimney. When there is no fire in the fireplace, the heavier cold air flows into the living area. Even with a fire, when the chimney is operating too cold, the low draft may not be enough to exhaust the gases from the chimney. This can cause smoke to back puff into the living area.

Smoking can be caused by one or more of the following:

·         A flue that is either too small or too large for the appliance it serves.

·         That is too long A connector pipe or has too many elbows.

·         Too many bends in the chimney itself.

·         Creosote (soot) build up and/or debris in the flue clogs it or decreases its capacity.

·         The house itself is so airtight that not enough make-up air can flow in from outdoors to feed the fire. Other vents in the house (dryer vent, exhaust fans, gas water heater or furnace flue) allow excessive amounts of air to escape, creating a low air pressure in the house.

·         The cleanout door in the chimney is open, missing or not sealed properly.

·         Action of the wind on a building creates negative pressure inside the house and can affect chimney performance.

What can be done to correct smoking problems?

An evaluation of your system can sometimes determine the cause immediately.

·         The first step would be to eliminate any flue blockages or creosote build up. Pre-warm the flue.

·         Wind-induced downdrafts can often be solved by installing a regular chimney cap.

·         Sometimes a specialty cap designed for wind-induced downdrafts is needed.

·         The lack of make-up air can be solved by opening a window on the side of the house the wind is blowing against.

·         Make sure all fans are shut off when operating the fireplace.

·         A smoke guard can be installed to correct the size of the firebox opening .

·         Relining a chimney from top to bottom to size it correctly for its job.



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Chimney Sweep Service — In Business Since 2002
Portland, Maine
Phone: (207) 773-1706 — Cell: (207) 939-1006

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