Chimney Inspection & Diagnostics
The Chim-Scan Chimney Evaluation will show you the condition of your flue liner and chimney to help you make the decisions regarding the safety of your venting systems. The video scans can show excessive creosote buildup, damage to the flue, water damage, and animal nests among other things.
If you have had a chimney fire, our camera can document the damage by way of video and digital photos. These are added to a detailed written report for your insurance company, which also includes building codes, industry standard references, and any recommended repairs. A Chim-Scan will also let a homeowner know of any issues regarding their chimney system before listing their house on the real estate market, and will provide prospective buyers the peace of mind that they are not inheriting someone else’s potentially dangerous and costly problems.
The Three levels of Chimney Inspections standardized by the NFPA:
- Level One — The technician will inspect readily accessible parts of the inner and outer chimney during an annual maintenance sweeping. The sweeping will clear the flue of obstructions and deposits like hazardous combustible creosote. If appliances have been swapped out, or an event like an earthquake, tornado, fire, or transfer of ownership has occurred, a Level One inspection will not suffice, and a Level Two inspection is in order.
- Level Two — These inspections dig deeper and are the most frequently performed. The technician will execute everything included in a Level One inspection, as well as inspecting unseen areas of the flue system and smoke chamber. Aside from severe weather events, if you’ve experienced an equipment malfunction, a fire in the chimney, or the installation of a new heating appliance, you need a Level Two inspection. People thinking of buying a home should also request a Level Two inspection if one was not already provided by the seller.
- Level Three — These inspections are deemed necessary when a problem is discovered during Level One or Two inspections, but cannot be investigated without the removal of parts of the chimney and building. These are the least commonly performed chimney inspections.
Keeping up with professional cleanings to ensure that all buildup is removed and contained will help keep your chimney and fireplace operating as efficiently and as safely as possible. As part of a Level One inspection, a proper sweep can also help prolong the life of your unit by preventing deterioration of your important components, like your chimney flue and damper.
During the cleaning process, our technician will:
- Lay a tarp in front of the fireplace and hearth for protection.
- Tarp off the front opening of the firebox.
- Use specialized vacuums for dust control.
- Use brushes to clean buildup of soot in the chimney flue. In most cases, the chimney will be cleaned from the bottom up.
- Brush down the firebox walls.
- Lubricate the blade damper in the throat of the fireplace (if applicable).
- Clean the smoke shelf.
- Clean the safety cap/spark arrestor (if termination is safely accessed with a standard ladder).
The average time for a sweep is around an hour. Cleanings should be done every one to three years depending on use, or when you move into a new home.
Chases Covers, Caps & Dampers
We sell and install high-quality, stainless steel and copper chase covers that give your chase and your home long-lasting protection.
- A chimney chase cover, or chimney chase top, is a metal cover that sits on top of a wooden or metal chimney chase structure to seal it off from the outside. Chase covers are designed to prevent water from entering the inside of the chimney chase, where it could do all sorts of damage to the system components.
- In Southern California, most homes are built with galvanized sheet metal chimney chase covers. Unfortunately, these chase covers only have an average lifespan of about 7 years. Heat from the fireplace and environmental conditions can contribute to the breakdown of the chase cover’s galvanized coating, leaving the metal completely unprotected and susceptible to rust — eating holes in the cover and allowing water from rain to access your home and cause interior damage to the chimney and nearby walls.
We sell and install multiple sizes of termination caps, safety caps, spark arrestors, and damper caps from industry leading brands. Whether you need to equip a multi-flue chimney or a single-flue chimney, you can count on us to provide you with the most aesthetic and effective options.
Chimney Relining & Resurfacing
A quality and well-maintained liner will direct combustible byproducts, gases, and smoke up the chimney to the outside. A chimney with a missing or damaged liner will suffer from poor draft, rendering the entire system inefficient, and becoming a health hazard for your home and family.
Water damage, chimney fires, earthquakes or just age can cause the deterioration of your clay liner or parge coating on an unlined flue. When that occurs, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code 211 says it must be replaced. Relining or resurfacing is also needed when properly sizing the chimney for a new appliance; such as converting from wood to gas heat.
We reline chimneys using one of two methods, depending on the level of damage and on the use of the system:
- Cerfractory Sealant – Most masonry chimneys are constructed with an inner liner of clay tiles. When these clay tiles or the mortar between them begin to crack or recede, HeatShield® can be used to seal and strengthen them.
- Stainless Steel Liners – Stainless steel liners are recommended when the clay tile liner is beyond repair, or when the chimney was never properly lined. These durable liners are designed to take on the high heat of combustion, and can properly and effectively vent heating appliances for up to ten years, regardless of fuel type.
Water is perhaps the most damaging thing your masonry chimney can encounter. Once water makes it past your masonry and crown, it’s only a matter of time before it begins to rust and eat away the metal components of your chimney system, destroying nearby walls and ceilings.
Luckily, we’ve mastered methods to prevent chimney water damage and its costly repairs.
- The first step is to inspect that all of your chimney’s components — like your chimney cap and crown or chase cover — are in good condition and properly installed.
- Secondly, we advise the application of ChimneySaver Water Repellent. This provides a 100% vapor permeable, protective waterproof membrane — Unlike silicone coatings and sealers which can trap moisture inside of the masonry. Instead, ChimneySaver prevents the large water molecules from entering the masonry, while allowing the small vapor molecules to exit the masonry. Therefore, it prevents mildew, fungus, efflorescence, and staining. ChimneySaver is a water-based product that won’t alter the look of your masonry or harm the environment. When professionally applied, ChimneySaver comes with a 10-year warranty and reduces water penetration into the masonry by 99.9%.
Chimney & Flue Extensions
The chimney and flue are designed to create a proper draft for combustion, and remove the smoke and byproducts of combustion from the home. Unfortunately, chimneys and flues aren’t always built to proper specs and heights to achieve sufficient draft, leaving you with a weak fire and a smoky home.
We can determine if performance problems stem from the height of your chimney, then extend your chimney and flue to help you achieve proper draft.
Because hot air rises, more hot air can be contained in taller chimneys and create a stronger draft. In other words, as height increases, draft increases proportionately. The amount we will need to extend your chimney and flue will depend upon the current height of your chimney and how much of a draft increase is needed.
When extending your chimney and draft, our expert masons will start by carefully removing your chimney crown. Next, we will attach a flue liner extension, match your existing brick and mortar, and extend the stack of the chimney itself. Once we’ve reached the necessary height, we’ll build a new crown and add a chimney cap to your flue. Depending on the height needed, a chimney pot can also be used to extend the height of the chimney.
Chimney Crown Repair & Rebuild
Chimney crowns should be made from cast-in-place concrete; however, it is common to see them made from an improper mortar mix that just isn’t up to the job. If the chimney crown is not constructed from the right materials, exposure to the elements and heat from the fire can cause the crown to crack and crumble.
Aside from the materials used, the construction itself can sometimes be flawed. Crowns should be the correct size, thickness, angle, and shape for the chimney. A poorly constructed chimney simply won’t do its job properly and does not conform to building codes.
Our National Fireplace Institute (NFI)– and F.I.R.E.-certified technicians should inspect your chimney crown for signs of damage annually, as cracks often go unnoticed. If left unfixed, a damaged chimney crown leads to further water damage and costly repair work.
- If the chimney crown is cracked in places, but is otherwise properly built and in good condition, it can be repaired with products such as CrownSaver. When applied properly, CrownSaver seals cracks, forms a waterproof seal, and protects the chimney crown from further damage.
- For chimney crowns that have deteriorated beyond repair, a replacement crown is the recommended option. If you need a rebuild, the experts here at Fireplace Solutions by the Chimney Sweeper have the knowledge and expertise to provide you with a beautiful, durable, and effective new chimney crown.
Tuckpointing is the process of replacing or repairing the mortar between the bricks so that structural and water damage can be prevented or remedied. Having proper mortar between the bricks is a key aspect of a healthy chimney. The deteriorating mortar between bricks makes chimneys more vulnerable to damage, and more subject to leaks, weathering, and destruction.
Resulting damage may not only be on the outside and visible to the naked eye, but it may also be in the interior of the chimney (Think rusted flue liners, dampers, and fireboxes). That’s why it’s imperative that you have tuckpointing repairs made as soon as you notice deterioration.
Our team provides exceptional service at a competitive price, and can assess any chimney to see what kind of damage prevention or repairs need to be completed.
This job should only be executed by an experienced, certified professional because it affects the structural integrity of the chimney. There are learned techniques and specific tools needed to achieve proper tuckpointing, and only a trained professional will provide quality, lasting results.
Throat/Smoke Chamber Parging & Repair
Two crucial areas of the chimney system that are often improperly cared for or designed are the throat (the area that leads from the firebox to the damper) and the smoke chamber (the area just above the throat that leads up to the chimney flue). Both areas are responsible for ushering smoke and gases up into the chimney flue so they can exit the home.
A deteriorated throat or smoke chamber — or a chimney that is missing a parge coat — will allow heat transference to combustible materials. Likewise, the holes, cracks, and uneven surface will prevent smoke and byproducts of combustion from smoothly transitioning from the firebox to the flue. When smoke and byproducts are slowed down in their journey out of the chimney, they can cool and settle in the chimney as highly flammable creosote.
Our professionals will perform a chimney scan to get an up-close look at the smoke chamber and throat, and can let you know if the surface needs repair work or parging.
The two options for renovating your existing smoke chamber are either a trowel-on product (like Chamber Tech 2000) or a spray-on application (like HeatShield®). Depending on the access to your smoke chamber, you may be limited to one product or the other. Both products insulate and strengthen the surface, and do an excellent job at filling in missing mortar joints, leaving a nice, smooth finish — which is important to the way your fireplace drafts and to prevent heat transfer to nearby combustibles.