In Need of Emergency Chimney Care? English Sweep Has You Covered
Annual chimney inspections and sweepings are a key part of regular maintenance to keep your fireplace in good condition and ensure it stands the test of time. Unfortunately, chimney damage can happen in the blink of an eye – even if you’ve followed your care plan to a tee. Bad weather can bring heavy winds that turn tree branches into battering rams or lightning strikes that can ignite a chimney fire.
When your plans to use your fireplace have been halted due to something faulty occurring with the appliance, it isn’t good. And it’s likely going to be difficult to find a sweep that’ll come to your home ASAP to evaluate the damage and come up with a plan to fix it. It’s because of situations like these that English Sweep offers emergency services.
If you find yourself in a pinch, call us at 636-225-3340 or reach out through our website. Chimney emergencies are especially nerve-racking and we want to help you get through it.
How Our Emergency Services Work
So, how do our emergency services work?
When a chimney-related emergency occurs, you can give us a call, and we’ll be out within 24-48 hours to attend to it. Sounds too easy? We’re happy to inform you that it’s truly as simple as that! When we say we care about our customer base throughout St. Louis and all the cities nearby, we aren’t lying. We want to do all we can to make enjoying your fireplace safer and stress-free.
What Counts as a Chimney Emergency?
When it comes to your health, it’s usually pretty easy to tell whether you need immediate care at an emergency room or if you can wait a few days for a doctor’s visit. With your chimney, it’s not always so easy to tell what’s an emergency. We can help.
Here are some of the more common examples of what a chimney emergency might look like:
Carbon Monoxide Presence:
If there’s carbon monoxide in your home, your first move should be to exit the area immediately, and then call your fire department or 911. Long-term exposure can lead to serious illness or death, so the sooner you act, the better. Then, if it’s discovered that your fireplace, stove, insert, or chimney is the cause of the leak, it’s time to get us on the job right away!
Whether your chimney fire was loud and obvious or the more common quiet and slow-moving type, some professional care will definitely be needed before you can put your system to use again. Call us in and we can look things over, make sure there are no immediate threats, and advise on what repairs will be needed moving forward.
A chimney that’s clogged up can’t be used. Doing so can cause smoke and other harmful fumes to back up into your living space. This affects the quality of the air you’re breathing, and it doesn’t do the aesthetic of your home any favors, either. We can find what’s blocking things up, remove it, and make any necessary repairs so you can enjoy your fireplace.
Sudden Structural Damage:
Some matters are out of your control. You can’t prevent a driver from colliding into your chimney and you can’t stop a tree limb from dislodging some of the bricks. When a chimney is structurally compromised, it’s in danger of collapsing which isn’t safe for you or your neighbors.
How Can I Tell if There’s a Carbon Monoxide Leak From My Chimney?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas that is extremely dangerous if it leaks into your home. It can cause flu-like symptoms and prolonged exposure to high levels of CO can be life-threatening. But if it cannot be smelled or seen, how are you supposed to know when there’s a problem? Here are a few tips:
Install CO detectors.
The best way to detect a CO leak is to install detectors in your home, especially in bedrooms and near the fireplace or wood-burning stove. These detectors will sound an alarm when they note elevated levels of CO in the air.
Pay attention to the fire.
When the fireplace is burning, check out the appearance of the flame. When a fire is burning properly, the flame should be blue. If the flame is yellow or orange, it could be a sign of incomplete combustion and the presence of CO.
…and what should you do if CO is a concern?
Leave and call authorities.
If you experience physical symptoms or recognize any signs of high levels of CO, leave your home immediately and call emergency services.
Crack a window.
A well-ventilated home is important when using the fireplace. Open a window or door to allow fresh air to circulate and assist in the removal of any built-up CO.
Schedule a professional chimney inspection.
The Chimney Institute of America (CSIA) recommends yearly chimney inspections. Our certified technicians are trained to perform tests to detect the presence of CO and identify potential sources of leaks.
What Causes Chimney Fires?
Chimney fires can be sudden – we’ve mentioned the potential damage random lightning strikes can do. But more often than not, chimney fires happen slowly and quietly. The main cause of these events is creosote buildup.
What is creosote?
Creosote is a tar-like buildup that occurs in three stages, with the third and final stage being the most dangerous. It gathers in wood-burning fireplaces as part of the combustion process. It can’t be prevented and, if left unchecked, is highly flammable. If it reaches an eighth of an inch of buildup, a stray spark could set off a devastating fire.
Creosote isn’t the only buildup you have to worry about, though. Insulation, twigs, leaves, and other outdoor bits can fall into your chimney and clog the flue as well. Animals like to use those same materials to build their nests and your chimney is prime wildlife real estate. If the blockage is bad enough, it can stop smoke and heat from escaping and increase your odds of a chimney fire – or even a CO leak.
Want to stay ahead of the game? Book an inspection with us today.
How Do I Know if I’ve Had a Chimney Fire?
We often associate fire with big, dramatic, licking flames and huge trails of destruction, but chimney fires are notoriously hard to detect. They burn quietly and are slow-moving, and it’s not unusual to only find evidence of a chimney fire during your annual chimney inspection.
The idea that a fire could be raging just out of sight is unsettling, but there are some signs you can keep an eye out for:
- Damaged or cracked flue tiles
- Scorch marks and tar spots along the flue
- Cracked masonry
- Creosote that’s formed into shapes resembling honeycomb
- Warped or discolored chimney cap
- Warped or discolored damper
It’s not impossible to spot an active chimney fire if you know what to look for. If you note the following, you may be experiencing a chimney fire:
- Visible flames or sparks exiting the chimney
- Loud cracking or popping sound behind your chimney or fireplace
- Intense heat
- Sudden dense smoke
What should I do if I suspect a chimney fire?
If you think you’re having a chimney fire, get everyone out of the house immediately and call 911. If you can, shut off the fireplace’s fuel source. If you have access to a fire extinguisher, put out the fire.
Once firefighters have successfully tamed the fire, call English Sweep for emergency services. We’ll dispatch a CSIA-certified chimney technician to assess your chimney for structural damage, the possible cause of the fire, and any other potential risks.
How Can I Prevent Chimney Fires?
The best course of action is to be proactive in chimney maintenance. Although nothing is a guarantee, there are steps you can take to lessen the chances of a chimney fire in your home.
Schedule regular chimney inspections and sweepings.
Be sure to book those annual inspections and cleanings by a CSIA-certified chimney sweep. They will check for creosote buildup, blockages, and any structural issues that could contribute to a fire hazard.
Use only seasoned firewood.
Seasoned firewood is wood that has been left to dry for at least six months to ensure low moisture content. Wet or green wood can lead to cooler fires, which promotes creosote buildup and heightens the risk of chimney fires.
Burn hot fires.
Slow-burning, smoldering fires can lead to more creosote production. Start fires with kindling and use a fireplace grate to improve airflow.
Install a smoke detector near the fireplace.
If things are getting out of hand, a smoke detector can alert you early on. Check the batteries every six months or invest in a detector with a 10-year battery.
Have a fire extinguisher nearby.
Keep a fire extinguisher somewhere close to the fireplace that is easily accessible, and make sure you and your family know how to use it.
Play It Safe – Reach Out to English Sweep Now
If something’s happening with your chimney or fireplace system that is putting you, your family, or your home at risk, then it’s time to give us a call. If you’re having an emergency, we’ll be on hand to help you through it because your safety is our primary concern.
Our number is 636-225-3340. Save our number so you can reach out to us as soon as possible when needed. We’re here for you!