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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Chitter Chatter in your Chimney: Chimney Swifts

Chimney swifts are small birds who got their name because of their inclination to nest in chimneys. They have also been known to nest in hollow trees and similar structures. It is common for homeowners to find a family of chimney swifts taking up shelter inside their chimney. Although the birds themselves may not be seen at first, unless they enter the home through an open fireplace, their chittering will likely be heard. Fortunately, chimney swifts do not pose a serious or permanent problem.

Contrary to popular belief, these little birds can be quite beneficial to have around a home. They aid the environment by feeding on flying insects that can be a particular nuisance to people and livestock. However, the chimney swift population has been rapidly dwindling, which has granted them protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This makes it illegal to deliberately disturb their nest while eggs and/or offspring are still occupying it.

The summertime is the breeding season for chimney swifts as they begin to migrate back up to North America during the month of March. This is also when you may find that a family of chimney swifts has moved in to your chimney. Once a nest is established for the breeding season, then it is simply a matter of waiting since by law the nest cannot be removed. Nesting and incubation can take approximately 30-40 days. It can be another 32 days before the offspring fully leave the safety of the nest. In the meantime, don’t worry because the nest is too small to be considered a fire risk.

Come fall, after all the offspring are raised up and have left the nest, a chimney cleaning professional can safely removes the nest(s), complete a thorough chimney inspection and complete any repairs. It is also a good idea to have a cap installed on the chimney so that no nesting occurs in the future. The chimney should be thoroughly cleaned by a professional before it is capped. It is also worth mentioning that many modern fireplaces and chimneys are designed to be inaccessible to these birds and other animals.
Photo: "The Chimney of the Swifts" captured by Greg Schechter in Missouri, United States

Capping a traditional brick chimney will eliminate the issue of chimney swifts nesting within a home. It is a solution that will prove safer for the birds as well. But, where will the birds nest now that your chimney is capped and favorable natural nesting sites are few and far between? Chimney swift nesting towers are a great way to help support the chimney swift population in your area. By placing the nesting structures in backyards and parks these areas will likely see a reduction in the amount insects making outdoor activity more enjoyable throughout the summer.

Chimney Swift Tower at Brumley Forest Nature Preserve, Chapel Hill, NC. Photo taken from bobistraveling on Flickr
For Chimney Swift nesting tower information including construction photos and video, visit the Chimney Swift Conservation Association website here.

Remember, one of the first signs of chimney swifts is a subtle chirping from your chimney. It may take a little while to realize that chirping is not coming from the outside of your home. When that occurs, do not be alarmed as these birds will not bring you any harm. A chimney sweep can be called to inspect the chimney and confirm your suspicions.

The reality of chimney swifts shacking up in your chimney is a reminder of how preventative measures can keep a chimney and fireplace operating efficiently all year round. It addition to this convenience, being proactive with prevention can be a lifesaver for a variety of animals that could otherwise inadvertently find their way into your chimney, become trapped, and parish. For this and other reason, chimney sweeping Charlotte NC should be done annually. We hope you have enjoyed reading about Chimney Swifts and return to our blog soon.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Proper Wood Choice, Storage, and Burning

Spending money on firewood can be a seasonal or year-round investment depending your use of a wood burning fireplace or stove. The first thing to know is that it’s important to choose the proper wood. After you purchase or chop up firewood, there is a recommended practice for storing and burning it. Below is some insight to help you through these three key steps, which should help make the most of your wood investment.

Wood choices

Different types of wood serve different roles when they are burned. Most people select a type of hardwood as these varieties burn the longest and hottest, producing the most BTUs. Hardwoods include red or white oak, birch, hickory, dogwood, ash, pecan and hard maple. If you are in search of a crackling fire that sets a cozy ambiance, then a softwood is the right choice. Fir and pine are both softwoods that give off the aroma of a Christmas tree and are also simple to split. The crackles from that wood creates more sparks so it is a good idea to keep the glass door on your fireplace closed. When searching for a sweeter-smelling wood, look for the varieties of fruit trees. Cherry, pear and applewood give off pleasant scents when burning.

Storage

To get the most out of your firewood, there is a certain protocol to follow when storing your logs. Keep in mind that airflow is important when stacking. Placing all the wood on top of each other without any air flow will create moisture, which will dampen your logs and make them tougher to burn. There is a log-cabin method of stacking in which the direction of each row is altered. And if there is a way to store your wood under a covering, then go for it. A simple tarp will not have the same effect as it will be vulnerable to leaks. Also, make sure to ventilate the bottom of the stack of wood.

Burning

The process of burning wood inside your fireplace involves more than just lighting a match. It is important to know that treated wood should not be burned in the fireplace. Wood should be seasoned for about six months after it has been split. And when building a fire, use the top-down method, which places the logs on a grate in the back of the fireplace. Always use a fire screen and keep all furniture at least three feet beyond the fireplace. Burning a fire also means making sure tree branches are away from the top of the chimney. A safe distance is about 15 feet away.

Before you set the first fire for the year, we recommend calling us for a thorough chimney cleaning and inspection Charlotte NC. This will help improve the safety and efficiency of your wood burning fireplaces and stoves for the season. It is our hope that you and your family have a fun fireside experience. We also hope you enjoyed this article and check back for more soon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Why should you have your chimney swept?

mother reading a book to her daughter while sitting in a chair in front of a livingroom fireplace. Fireplace safety. Wood burning fireplace. Clean fireplace.

Chimney sweeping is not a spring cleaning task that many people can handle. It is best handled by a professional and there are plenty of reasons this should be a regular practice for homeowners. Here is a look at some reasons why you should have your chimney swept.

Safety

The top reason to sweep your chimney is to prevent a fire. The No.1 cause of chimney fires is a dirty or clogged chimney. Using a chimney will cause a buildup of creosote which is produced by burning wood. This becomes combustible and can easily start a fire. Sweeping your chimney will remove this substance and also free up the air supply. It is also important to remove the buildup of carbon monoxide in your chimney before it can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. In its milder forms, carbon monoxide poisoning can result in dizziness, headaches and nausea. When the buildup is more severe, carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal.

Cleanliness

A chimney that is not swept will start to develop a distinct odor. Eventually, a fireplace will start to have small leakage from rain and snow. When this is combined with ash, this can make for an unpleasant odor and a sticky substance. These issues can be spotted during a fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection can be performed by All Out Chimney Sweep Charlotte NC who will remove any remnants of the problem, identify any signs of leakage, and complete full repairs.

Pest vacancies

Your chimney was not intended to be a home for small animals, like birds and squirrels. And if one of these animals dies in your chimney, it will leave a very unpleasant smell. Some animals have trouble getting out of your chimney once they find their way in. The animals may also cause problems with the smoke and air escaping out of your chimney. That blockage could lead to a variety of problems and sweeping those problems away is highly recommended.

Smoke damage

Smoke is a byproduct of burning a fire and the residue from smoke builds over the course of time. Soot begins to form and starts to collect around the flue. What happens is the flue starts to have problems pulling the smoke upward and it begins funneling out into your home. This will leave the inside of your home susceptible to smoke damage. That could mean damage to your carpet, furniture and nearby walls.

Ease your mind

When you have your chimney swept regularly, it will remove a whole lot of worry. Make sure your home and everyone in it is safe with regular chimney cleaning service offered by All Out Chimney Sweep in Charlotte, N.C.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Sweep Away Cancer During the Month of October


All Out Chimney Sweep is always looking for new ways to help out the community. The month of October remains a particularly important time of the year as we are committed to doing our part in helping to raise breast cancer awareness.

Throughout all of breast cancer awareness month in October, our staff will wear pink shirts advertising a very noble cause. But our efforts will not stop with just wearing tee shirts. We are involved in Sweep Away Cancer, which is a breast cancer awareness movement in the chimney sweep industry. It began in 2015 and has continued to build momentum ever since.

As part of the Sweep Away Cancer movement, our staff will do our part in raising breast cancer awareness. Our chimney sweeps will even inform customers on how they can become involved or make a donation of their own. Our staff provides all the necessary information on how to help this worthwhile endeavor.

So don’t be surprised if a technician shows up on a service call to your home wearing a pink shirt that advertises Sweep Away Cancer. This will run throughout the month of October. A visit to our home office will also showcase staff members wearing our pink breast cancer awareness tee shirts.

Various industries have begun their own movements to help raise awareness for breast cancer. The chimney sweep industry joined that illustrious contingent and the results have been progressing each year. Sweep Away Cancer tee shirts, sweatshirts and license plate surrounds are all available for purchase on the Sweep Away Cancer website. There is also the option to make a flat donation to the cause. There is also a toll-free number to call as purchases and donations can be made by calling 1-800-897-8481.

All Out Chimney Sweep is a business, although our entire team values the importance of family. Breast cancer could strike any member of our families and we want to continue to be involved in helping the cause to eliminate this terrible disease. That is why we remember to be more than a business throughout the month of October. It is our goal to make our mothers, sisters, daughters and women all through the community proud to be associated with All Out Chimney Sweep.

The Sweep Away Cancer movement has banded together chimney sweeps from all over the country and we are part of a unique fraternity of businesses that truly cares about helping our community.