Do chimney sweep (cleaning) logs really work?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Chimney cleaning and inspections, Home fire safety for you and your family

A chimney sweep brush vs chimney cleaning logs. I get this question frequently. I cannot speak for the cleaning logs because I have not observed their effect over time, with various degrees of creosote build up. I have been cleaning chimneys for 24 years now. To be able to answer this question, I would have to start with a CLEAN chimney. I would have to record how much wood was used and how long it took for the chimney to get to the point where a manual sweeping was required. And of course, I would need to keep a record of when the chimney cleaning logs were used. My best advice (if you are going to use these logs) is that you start with photographs of your chimney flue and the smoke chamber above the damper. Record all of the data I listed above and come to your own conclusion. Make sure you have a reliable chimney sweep if you are going to use his assistance. The logs do not take the place of structural and mechanical inspections. These need to be done as well. And remember, there are simply situations where cleaning logs do not take the place of chimney sweep brushes.

Have a good week!


More on Prefabricated fireplace systems.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Prefabricated fireplace system maintenance and repair, Uncategorized

To state again, a pre-fabricated fireplace system is also known as a "zero-clearance" fireplace. This is a fireplace made from a kit, that does not require any masonry. The components can be placed very close to combustibles  without catching them on fire. These systems are common in apartment complexes, as well as single-family Dwellings. In the trade, we use round brushes that are soft to clean the flues, which are round metal piping. Over the last 24 years I have had possibly 5 customers that had the operating manual for the system. There is a right way (and a wrong way) to use these systems. Stay tuned for more data on operating these systems.

Waterproofing your chimney crown.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Brick and stone chimney repair, Chimney/masonry waterproofing

Your chimney may have a crown that has cracks in it, yet still has a good bond to the brick it was poured upon.

CrownB4 Tamo
Cracked chimney crown to be repaired with Tamoseal.

A great way to remedy this problem, preserve the crown and protect it from future wear is to waterproof it with Tamoseal. Tamoseal is mixed with a mechanical mixer and is brushed on in two applications. The photo below is a of a crown that has been treated with Tamoseal:

CrownAFter Tamo
Chimney crown repair via application of Tamoseal!


TAMOSEAL is a cement based, polymer modified material designed to waterproof and decorate concrete and masonry.


Waterproofs and decorates Tenacious bond Becomes an integral part of substrate Durable Breathable Slightly flexible to seal static cracks


Concrete and block wall foundations Manholes Water tanks Reservoirs Balconies Interior/exterior

If you want to get technical about it, here is a link to the manufacturer's data:

Tamoseal technical data

We have used this product for over twenty years, and it works great!

Fireplace damper replacement.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Brick and stone chimney repair, Chimney cleaning and inspections

Some quick data to think with regarding an inoperable damper. First, sometimes an inoperable damper can be made to work again with a little coaxing with a hammer and some WD-40 and some back-and-forth movement to work it free. I have had a high rate of success over the last 20 years with freeing up a damper that has been stuck open or closed due to lack of use. If a damper does need to be replaced, one can be mounted on top of the chimney. A top-mounted damper also acts as a rain cap that will keep water and animals out of your chimney. You can certainly appreciated the value of keeping animals out of your chimney if you have ever had one come in and decide to die in it. Wonderful odor in the house… This photo is of a top-closing damper. It is operated via a stainless steel cable that runs down the chimney flue and attaches to a bracket that is installed in the fireplace opening on a side wall.09507

Occasionally there will be repairs that need to occur at the top of the chimney in order to install this unit. We give free estimates for damper installations. (360) 754-3902.

Pre-fabricated fireplace systems – when to replace.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Prefabricated fireplace system maintenance and repair

This pre-fab fireplace needs to be replaced. The refractory panels inside the firebox are cracked, the doors do not operated smoothly. The refractory panels inside the firebox are cracked, and the sliding fire screens are bent and do not slide; the glass doors do not close easily.




Here is a top view of the flue pipe of the system. Notice that there a pipes within pipes. This is what makes the system "zero clearance" which means the parts of the system can be installed within one inch of combustible materials. The air space between the pipes creates buffer zones of multiple spaces of air that rise and vent out the top.


Top view pre-fab pipe


When a system has been over-fired, these pipes can buckle and separate ( The pipes are put together in sections). Usually you cannot disconnect the sections once they have been locked together (twist-locked). This is safety design. When pipes buckle and warp they need to be replaced. Many manufacturers have since gone out of business, so getting parts is almost impossible. Adding after market parts will void the UL listing of the system. The bottom line is that the whole system needs to be replaced.


Here is a system that was over-fired (notice the holes on the top of the rain cap.) The flat, rusted rectangular cover is a chase cover. The chase is a wood box that the chimney pipe travels through. Chase covers can be replaced easily.


prefab burned out cap bad chase


Here is a new unit being installed into the wall (rear view.)


Outside view of a pre-fabricated fireplace installed in a wall.
Outside view of a pre-fabricated fireplace installed in a wall.


Here is an exposed chase at the roof.

Chase frame


Next post:

Video of an installation project.

Chain-link fire escape ladders for the second, third or fourth floor.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Home fire safety for you and your family

It is one thing do be an adult and deal with a dangerous situation such as a house fire. Its another thing to be a young child. Fire can scare and panic children so badly that they panic and do not move. You handle this by drilling procedures with the kids as soon as they can understand the basic concepts. If sleeping quarters are on upper floors, then you need to have a chain link fire escape ladder of the appropriate length. These ladders can hold up to 1000 pounds, and are affordable! Here is is link for more data:<<ahref="">Chain ladder- fire escape

Pre-fabricated fireplaces – repair or replace? Pre-fabricated fireplace repair/replacement.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Prefabricated fireplace system maintenance and repair

Is it really a Prefabricated fireplace system?

(See Photos)

The first order of business is to determine if your fireplace is prefab or masonry. You can identify which type of fireplace you have by looking up with a flashlight toward the damper area from inside the home – wear safety glasses to avoid dust and particles! A factory-built fireplace will have a round damper and a round pipe, usually 7-11” in internal diameter. The damper plate on a masonry fireplace is usually rectangular, and approx. 6” x 24”. You may also be able to ID your fireplace by looking at the exterior of your home. A masonry fireplace will should have an orange clay liner, which is often visible at the chimney top – from outside the home. The two pictures show a typical prefab fireplace inside box and cap/termination. Another hint is to look at the outdoor enclosure around your fireplace and chimney. If it is covered with siding like the rest of the home, you almost definitely have a prefab. If, on the other hand, the exterior is solid brick which extends down to the ground, it is probably a masonry chimney. Another hint is the presence of large visible louvers and black metal facing on the front of the fireplace opening – this usually means a prefab. If in doubt, have a pro check it out for you – they can also advise you on the safety aspect of any upgrades you may have planned. The panels inside of the firebox are called refractory panels. These get cracked and beat up by heavy pieces of firewood being thrown (as opposed to gently placed…) into the firebox. They can also get cracked by over-firing of the system (building a fire that is too large for the system to handle. Refractory panels can be replaced. A damper can be replaced with a damper that is mounted on top of the smoke stack. The chimney cap on top of the smoke stack can be replaced. But when should the entire system be replaced? Stay tuned.



Existing prefab

The 3 levels of chimney inspections.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Chimney cleaning and inspections, Chimney re-lining (safety upgrades), Home fire safety for you and your family

Yes, there are three levels of chimney inspections.
The National Fire Protection Association is the industry standard code. Specifically, NFPA-211 goes over these levels exhaustively. The NFPA makes this data available to the public for free. You will have to set up an account, but it is not a big deal. Click the link below if you want to get your data from the source: