Mr. Smokestack Blog

Animals in the Chimney? Get Them Removed

After a long summer, you don’t know what might be in your chimney–especially if you didn’t take measures to close it to wildlife! You may not be certain if you have an animal intruder or not, but there are a few ways to tell. Some signs that you might have an animal in your flue are:Animals in the Chimney Get Them Removed Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack Chimney

  • Chirping, scratching, or barking noises
  • Droppings in the bottom of the chimney or fireplace
  • Debris such as feathers and fur
  • Foul odors of decomposition

Catching the Culprit

If you find evidence that an animal has been in your chimney system, it may not be there presently. Even if the animal escaped, however, you still need to call your chimney sweep. Animals leave behind nesting materials, fur, and feathers that are flammable and may obstruct airflow. As these organic materials begin to decompose, they can also become stinky. A chimney sweep can clean all of this debris away in a simple chimney sweep. If the animal is still in the flue, however, whether alive or dead, Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service can remove it.

Wildlife Removal Services

Because we have such a wide variety of wild animals here is North Carolina, our technicians are trained in humane animal removal. At Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service, we know chimneys. We know where animals can best hide, where they might have died if they become stuck or suffocated, and how best to gain access. Our wildlife removal services start with a free consultation to offer expert advice, and then a removal plan.


If you need wild animals removed from your home, Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service is here to help, as well as plan for next year. If you are diligent to prevent animal intrusion, you can likely avoid the nuisance and damages they can cause. There is a certain breed of bird, the chimney swift, that nests inside chimneys across North America every spring. This bird is federally protected, so it cannot be removed or killed. That means, you cannot light a fire while it nests in your flue, and even a professional cannot remove it. This can be quite a nuisance. It can mean waiting longer than you’d like to sweep and inspect your chimney, and these birds can be loud. Other animals, small critters that might come into the chimney, and then leave on their own accord–these guys use claws to climb out of the flue, leaving scratches in the flue liner. Scratches become weak spots, which deteriorates faster, collects more creosote and soot, and can result in a hole in the liner.

A simple cap installation can keep animals out of your chimney, and Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service has the best caps for you. If you’re concerned that an animal has been bunking in your chimney, call us today or request an appointment online now.

By Robbie Markey on August 8th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Take Care of Chimney Repairs Before Fall

Fireplace lovers are ready to light the first fire of the season as soon as the weather starts getting cooler in the fall. However, if your chimney has suffered from damage or other problems over the past year, you will have to wait until the repairs have been made to safely use your fireplace again.

Although summer can be a busy season filled with vacations, camps, and ball games, it is important to remember to schedule your annual chimney sweeping and inspection with Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service before fall arrives. This way our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps can make sure your chimney and fireplace system is ready to use. You will also have time to take care of any necessary repairs before September. We would like to tell you more about the different chimney repair services we provide to the residents of Raleigh and surrounding areas.

Chimney ReliningTake Care of Chimney Repairs Before Fall Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack

According to the CSIA, you need a good chimney liner to keep the combustible parts of your home safe from high temperatures. The liner will protect the bricks and mortar from the corrosive byproducts of combustion, and provide a properly sized flue to your heating appliance. Over the years, your chimney liner can suffer from water exposure damage. Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service can check out the condition of your liner to see if it needs to be replaced. We can then reline your chimney with the best liner for your particular system.

Crown Repair

Sitting at the very top of your chimney, the crown is constructed from mortar and can be damaged by erosion over time. When the crown becomes cracked and spalled, it cannot do its job of protecting your chimney from water leaks. Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service provides chimney crown repair and construction services to keep your chimney dry. We also repair and install chimney caps to give your chimney ultimate protection from water leaks and animal invasions.

Firebox Repair

If you have noticed cracks, gaps, and missing bricks and mortar joints in your firebox, you are in need of our firebox repair services. These gaps leave the combustible parts of your home exposed to the fireplace and greatly increase the risk of an accidental house fire. Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service has seen a lot of damaged fireboxes because the original builders did not use refractory mortar when constructing the firebox. Regular mortar cannot stand up very well to the extremely high temperatures produced in the firebox, which cause the mortar to deteriorate. You can trust our experience chimney technicians to only use the best quality of high-temperature bricks and refractory mortar when repairing and constructing fireboxes.
Make sure your fireplace will be ready to use this fall. Contact us at Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service today to schedule your appointment for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection this summer.

By Robbie Markey on July 20th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Problems With Cracked Chimney Crowns

There are some problems that can occur with your chimney system even when it’s not in use. Perhaps the off-season is the time when you should pay the most attention to your chimney. When you’re busy burning fires through the winter, that you don’t notice the obvious signs of a problem. If you haven’t scheduled your annual chimney inspection or routine chimney sweep, now is the time to act–especially if you don’t regularly assess your chimney’s function through the year.

Out of Sight and Out of Mind Problems with Cracked Chimney Crowns Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack

Oftentimes, the most overlooked and neglected parts of the chimney system are those that are out of sight. Most homeowners either forget that the hidden parts of the chimney exist or assume they’re okay. The fact is that while the inside of the chimney is abused and worn down by fire and heat, the exterior of the chimney is battered by time and the elements. A full year of seasonal weather can do a number on your chimney crown, and a homeowner will never see it. The chimney crown is important for chimney health and longevity because it keeps water out. Water wreaks havoc on masonry, can cause expensive damage, lower efficiency, and raise fire risk during burning season.

Chimney Crown Diagnosis

Even a well-constructed chimney crown can become damaged over time. Cracks in the chimney crown can result in water damage and will grow over time until the crown becomes a dangerous hazard. When homeowners schedule routine services for their chimneys, a chimney sweeping company is better able to diagnose a new problem. Companies that have expert masons on staff can even identify problem areas and weaknesses in the crown before damage occurs. With an early diagnosis, a professional can salvage the existing crown and even strengthen it, or recast a crown completely when serious damage has occurred.

Chimney Crown Repair

Sometimes a chimney crown is constructed incorrectly and water doesn’t run off as it should. When this happens, the crown can develop cracks and becomes worn or weak in certain areas. At Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service we put our customer’s safety and comfort first, and we also want to save you unnecessary costs. That is why our technicians are experienced in chimney crown repair. We can repair the chimney crown, filling the cracks and gaps, restoring the necessary slope for water runoff, and finish with a waterproof sealant that will protect it from reoccurrence. This sealant is specially designed for chimney use, creating a waterproof membrane that still allows vapors to escape.

The first step in chimney diagnosis, damage prevention, and repair is to call the professionals. Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service is proud to offer the best services and professionalism in the Raleigh, NC area. We know the weather, municipal regulations, and our customers. Call us today or use our online scheduling tool and let us know how we can help you.

By Robbie Markey on July 6th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Why We Recommend Chimney Waterproofing

Your chimney is designed to last the life of your home. Also, to withstand time and weather. This is why you often see a chimney standing tall despite a natural disaster destroying a home completely. The truth is, even a well-constructed chimney can have a short life if it isn’t properly maintained. Part of caring for your chimney includes routine maintenance.

Professional Care

Why We Recommend Chimney Waterproofing img - Raleigh NC - Mr Smokestack Chimney ServiceYour chimney should be inspected and cleaned regularly. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends annual chimney inspections to be completed by a CSIA certified professional. The chimney sweep and inspection may be the only time a professional has access to your chimney system. They will assess it for weaknesses and clean away debris, soot, and creosote. You should receive a detailed report following an inspection and sweep for your own records, insurance provider, realtor, or municipal authorities. These important routine appointments are one step toward a long life for your chimney, but there is more you can and should do.

An Ounce of Prevention

The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true as much for chimney health as it does for automobiles, homes, and physical bodies. Preventing an occurrence is far more effective than attempting to quell the damage once a problem has occurred. A large part of this prevention is in the routine maintenance mentioned above, but at Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service we consider waterproofing services just as important! Having your chimney waterproofed can save you in catastrophic costs in repairs, injuries, and possible property damages.

Water and Your Masonry Chimney

It’s strange to think that water can lead to a fire. However, in your chimney system, that’s exactly what it does. When water penetrates the chimney system it leads to structural damage, rust and malfunction of important parts, deterioration of chimney liners and masonry, blockage, and more. When water damage occurs, the chimney works less efficiently, airflow is compromised, and the heat and flames that should rise up the chimney don’t. Instead the creosote inside the chimney can ignite, or building materials around the chimney can ignite when heat is transferred through a damaged liner. Fire risk is not the only threat. Water damage can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning that may not be detected until irreparable damage occurs.

What is Chimney Waterproofing?

Chimney waterproofing services are best done in early spring, before the rainy season comes. However, anytime is better than none to have your chimney waterproofed. Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service uses a breathable agent that is made available to industry professionals. This special sealant allows vapors out the masonry, while keeping water molecules from coming in. Waterproofing  your chimney is the first defense against water-intrusion that will preserve the life of your chimney and keep it functioning properly.

Your chimney sweep will check other important components such as the flashing, chimney cap, and crown at your routine service appointments. It’s our first priority to keep our customers safe and comfortable, and that starts with keeping the chimney functional, and keeping water out. Find out how one of our certified chimney sweeps can help you help your chimney work better. Call us today or schedule an appointment online.

By Robbie Markey on June 21st, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

What is Chimney Relining?

Your chimney has an important job to do and many parts make that job possible. The chimney should properly vent heat, particles, and harmful gases out of the home, and it needs a chimney liner to do it. Masonry is porous, allowing heat and vapors to transfer through it, which is why a chimney liner must be installed inside a standard masonry chimney.

The Liner and Its Job What is Chimney Relining Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack Chimney

The chimney liner protects your family and your property while a fire is burning in the fireplace or appliance. Its smooth surface helps the airflow allowing for less buildup of creosote and soot. The liner also keeps gases, smoke, and particulate pollution inside the liner. If a liner is missing or becomes damaged, the toxic gases such as carbon monoxide can penetrate the masonry and poison your family. This can happen quickly or over time, but both instances are deadly. The liner is the only protective barrier your chimney has from corrosive soot, creosote, and direct heat. It also keeps heat from transferring through the masonry and weakening building supports and structures around it.

A Damaged Liner

Your damaged liner will be diagnosed at your annual chimney inspection. If you forget to schedule these important appointments, a damaged liner can go unnoticed for years, causing damage to the system that remains unseen until it results in a fire or extreme costs. When you schedule a chimney sweep and inspection with a chimney professional, you know that it is in good working condition, otherwise, you will receive a detailed report of damages and recommended action.

At Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service, we frequently see outdated chimney liners that need to be replaced or repaired. Our chimney experts recommend a relining for the following reasons:

  • Cracked or broken flue tiles
  • Deterioration of the clay mortar in the liner
  • Gaps in flue tiles
  • Cracked or broken clay liner
  • Flaking of the clay liner walls

You should also have your chimney relined if you decide to change fuel type, and your current liner is inappropriate for use. For instance, clay liners cannot be used to properly vent gas appliances. Stainless steel and cast-in-place liners are appropriate for all fuel types and have their own benefits.

When you hire a professional, you can benefit from their experience and professionalism. A chimney sweep from Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service can clean and assess your current liner, and discuss options with you that fit your desired appliance, fuel-type, and expense. If you’re concerned about your liner, haven’t had it inspected in the last calendar year, or want to change fuel type, call Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service today.

By Robbie Markey on June 12th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Extend the Life of Your Dryer With Annual Cleaning

Your clothes dryer is designed to do a specific job in a certain amount of time. It should dry a moderately sized load of clothes in one cycle. If it doesn’t, many homeowners just start another cycle, and another after that. This is unsafe because there is a problem with your dryer that isn’t being addressed. It’s clogged.

Extend the Life of Your Dryer With Annual Cleaning Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack Chimney ServiceSigns of a Clog:

  • It takes more than one cycle to dry a load of clothes.
  • The dryer and the room where it’s installed gets hot while it’s running.
  • The dryer and the room where it’s installed gets excessively humid.
  • The exterior vent flap is stuck in place.

Many homeowners assume these things are normal for a clothes dryer—that’s it’s just getting old or worn out. The dryer should never perform this poorly if it’s less than three years old. Even when it’s over three years old it should be serviced regularly and repaired as needed so it continues to work properly and doesn’t pose a threat to your family.

The Danger of a Clogged Dryer Vent

Your clothes dryer is a heat source that needs ventilation. The vent hose is how the lint, vapor, and heat escapes the dryer without affecting the home or causing a house fire. Even if you clean the lint trap regularly, there are still stray amounts of lint that builds up in that vent, creating a fire hazard and decreasing efficiency, wasting your money and shortening the life of your appliance with each extra cycle. Besides the obvious waste of money and resources, your dryer vent can cost thousands in fire damage and insurance claims.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration about 2,900 clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. The leading cause of clothes dryer fires is a failure to clean them. This loss is 100 percent preventable through routine maintenance and cleaning of your appliance, and replacing faulty appliances and parts.

Call a Professional

If you have noticed a problem with your clothes dryer you should call a professional right away. Only an experienced technician can clean your dryer vent and leave you with a system that will keep working for you. Spending some money now can save you substantially in the future, if not for damages, then for a new appliance. When it takes two or three cycles to dry one load of clothes, it shortens your dryer’s life by two or three times. According to consumer experts a new clothes dryer should last 10 years. If it’s shorted by two or three times it may only last three to five years. A new dryer is a big purchase to make every three years! It’s best to have it properly maintained so it lasts.

Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service has experienced and trained technicians who can clean your dryer vents and keep your dryer working for you. Call us today or request an appointment online.

By Robbie Markey on April 26th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Dangers of Leaking Chimney Flashing

Flashing is a vital component of the chimney system with a very specific job. Many other parts of the chimney system have dual purposes and multiple jobs. However, the flashing’s sole purpose is to protect the joints where the chimney meets the roof. If installed incorrectly, it allows water into the roof, the masonry, and the interior structure of the house.

Dangers of Leaking Chimney Flashing Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack Chimney ServiceIs Professional Installation Necessary?

Flashing is nothing but multiple sheets of thin metal placed in a specific pattern to protect the junction of roof and chimney. Many factors go into the flashing installation. This includes the type of roof (tin, shingles, metal, etc.), the slant of the roof, and the size and kind of chimney. This tedious process of flashing installation is essential for home safety and the life of your roof and chimney. A common reason that flashing leaks is improper installation, incorrect materials, or animal tampering. Only a certified chimney sweep should be trusted for this important work. He will know how to repair old flashing or install new flashing that will last.

What to Do if Your Chimney Leaks?

If you notice a chimney leak, you should schedule an inspection as soon as possible. Even if you experience a leak in another part of the house, you should have your chimney assessed. This is because water can travel through the interior structure until it reaches the lowest point, then will form a leak. One of the first things your chimney sweep will check is the flashing, as it’s a common source of leaks. An unaddressed leak can lead to structural damage, mold, and health-related risks.

Calling a chimney sweep is the best way to get to the bottom of a flashing leak. Calling a roofer or general contractor will cost time and money, but may not solve the problem. In fact, a roofer doesn’t even have the training and experience to install chimney flashing, though they might advertise that they do.

What’s the Big Deal?

If flashing is damaged, installed incorrectly, or missing, it allows water into the home to damage the structure and the chimney. Chimney leaks can stain, deteriorate, and damage beams, ceilings, floors, and wall coverings. Additionally, masonry chimneys are only waterproofed with special industry sealant above the roof. This means if water is allowed to trickle down the chimney it can cause damage to the masonry itself as well as unsightly stains. Water can wreak havoc on your masonry chimney and the chimney flashing is one of the best ways to prevent a chimney leak.

To find out how Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service can help you prevent a chimney leak this spring and keep your chimney system ready for burn season, call us today! You can also request an appointment online at your convenience.

By Robbie Markey on April 12th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Time to Start Thinking About Chimney Repairs

As cool weather turns to wet, spring weather it’s time to think about chimney maintenance and repairs. Winter damage from snow and rain, and other factors can leave your chimney in need of maintenance when spring comes. This is a great time to have your chimney repairs completed. The weather can be welcoming and burn season is over. It’s the perfect time to close out the chimney system for the off-season.

Diagnosing Chimney Issues

The surest way to insure your chimney damage is caught early is to have a professional take a look. Not a professional ‘handyman’, but a professional chimney sweep. Only a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® (CCS) knows the essentials of fire science and chimney function. Choosing a chimney sweep who has been operating in the area for several years means he’s aware of local safety regulations and municipal codes as well as the climate and common winter damage in the area. There are a few steps you should take when you finished with your fireplace and chimney for winter.Time to Start Thinking About Chimney Repairs Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service (1)

Three Steps

  1. Schedule Your Chimney Sweep and Inspection. Both the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend regular chimney sweeps and annual chimney inspections for the safest and most efficient use of the home fireplace and chimney. During the chimney sweep and inspection a chimney professional is able to assess the clean surfaces of the chimney flue, masonry, and liner. When you schedule these regular maintenance appointments damage is usually caught early and can be repaired with minimal cost and without further, more serious damage occurring.
  2. Pay Attention to Your Chimney System. Pay attention to any indication that the system is working with decreased efficiency. Signs of a problem include: smoke backfilling into a room, difficulty starting the fire or keeping it lit, water or moisture in the firebox, foul odors, wet/musty/smoky smells, dripping noises inside the chimney, and bricks flaking or coming apart. It’s important to the note of these types of occurrences and schedule a diagnostic appointment right away.
  3. Schedule Repairs ASAP. If your technician finds damage to your chimney now, you should schedule repairs as soon as possible. You may be tempted to wait until the end of summer or the fall, but this can be a bad decision for a couple of reasons. Waiting until the “fall rush” can mean your chimney sweep is busy and can’t fit in your repairs before cold weather hits. Also, if you leave you damaged chimney susceptible to spring rains the damage can worsen in only a short time.

Give Us A Call

Whether you’ve found indication of a problem with your chimney system or you just want to check it out and close it out for summer, you shouldn’t wait to call in a professional. The chimney and fireplace experts at Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service specialize in chimney and masonry repairs. Schedule your appointment today.

By Robbie Markey on March 29th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

How to Prevent Chimney Odors

 Eliminate Chimney Odors Photo - Raleigh NC - Mr. SmokestackPart of the charm of a fireplace is definitely the woody, fire smell, the crackling flame, and the warmth. If your fireplace and chimney system work properly the only thing you should get out of your fire is a relaxing evening. Sometimes, especially as weather changes from cold to warm, you might notice some less-than-wonderful odors coming from your chimney. Unwelcome odors are the last thing you want to worry about while spring cleaning and anticipating summer. Luckily there are several steps you can take to avoid such a headache.

Keep the Chimney Clean

If the chimney is clean of soot and creosote there is less material in the chimney system to smell. Scheduling regular chimney sweeps with a certified chimney sweep is the best way to keep the chimney system clean and working properly. When any kind of moisture mingles with soot it can create a foul odor that creeps out of a fireplace or stove. This can occur when your chimney has a leak, but also during summer when humidity seeps into the chimney. The only way to keep humidity from causing a stinky chimney is to make sure it’s clean.

Burn Only Proper Wood

If you burn only properly seasoned wood in your fireplace you are less likely to have nasty odors. Firstly, the wood will burn more cleanly, creating less soot and creosote. Secondly, when you burn other items like clothes or trash in the fireplace or stove, they leave behind waste. When you burn wood, you get ashes, but some other materials melt or smolder instead of turning to ash. This material can be difficult to remove and can be odorous.

Maintain the Fireplace or Stove

Not all maintenance has to be done by a professional. In fact, homeowners should know basic maintenance such as ash removal. Removing the ashes from the fireplace or stove periodically helps to lower the acidity that might contribute to the odors. This is especially something you’d want to do before closing out the system for the off-season.

Correct The Draft

Other than moisture, negative air pressure is the most common reason for a stinky chimney. In order to correct this and help the draft go up the chimney instead of coming into the house, you can add a simple window fan in another part of the house. If it’s the off-season, you can close the damper to stop a down draft. You can also have a top-sealing damper installed which has a tight seal and not only prevents a stinky chimney, but also saves you money during air conditioning season!

At Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service we want all of our customers to be safe and comfortable. Together we can prevent foul odors too. Give us a call or request an appointment online.

By Robbie Markey on March 15th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Why is a Chimney Cap Important?

The chimney cap is one of the most essential, yet often overlooked part of a chimney system. It does multiple jobs to protect your chimney, yet many still question it’s purpose. The professionals know that every chimney should have a cap. Regardless the type of fuel it uses, how tall it is, and no matter what the climate or geographic location.

Why is a Chimney Cap Important Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack Chimney ServiceChimney Caps Keep Weather Out

The chimney cap covers the flue opening. Without it, rain, snow, and sleet falls into the chimney without deterrent. Snow that collects on the top of the chimney will melt and drip into the chimney. No matter the weather or circumstance, the chimney cap is the first guard against weather entering the chimney.

When water is allowed to enter the chimney, it can destroy the masonry from the inside out. Masonry is constructed of many materials. These materials are adversely affected by moisture. Therefore causing rust, weakness, crumbling, stains, and deterioration. The best protection for your chimney masonry is to prevent water penetration in the first place!

Chimney Caps Keep Wildlife Out

The chimney flue is a warm, dry space. This space attracts animals through the cold winter months. Also, as a nesting period in spring. For example, the Chimney Swift, also called the American Swift is a bird often found nesting in North American chimneys in the spring months. Animals can damage the interior of the chimney. They leave debris that can become a fire hazard, and obstruct the flue completely, restricting air flow. Animals in the chimney not only cause trouble, but decrease the chimney’s efficiency. In addition, they can be a hassle to remove – especially if they suffocate and die in your chimney.

Chimney Caps Keep Sparks In

At times, a roaring fire can throw sparks up the chimney that can fly out of the flue’s opening. If the roof has collected dried leaves, twigs, and other debris, the sparks can ignite these flammable materials and cause a disastrous fire.

Chimney Caps Should be Professionally Installed

Chimney caps, like all other installations that affect your chimney system, should be installed by a certified professional. A certified chimney sweep is able to fit a chimney cap to your chimney perfectly. They pay attention to the details that a less experienced provider may overlook, leading to leaks and damage.

Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service recommends chimney caps for all of our customers. This is because we strive for the highest level of safety and efficiency. Common causes of chimney leaks are a missing, damaged, or an improperly installed chimney cap. However, this type of leak can be prevented when you call a professional today. In addition, Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service even has convenient online scheduling.

By Robbie Markey on February 23rd, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment