Frequently Asked Questions

Please see our Glossary for more information.

How often should my chimney be cleaned?

This depends on how much it is used. A wood stove used for heat may need to be cleaned several times a year. Any time you can see 1/8th inch of creosote build up on the flue, cleaning is recommended. Once a year is normal for any chimney with a season’s use. At Oregon Chimney, a full safety and structural inspection is given with the sweep.

Why do chimneys need to be cleaned?

When wood is burned the smoke and exhaust goes up the flue. There it cools and dries and forms a deposit called creosote on the insides of the chimney walls. Creosote is a flammable material and can catch on fire inside the chimney. If it does catch it can burn even hotter than the fire in the fireplace and can spread to the wood framing and cause a house fire.

Why should chimneys be waterproofed?

Water damage is the main reason chimneys need repair. If a chimney is waterproofed it will last much longer before it has problems, in most cases. Also, in our area, even chimneys in good repair have been known to leak in periods of heavy rain as the bricks are porous and can allow water to pass through to the inside of the house.

Why is a chimney cap needed?

Unless there is a cap on the top of the chimney, rainwater gets in the chimney and, over time, causes damage. Water damage is the most frequent reason chimneys need to be repaired. Some of the problems from water damage include:

  • Water damage on ceilings, basements
  • Rusted dampers
  • Fire boxes cracking and wearing out faster
  • Mortar damage
  • Loose bricks
  • Brick faces splitting
  • Water leakage
  • Houses with “ash tray smell”

Caps also prevent birds and other animals from coming down the chimney.

How much does a chimney cleaning cost?

There are different prices depending on what is being cleaned. Prices start around $90.00, but it is best to call for a phone quote.

What can be done if a damper cannot be opened or closed fully or is missing?

Sometimes a damper can be repaired but most often a replacement damper is in order. Replacement dampers go on the top of the chimney and serve the dual purpose of keeping heat in when they are closed and also acting as a chimney cap.

What causes fireplaces to smoke?

Fireplaces smoke for many reasons. Here are a few main ones:

  • Some need an outside air vent so combustion air is provided to the fireplace.
  • Sometimes the fireplace opening is too high and the ceiling of the house competes with the chimney for the smoke. In this case a smoke guard can be installed to effectively lower the height of the firebox.
  • Another common smoke problem is caused by the wind. A stiff breeze blowing across the top of the flue can interrupt the draft and cause smoke to puff into the house.

Wind directional caps can correct this problem.

What is tuck pointing?

Tuck pointing is where mortar joints between bricks are repaired. Usually this is done by grinding out the bad, soft or damaged areas and putting new mortar in.

Why does brick need tuck pointing?

Mostly water damage and wear and tear. With 70 or 80-plus year-old houses the mortar that was used often did not contain much cement and is softer to begin with than mortar available today. Normally even after 30 or 40 years in our Oregon weather there can be a significant deterioration in the condition of mortar.

What is the value of tuck pointing?

It repairs damaged areas and makes the brick work last longer. It keeps the brick from getting loose and helps one avoid having to rebuild. It also keeps water from penetrating and causing damage.

When do you tuck point versus rebuild?

You can tuck point when the mortar is damaged but the bricks are not loose. Once the bricks become loose they must be torn off to where they are solid, then they must be re-laid or replaced.