Category Archives: Blog

Women-Owned Chimney Company Brushed Aside Their Doubts Long Ago

The male-dominated stereotype is a thing of the past. It’s not just men who sweep chimneys anymore.

If you’re new to the Caps & Dampers family, you may or may not know, but the company is women-owned by two wonderful ladies, Jennifer Hoyle and Lena DiGenti. They have been friends for years and always shared similar values, so they decided to combine their strengths and go into business together – and as of today, business is only getting busier.

Meet Jen: Jen gets her hands dirty, she runs the day-to-day operations, and she’s always there to answer any questions. Before Caps & Dampers, she had spent several years running the daily operations for a local chimney company, and then realized she was ready to venture out on her own – and then she did! 


Meet Lena:
Lena is a consultant at heart and knows how to build brands. Her lifelong career was focused on consulting, marketing and you guessed it, brand awareness. She was ready to build her own brand and that’s exactly what she did with Caps & Dampers – and she never looked back!

 Click to learn more about co-owners, Jen and Lena – and read about their newest community effort, Warming Homes, Warming the Homeless.

Don’t forget, spring is the perfect time to get your chimney in tip-top shape, so contact us today to schedule your chimney inspection.

Avoid Chimney Fires

What To Do If You Have a Chimney Fire?

It’s an event that homeowners have nightmares about. Walking into the living room and being engulfed in a plume of smoke as their chimney spews fire and ash.

There are approximately 350,000 residential fires each year, and the majority of them could be avoided.

The key to minimizing your fire risk is to be proactive about keeping your chimney clean. Here are a few tips for chimney fire prevention and some important advice for limiting the damage caused by a fire.

Chimney Safety

How to Protect Your Home from a Chimney Fire?

Here are some useful tips for chimney fire prevention:

1. Burn Dry Firewood

Anytime you burn wood inside your home, it should always be dry firewood. Less than 20% moisture is ideal for optimal safety, and it should be seasoned for up to a year.

2. Control the Flue Temperature

One of the easiest ways to prevent an out-of-control blaze is to regulate your flue temperature. Keep it from exceeding 800 degrees, closer to 400 is better.

3. Minimize Creosote Build-Up

Creosote build-up can be a silent killer, plain and simple. Lower your fire risk by hiring professional chimney cleaners who can alleviate your creosote problem in no time.

4. Schedule a Chimney Inspection

Get your chimney examined by a trained professional and at an affordable price. Scheduling an annual chimney inspection will ensure that your structure remains clean and devoid of any unforeseen problems.

5. Employ Clean Burning Techniques

It should go without saying that you should refrain from burning garbage or dirty substances in your chimney. In addition to getting it cleaned at least once a year, keep your flue and the surrounding space clean while you have a fire going.

6. Install Chimney Caps

Have a professional come over and install a chimney cap. This will prevent unwanted items from entering your flue, including bird nests and other debris. It will also keep escaped smoke from coming back into your flue and causing the fire to compound.

What Are The Signs of a Chimney Fire?

Chimney fires aren’t always obvious, but they don’t have to have large flames to cause serious damage to your home.

Telltale signs of fire damage include ash and debris seeping into your living space, the presence of black smoke emanating from your chimney, as well as loud noises coming from your chimney and fireplace. These noises will sound like a loud popping or crackling and should tell you that there’s something seriously wrong.

What to Do During a Chimney Fire?

In many situations, your chimney fire will quickly burn itself out—especially if you own a modernized chimney system. The best thing you can do is to starve the fire of much-needed oxygen by closing the glass doors of the fireplace. If you’re using a stove, immediately shut off all air vents, close the inlets and flue dampers to eliminate the oxygen supply.

If it’s safe to do so, grab your chimney fire extinguisher and try to eliminate, or at the very least minimize the scope of the fire. This is okay for smaller fires but if the fire is unmanageable, you should immediately exit your premises.

If your chimney system has not allowed any fire to escape, great. It will probably burn itself out when starved by oxygen. If it has escaped, you need to leave the property right away. Once you are safely away from the fire, dial up the local fire department.

How to Avoid Future Chimney Fires?

Even if the fire caused minimal structural damage, you still need to hire a professional to investigate your chimney. They should look for any unforeseen damages and perform necessary chimney repairs to get your structure back to its optimal state.

Call a Professional Chimney Sweep

There’s no need to go the DIY route. When it comes to something as critical as chimney care, trust the seasoned experts. They will diagnose the condition of your chimney and alleviate small problems before they become big ones.

Best Time for Chimney Repairs

Why Now is The Best Time for Chimney Repairs

The long cold winter is behind us, spring has sprung, and like many people, you are probably working through your spring cleaning checklist. Working on your yard and garden, decluttering your home, and washing the windows—but does your list include the chimney and fireplace? If not, it should!

Best Time for Chimney Repairs

As you use your fireplace, smoke and heat erode the flue, the chimney liner, and, in some cases, the masonry structures. Once your chimney has fallen into disrepair, it can actually become a danger for you and your family. This is why it’s best to get your chimney cleaned and inspected regularly to ensure it is working at its best and is safe for everyone.

During the winter months, your chimney and fireplace work hard to keep you warm and provide you with calm and comfort. That’s why focusing some attention on your chimney and fireplace after burning season is a great idea and here are a few reasons why.

What Is The Best Season for Chimney Repairs?

Once fall arrives and the weather gets colder, chimney repair companies in Connecticut get booked up fast. Scheduling in the springtime means you can schedule an appointment at your convenience. Should you need repairs, there is plenty of time to get the work done. Come fall, you can have peace of mind knowing that your chimney is safe and ready as soon as the cold weather hits.

The experienced masonry and chimney repair crew at Caps & Dampers, LLC can inspect your chimney and address any problems before they become serious safety hazards for your home and loved ones. Additionally, early inspection and repairs save you from costly repairs in the future.

Ideal Weather for Chimney Repairs

Should you need brickwork done, warm weather is best. The materials used can have the chance to cure properly. Spring is also the best time for waterproofing and ensures that any chance of leaks is eliminated before it rains or snows. Last, an icy roof is dangerous, and getting your chimney repaired in warmer weather ensures your contractor’s safety.

Eliminate Odors

By removing acidic creosote deposits, you will not only prolong the life of your chimney but will also keep your house smelling fresh and clean.

Save Money

In the springtime, prices for routine chimney cleanings (chimney sweeps) or chimney repairs are generally less expensive and a great time to take advantage of any special promotions.

How Often Should I Get My Chimney Inspected?

Conventional wisdom says you should get a chimney inspection at least once a year, but this depends on how often you use your chimney.

Some telltale signs of a dirty chimney include loud crackling noises, excessive creosote buildup, and damaged flue tiles. If any of these issues present themselves, don’t wait to call your local chimney professionals for help.

For all of these reasons, get your chimney in tip-top shape now, and contact us today to schedule your chimney inspection.

Spring Cleaning with Caps

Patron Saint of Chimney Sweeps

This time last year, we were embarking on a state of uncertainty, to say the least, and while no one wants to be reminded of those dismal, dark, “quarantined” days, we feel enlightened that we are not there anymore. Brighter skies and warmer weather are now finally within sight.

Spring Cleaning with Caps

Springtime brings fresh flowers, delightful weather, and yes, you guessed it, Spring cleaning

While you’re dusting your baseboards and remembering to get under beds and behind dressers this year, we want to remind you of another Spring cleaning “to-do,” one that may save your life – have your chimney inspected!

Yes, the chimney often gets overlooked and left in the dust (no pun intended.) But, with the treacherous winter that we’ve just experienced, it’s absolutely critical to double back to this Carbon Monoxide risk.

Here’s a fun fact:

Poland is very cold, and folks tend to use their heating a lot (much like us New Englanders half the year.) It’s also a religious country with a strong tradition of pastoral visits, which is when priests come round, hold court with local families, dispense worldly wisdom, have tea, etc. 

During these visits, they also hand out pictures of saints to guard the households from evils and threats.

A man named Grey Poland teamed up with the National Polish Fire Department and National Chamber of Chimney Sweeps to create an initiative that would save thousands of lives from Carbon Monoxide poisoning. He enlisted a painter of religious icons to depict Saint Florian, who they would officially deem the Patron of Chimney Sweeps, and gave it out to every priest in Poland, from the Orthodox or Catholic Churches as well as Islam, to bring with them during their Pastoral visits. 

The instructions were simple – hold the picture of Saint Florian up to your vent inlet, if it sticks, your ventilation is working properly. If it does not, you need to get it inspected.

In a period of 14 months, over 30 million Saint Florians were handed out, potentially saving many lives with one simple test.

In short – for the rest of us who didn’t receive a picture of Saint Florian, Caps & Dampers continues to be here for you so that your family can sustain brighter, cleaner, and safer days ahead. We also continue to have increased sanitation measures in place.

Your chimney should be cleaned and inspected on an annual basis, as a minimum requirement. If you use it nearly year-round, you may want to consider a biannual cleaning.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Schedule your cleaning with the best squad in New England. Contact Caps and Dampers for a chimney cleaning from highly trained professionals.

Top 4 Reasons Why A Mid-Season Chimney Cleaning Is Necessary

If you’ve enjoyed these cold winter months with family, next to a cozy fireplace with hot cocoa and movies, we have a solution to help ensure that the rest of the season remains toasty and affordable – a mid-season chimney cleaning. It’s so important to make sure that your chimney, the flue, the liner, cap and more are operating in its best condition. When they are functioning properly, it safeguards your home, your family, and of course, keeps everyone warm during the frigid months ahead.

If you had your chimney cleaned recently, but you tend to light a lot of fires, you may want to consider a mid-season cleaning to make sure everything is burning well. If you haven’t gotten a cleaning at all this year, then this blog is for you.

Caps and Dampers will perform a full scan and sweep to make sure that your chimney is safe and functioning properly. Scheduling your inspection halfway through the winter season will not only give you peace of mind, but it will also guarantee that your family can enjoy those cozy nights by the fireplace, healthy and happy. We need these nights more than ever now!

Here are 3 reasons why you should schedule an appointment for a mid-season chimney cleaning:

Prevent Chimney Blockage

During the cold winter months, birds like owls and sparrows will nest inside chimneys, because they offer warmth and protection from predators. However, these nests can cause blockages that hinder the flow of gas and other toxic chemicals that should be exiting through your chimney.

Prevent Creosote Build-Up

Creosote, a very toxic tar-like chemical, can build up very easily inside of the chimney if it’s not properly cleaned or removed. There are two critical threats caused by creosote buildup and neither should be overlooked. One major threat of creosote buildup is chimney obstruction, and any obstruction can cause toxic gases, including carbon monoxide – an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas – to silently poison people and animals inside the home.

Another major threat of creosote buildup is that it can cause a fire, and we all know the dangers and damaging effects of a house fire. A mid-season chimney cleaning can help prevent these extremely dangerous problems, ultimately, saving you time, money and potentially your loved one’s life.

Moisture in Your Chimney

Again, prevention is key. Many types of damage can occur when rain, ice and slushy snow leaks down a chimney or permeates the bricks:

  • Walls in the home can be stained
  • The damper assemblies can rust and fail to function properly
  • Water mixed with creosote in the chimney can create an extremely bad smell, which can infiltrate into the home.

Debris Prevention

Cold weather prompts animals to go into hiding. This means they could attempt to seek refuge in your chimney and build nests, which are highly flammable. Getting a mid-season chimney cleaning means you can eliminate these before they become dangerous.

So, no more waiting, schedule your mid-season cleaning now with the best, highly-trained chimney squad in Connecticut. 

how-often-get-chimney-cleaned

How Often Should You Clean Your Chimney?

Getting your chimney cleaned is an essential part of home maintenance and care. As per the Chimney Safety Institute of America, fireplaces should be cleaned as soon as there is ⅛” of creosote build-up.

Can you clean your chimney all by yourself, also known as going the DIY route? Technically yes, but it’s always safer and more reliable to hire a professional chimney sweep to come over and take care of your creosote problem.

As per the National Fire Protection Association, every chimney should be cleaned at least once a year no matter how much creosote buildup has taken place. So what exactly do we mean by “chimney should be cleaned?” What is involved in this process?

What Happens During a Chimney Cleaning?

The objective of a chimney cleaning is to alleviate your fireplace and chimney of excess creosote and soot. This can become a rather messy and cumbersome process that can result in dirt flying everywhere and even the possibility of damage to your home.

But, if you hire a skilled team of chimney cleaners, you can avoid this hassle and the potential for damage within your space.

Every time you burn wood in your fireplace, some amount of creosote will be deposited into the flue lining. If your chimney isn’t properly maintained, this buildup will evolve into a much more precarious hazard. Repairs will become very expensive and will likely involve more than just a simple cleaning.

Some Examples of Unclean Substances Getting into your Chimney

The main impetus of dirt seeping into your chimney comes by way of untreated wood, which is full of moisture and refuses to burn cleanly. Additionally, pine will force creosote to accumulate faster causing it to layer and become a greater fire hazard.

The more often you use your fireplace, the greater chance it’ll be in need of a cleaning.

Inspecting for Other Variables Including Damage

Your professional chimney sweep will be on the lookout for other factors. In addition to creosote and other flammable materials, they will also assess the fireplace and chimney structure for cracks in the lining and other potential damage.

A crack in the flue lining can sometimes be tricky to detect. Your specialists may enlist the help of a specialized camera system that allows them to peek into tough to see areas and see the impact that heat may have had on the lining. If there’s a crack, your crew will amend it ASAP.

In addition to your fireplace, you should also have the crew examine your wood-burning stoves. This is another annual inspection item that is used to determine whether carbon monoxide has seeped into your home.

How Frequently Should You Clean Your Chimney?

Your chimney should be cleaned and inspected on an annual basis, as a minimum requirement. If you use it nearly year-round, you may want to consider a biannual cleaning.

Schedule an annual cleaning with the best squad in New England. Contact Caps and Dampers for a chimney cleaning from highly trained professionals.

how-to-clean-your-chimney

Can You Clean Your Own Chimney

Sometimes you may need to clean your chimney but you don’t want to call a handyman. While this normally isn’t a recommended step, especially if a large-scale cleaning is needed, it can be done for very small or minor chimney soot removal.

Keeping your family safe can be done with very little effort. Here’s how you can clean your chimney with the help of a few simple home supplies.

cleaning out fireplace

The Best Way to Do a Quick DIY Fireplace Inspection

 

Chimney Cleaning Tools

There are a handful of inexpensive cleaning tools to facilitate the process.

  • Goggles and N95 Mask: The first step in the inspection process is to protect yourself from creosote by wearing goggles and an N95 mask. This is the same gear that any handyman would wear.
  • Cloth Tarps: Heavy-duty cloth tarps will properly cover your space around the fireplace and flooring.
  • Commercial Grade Shop Vacuums: The highest quality, most-effective vacuum cleaners are commercial grade. If you don’t own one, call a professional.
  • Long Brush: These brushes allow you to really dig in and get the hard to reach gunk out of your fireplace.
  • Flashlight: An LED light would be ideal.

Next you’ll need to spread out a plastic tarp, painter’s cloth, or newspapers around the perimeter of your fireplace to ensure soot doesn’t go all over the floor.

Start by cleaning ashes out of the firebox area and take off the grate to start cleaning your chimney.

To see the full extent of the creosote buildup, grab a flashlight and your fireplace poker. Shine the light into the fireplace and start scratching the walls to see the true thickness of the soot.

The rule of thumb is that if the soot is less than ⅛” thick, you can remove it yourself. Otherwise, you should call a professional chimney sweep.

A Clean Chimney and Fireplace Helps Prevent House Fires

It doesn’t take much dirt to present a broader hazard to your home. You need to clean even the smallest amount of soot to ensure a safe and healthy environment for your family.

If your primary burning is by way of green, wet logs, these don’t typically burn cleanly and will send a bevy of dirt particles throughout the house.

Removing dust is vital to keeping the area safe and preventing future mishaps.

What Happens if You Don’t Clean the Chimney?

When you don’t clean the chimney or flue, you’re leaving your home susceptible to creosote buildup which is highly flammable. It can increase to several thousand degrees and burn precipitously around your fireplace.

This can also affect the structural integrity of your roof in general if you leave the situation unremedied.

Improve Your Chimney with Professional Services

While it may be tempting to clean your own chimney or fireplace yourself, it’s always better to hire professional chimney cleaning to ensure that you’re getting the space clean in a safe manner.

Not only is this a safer option for most homeowners, but it can also be much more effective to get the hard stuff removed.

A professional cleaning involves the use of quality tools to conduct a proper inspection and the use of an effective brush among other great tools.

Protect Your Family and Your House

It’s not just about cleaning your fireplace, it’s about keeping your family safe. Whether you live in an old or new house, you owe it to your loved ones to remain safe.

Get a proper inspection and cleaning done today. Why wait to remove the junk that’s stuck in your chimney structure?

Are You Buying a New Home? Let Caps & Dampers Inspect Your Chimney First.

It’s been an unpredictable, crazy year for us all; however, there always appears to be good with the bad—and we’ll take any good we can get in 2020. Some businesses and industries are in crisis, while others are thriving. The housing market is booming right now, and aside from our usual chimney cleanings and masonry repairs, Caps & Dampers is performing many chimney inspections for potential homeowners.

If you are currently looking to buy a new home, let us, a professional chimney company with years of experience, perform a detailed chimney inspection for you. Caps & Dampers is charging a flat-rate fee of only $100 and provides top-notch chimney service. A regular inspection company cannot fully ensure that the chimney and the chimney liner is fully intact, functioning properly and safe, but we can—and we do!

During our chimney inspection we do the following:

  • Make sure the chimney cap and screen are secured.
  • Inspect the condition of the brick and mortar.
  • Check for excessive creosote buildup.
  • Check the flue liner for toxic buildup, holes or cracked flue tiles.
  • If applicable, we inspect your fireplace, wood stove or insert’s glass doors.
  • Finish the inspection by having you test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Each of these steps is just as critical as the next and each of them should be properly inspected by a chimney professional.

Caps & Dampers is always busy this time of year, but due to this thriving real estate market, we are even busier than normal. So, despite the current economic downturn, Caps & Dampers is currently hiring and, for that, we are very grateful for our customers and want to thank you for your continued support.

As a women-owned business that is focused on warming homes and warming the homeless, it is our top priority to help provide safe and warm housing throughout our community—especially to our most vulnerable citizens. There may be a lot of chaos in the world right now, but there are a lot of good things happening as well—and we choose to participate in that goodness here at Caps & Dampers.

Schedule Your Chimney Inspection Today.

If the Storm Hit Your Home Hard, It May Have Hit Your Chimney Even Worse!

Caps & Dampers has been busy since Tropical Storm Isaias made a powerful landfall in Connecticut in early August – and we’re still out here working.

If you had fallen trees or broken limbs or any other debris all over your yard, then you should definitely schedule your appointment with us so we can check your chimney for any damage that may have been left behind.

The chimney is the highest point at the top of your house and it can easily be damaged by heavy rains, high winds, lightening and other harsh elements. A severe storm could leave your chimney with cracks, missing bricks, loose flashing, a missing chimney cap or more.

Water damage can deteriorate the chimney itself, and a leaky chimney can certainly destroy your ceilings, structural beams and cause toxic mold to build inside of your home. Homeowners should always schedule a yearly chimney inspection for any necessary maintenance, but after a huge storm, it’s best to schedule an appointment immediately after.

Plus, as you probably know, if structural issues are not fixed right away, it can certainly lead to more expensive problems down the road – and nobody needs any more problems in 2020, that’s for sure!

With September creeping upon us, so does Caps & Dampers busy season, so we suggest you don’t wait to schedule your chimney inspection or yearly chimney sweep. For masonry repairs, technicians will not enter or touch any part of your home before, during, or after the job. With extra safety precautions in place, you can rest well knowing your family is safe and your chimney is up to the task of keeping you warm for the cold winter months.

Times are uncertain, we are busy, and we do not know what the fall will bring, so get this project out of the way and schedule your appointment now!

 

Don’t Wait, Inspect & Sweep Your Chimney This Summer!

A chimney inspection and a chimney cleaning once per year are always important for the health and safety of your family (and your chimney), but getting it done now is more important than ever.

Times are uncertain and no one knows what the fall will bring. We don’t know if another lockdown will be put in place or if things will continue to keep getting better for Connecticut. Of course, the latter is what we all hope for; but one thing we do know for certain, is that we’re all staying home now more than ever.

Because of our current situation, family-time is on the rise and being able to sit together around the fire, comfortably and safely, this fall/winter is something you need to prepare for now. Playing cards, drinking hot cocoa or telling stories around the fireplace will become the new normal and something positive to look forward to in our world’s current state. There is nothing like family time around a cozy fire!

Although, before you light your first fire of the season, you must make sure your chimney is clean and properly ventilating. Caps and Damper’s top priority is to make sure your chimney’s ventilating system is operating at its best and that there aren’t any dangerous blockages. It’s best to have our professionals sweep and remove toxic soot, tar and creosote buildup. Once we do that, it’s much easier for us to take a closer look at your chimney’s structural integrity and make sure everything is intact.

We make sure your chimney cap and screen are secured. We inspect the condition of your brick and mortar and check the flue liner for excessive creosote buildup or cracked flue tiles. Creosote buildup requires immediate attention because it’s hazardous to your health and is a highly combustible toxin. Our job is to ensure that no harmful toxins or gases are entering your home and endangering your family’s health and safety.

Rest assured, our technicians are following all CDC guidelines and always enter your property with the correct personal protective equipment required like masks, gloves, sanitizers, and more.

A chimney inspection and chimney cleaning can be scheduled and paid for virtually and there doesn’t need to be any face-to-face contact with our technicians.

So don’t hesitate—schedule your appointment online now: https://capsanddamperschimneys.com/schedule-online/