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Choosing Natural Gas or Propane for Gas Fireplace Inserts

Gas Logs are either made to burn natural gas or liquid propane. There is a difference between the ways these two gases burn, so the burner systems must be made for the type of gas you want to burn. The biggest differences are in the burner orifices and safety pilot options.  For example, a burner for liquid propane gas cannot be lit with a match. Liquid propane is heavier than the air so it must be closed tightly with a manual valve or else a gas puddle inside the fireplace may flow into a room and create a fire hazard.

As natural gas is lighter than air, if the manual valve is left slightly open, most of the leaked gas goes up the chimney, without causing a fire risk. However, liquid propane gas must have a safety pilot, which prevents a valve from being left open. Also, to get the correct air-to-fuel mixture and prevent the gas from puddling, the density of the material that covers the burner pan matters. Propane gas logs usually use vermiculite in the burner pan whereas natural gas logs use a special grade of silica sand.

You may be wondering what kind of gas to use in your fireplace. If your home is already equipped with gas, it makes sense to run a line from your gas main to your fireplace and use the same type of gas. If that’s not possible for some reason, you may want to install a propane tank right outside the fireplace. For information about adding or changing out gas inserts in Baltimore, MD, contact Complete Chimneys. We service customers throughout Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Water Damage & Your Chimney

Water may cause brick-and-mortar spalling, which is when the bricks break off into small pieces and fragments. If the chimney brick spalls there’s a great chance for structural damage to occur.  Have the

brick and mortar of your chimney suffered from excessive exposure to water? If so, look to Complete Chimneys to provide brick repair in Annapolis, MD, and the surrounding areas.  Our chimney repair technicians can repair any water damage and waterproof your chimney to protect it from spalling again. When it comes to water damage and your chimney, the following do’s and don’ts are highly recommended:

  • Don’t assume your chimney is strong enough to endure excessive amounts of water.
  • Do realize that whatever masonry material your chimney is constructed of, water damage poses a serious threat.
  • Do schedule maintenance so water won’t cause your chimney to deteriorate and become a fire risk for your home.
  • Explore replacing or adding a chimney cap to keep water from damaging your chimney. A chimney cap is the safest means of protecting the chimney from water damage.

Don’t hesitate to get repairs if you notice any signs of water in your chimney or fireplace. That’s the time to have the damaged assessed and ensure that no more water flows into your chimney.

Benefits to Cleaning Your Chimney This Spring

Spring is a good time to clean your home as well as your chimney. While many people wait until fall to get their chimneys ready for winter, spring cleaning ensures your chimney is cleaned and prepared for winter. When you have your chimney sweep inspect and clean the chimney as part of your spring cleaning routine, you can also take care of any chimney repairs that are needed, which could prevent extensive damage from happening in the future. If your chimney does have damages that need immediate repairs you can take care of them in the spring and not have to wait to use your fireplace once winter comes around. Other benefits that come with cleaning your chimney in the spring include:

  • Most professionals are not as busy in spring as they are in fall and winter, which makes it easier to schedule the work. For example, the chimney sweeps in Baltimore, MD, at Complete Chimneys are available to provide efficient, effective services when you need them in spring or summer.
  • Spring cleaning may prevent a chimney fire from thick creosote that can spark a fire in the chimney. Cleaning the chimney after a season of heavy use can prevent a house fire. Also, the buildup of creosote produces a strong, unpleasant odor that is noticeable throughout your home.
  • Winter ice, snow, and rain may have entered the chimney and corroded the chimney liner, which leads to damage that could be identified and repaired in spring.


Common Reasons Why Chimneys Leak

The most common cause of a leaking chimney is a covered (no chimney cap) top that is open to rain, snow, sleet, and hail. One of the main advantages of a chimney cap is to keep moisture out, along with birds, animals, leaves, and other debris. Also, and most importantly, if a chimney is blocked at the bottom, there is the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning. Following are other common causes of chimney leaks:

Cracked Chimney Crown: The chimney crown on your chimney is a slab of concrete that covers the top of the chimney. It’s meant to keep water from seeping into and damaging the chimney masonry walls by rerouting the water to the outside of the chimney. The crown also needs to be protected because it inevitably has cracks caused by poor construction, a shifting structure, and concrete shrinkage.

Outside Condensation: The crown may also be damaged from water freezing and thawing, which expands and contracts the masonry and results in cracking. Most chimney crowns have small cracks which derive from allowing water to flow in. In the winter the cracks become larger as the water freezes and thaws. Water enters through large cracks and causes extensive damage.

Chimney Flashing:  The flashing keeps water from going into the place where the brick structure comes through or close to the roof. If that gap between the bricks and the roof is not properly sealed water pours through that hole. Aluminum flashing is meant to go between a few bricks and bent to stay on top of the shingles. After that a waterproof sealant is applied.

Call on the chimney contractors in Baltimore at Complete Chimneys when you need the crown on your chimney repaired. We fix the cracks so that your chimney crown works as it should. Prevent a cracked chimney crown now in order to stop the cracks from growing larger and more expensive in the future.


The Benefits of Tuck-Pointing to Repair a Chimney

Depending on the conditions fireplace masonry can last more than two decades. If a brick fireplace has repeatedly been subjected to rain and snow, it has most likely been impacted and on a path of destruction.  Fireplace masonry that is cracked, crumbling, or falling should be fixed as soon as possible. Damage to brick fireplaces is often caused by moisture that has penetrated the masonry and frozen and thawed. When water freezes it expands and damages the brick and mortar. When the water thaws it moves the moisture deeper into the brick, which is dangerous to the structure and soundness of the whole chimney.

Chimney sweeps from Complete Chimneys provide brick repair in Annapolis, MD, with tuck-pointing, which is a cost-effective repair process that stops the destruction of the masonry. The process of tuck-pointing begins by removing the damaged mortar and replacing it with fresh mortar. The steps involved in tuck-pointing are:

  • Removing the old mortar at a uniform depth.
  • Filling in red mortar in the old grooves.
  • Forming grooves by cutting thin strips down the middle of the red mortar.
  • Filling in the grooves with a mortar color that matches the mortar on the outside of the structure.

Once tuck-pointing is completed, the appearance and stability of the chimney are like new. Tuck-pointing preserves the life of your chimney and provides the following benefits:

  • Stopping corrosion of the mortar joints.
  • Stabilizing the chimney structure.
  • Preventing water from seeping into the chimney.
  • Being more affordable than rebuilding a new chimney.
  • Improving the value of your home.


What Causes a Foul-Smelling Fireplace?

A roaring fire in a living-room fireplace is one of the most mesmerizing and comforting places to relax and feel a sense of serenity. The last thing you want is a foul odor emanating from a place that’s meant to provide warmth and beauty rather than discomfort. So, what has happened to cause odious smells to come into your home from the fireplace? Following are some of the most common causes of a foul-smelling fireplace:

Negative Air Pressure:  If your home is sealed too tightly there is no way for contaminated air to escape to the outside. You want the pressure inside your home to be lower than the outside pressure. The best way to prevent negative air pressure is to keep the fireplace damper closed when the fireplace isn’t being used. Also, you can install a top-sealing damper that is opened and closed by a metal chain inside the chimney hearth and keep it closed when the fireplace is not in use.

Excess Creosote and Soot: Creosote buildup causes bad smells. In addition, it is a flammable tar produced by wood smoke that results in black carbon powder. Creosote deposits must be cleaned from the chimney to prevent bad smells. Burning seasoned wood keeps your fireplace from too much creosote buildup.

Moisture: Water in the chimney produces a musty small.  If the chimney cap in our chimney is working correctly, you can eliminate moisture in your chimney.  With no chimney cap, rain gets in and causes odors, rust, and damage that prevent the damper from operating correctly.

Animals: Keep animal out of the chimney by using a chimney cap with mesh netting. If the chimney cap isn’t intact or the netting is damaged, unpleasant chimney smells could be animal dropping or a dead animal.  Raccoons, birds, and snakes are all commonly found in chimneys with easy access but no way to get out.

Contact the professional chimney contractors in Baltimore at Complete Chimneys. Call (410) 544-7600 for complete chimney services throughout Maryland.

Maintenance Tasks Needed on Your Gas Fireplace


Wood fireplaces are the centerpieces anywhere they exist in the home. However, they aren’t very efficient when it comes to improving the immediacy and cost of heating your home. Next to wood, the most popular fireplace fuel is gas. In order to keep the most effective benefits provided by your gas fireplace, it pays to have regular maintenance performed. Keep your gas fireplace warm and safe by having it professionally cleaned and inspected.

While gas fireplaces require much less maintenance than wood-burning fireplaces, you still want to have them inspected at least once a year. If you use your fireplace a lot, you want to keep it in optimal working order. Although these fireplaces burn cleanly, they still collect debris in the vents, flues, and inside the chimney. This debris needs to be removed before it blocks airflows and spreads a foul odor. Most of the debris in a gas fireplace consists of deteriorating ceramic or faux logs, which clings to the insert and gets trapped inside it.

Other parts that need attention on your gas fireplace include dirty glass doors and frames. Dents or excessive dirt on the glass may interfere with the heat output of your fireplace. You also want to be sure that the inside and outside of your fireplace are kept clean. You can follow the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning or work with a professional like those at Complete Chimneys. We offer service for gas fireplaces and numerous gas inserts in Baltimore, MD.


The Benefits of Chimney Caps

You can compare the chimney cap on the top of your chimney to the front door of your home. You wouldn’t leave the front door open at all times because it would be exposed to pests, wildlife, and inclement weather. The chimney cap performs essentially the same function for your home and fireplace as the front door to your house. In other words, a chimney cap is important to the proper working order of your entire chimney system. The main reasons experts recommend that chimneys have working chimney caps are:

  • Reduction of Moisture. The chimney cap functions as an umbrella that keeps rain, snow, sleet, and hail from coming into your home via the chimney. Moisture rusts stainless steel liners, chimney dampers, and chimney mortar joints. At the same time, it also produces toxic mold and mildew.
  • Restricts Animal Access. The chimney is a warm, out-of-the-wind dark place to build a nest for birds, raccoons and squirrels. Sometimes wildlife goes into the chimney but can’t get out. If they should die inside the chimney there will be extremely odious smells in your home.
  • Blocking of Downdrafts. If the wind blows a strong draft down into your fireplace you could have a smoke-filled living room. The chimney cap prevents windy downdrafts from blowing back into your home.
  • Prevent Sparks and Embers. The chimney cap helps prevent sparks from blowing out of the chimney and landing on the roof or some other area that could catch fire.

Contact Complete Chimneys for service from experienced chimney sweeps in Baltimore, MD. We provide many chimney-related services for customers throughout Maryland.

Problems Caused by a Damaged Chimney Cap

Once you recognize that your chimney cap may be damaged, you need to get it repaired as soon as possible. Our experienced chimney contractors in Baltimore provide speedy, affordable repairs that protect you, your family, and your home throughout winter. It makes sense to have your chimney cap repaired when the damage is still small; otherwise the damage could cause thousands of dollars in repairs that could have been prevented.

A properly installed and intact chimney cap functions as a safety valve for the chimney. Although it’s small in size, it’s important in the uses it performs. For example, a working chimney cap prevents animals such as squirrels and birds from coming down the chimney into your home. If their nests are built in your chimney, they may block the flow and cause harmful gases to back up into your home. In addition it keeps moisture out and ensures that no burning embers escape to start a house fire.

Contact Complete Chimneys for service anywhere in Baltimore, Annapolis, and Pasadena, plus the surrounding areas.  Our chimney contractors in Baltimore are knowledgeable and experienced. Be safe while enjoying your fireplace in the harsh winter climate. Visit CompleteChimneys.com for information on our services or call (410) 544-7600 to make an appointment.



The Benefits of a Gas Fireplace

Gas fireplaces are growing exponentially in popularity. In addition to being appealing and compelling additions to any room, they also offer a number of benefits, including maintaining indoor air quality. They come in different styles, sizes, and colors, so there’s a variety of options when you’re ready to shop for one. You can also choose from among traditional, contemporary, and fusion styles.

When you use a gas fireplace your home stays cleaner and your fireplace contributes much less outdoor pollution. In addition, you also can enjoy all of the following features and benefits:

  • Providing zone heating for most-used spaces.
  • Lowering utility bills.
  • Using natural gas fireplace inserts add more heat for less cost.
  • A continually provided heat supply.
  • No need to buy and haul cords of wood.
  • No ashes to clean or unsafe sparks.
  • More than 20% savings on your energy bill.

In addition all you have to do to turn your fireplace on and off is push a button. Once you have purchased your new gas fireplace, be sure to have it inspected and cleaned by the professionals at Complete Chimney.  We perform a 10-point safety and maintenance service as well as serve customers who need a gas fireplace repair in Pasadena, MD. Visit CompleteChimneys.com or call (410) 544-7600 for more information.