OSHA COMPLIANCE: “NO EXCUSES”

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
. . . . If you own a service company be sure to take time to read this great information. During your OSHA company meetings this would be a good article to share with your team.
 
OSHA COMPLIANCE: “NO EXCUSES”
Brought to us by Jim Gillam
Editor & Publisher of
The Chimney Sweep News (SNEWS)
www.ChimneySweepNews.com
 
Rick Kaletsky, occupational health and safety consultant, outlined employers’ responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act at the National Chimney Sweep Guild convention in Hershey, PA.
 
 
There are no excuses when it comes to complying with OSHA regulations, according to Rick Kaletsky.
Rick Kaletsky is the owner of “Rick Kaletsky – imgres13494958_517252908399373_2957529261877029340_nSafety Consultant,” specializing in hazard recognition, site inspections and citation resolution. Before starting his own company, Rick was employed for twenty years by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration where he served as an occupational safety and health specialist and assistant area director in the agency’s Connecticut offices. He is the author of OSHA Inspections – Preparation and Response, published by McGraw-Hill.
Rick spoke before an audience of about one hundred chimney sweep business owners at the National Chimney Sweep Guild convention in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
 
Safety starts legally and morally with the employer, Rick said. “You have to provide a safe and healthful workplace. You have to train people. If they don’t know what to do and they don’t have the right equipment, you can’t expect them to be safe.
“You want to make sure that everything is safe. Every thing. Everybody. Every minute!
“You might say, ‘I’m only going up on the roof for ten minutes.’ How long do you think it takes to take that trip on the way down? Not very long!”
 
Realize What Could Happen
Rick acknowledged that chimney professionals probably have a different comfort level working at heights than the average person. But he urged us not to become complacent about our safety or overconfident about our skills.
Holding up a newspaper clipping showing a sweep standing on top of a chimney in a typical publicity pose, he exclaimed, “I just can’t believe it has to be this way!
“I don’t care how tough this guy is or how smart he is. Why can’t he get a little kink in his knee? If he does, he goes down!
“Then somebody gives some BS that it was a ‘freak accident.’ It’s not a freak accident,” he declared. “To do what this gentleman is doing is absolutely nuts! Just think about his family!
“I understand you don’t work in an office for the most part,” he acknowledged. “Chimney sweeps, masons – it’s tough stuff. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use reasonable protection and operate within the law. You don’t want to gamble with people’s lives!”
“What this is about is not just the law,” Rick cautioned. “It’s about the fact that you don’t want to visit somebody in the hospital or call someone to say that their husband or wife died on the job!”
 
The Law
The Occupational Safety and Health Act, passed in 1970, requires employers to provide employees with employment and a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
Enforcement in a little more than half of the states is handled by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The other states have chosen to handle their own enforcement. Their programs must be at least as stringent as federal regulations.
The law applies to any equipment in a workplace that has employees. “If you have anything that’s rented, leased, belongs to the homeowner, is old, is new, is stolen, you borrowed it – if it would be encountered in work by your employees, which could include yourself, it is yours,” Rick emphasized.
The law applies to everybody in the workplace. “That means that the boss doesn’t get to do things that other employees can’t as far as exposing themselves to danger. No matter what you make, no matter whether you are part-time or day labor or summer help, you’ve got to be protected.”
 
Why My Company?
“What attracts OSHA to the worksite?” is a question that Rick commonly hears from employers. Although there is a list of items that includes complaints from employees and special emphasis programs, he strongly urged business owners to concentrate on employee safety, not on “beating” OSHA.
“Don’t you want to protect your workers all the time?” he asked. “You don’t want to even worry about accident investigation. It’s more sensible to talk about accident prevention.
“You may not have an OSHA inspection for thirty years,” Rick said. On the other hand, they might visit your business tomorrow.
 
What to Do When OSHA Knocks
Company personnel should greet OSHA inspectors courteously and professionally and “make sure you see their credentials,” Rick advised. “Make sure you know who you are dealing with.
“They don’t think of themselves as cops, but if a $100,000 penalty can be imposed I would say they are law enforcement,” he reasoned.
After you’ve determined who you are dealing with, introduce the inspectors to the person in charge. The person in charge should also check the inspectors’ credentials, Rick suggested.
Sit down in a comfortable area. “You don’t want interruptions,” he insisted. “This really needs attention!”
Remember that you are dealing with human beings. “You might have someone who if you push him the wrong way, his eyes get bigger,” he cautioned. “Or for that matter, you might have someone who came from a job the day before where someone lost an eye.
“They are trying to see if you are complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Act standards for protecting your employees. And it’s not their job to protect your employees, it’s yours.”
The inspectors will tell you the purpose of the visit and furnish a copy of an employee complaint. They will not release the complainant’s name. “They are going to tell you the scope of the inspection,” Rick said. “But, hey, if they’re on your job in the field, they are certainly going to look at the major things: electrical, fall protection, fire hazards, etc. Figure that if they are there then they are going to look at everything.”
“Tell the truth,” Rick advised, “but don’t go ‘off-the-record.’” Excessive candor creates the impression “that you really knew” about the hazard, “not just that you should have known.”
OSHA will take photographs and may take measurements or samples. OSHA may take a look at your training, injury and illness records. OSHA may talk to your employees privately. “You are not allowed to ask them what was said,” Rick warned.
The employer is not allowed to take any adverse action against an employee who speaks up about safety. “People have a right to speak up,” Rick emphasized. “It’s not a special privilege.”
Walk Around
A company representative should accompany the OSHA inspector in the walk around the worksite, Rick suggested. “You want to know what he or she is looking at.” In addition to ensuring that the inspector is not endangered by any conditions on the worksite, you might then be able to prepare to defend yourself if necessary. “If they are going to take pictures, you might want to take pictures or videos.”
Allow complete access, Rick advised, but if somebody needs to get something done right away, let the inspectors know. “That’s okay to do,” he said. “It’s still your workplace.” However, he said it is unlikely that OSHA inspectors will postpone or cut short their visit for any but the most extraordinary reason.
“You want to let the inspectors know that you are trying to provide a safe workplace,” said Rick. “Let them know what your efforts are.”
Don’t pretend that you know it all. “Screwed up is okay,” Rick allowed. “It doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to get cited. But it’s a lot better than ‘We know everything here.’” If you know so much, if the inspectors find something wrong OSHA will assume you intentionally tolerated a hazard. “That’s where you get into serious money” if you are fined, he warned.
If you are able to point out mitigating factors that will show OSHA that it is “not as bad as looks,” then “defend yourself,” Rick encouraged.
Be sure you are wearing any necessary safety equipment during the walk around.
 
Specific Hazards
Rick offered numerous suggestions for chimney maintenance companies about specific hazards, including:
• Ladders. Keep ladders away from overhead lines. Be careful how you move a ladder around so you don’t pull a muscle. Get help if you need it. Do not cover any labels on the ladder. Be sure the ladder has the capacity for your load. An extension ladder should be extended to three rungs above whatever surface you are climbing onto. Set it up at the appropriate angle.
• Scaffolds. Watch out for overhead wires when setting up the scaffold. “In most cases, when you get to 10’ high on a scaffold, you must have perimeter protection,” Rick noted. “We’re talking about a mid-railing about 42” high.” Be sure the scaffold is set up on a stable, level base.
• Electrical. 110 volts or 220 volts can kill. Avoid exposed live parts. Portable electrical tools must be grounded or double insulated. Extension cords should be intact. Temporary power sources should be equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI). “GFCI’s rank with smoke detectors as something that doesn’t cost very much but can save your life,” Rick stated. “When you teach people about electrical hazards, make sure you keep them current,” he quipped.
• Ergonomics. “It’s very important to be flexible and warm,” Rick noted. Avoid twisting motions while lifting.
• Hazard communications. Employers are required to inform employees about hazards associated with chemicals such as flammable liquids, solvents, corrosives, compressed gas, etc. Keep Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) handy so they can be accessed in an emergency and sent with an ambulance or care provider. “You need a written program,” Rick advised, “that includes a list of substances you encounter on the job from A-Z, where the MSDS are located, and training on how to read the MSDS.”
• Protective equipment. Employers are supposed to assess the need for protective gear on any given job. Protective equipment may include eye protection with the right kind of lenses, frames, and side shields; gloves; knee pads; safety shoes; and ear protection.
• Respiratory protection. Respirators should fit tight to the face. Employees must have medical clearance to use a respirator and must be trained in proper usage and cleaning. “If you have a heavy beard, or a broken bone in your face or high cheek bones, you may need a different respirator than everybody else [positive pressure respirator], Rick suggested. Particular care must be taken if asbestos or silica is in the environment. “Don’t blow it or sweep it or vacuum it unless you have a HEPA filter,” he advised.
• Fire extinguishers. Keep an appropriate, properly charged fire extinguisher handy. Make sure your employees are trained to use it. “Sweep the base, do not knock down the flame,” he recommended.
• First aid. “If you don’t have access to an open hospital, clinic or infirmary in a hurry, you need trained first-aiders,” Rick insisted. Check the expiration date on items in your first aid kit and replace any outdated items.
• Be sure that long hair, jewelry, sleeves and shirt tails can’t get caught in drills, blades and other power tools.
• Make sure tools are in good condition.
• Separate the cargo area of your vehicle from the passenger area as a dust control measure and so that tools and equipment can’t fly up and hit the passengers or driver in an accident.
• Be careful with animals, alive or dead. He particularly warned of the danger of bird droppings. “You can get some illnesses from birds that cause lifetime disabilities. Bird droppings are very serious, I can’t stress that strongly enough!”
 
Fall Protection
“If you tie off, you want a personal fall arrest system,” Rick stated. “The anchor is the most important thing.” You must be tied off while using an articulating boom.
 
Jim Brewer (Magic Sweep Chimney Sweep, Chesapeake, VA) wondered whether “you have any good, practical advice when we’re sending guys out, for five jobs in an average day where they are on the roof for ten to fifteen minutes per job?”
Jim continued, “If we start doing fall protection – I know what the law says – I’m going to double my time on the job. I’m going to expose my guys to more hazards setting all this rigging up, compared with training them how to walk on a roof. The economics of it is that I’m going to be charging twice as much as my competition and I’m going to go out of business. Fall protection drives me nuts!” he exclaimed exasperatedly.
“I realize fall protection is tough issue for this crowd,” Rick acknowledged. “Remember as far as economics goes, if one of your guys gets hurt, it’s not just the immediate cost. You are paying forever.”
[See SNEWS – July 2003 for more on fall protection, ladders and scaffolds.]
 
Lobby for an Anchor Point
Rick suggested that the National Guild should lobby with the code bodies for a provision that would require installation of a tie-off anchor point in new construction.
“People may say it will cost money to put it in,” Rick anticipated, “but they will save that money every time they have a contractor or their own maintenance people not have to worry about falling off the building!”
 
Repeated Accidents
If someone is injured repeatedly, “find out why they are getting hurt,” Rick advised.
“If Johnny gets hurt three times, maybe he hasn’t been trained right. Does he have an unsafe job, or unsafe equipment? Is he drinking? Does he have a bad leg or bad eyes?
Does he have a bad attitude? You need to get to the root of the problem.
“No one should ever be disciplined for getting hurt,” he added.
 
Training Documentation
Rick recommended documenting your safety training. “You don’t need fancy notes,” he said. “Write down who came that day and have them sign it. If they need an interpreter, note that. If someone only speaks Spanish or Laotian, find someone who can deal with it. Don’t leave anyone behind in the system. Give them real training!”
Specific items for ladder training include securing, the approximate angle, the overlap, and correct ascent and descent. “Never assume that because these people are adults, they know how to climb a ladder,” he cautioned. “That’s not good enough. Go over it with them.”
 
Closing Conference
As for the opening conference, provide a quiet, comfortable setting. Listen carefully to what the inspectors have to say, repeating their words for clarity.
Don’t wait for a citation to explain or defend yourself, Rick suggested. “A citation is something you would rather avoid.”
OSHA will discuss methods of correction and provide a deadline for correction.
There is an appeal procedure available if you disagree with OSHA’s decision.
OSHA Standards
Standards can be found on the OSHA website, www.osha.gov. “It would be a good idea to purchase the construction and/or general industry standards,” Rick suggested.
 
“There are lots of hazards out there, he cautioned. “Please don’t gamble with the lives, the lungs, the limbs, the eyes of your employees.”
Saying that he hoped his presentation “soots” our needs, Rick concluded, “although you may have to make some changes in your safety program, I don’t think you’re going to need a clean sweep of all of it.”
Rick covers this topic in much greater detail in his book, OSHA Inspections: Preparation and Response (Updated for 2002), available from him directly at 203-393-1233 or rkaletsky@aol.com.
Rick Kaletsky, occupational health and safety consultant, outlined employers’ responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act at the National Chimney Sweep Guild convention in Hershey, PA.
 
OSHA COMPLIANCE: “NO EXCUSES”
 
Thanks so much to Jim Gillam for this very informative reporting !
Editor & Publisher of
The Chimney Sweep News (SNEWS)
www.ChimneySweepNews.com
 
“ . . . if your not reading SNEWS maybe the question is, why not?
Clay Lamb
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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Why a Chimney Cap Might Save Your Chimney’s Life

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Here is another great article, about the need for installing  a chimney cap! A bigs thank you goes out to Doug Hetsch and his entire team over at  ” All American Chimney ” in beautiful Louisville KY. After reading this article, if you have time jump over to our interview with Doug Hetsch on our HomeContractors HQ– podcast Episode 25   .

http://homecontractorshq.com/25-high-in-the-sky-doug-hetsch/

 . . . If you have time jump over to our interview with Doug Hetsch on our–> HomeContractors HQ podcast Episode 25

Why a Chimney Cap Might Save Your Chimney’s Life

When you have a chimney, one of the most important things you can to do prolong its life and protect it from damage is to prevent water penetration. All American Chimney Service knows how important it is to keep water out of your chimney, and we are proud to offer several maintenance and installation services that are the best ways of preventing water damage to your chimney. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends a chimney cap as the least expensive preventive method against water penetration. Over our years of working on chimneys in the Louisville area, we have repaired many chimneys that were damaged because they were not capped. Sometimes the damage can become so bad that we have had to rebuild chimneys. This is one of the reasons why the CSIA has called water the biggest enemy of masonry chimneys. We would like to tell you more about chimney caps and how they can save the life of your chimney by protecting it from water penetration.

Why A Chimney Cap Might Save Your Chimney's Life - Louisville KY - All American Chimney

How does a chimney cap keep water out of my chimney?

Without a good quality chimney cap installed at the top, your chimney is an open hole on your roof. Water from rain and melted snow can easily get inside your chimney to penetrate into the bricks and mortar of your chimney. This trapped moisture can lead to spalling damage in the winter, which is when the water freezes, expands, and thaws. The repeated freeze/thaw cycles cause the bricks and mortar to crack, break apart, and become loose from the chimney. Making sure your chimney is protected by a chimney cap at its top will help to decrease the spalling damage to the bricks and mortar.

What other benefits do I have from a chimney cap?

Not only do chimney caps prevent water from getting into chimneys, they also keep birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other wild animals out of the flue. All American Chimney Service can show you chimney caps that are equipped with metal mesh sides that make it impossible for any critters to even try to enter your chimney to use as a nesting spot. These metal mesh sides serve another important purpose as they keep hot sparks and embers from jumping out of the top of the chimney. This reduces your risk of experiencing a fire on your roof or in your yard. If you are having trouble with the draft in your chimney, we can also show you chimney caps that are vented on the sides to direct the wind to help pull exhaust gases out of the chimney.

By serving several important functions, a chimney cap is one of the most essential components of a chimney and venting system. Contact us at All American Chimney Service to find out more about our chimney cap sales and installation services.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

of … Unvented Gas Logs

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Over the past few years, there has been some commotion in the industry regarding non-vented gas logs. (BEING UPDATED)

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Replacing a . . . Fireplace Damper

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

 

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Fireplace dampers sit almost directly above the heat of the fire. Over time, the extreme heat and rapid change in temperature can warp and damage the fireplace damper such that they need replaced. A damper must be in one piece that is snug to the flue in order for it to work properly, and if the damper cracks while being rapidly heated and cooled, it will no longer work properly. Replacing a fireplace damper by yourself is possible, and you can save yourself some serious money by foregoing professional consultation.

 

One step that folks who want to complete the job themselves often skip is actually removing any debris up where the damper sits and also in the firebox itself. Any ashes in the firebox should be removed and thrown away, but be sure that the ashes have fully cooled before manipulating them. We recommend putting the ashes into a metal can100_0853

From here the process is actually quite simple. There will be a rod that is fixed inside the chimney by nuts. Use a wrench to loosen the nuts and remove the metal rod. The damper itself will now be able to be twisted off. If your damper has significant rusting, this part may be difficult, and if the metal rod itself has rusted you will want to replace it and the corresponding nuts. You may want to consult a professional in choosing a new damper, but if you do not want to simply taking your existing damper with you when you go to get the new one will allow you to compare dimensions and ensure that you have a proper fit. Very large chimneys may need custom made dampers, but this is rarely the case.

Installing the damper is quite easy– simply slide it back onto the rod in the same fashion that you removed the old damper and fix the rod and damper back into place using the same nuts as before. Be sure it is securely fastened and that it will not wiggle or fall over time. Despite the simplicity of replacing a fireplace damper, I have heard from folks who have installed the damper incorrectly that they lit their first fire after the replacement and their whole room filled with smoke! LT II Cap Damper 2 09507

This is no problem and is usually not the fault of the damper’s construction.

Put the fire out and look closely at the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that you have installed it as the manufacturer had intended. If you are still experiencing problems, consult a professional.

When replacing your existing damper, a product now available on the market is called a top sealing damper, where the damper is actually located at the top of the chimney, controlled by a cable that reaches down the chimney, which prevents heated air in the winter from being lost up and out of the chimney. LockTop top sealing damper systems are generally what are installed by professionals these days because of their efficiency and ease of use for the customer.

LY Damper Handle (2)

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

What the Heck is a Sudden Occurrence Insurance Claim

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Chase blown over3.jpg copyWhen a chimney fire occurs, wind damage, or lightning strikes your chimney, damage is incurred.  Most folks’ insurance policies cover such occurrences, and a chimney professional must try to help homeowners to make the insurance process go as smoothly as possible. My number one recommendation when it comes to insurance claims, no matter what kind of insurance, is to document everything at the very beginning of the process. You need to be sure to document the date it occurred, the name of the professional(s) who comes out to evaluate the situation, and the date(s) the professional evaluated the situation. Your professional should also be doing some documentation as well.

  • The service technician must document the damage, the date it was discovered, and how they discovered it. Most chimney fires are discovered by chimney sweeps who come out and observe signs that a chimney fire has occurred when running a video inspection of the flue system. This is a dangerous situation which cannot be ignored; you cannot continue to burn wood regularly in your fireplace without repair. You may notice exterior damage on the chimney caused by a lightning strike, in which case the technician should document that he came out to observe possible lightning strike damage at the request of the owner of the home.
  • Most insurance policies do not cover normal wear and tear of the chimney, for example, deterioration over many years. Similarly,
Vertical Crack
Vertical cracks in flue tiles often indicate a chimney fire has occurred.they do not cover problems such as a clogged flue or spalling brick, which is almost always the result of poor maintenance of the chimney. Instead, documentation for insurance claims are used to file a “sudden occurrence.” It has been my experience that most insurance companies are willing to work with you so long as you provide the documentation and information that they require.
  • Fire is only supposed to be contained within the firebox of your chimney. When the fire escapes this area, it often causes vertical cracks in the flue tiles of a chimney, can warp a stainless steel liner, and cause other damage to the chimney and home in general. Documenting your claim on a large, roaring chimney fire is easy, seeing that the fire department must be called. What about slow burning chimney fires, which most home owners are not even aware occurred until a chimney sweep comes out and tells them.
  • Chimney professionals are almost always willing to come out, meet with an insurance agent or a homeowner, and do whatever work is necessary in cases regarding sudden occurrence insurance claims. My policy is to never get ahead of the insurance agency and follow their lead when it comes to the claim, providing what documentation and service they require. Remember, it is not the chimney professional’s job to defend the home owner’s claim, but review observable facts and provide documentation that a person other than a trained professional could not do. Call out one or more professionals if you suspect a sudden occurrence has taken place; they can almost always make the insurance claim process less of a hassle
  • Sudden Occurrence Insurance Claims

  • https://youtu.be/ImkfRabTTPI

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Ask The Chimney Sweep is now offering a business building (PODCAST) for Home Contractors

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

... So Darn Excited ! ! ! I’m just so darn excited, after receiving  over 2,000,000 (that’s Million) down loaded views on our Youtube channel .. *Ask The Chimney Sweep.  we are now  launch ing a podcast show called  *Home Contractors HQ.com. 

Please share this if your are or know of anyone thinking of starting their own business!

If you are not familiar with podcasting, I assure you that you will be soon! Podcasting is kind of like internet radio. Only you get to pick who you want to hear from, as well as when you want to hear them.

Home Contractors HQ podcast can now be heard on  iTunes , Google Play and Stitcher podcast phone app.<——( podcast-catchers)

Yes, I’m  Excited!

 

Home Contractor HQ is our new educational podcast show Join
Home Contractor HQ is our new educational podcast show
Join us Facebook in building an even bigger community at    www.Home ContractorHQ.com
Helping SeHome Service Contractors build their own business
Helping Home repair Contractors build their own business’

Ask The Chimney Sweep” ….  is not going away ! 

 

For years service companies from all across the country have told me that they use our * Ask The Chimney Sweep videos, to train their own servicemen, as well as being a great a tool to email to their own customers to help explain, just what kind of repairs that they are recommending to be completed at their homes.

Our new educational training podcast is directed to help answer questions for new startup service companies, as well as hearing from hundreds of very seasoned contractors, that will be sharing their wisdom and experiences with the next generation of home repair service companies.

With thousands of visitors and subscribers * Ask The Chimney Sweep <——“is not going away !
With all of the wood-stove and gas fireplaces being used by millions through -out America, our blog and the Q & A section is exploding.

After 35 years of being a home contractor, starting business’ in 5 different states, as wellas  facilitating over 90 other  service companies in Master-mind groups, we now have I a huge amount of educational resources that are sure to help both the new Home Contractor, as well as home owners who want to know what to expect from their own home contractor.

Visit us at   www.HomeContractorsHQ.com

Clay Lamb

www.AsktheChimneySweep.com                 … Educational  Videos

www.HomeContractorsHQ.com                   … Coaching Podcast

www.FireplaceandChimneySupply.com    … Chimney products

Join our new podcast at  …. www.HomeContractorsHQ.com

 

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Learn More About Dryer Vent Safety

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

linteatersystem
Unlike some appliances which need maintenance only when a problem arises, dryer vents need ongoing maintenance to keep them safe. When it comes to a sweeping company, most people really only consider having their fireplaces cleaned, and maybe their furnace, but what about your dryer vent? This must be cleaned regularly in order to best prevent a fire from starting. Here are some tips in caring for your dryer in between servicing.

<—-Gardus RLE202 LintEater system

 

 

 

1. After every load of laundry, clean off the lint screen! This simple task is a habit for most people accustomed to doing laundry, but doing so really increases the efficiency of your dryer.

images-10

2. If your dryer vent (the circular, flexible pipe extending from the back of the dryer to outside of your home) is a vinyl hose, it should be replaced. These are very old dryer vents. Newer models of dryers come with rigid, metal ducts in order to decrease the likelihood of a fire occurring. These rigid pipes are smooth on the inside to keep lint and other debris from catching on the sides and causing blockage. Regarding your chimney’s duct, the shorter the better; the longer the pipe and the more turns that exist the harder your dryer has to work, increasing your electric bill monthly.

Pic courtesy of Chimney Solutions Alanta GA

3. Check the exhaust flap to ensure that you have strong air pressure.

Having your dryer vent serviced yearly keeps your dryer running efficiently for a longer period of time. Dryers that don’t work efficiently causes each load to take longer to dry and for heavy items such as towels to come out still damp. Having to put items back through the cycle again is extremely wasteful. Finally, if there is no lint appearing on the lint screen when you check it for lint (meaning none whatsoever) there is a very good chance that your dryer vent’s exhaust system may be clogged.

Most chimney sweeping companies are also certified for cleaning dryer vents. Don’t skip this process! An inefficient dryer or a fire caused by a clogged dryer vent will cost you more in the long runt. It is very important to check your dryer vents to ensure there is not a  lint buildup! Clogged vents will restrict the  flow of air and the efficiency of the dryer. Your dryer will work much harder and longer to dry your clothes, which  cost you money and energy.
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I NEVER recommend a product or service that I don’t personally use (and love) myself. But, just to be totally transparent you should know that some of the links on my site ARE affiliate links and I DO make a small commission from any sales that are made. Thanks for your support!

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Home Improvement: Fireplace Upgrade

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Spring is right around the corner, and folks that means its home improvement time. Were you disappointed by your heating bill using a furnace? Or did you struggle with your fireplace all season long? There are so many modernizations available for fireplaces to make them more efficient, send heat further in the room, and much more, which you may want to look into this season while you are working on other parts of your home.

Its true although it may seem counter-intuitive, some fireplace are actually so inefficient that they lose more heat up the flue system than they emit into the room. Extreme cases can actually cause a 20% heat loss! Imagine factoring in an extra 20% to your heating bill from this winter, or more importantly factoring out 20%. Everyone wants lower energy bills, and achieving a lower heating bill next winter is as easy as taking some of the suggestions listed below.

Glass Doors display, at Bromwell Fireplace shop in Cincinnati,  just an amazing store to visit and shop at!IMG_3231

One of the most obvious solutions to the problem of heat loss is to physically prevent the heat from exiting the home. Installing fireplace glass doors is an easy way of doing so which also is an attractive addition to any home. I find these glass doors most helpful when I’m waiting for the fire to go out and its burning low but its still too early to shut the chimney damper. Preventing air from

Fireplace Fireback
This fireplace fireback is decorative cast iron.heading up the chimney is a huge efficiency booster.heading up the chimney is a huge efficiency booster.

heading up the chimney is a huge efficiency booster.

Radiant Fireback

Similarly, the installation of a fireplace fireback is another relatively small price to pay for increased fireplace efficiency. These firebacks can be highly decorative or very simple and can be made of stainless steel or a more expensive, decorative cast iron. Firebacks are simply set in the fireplace behind the grate and amplify the radiant heat from the fire into the room, more so than the firebox wall would. Some manufacturer’s cite huge efficiency increases with the installation of their product, most of which are noticeable immediately after installation.

Fireplace Tool Set

Some people might not think of efficiency of burning as including the stoking and care of the fire before and after the fire burns, but technically speaking if you can decrease your time spent handling the ashes, etc., that makes the fireplace a more efficient heating method because it provides heat in a shorter period of time. A nice tool set will aid in ash removal and stoking the fire so it burns to its maximum potential.

Options to Discuss with a Professional

If your fireplace smokes toward the beginning of your fire or continuously even during the time you are burning a fire, you are burning inefficiently due to a poor draft more than likely. You will want to discuss options with your professional to improve this draft because once draft is improved not only will the smoking problem cease but the fire will burn hotter and longer all the while

Fireplace Smoke Problem
Signs … that this chimney has a poor draft include the smoke stains above  the fireplace opening

needing less care from you once its lit.

You also want to consider carefully if your fireplace has an odor when its raining or humid outside or if you feel cold air when the wind is blowing. In these cases you’ll want to install a top sealing damper, also called a chimney damper cap to close the chimney off at the top when your chimney is not in use.

Finally, a clean chimney is the most efficient version of your chimney without any other alterations because a clean chimney provides for the best draft (besides being  more safe for burning). Having your chimney serviced and swept regularly will provide you with the opportunity to discuss options discussed above with a professional as well as make sure there aren’t any ongoing  problems with your chimney.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

It’s is the . . . Perfect Time for a Chimney Fire !

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Chimney FireChimney Fires and Insurance Claims at Christmas  ………Yes it is the perfect time for a  “Chimney Fire”

I certainly would hope that no one would ever experience one of these hostile chimney fires in their home. Many a chimney fire ruined a Christmas or New Years Holiday gathering. Chimney fires are known to be either very quiet and almost an undetectable rumbling, or as many customers has told me it had a sound like that of a very loud jet aircraft or freight train going through the house.

This loud tornado wind sound is caused as room air is being sucked up the chimney flue and is often accompanied by hot flames that are shooting out of the chimney, while spitting hot chunks of swollen creosote on to the rooftop. A loud popping and cracking sound is often heard as terra-cotta clay flue tiles are breaking from the rapid heat expansion.

It is not uncommon to hear from a homeowner that a neighbor came pounding on their front door, shouting that flames from a fire where shooting out of the top of their chimney, then the local fire department was called and came rushing to the fire.

As I mentioned, to often chimney fires are not heard at all. It may be a quiet rumbling and referred to as being slow burning. This slow burning fire is what chimney sweeps often discover during a standard maintenance chimney cleaning. If a chimney fire is discovered, a video scanning of the interior of chimney liner is recommended, we would be assessing for any possible damage. I will say that it is rather unusual that no fire damage had occurred, as this intense heat from the fire can exceed 2,000 degrees, buckling metal chimney pipes and cracking flue tiles as well as damaging mortar joints found both in the smoke chamber and the flue tiles mortar system.                                                                                 chim fire

 Signs of a Chimney Fire https://youtu.be/5e2_6HUVtjI

It is very important to understand that fire is only supposed to be present in the firebox area, and not in the smoke chamber or chimney flue system!

According to building codes standards, a fireplace chimney flue system must be able to contain the products of combustion (smoke) and that the fireplace must be repaired before further use, if it is damaged!

 

cleaning

Sudden Occurrence Insurance Claims https://youtu.be/ImkfRabTTPI 

Video Scanning the interior of  the Chimney Flue

I would recommend that a chimney contractor photograph damage areas of the chimney, bag a sample of the swollen or puffed creosote. As a chimney contractor we will have our customers sign our receipt of our discovery, documentation and communication of their chimney fire incident and to discontinue use further use, until proper repairs are made. We will also recommend having the homeowner contact their homeowners insurance carrier, as this is most often considered a “Sudden Occurrence” within the insurance industry terminology and possibly chimney repairs of like and kind may be covered under their Home Owners insurance policy.

In conclusion Christmas …..is a perfect time for a Chimney Fire, as any homeowners toss their Christmas wrapping paper and cardboard boxes in the fireplace and ignite a needless chimney fire. As a side bar there are two other times of the year that a chimney fire often occurs. One is when the Christmas tree is broken apart and used to get a roaring fire started. The other time is on those “Special Football Sundays” as greasy pizza boxes are pitched into the fireplace… A loud whoosh can be heard as a chimney-fire is now blazing out of control from the top of your house. Smoke alarms are blasting, the sound of fire truck sirens can be heard 6 blocks away, as they are coming into your neighborhood to connect their fire-truck hoses up to the water hydrant, ladders are going to be thrown up onto your gutters to mount your rooftop to begin attacking your chimney fire. This doesn’t need to happen to you and your family over the holiday season or at all. That is if you’re having your fireplace regularly serviced and practices some basic fireplace burning techniques.

Burn Safe and Warm

Clay Lamb

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Creosote Odors fireplace problems

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Creosote odor problem. … Oh my goodness do they ever stink up a home!

I couldn’t tell you how many times over the years that I have been called by a rather frustrated customers, telling me they have a horrible odor that is filling their home and the smell seams to be coming from the fireplace.Being in the fireplace business over 30 years I have found that most odor problems stem from one of two things.

Either there is something dead in a chimney such as birds, squirrels or a big old nasty dead raccoon. Not going into detail here, trust me that is not a fun job to remove!The second odor culprit and the most common is the foul smell of creosote soaked air that is being pulled down into the home often by the cold air returns and furnace ductwork.Creosote is from smoke that contains droplets of unburned carbon and is often referred to as tar-fog, within the chimney and fireplace business, These tar-fog droplets often will condense and collect on the cooler interior walls of both the fireplace and chimney flue system.Creosote is that black flammable substance that is left in a fireplace or wooding burn stove.

Hot fires that are associated with burning cardboard or paper can easily flame up past the damper area and often ignite droplets of creosote. Now you have an un-friendly or possibly an out of control chimney fire. Know well that many chimney-fires are much quieter and are referred to as being “slow burning”, still often cause a huge amount of damage to the interior of the fireplace masonry as well as to hidden wooden framing and mantels.

Now lets get back to identifying and solving your fireplace odor problem. Over the years I have tried many concoctions’ of home remedies. I have read a lot regarding house pressures induced odor problems. I have purchased many of these odor products online as well as at the local hardware store. Using those fresh air smelling small carbon jell tubs, vinegar filled bowls or those Chimney cleaning logs all work to some degree, but have not offer a lasting solution for stinky fireplaces. I’m sorry to report to you, but these pungent odors don’t seem to be able to masked over to satisfy for myself, or my customers’ noses’

So let start with your wood source, and as we discussed that incomplete combustion term may sound high tech, but in reality is that it boils down to your firewood is not being “burned completely and /or the fireplace is not drafting up enough to properly flush those Smokey-gases out of your homes fast enough.

In other words the smoke is lingering in the chimney flue way to long, it is then condensing into creosote and collecting on the cooler walls of the fireplace. Then when your furnace system kicks on, the air pressures within your home are often reversed, thus pulling odors down and are now being re-distributed throughout the home.

Whenever I’m called out to a customer’s home for an odor problem, as soon as I arrive I go looking for their woodpile. I want to see if the wood is covered properly from those soaking snowfalls and spring rains and if it is it soaking wet?

Wet unseasoned wood burns slow and will often make a hissing sound as it is steaming the water out. I’ll check to see if is it appears to be a hard wood or not. Most important is the wood seasoned.

Just because the woodpile appears to look gray or weathered, it does not indicate to me that it is seasoned properly. Looking at the butt end of the wood is it smooth like it was just cut recently or does it have lots of weathered cracked ends. This cracking is, caused by the moisture being dried out of the wood. For properly seasoned wood it is often cut, stacked and has a waterproof covering and should have a moisture content after seasoning of 15% to 25%.

When I enter a home I’m questioning, where are the cold air returns in the room? Is there a cathedral ceiling, what is the proximity to the stairwell in relationship to the mouth of the fireplace opening?

Odor Problems   ——————->  https://youtu.be/2s_DsVFXc1A

Did you know that a stairwell could produce a much stronger up draft than the actual fireplace? This is especially true while starting a fire, so I recommend starting off with smaller fires. It takes about 45 minutes to heat cold masonry up to draw properly. Smoke and odors will follow the path of least resistance, so high cathedrals ceiling and stairway can be very problematic to the air balance within your home.

The locations of your furnace cold air returns within the home can be very critical in creating a sluggish draft. This is especially true when starting up your fireplace. Also leaving large amounts of ash in the fireplace can actually hold moisture and odors, so be sure to remove these ashes if you’re having an ongoing problem.

To often I have gone to homes where the customer is choking the fireplace damper down, they are doing this to create a much longer burn time. Often this smoke is getting up to the top of the chimney, but it is now collecting on the spark arrestor screening. This sluggish draft is now lingering way to long and this creosote is now collecting on the walls of the flue system, as well as the screening. This is way to often the case for my wood stove burning customers.

Negative Pressure Issues   ——–>   https://youtu.be/AN4X9jPJdqI

Be sure to check the spark arrestor, as you drive off to work or are taking the kids to school take a look back at your chimney top is your spark arrestor clear of blockage or not?

Be sure to check the spark arrestor, as you drive off to work or are taking the kids to school take a look back at your chimney top is your spark arrestor clear of blockage or not?

Like most things in life, most problems need to be resolved by a process of elimination.

Here are my possible solutions to your stinky fireplace problem!

imgres-1) In early spring before your AC kicks on have your fireplace cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. You can find a reputable Chimney Sweep in your area by using this link to the National Chimney Sweep Guild locator http://www.ncsg.org/search.  Also be sure and go online and read their customer reviews from Google, BBB and AngiesList. I’m never impressed with those cheaper “Swab and Rob companies

2) Only burned wood that has been seasoned properly for at least 6 months.

3) Coverer your seasoned firewood.

4) Don’t choke your fireplace damper down so much!

5) Consistently monitor the spark arrestor on the top of your chimney cap.

* Let me Know if this help with your odor problem or not!

Burn safe and warm!

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb