Asthma Sufferers Guide To Clean Air In The Home

When you have asthma, clean air isn’t just a luxury; it’s a necessity. With potential triggers lurking in every corner of your home, creating a safe home free from asthma riggers is critical. In this guide, we’ll share simple, effective strategies that can make a significant difference in improving the air quality in your home to keep your asthma at bay.

Understanding Asthma Triggers

Before diving into solutions, it’s important to think about the triggers that might worsen asthma symptoms.

Common household triggers include:

Dust Mites: These are tiny creatures that thrive in bedding, carpets, and upholstery. They feed on dead skin cells and can quickly multiply, increasing the risk for asthma flare-ups.

Pollen: Often entering homes through open windows or being brought inside on clothing or pets, pollen can be a major irritant. Its microscopic size means it can be easily inhaled, triggering asthma symptoms.

Mold: Mold grows in damp areas, especially in places like bathrooms and basements. As it reproduces, mold releases spores into the air which can be harmful when inhaled.

Pet Dander: This refers to the tiny, even microscopic, flecks of skin shed by cats, dogs, and other furry animals. Additionally, proteins from their saliva, urine, and feces can also trigger asthma symptoms.

Smoke: Whether it’s from cigarettes, fireplaces, or even some candles, smoke can irritate the airways of asthma sufferers. Inhalation can lead to inflammation and narrowed airways.

Household Chemicals: Many cleaning products, paints, and even fragrances contain chemicals that can irritate the lungs. When inhaled, these chemicals can exacerbate asthma symptoms.

Once you’ve identified potential triggers, you can take steps to minimize their presence.

Strategies For Cleaner Air

Reduce Dust Mites

Wash bedding weekly: Regular washes with hot water help remove dust mites in bedding.

Use allergen-proof covers: Since mattresses are hard to wash, encase them with allergen-proof covers.

Vacuum regularly: While vaccum cleaners help deep clean surfaces, ensure your vacuum has a HEPA filter to trap tiny particles.

Minimize Pollen Exposure

Keep windows closed: Especially during high-pollen seasons, it can go a long way to keep the windows and doors closed.

Shower before bed: This removes pollen from your hair and skin.

Dry clothes indoors: Hanging your clothes outside can attract pollen.

Prevent Mold Growth

Address leaks promptly: Dampness encourages mold growth, so fix any leaks no matter how small.

Use extractor fans: Especially in high-humidity areas like bathrooms and kitchens to reduce moisture.

Regularly clean and dry: Pay attention to bathrooms, basements, and other damp areas.

Manage Pet Dander

Groom pets regularly: This reduces loose fur and dander.

Clean living spaces: Regularly vacuum and wipe down surfaces.

Designate ‘pet-free’ zones: Consider keeping certain areas, like bedrooms, off-limits to pets.

Limit Smoke and Chemical Exposure

Maintain a smoke-free home: Absolutely no cigarettes, if you or your guests smoke, make sure it is done outside.

Opt for unscented products: This includes cleaning supplies and personal care items.

Use natural cleaning agents: Think vinegar, baking soda, and lemon instead of chemicals with harsh fumes.

Additional Air Quality Boosters

Air Purifiers

Investing in a good air purifier can make a world of difference. Look for those with HEPA filters that can trap particles as small as 0.3 microns.

Houseplants

Certain plants, like the spider plant or peace lily, are known to improve indoor air quality. They absorb toxins and release oxygen, creating a healthier environment.

Regularly Replace Air Filters

Central heating and cooling systems circulate air throughout your home. Ensure their filters are changed regularly to prevent dust and allergens from being blown around.

The Role Of Chimney And Vent Maintenance

A part of clean air in the home that’s often overlooked is the maintenance of your chimney and vents. These can be sources of allergens and irritants if not properly cleaned and maintained.

Chimneys: Without proper cleaning, chimneys can accumulate soot, debris, and creosote. This not only poses a fire risk but can also degrade indoor air quality when you use the fireplace.

Vents: Ducts and vents are highways for dust, pollen, and other irritants. Regular cleaning ensures they don’t spread these allergens throughout your home.
Incorporating routine chimney and vent cleaning into your home maintenance can significantly benefit asthma sufferers by reducing potential irritants.

Let the Professionals at Sixpenny in Northern Virginia Help

Achieving clean air in your home is a combination of daily practices, regular maintenance, and sometimes seeking professional help. For areas like chimneys and vents, it’s essential to rely on professionals who understand the intricacies involved. At Sixpenny Chimney, we’re committed to ensuring your home remains a safe haven for your lungs. With expert chimney and vent services, we help reduce potential asthma triggers, allowing you to breathe easier and live better. Reach out today, and let’s work together to make every breath in your home a clean one.

White washer and dryer in unfinished basement laundry room

The Importance of a Clean Dryer Vent

With the continuous advancement in technology, dryers have become a significant part of most households, drying bedding, linens, and clothes. A typical residential dryer works two to ten times a week.

After regular use, the dryer vent, a tube running from the dryer to outside your home that removes moisture and hot air, will accumulate lint and debris, which could lead to clogging and other complications. This post discusses the importance of cleaning your dryer vent.

Why You Need to Clean Your Dryer Vent 

Keeps Clothes Looking Good Longer

Whenever you load clothes in the dryer, they lose a tiny fraction of their quality as the extra heat will deteriorate fibers within the clothes, slightly stretching them.

You can do little to counter the process since clothes eventually wear out. However, you can slow it down by regularly cleaning the dryer vent.

A dirty, clogged vent will make your dryer inefficient, as it will have to run longer to remove all the water altogether. So when you use the machine, it will subject your clothes to prolonged wear and tear, reducing their quality.

Lower the Risk of Dryer Fires 

Lint, which regularly accumulates inside dryer vents, is highly flammable and can easily cause a massive house fire. 

A National Fire Protection Association report states that clothes dryers account for an estimated 15970 house fires yearly. Also, up to 80% of the fires are caused by clogged dryer vents. 

By clearing all the debris and lint build-up in the dryer vent, you ensure there is nothing to spark fires that can cause severe damage.

Save Energy

While working, dryer vents will collect dust and debris. When the debris accumulates, it occupies more space in the vent, leaving little room for air and heat to pass through. 

Consequently, your dryer will have to work harder to complete its tasks, consuming more energy, which means a higher electricity bill.

You can significantly reduce your power costs by cleaning the dryer vent. An open vent provides enough space for hot air and moisture to move freely, placing zero pressure on the appliance.

Lessen Wear and Tear on Your Appliance

Regularly cleaning your dryer vent increases the lifespan of your machine. When there are alot of obstructions, lint, and other particles stuck inside your vent, they strain parts of the dryer by causing faster wear and tear.

In some instances, the particles can block the vent entirely and lead to fires since the hot air won’t have an outlet to pass through.

Also, the cleaning will reduce the money spent on repairs, as the machine will run optimistically longer.

Keep Allergens at Bay

A significant downside of a dirty or clogged dryer vent is that it captures water flowing from the wet clothes. Over time, the water accumulates various allergens, such as dust, mold, and more.

Unfortunately, these allergens will spread from the vent to other parts of your home, and inhaling them could make you develop a cough, congestion, or rash. The condition can be detrimental, especially for persons with respiratory challenges.

Avoid the Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

There are electric and gas dryers; if you use the latter, a clogged vent could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

While working, gas dryers produce small amounts of carbon monoxide, which gets passed out through the dryer vent. However, a clogged vent means the toxic gas could flow back through the pipe into the house, creating a hazardous environment for you and your family.

Once in the body, excess carbon monoxide will deprive vital organs of oxygen, cause loss of consciousness, and lead to death through suffocation.

Ensuring your dryer vent is clean prevents such incidents as the air will flow smoothly.

Enables Faster Drying Times

The more lint and other materials accumulate inside the vent, the less air it can pass. This means it will take the machine longer to dry clothes, for the clogging can prevent bedding and clothes from drying thoroughly after one cycle, forcing you to repeat the process. 

On the other hand, a clean dryer vent will let out the heat and moisture faster, thereby drying your clothes faster.

How Often Should You Clean the Dryer Vent?

We recommend cleaning once a year for a household with two or five people. But you can schedule cleaning every six months if you have a large family, eight or more people.

Get Your Dryer Vents Professionally Cleaned in Northern, VA

Are you in Northern Virginia, Looking for a professional to handle your dryer vent, chimney, and gutter cleaning? Sixpenny Chimney has been doing so for years and has mastered the art. Contact us for a quote today.

A Chimney with ciimney damage on top of a house

Homebuyer Beware: Spot These 6 Signs of Chimney Damage Before You Buy

Owning a home is a dream most people have and work towards. While shopping around for your ideal home, you must have a checklist to ensure you pick one that meets all your needs and is safe for you and your family.

Top on the house checklist you need to assess is the state of the chimney, as buying a home with a damaged chimney can lead to extra costs in terms of repair. Below are six signs of chimney damage to look out for before you buy.

Six Signs of Chimney Damage To Look Out For Before You Buy:

1. Deteriorated or Cracked Mortar Joints

Worn-out mortar joints vastly increase the level of moisture leaking into a chimney. During the cold seasons, especially winter, the water that seeps in will freeze, then expand, leading to more damage to the chimney.

Once the cracks form, they let heat and smoke escape in areas they shouldn’t. But the most significant risk is the probability of collapse when most of the bricks creating the chimney lose stability due to deep cracks.

Even when regularly maintained, mortar joints can still develop cracks from wear and tear. So patiently look at the chimney; if you observe spaces or gaps, the duct is damaged.

Sometimes, you won’t see the mortar joints from the exterior, but you can hire a professional to check the interior for you.

2. Smokey or Foul Smell

Creosote is the primary byproduct of burning wood, so if the previous homeowners used the fireplace frequently, chances are there is a lot of creosote clinging to the flue liner. You will realize such if you notice a smokey or foul smell indoors.

Unfortunately, creosote doesn’t only cause bad smells. Toxic gasses from burning wood require a clear pathway to clear safely. However, excess creosote will block these gases from clearing out, which affects your home’s air quality.

Plus, using a chimney with creosote buildup increases the chances of accidentally starting a house fire.

3. Spalling Bricks

Bricks are absorbent. So moisture will enter the brick masonry and slowly break it apart after a while. Similar to deteriorated mortar joints, this will be exasperated during the cold season, when water freezes inside these bricks.

Common causes of spalling include;

  • Use of low-quality components, particularly in prefabricated houses
  • Extreme weather
  • Old bricks
  • Using high-powered washers while cleaning the masonry

If considering an old home, thoroughly check for spalling bricks in the chimney. Such places have been exposed to the elements for an extended period; hence the bricks may be worn out

4. Worn-out Flashing

Chimney flashing refers to a metal sheet that acts as a watertight seal between the roof and the chimney. Flashing doesn’t easily get damaged, but after a long period of use, it will also get worn out.

If you notice rust in spots between the flashing and the roof, it indicates water damage. Water dripping into your home’s roof can lead to mold, wood rot, and other issues.

Corners are especially vulnerable to such rust, so check them thoroughly. You can repair slightly worn-out flashing. However, experts recommend getting a new one.

5. Paint and Wallpaper Damage Near the Chimney

When you notice paint or wallpaper peeling close to the chimney, it’s a sure sign that it is damaged. The mortar or brick in the interior may have cracked or chipped, or the flue liner could be faulty. 

In some instances, the problem could arise if the previous homeowners installed a gas fireplace and failed to buy the recommended flue liners.

6. Shaking Flue Tiles 

Inside a chimney, you will find a flue liner that directs air flow up and outside the house and protects the bricks from heat.

A faulty flue liner can cause a lot of harm, including poor air circulation inside the house, and the heat will damage the bricks.

If you see tiny slices of the flue liner in the firebox, it’s an indication of shaling complications.

Unfortunately, most liner problems aren’t easy to detect for an average homebuyer, as the ladder runs through the chimney. Hence, once you pick a house, you must inspect it using a certified and professional chimney sweep.

Professional Chimney Cleaning, Repair, and More in Northern Virginia

Chimney problems worsen over time and may cause severe damage to your home or life-threatening issues for you and your family. That’s why you must buy a home with a perfectly working chimney.

We at Sixpenny Chimney can do chimney inspections for you and carry out regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure it always works optimally. Call us for a quote today.

types of gutters

4 Types of Gutters That Will Transform Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Most people overlook gutters’ role in a house’s appearance, especially in the curb area. This post looks at the four types of gutters you can use to make a statement and enhance your home’s curb appeal.

4 Types of Gutters:

1. Half-Round Gutters

These gutters have a curved lip and semicircular design. It’s because of their round design that they also feature circular downspouts. 

Half-round gutters are available in 6- and 5-inch widths. A majority of houses built before and up to 1960 have these gutters. So, they work well in brick or historic houses.

Some local regulations may require installing half-round gutters if you live in a historic neighborhood.

Pros of Half-Round Gutters

  • They are suited for areas that experience heavy rainfall and are highly durable.
  • They possess a traditional, attractive design that will boost your house’s curb appeal.

Cons of Half-Round Gutters

  • More susceptible to debris accumulation
  • It can be expensive and challenging to install

2. K-Style Gutters

These types of gutters are the most popular as they are easy to install, especially if you like DIY. K-style gutters are similar to half-round gutters, for they come in 6-to-5-inch widths. The difference is that K-style gutters have rectangular downspouts.

Thanks to their flattened backs, you don’t require brackets to nail K-style gutters on your fascia boards. However, it’s more difficult to clean these gutters as their inner angles collect debris easily.

Pros of K-Style Gutters

  • An affordable and standard option
  • They don’t require brackets to place on fascia boards.

Cons of K-Style Gutters

  • They have an angled profile which makes them challenging to clean.

3. Box-Style Gutters

These are oversized gutters specifically designed to deal with heavy rainfall. Box gutters come in 8- or 7-inch widths, though some can go up to 10 inches. 

Because of their vast size, experts recommend box-style gutters for large roofs. So, you will find them mostly on industrial or commercial buildings.

Additionally, you can’t hang box gutters on a roof’s edge. Instead, you will require a high back section under your roof’s shingles. Therefore, you can only install these gutters when the house is still under construction.

Pros of Box-Style Gutters

  • More durable compared to other designs
  • Abel to withstand heavy rainfall

Cons of Box-Style Gutters

  • Expensive to install 
  • Minimal aesthetic appeal

4. Custom Fascia Gutters

These are customized gutters that have a contemporary seamless look. You will need to work with a professional to install fascia gutters. The professional will create a personalized system using a long aluminum piece. The aluminum is tailor-made to meet your roof’s pitch and home measurements.

Also, it’s worth noting that fascia gutters cost almost twice the price of K-style or half-round gutters.

Pros of Custom Fascia Gutters

  • Can handle heavy rainfall 
  • Securely attached to your house’s fascia boards, so they can’t fall off easily.

Cons of Custom Fascia Boards

  • Hard to install 
  • Require frequent cleaning

Gutter Materials

Aluminum Gutters

They are rust-resistant, lightweight, and easy to use if you enjoy DIY. Aluminum gutters have a 20-to-30-year lifespan, though they are more likely to develop cracks.

Copper Gutters

Extremely durable, copper gutters don’t bend, rust, or warp when faced with severe weather conditions. Also, they give your house a unique look. However, copper gutters are costly, and you will need a professional to install them.

Zinc Gutters

These are the easiest-to-maintain gutter options. Zinc gutters have an inbuilt sealing patina that prevents the formation of cracks and scratches.

Due to their study nature, you avoid frequent gutter repairs in their up to 80-year lifespan.

Vinyl Gutters

Vinyl gutters are cheap and straightforward to install, making them a favorite among DIYers. Made from PVC and plastic, vinyl gutters have a short lifespan compared to other systems; they can last 10 to 20 years.

In addition, these gutters deteriorate fast, more so in wet climates. If you live in highly humid areas, it would be preferable to consider metal gutters like copper or steel.

Galvanized Steel Gutters

Compared to aluminum gutters, galvanized steel gutters are sturdier and more durable. However, you will need a professional to install them, as they require soldering. These gutters do well on houses that experience a lot of rainfall and hot seasons. 

Galvanized steel gutters can last 20 to 30 years, though they can quickly develop rust if you don’t maintain them correctly.

Let the Professionals at Sixpenny in Northern Virginia Help

Consider the information above to decide which gutter style and material best suits your home’s design and needs. Also, it’s better to involve a professional as it would ensure proper gutter installation.

We at Sixpenny Chimney have well-trained professionals ready to help you choose a gutter style, handle the installation and do regular maintenance. Contact us for a quote today.

Several birds sitting in a gutter on top of a roof as one of the common gutter problems homeowners face.

6 Most Common Gutter Problems to Look Out For

Rainwater gutters provide a simple yet necessary solution by preventing water from running off rooftops while it rains. They also protect the foundation and walls of your building from getting damaged by rainwater.

However, you can face many structural and safety issues when gutters stop functioning correctly. So, to avoid such a scenario, we have outlined six of the most common gutter problems you can check for and how to solve them early on.

6 Most Common Gutter Problems Homeowners Face with Solutions

1. Blocked Gutters

While gutters are primarily designed to catch and direct water running off the roof, they also, unfortunately, hold other materials in the process. These materials include twigs, leaves, and other items blown by the wind into them, and when these items build up after some time, they cause blockages.

Once your gutters are blocked, they won’t be able to drain the rainwater effectively and will start overflowing.

Solution

Get a ladder and check where there is a blockage in the gutter system; this could be in the hopper head or downpipe. After identifying the material, proceed to remove all of it, then pour some water to check that it flows smoothly.

2. Sagging Gutters

Gutters will start sagging when they have too much weight inside them that the support brackets can’t manage. The excess weight can result from blockages, snow build-up in winter, or improper system installation.

Experts advise that gutters support brackets are installed at least 1 meter apart or closer if you are in an area experiencing heavy snowfall or with a steep roof. Also, support brackets should be 150mm after any stop end, joint, or bend.

When your gutters lack sufficient support brackets, you will encounter frequent sagging.

Solution

Remove all the debris present, as they cause blockage and add unnecessary stress on supports and joints.

Install snow guards to prevent snow from accumulating in the gutters. When you let the snow increase, it can become surprisingly heavy. So, installing the guards will hold off the snow mounds and allow the melt water to run undisturbed.

You should also add more support brackets to hold the gutters firmly in place.

3. Plants Growing in Gutters

Once you see flowers, weeds, or grass growing in your gutters, it’s a sign they haven’t been cleaned for a long time. When debris like soil and rainwater mix, it creates an ideal environment for plant growth.

The plants will cause a blockage and even attract squirrels, mice, birds, and rats.

Solution

Clean the gutters regularly to reduce the chances of soil or debris building up to host wayward seeds.

4. Incorrect Gutter Fall

If all your gutters are perfectly level, there won’t be any gravity to push water to the downpipe when it rains. So, some water could remain on the channels after rainfall instead of flowing down.

Worse yet, when there is heavy rainfall, the gutters won’t be able to drain the water quickly, and they will overflow. If you have observed that your gutters are constantly overflowing, yet, they aren’t clogged; it might be due to an incorrect fall.

A gentle fall into the downpipe will increase the gutters’ capacity and help prevent such issues.

Solution

Take out all the support brackets and install each so that they gently angle down the gutters to the downpipe.

5. Inadequate Guttering

If your gutter system isn’t correctly sized to meet your property needs, it could be why you always have issues like overflows, clogging, and flooding.

Your roof’s surface area, slope angle, and rainfall intensity in your area all determine the style and size of the gutter required.

Solution

Try and increase the system’s capacity by ensuring it has a sufficient fall or add more downpipes. However, doing so can be costly, so replacing the current system with a new one that’s correctly sized is a better option.

6. Water Freezing in Gutters

During winter, when the temperatures are low, water in the gutters will condense into ice. Once water shifts to ice, it expands and then when there’s heat, and the ice melts into water, it contracts.

The repetitive cycle of expanding and contracting can damage your gutters by distorting their shape, splitting joints, and loosening push-fit brackets.

Solution

The only option here is to pour warm water into the gutters so it melts away the ice. The problem is, doing so speeds up the contraction and will still affect the system.

Ideally, it is preferable to prevent the problem from arising by cleaning the gutters and checking that they gently slope to the downpipe to avoid water accumulating in them.

Sixpenny Chimney — Professionals in Gutter Repair, Cleaning & More

Hopefully, we have outlined common gutter problems you are facing and provided a solution for how to solve it. However, if you have difficulty cleaning or removing debris, contact Sixpenny Chimney in Northern Virginia today or give us a call at 703-491-8697. Our dedicated team is ready to handle all your gutter needs.

A smoking chimney on top of a residential house in northern virginia that would need chimney cleaning in different seasons.

Chimney Cleaning for Different Seasons: What You Need to Know & Do

gdurinAccording to NFPA, the National Fire Protection Association, you must clean your chimney at least once a year for it to function efficiently and safely.

That’s because even though we have four seasons a year, most people only use chimneys during winter when temperatures are at all-time lows and it’s cold. In the summer and spring, many chimneys lie dormant.

Let’s look at all you need to know about chimney cleaning for different seasons, why it’s important and more. But first, we’ll explore why you need to clean your chimney in the first place.

Why Clean Your Chimney?

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

When debris, twigs, dirt, and creosote accumulate inside a chimney, they prevent it from adequately releasing smoke and toxins from fires. As a result, the fire will produce carbon monoxide, which is severely toxic.

Since carbon monoxide is odorless and invisible, it can be challenging to assess if its level has exceeded normal standards.

Avoid Chimney Fires

The more you use your chimney, the more creosote accumulates inside it, and since it’s flammable, you should clean it regularly.

If you don’t do so, the build-up could damage the chimney lining and could lead to a fire breakout.

Enhance Heating Efficiency

When your chimney is clean, it facilitates an efficient and thorough burn. Therefore, your house will have improved warmth and a comfortable atmosphere for you and your family.

What’s the Best Time to Clean Chimneys?

Experts recommend cleaning your chimney during the warmer months, especially in early spring and late summer. As you rarely use the chimney at such times, and doing so ensures that it will operate optimally once the cold season sets in, thereby lowering the amount of money spent on heating.

What to Know About Cleaning Your Chimney

If you decide to handle the chimney cleaning personally, you must know your flue height before beginning, and you’ll need a safe way to reach the roof, like a sturdy ladder.

Additional cleaning tools you will require include a power drill or screwdriver to remove the animal guard or rain cap — personal protective equipment (PPE) for your face and eyes to protect against soot and ash. Plus, a wire brush with extensions.

If the fireplace is large enough and you can fit inside, clean the chimney from the bottom up if you don’t want to climb on the roof. However, it will be extremely messy. It would help if you bought tarps to keep the soot from your furniture and floors. A medium-sized dustpan to collect the debris and soot at the bottom is preferable.

Pro tip: Instead of going through all the cleaning hassle, you can hire a professional and let them do it for you. Doing so early in the summer is better, resulting in a quicker turnaround time, as most cleaners will only have a few bookings.

Tips for Keeping Your Chimney Clean Throughout the Seasons

Use Real Logs if Possible

Studies show artificial wood produces more gases, resulting in faster creosote build-up. So it’s better to use real logs when you can.

Ensure Your Fire “Breathes”

Oxygen fuels fires, and sufficient oxygen facilitates proper gas combustion and less creosote production (plus the fire will be hotter).

Keep the flue open to enable excess debris and chemicals to leave the chimney; if your fireplace has doors like glass panels, open them to facilitate healthy air flow for the fire.

Warm Your Flue

When cold air from the outside meets warm air from your fireplace, it creates an imbalance and increases creosote build-up.

You can combat this by rolling a paper torch (old newspapers also work well), lighting it up, and holding it under the chimney flue until the air daft feels warm. After which, you can start a log fire.

Mitigate Cleanup Using Chemicals

Creosote removal powder, when used properly, can prevent its build-up after one or two fires.

Burn Only Seasoned Dry Firewood

Logs with moisture produce less heat and more smoke. Ensure you only use wood ideal for burning by letting it dry 6 to 12 months in advance. Additionally, you can buy a moisture meter to check a log’s moisture level before placing it in the fire.

Install a Chimney Cap

Every chimney should have a cap; the appliance with a mesh keeps birds, animals, and moisture out. It also functions like a spark guard preventing hot embers from catching the roof.

Let the Professionals at Sixpenny in Northern Virginia Help

Even though you might not use your chimney every season, it must have a proper cleaning and be taken care of during the different seasons for it to be functional when you need it most during the winter.

We at Sixpenny Chimney, located in Northern Virginia, can professionally clean your chimney and carry out regular maintenance. Feel free to call us at 703-491-8697 and request service with us or contact us online.

Several air ducts on a building with new homes who's air ducts need to be cleaned.

Moving into a New Home? 6 Reasons to Have the Air Ducts Cleaned

f Moving into a new home is a thrilling and memorable experience. Of course, you have a list of things to do, like fitting the rooms for furniture and windows for curtains, repainting the walls, and more.

While preparing a new home, most people forget to clean the air ducts, which is essential as it will ensure you and your family enjoy the cleanest air possible and give your house a homey feel. Let’s look at six reasons to have air ducts cleaned in a new home.

1. Remove Mold

You should remove all potential allergens from your environment, especially if you or a family member suffer from allergies.

Mold ranks high among allergens, and mold spores can cause allergic reactions like wheezing, headaches, itching, and running nose.

It can thrive inside and outside your house, so you should check for it in damp places such as basements, the kitchen, and bathrooms.

Mold can also grow inside an HVAC system, and it’s extremely challenging to go through the whole system looking for it. Hence it’s preferable to have a professional inspect the air ducts and remove any mold.

2. Remove Dander and Pet Hair

Being a pet parent is fulfilling; they love us unconditionally and brighten our days. While pets such as fish and reptiles don’t have any dander or fur, cats and dogs can give you a mild or severe allergic reaction, especially if you have a dander allergy.

A report by the American Lung Association states that more than 161 million cats and dogs stay in American households. So, the chances of you moving into a house that previously had a cat or dog are high. Therefore, cleaning your new home’s air ducts is critical before settling in.

3. Ensure the HVAC System Runs Efficiently

There are numerous reasons why an HVAC system may not function as it should. The ductwork may leak, air filters can be dirty, and items could have fallen into the system, damaging the ductwork.

Due to one or two of these reasons, a faulty HVAC system can significantly raise your cooling or heating bills.

Before moving into a new building, it’s better to mitigate the risk of an ineffective HVAC system by cleaning and inspecting the ducts.

4. Keep Away Unwanted Guests

Insects and rodents like mice and rats are attracted to dark, unkempt, dirty places. Keeping air ducts clean will help get rid of any creepy crawlers that could be lurking in them. It will also discourage other animals that feed on these insects from entering the ductwork.

5. Remove Debris and Dust

You may want to paint or renovate some rooms to personalize your new home.

Dust from the painting and sanding may accumulate inside the air ventilation system, and trade workers don’t usually clean them.

Additionally, they could leave items in the vents while working. For such reasons, air duct cleaning will ensure clean air circulation and prevent breathing discomfort.

6. Get Rid of Old “Lifestyle” and Cooking Smells from Previous Owners

People have different lifestyle choices, which you may not be comfortable with. Cleaning the air ducts of your new home will help clear all lingering cooking or smoking smells from previous house occupants. Doing so will make you feel comfortable in your new environment.

Tips For Finding a Qualified Professional to Clean Your Air Ducts

Homeowners generally find air duct cleaning to be stressful and time-consuming — which it is. So, stepping back and having a professional do the work is preferable.

Finding one that will provide excellent service will be easy if you know what to check for.

Here are some factors to consider:

Does the company have all the credentials?

Check that the HVAC cleaning company has the necessary credentials and is insured. Ask if they have a surety bond and liability coverage for more protection.

What’s their experience?

You’ll need to choose a company with enough experience cleaning air ducts and working with HVAC systems. That way, you lower the chances of costly mistakes and ensure effective cleaning.

Research Their Workmanship

Has the company received any positive reviews and ratings? What do their past clients say about their services?

It’s always better to work with an expert who provides a customer-centric service that will meet all your needs. You can check their website for such information.

Sixpenny Chimney — Professional Air Duct Cleaners in Northern Virginia

Cleaning your air ducts before moving into your new home and regularly after will ensure you keep away the allergens and always have fresh air.

Sixpenny Chimney in Northern Virginia offers exceptional air duct cleaning, HVAC maintenance, and replacement services.

Whether you want to install an air purification system or even clean the chimney, we can do that for you. Contact us today for more information.

A properly maintained chimney working well done by a regular chimney cleaning professional.

Why Every Homeowner Should Have a Regular Chimney Professional on Hand

Fireplaces add beauty, ambiance, and value to your house; however, they require regular upkeep and maintenance by a chimney professional to operate efficiently and safely. Moreso, if you’re using the chimney after a long time or use it frequently.

In addition, if you want to upgrade your chimney, it is better to avoid DIY methods and get a professional to do it. Doing so will ensure quality work and prevent accidents.

Let’s look at some reasons why you should have a regular chimney professional on hand to help you understand their true significance.

Extracting Hazardous Pests and Obstructions

Often, your chimney may get clogged with debris, or pests such as raccoons, squirrels, or bats can make it their home. Obstructed chimneys are a severe hazard; if you lack proper knowledge and try to clear them, you will damage your house.

For instance, many homeowners use large fires to eliminate pests or obstructions in their chimneys. Though creative, this method can expose you and your family to toxic carbon monoxide or start a large house fire.

However, if you have a regular chimney professional on hand, you can call them, and they will clear all the creosote buildup, animal invasion, and debris accumulation for you.

Lengthen the Lifespan of Your Flue Liner

Chimneys have a critical part called a flue liner. Flue liners protect your house against carbon monoxide and fires. They do so by insulating the chimney from the hot temperatures released by fires and corrosive materials from the smoke.

Additionally, flue liners act as barriers preventing carbon monoxide from seeping into your house through tiny cracks in the bricks. Getting a professional to clean your chimney at least twice a year will help eradicate the buildup, ensuring your flue liner functions optimally.

When soot and creosote accumulate, they damage the chimney, for they let moisture get trapped inside it. The steam will eventually wear out the lining, and you must replace it; they aren’t cheap.

Since you will have a regular chimney cleanup, your liner will serve you for an extended period. Also, a chimney professional will tell you in advance if your lining is faulty and offer advice on when to get a new one.

Professional Tools

Though DIY activities may seem exciting and fulfilling, sometimes they aren’t effective because you won’t have all the required tools.

Whereas professional chimney cleaners have all the tools for the tasks, plus they understand how to utilize them. In addition, professionals have high-tech cameras that identify blockages in places that are difficult to see in the chimney.

Although you can certainly buy all these tools, the cost will be too high, and if you don’t know how they work, it will be a waste. Chimney professionals relieve you of all that hassle.

Insurance Coverage

When house or chimney fires occur, most insurance companies will require you to submit evidence of maintenance to get compensated.

You could get little or no compensation if you can’t provide proof. No homeowner would ever wish to be in this position, but you can avoid it by having a chimney professional regularly maintain the fireplace.

They will significantly lower the chances of chimney fires, and if one occurs, they will back you up with proof you tried your best to prevent such.

Similarly, professional chimney sweeps always have insurance covering them at work. Meaning if they get injured, their insurance will handle it. If you try to clean the chimney yourself and suffer an accident, you’ll face medical bills and additional repair costs.

Saving Money

Most homeowners primarily undertake DIY (do it yourself) tasks to cut costs. Even so, if you lack the skills and tools, you may make a tiny issue into a larger, costlier one. Plus, you put yourself at risk.

For example, when you try to clean the chimney, you can damage pipes leading to a leak that may go undetected for some time. Such a mistake can cost you thousands of dollars in water pipe repairs. The water leak may even cause structural damage.

As a result, a minor cleaning task will have you spend lots of money on other repairs. Having a regular chimney professional on hand ensures minor issues get fixed and will save you money in the long run.

Professional Chimney Cleaning and More in Northern Virginia

We at Six Penny Chimney, are ready to clean your chimney and eliminate all blockages effectively. Besides cleaning, we can clear out any pests in other parts of your home and provide other essential services.

Contact us today for more information, and we will quickly get back to you.

A dirty, clogged gutter causing home problems as a result of not cleaning gutters regularly.

8 Consequences of Not Cleaning Your Gutters

Every year when it’s almost spring or fall, you’ll see numerous adverts and campaigns reminding you to do a dreaded and tiresome task, cleaning your gutters. It’s a chore most people avoid, for it’s exhausting and risky, as you will have to climb a ladder.

However, not regularly cleaning your gutters can have severe consequences for your house. In this post, we will extensively look at eight problems that come from not taking care of your gutters.

1. Insect Infestation

When your gutters become clogged with organic materials and debris, they become a prime feeding ground for insects. Consequently, they will be infested by roaches, carpenter ants, termites, and other types of vermin. Some of these creatures can cause severe structural damage or even harm you when they get inside the house.

For instance, carpenter ants and termites can slowly chew through your home’s wood fascia. Therefore, you will have to replace entire building parts. Additionally, once the insects settle in, you will be faced with the extra cost of hiring a professional exterminator for multiple visits to eliminate them completely.

As a proud homeowner, you don’t want creepy crawlers or six-legged creatures walking around your bedroom or kitchen walls.

2. Structural Damage

Due to the buildup of materials inside gutters over time, you will start experiencing water leaks followed by foundation damage. The issue starts when water seeps through your fascia boards, shingles, and soffit. If not handled on time, the problem spreads to your home, basement, attic, crawl space, and walls.

If you observe some structural damage, even after cleaning the gutters, you’ll have to get larger downspouts so that they can sufficiently drain all the water. In worst-case scenarios, structural damage may include wood rot and cracks in the foundation. It’s worth noting that foundation cracks are irreversible and will require pricy repairs, so it is better to avoid them.

3. Damage to Landscaping

Clogged gutters often lead to overflows from the constant sagging. As the water seeps down, it will ruin the topsoil and, consequently, the landscaping. The excess water will also damage your flowers and other plants as it will wash away the fertile soil through erosion.

Landscaping improves the appearance of your home, so you must stay alert since it’s costly to redesign and repair.

4. Pollen and Mold-Related Allergies

When water slowly gets into your walls through the fissures, it attracts mildew or mold. Given the right conditions, a dark and humid environment, mildew and mold will spread like wildfire and quickly overrun a significant part of your house.

Eradicating these fungi once they firmly set up colonies is pricey and complicated. You may have to replace all your carpets. Furthermore, mold and mildew can cause health issues like wheezing, throat irritation, and coughing.

Experts have also found that clogged gutters trap lots of pollen grain, especially in spring; this can negatively affect people with pollen allergies.

5. Substantial Roof Damage

After heavy rainfall and your gutters aren’t clean, water will seep into tiny holes in the roof called fissures, and they will gradually expand.

People living in areas with sub-zero climates are at higher risk, as the water will freeze inside the fissures, expanding them rapidly and making holes in your roof.

6. Stained Sidings

Gutters overflowing with leaves and dirt will stain your house’s exterior. A stained exterior will make your home less appealing. Even though this isn’t as critical as structural damage, you don’t want your house to appear neglected.

Also, moisture trapped inside the debris will lead to a foul smell, which you can detect while walking around the house.

7. Safety Issues

Gutters aren’t built to carry heavy loads. So, when the leaves and sticks pile up, they place extra pressure on your gutters.

After some time, these gutters won’t be able to hold the weight and may fall off, and cause serious injuries, especially if you have pets or children playing outside.

8. Your Insurance Won’t Cover the Damages

Most homeowners take out insurance policies to cover their houses against unintentional damages.

However, if you look closely at your contract’s fine print, you will realize that it won’t cover harm resulting from negligence. Not regularly cleaning your gutters is a form of negligence.

Professional Gutter Cleaning, Repair, and More in Northern Virginia

With buildings, regular maintenance is preferable to repair. We highly recommend you stay diligent to avoid issues later on.

At Six Penny chimney, we will effectively and quickly clean your gutters saving you time and stress you could have experienced. Additionally, we will eliminate all the pesky insects and pests that may have made residence in your walls.

So feel free to contact us for a quote, and we will get back to you in no time.

A bird sitting where critters can get into your chimney, on top of the roof.

5 Signs a Critter Has Taken Up Residence in Your Chimney

While wildlife may be entertaining in our backyards, they cause nothing but problems if they decide to become house lodgers. Animal noises, strong odors, and debris becoming noticeable in and around the fireplace and chimney areas are dead giveaways that an intruder has moved in. See these five signs a critter is living in your chimney and has taken up residence and learn what to do about this problem.

1. What’s that Noise?

Northern Virginia’s cold winters make chimneys an attractive place for wildlife to shelter from the elements. Sturdy rooftop structures are particularly attractive to birds for building nests on and around, as chimneys help lessen the impact of strong winds and rain.

The first clue you may have that an unwelcome guest has arrived and is making themselves at home in your home is unusual noises. You may hear squeaks, rustling, scraping, or flapping sounds from the fireplace. When you listen closely, the sound will likely be coming from higher up in the chimney structure.

Pop outside and give the rooftop a good look over. A sign of wildlife in your chimney is roof disturbances such as nests atop the chimney. Does there appear to be debris where the chimney emerges at the roofline? Has the chimney cap been dislodged? If you can see any of this damage, then your worst suspicions are probably confirmed.

2. Is that Nasty Odor Coming from Around the Fireplace Area?

On top of wildlife noises, or in the absence of them, you may suddenly find a strong odor when you are near the fireplace. Critters can emit some incredibly pungent smells, particularly if they’re mating, fighting, or manage to get soaking wet. On top of that, if they’re living in the chimney most of the time, there will be smells associated with their toileting and the build-up of fur, feathers, and excrement. Ew!

Even worse, you may be able to detect the smell of a corpse. Best to get onto this one quickly before decomposition begins in earnest and the odor becomes unbearable. This may be a perfect time to get in touch with your chimney cleaners in North Virginia. The chimney is going to need thorough cleansing, and if they provide animal removal as part of the service, all the better.

3. Are those Droppings? Another Sign of Wildlife in Your Chimney

When inspecting the fireplace, you may notice clear signs of animal droppings. They can be a good indicator of precisely which wildlife species you’re dealing with. Common intruders via chimneys are birds, bats, squirrels, mice and rats, and raccoons.

4. Where did that Debris Come From?

A key sign of wildlife in your chimney is the sudden appearance of fragments in the fireplace. Mortar, crumbling brick, soot, and ash are to be expected if maintenance hasn’t been done for a while. A strong storm can also result in winds blowing down the chimney, creating debris. In addition, damage to the roof and chimney top can fall through the open cap. However, if your chimney is regularly swept and there hasn’t been recent extreme weather, then critters may be responsible.

5. Why isn’t the Fire Drawing?

It’s a chilly day, and you’ve decided to start the fire, but the fire won’t draw properly for some unfathomable reason. Also, smoke isn’t getting out through the chimney and is coming back into the room. Your first thought is no doubt that something is blocking the chimney. The obstruction could be on top of the cap or anywhere along the flue. While there could be structural damage of some sort causing the problem, it could also be a sign of wildlife in your chimney.

Put out the fire at once, as continuing may actually lead to toxic chemicals being released into the air or a dangerous chimney fire starting.

How to Get Rid of Pesky Critters in the Chimney and Fireplace

You’ve really only got two choices if you’re quite sure that you have unwanted animal guests in the chimney. One is to call out a pest control company to examine the situation and extract the animals. And the other option is to contact a company that does chimney cleaning, repairs, and removal of animals. And since you’ll probably need all three tasks done, the last option is an excellent way to go.

At Six Penny Chimney in Northern Virginia, we’ll look after all aspects of chimney sweeping and repair for you. We’ll also remove any nuisance critters that have taken up residence in your chimney. So get in touch for a free, no-obligation quote today.