With the start of the new year behind us, we at Jack Pixley Chimney Sweeps and Masonry would like to remind our Minneapolis area neighbors that we offer more than just chimney sweeping! In fact, one of the main services we provide this time of year is fireplace remodeling.
There are a variety of reasons why homeowners would want to update the look of their fireplace. While aesthetic purposes are often the reason, the fireplace front is sometimes in need of remodeling because of an alteration made to the fireplace. If you’ve recently had the firebox been rebuilt or you’ve had a different type of insert installed, you’ll more than likely need to make changes to the fireplace front.
The fireplace is not only for keeping us warm, but can be a perfect focal point, and a definite plus for a future home sale. Gone is the standard traditional brick face and old mantel, and in comes new materials and upgrades to change that look. All sorts of different stones, tile, or brick designs can be used for remodeling, and this includes changing the mantel or hearth material.
Before updating, there are many things you need to consider during the process. The following is a list of do’s and dont’s when having your fireplace worked on.
Things to do when updating your fireplace:
- Replace your mantel to an updated style or material to be more decorative.
- Instead of brick, consider round river rock, lake stone or flat stone of different colors.
- Decorate with a piece of art above the fireplace to heighten the fireplace as a focal point of the home.
- Use mirrors to decorate! Mirrors draw the eye and reflect light to the fireplace.
- Arrange furniture to highlight the warm and cozy view.
Thing you shouldn’t do.
- Don’t place a television right above the fireplace. A television above needs to be a certain height for clearance considerations and can detract from the fireplace.
- Don’t block the view of your fireplace focal point with furniture
- Don’t paint your fireplace with just any old paint! Buy the right type of paint if considering brightening up the face and room
- Don’t use the same old fireplace accessories for a newly remodeled fireplace. Updated fireplace accessories are a good finishing touch.
Take advantage of this time of year by scheduling a fireplace remodel or facelift today! If it’s for cosmetic purposes, our technicians are more than happy to help you develop designs for your fireplace front. Either way, our certified professionals are equipped to take care of all your fireplace needs! Call us today at 763-422-048.
Year after year, fireplaces are one of the most sought after home features. A survey by the National Association of Homebuilders found that fireplaces are the second most requested feature when shopping for a home; the same survey found that buyers are willing to spend as much as $1,400 more for a home with a fireplace than one without.
But what if your home doesn’t have a fireplace?
Whether you’re preparing to build your dream home, looking to add value to your current home, or have a chimney that can no longer be used due to structural problems, Jack Pixley Sweeps can make your fireplace dreams a reality!
Building a chimney from the ground up
Since 1977, Jack Pixley Sweeps has been one of the premier chimney companies in Minnesota. In addition to providing sweeping and maintenance services, our team of highly skilled masons can also build chimneys from the ground up.
There are three primary reasons why new chimney systems are constructed:
1. New construction. The easiest time to add a fireplace and chimney to a home is during construction. Adding fireplaces to a home’s plans before construction begins is the easiest way to ensure the ideal placement and construction of your new heating appliances.
2. Addition to existing home. While a bit trickier, it is still possible to add a chimney system on to an existing home. Building a new chimney allows you to work with our team to create the fireplace of your dreams.
3. Structural damage. Years of deterioration, natural disaster, fire, or settling can all cause serious structural damage to a chimney. If your chimney can no longer safely be used, rebuilding it from the ground up can allow you to once again enjoy your fireplace system.
Chimney construction is about more than just building a column of bricks or stone. As certified chimney professionals – as well as masons – we can handle all aspects of chimney construction, from the top of the flue to the bottom of the firebox. The construction process for a new chimney system includes masonry work, installing a chimney liner, building a chimney crown and installing the chimney cap, constructing the firebox or installing a fireplace insert, applying water repellent to the exterior masonry, and more.
Our team also owns and erects our own scaffolding. This helps homeowners save money and avoid the hassle of finding an outside scaffolding company.
Trust our European style chimney construction!
As old buildings decay and crumble, the chimney is often the last part standing; time-tested construction techniques made chimneys the strongest and longest-lasting portion of a building. At Jack Pixley Sweeps, our European style construction methods can extend the life of your chimney to nearly 100 years!
Evenings spent with family and friends in front of a roaring fire doesn’t have to wait until you move to a new home. For more information on turning your fireplace dreams into reality, contact the expert masons at Jack Pixley Sweeps today!
With warmer temperatures finally here and summer just around the corner, many of us are content to close up our fireplaces until fall. However, if your chimney needs masonry repairs now may be the best time to have them done!
What causes masonry damage?
While bricks and mortar are one of the strongest building materials on the planet, they cannot stand up to everything. Because of this, there are a number of things that can damage your masonry. One of the most common causes of masonry damage is water. Long term exposure to moisture, such as puddles of standing water on the chimney or areas that sprinklers hit with every pass, are at greater risk of damage such as cracking and spalling. This type of damage can often be exacerbated by winter weather conditions; this is why masonry damage is more commonly discovered in the spring.
Signs of masonry damage
Masonry damage can be as minor as a small crack in the mortar or as major as entire chunks of brick or stone falling away from the structure. While a chimney inspection is often needed to pinpoint small areas of damage, the following are signs that your masonry may need to be repaired.
– Chips or cracks
– Missing pieces of bricks or mortar
– Stained masonry
– Long-term growth of ivy or other climbing plants on masonry
– Chimney leaks
Why should I schedule my masonry repairs now?
While spring might not be known as a time of heavy fireplace use, it is often the best time to have your masonry repaired. Below are some of the reasons why you should think ahead and schedule your masonry repairs today.
– Flexible scheduling: Spring is often considered the “off season” for chimneys. Because of this, it is easier to get a flexible appointment time that fits into your busy schedule.
– Mild temperatures: Many masonry repairs require mild temperatures and weather in order to be done. Because of this, some repairs cannot be completed in the cold of winter or the heat of summer, giving spring the ideal weather conditions for repairs.
– Ready to use: If you have your masonry repaired in the spring when you are not regularly using your fireplace, it will be ready to go again the fall when temperatures begin to fall. This gives you the advantage of a fireplace that is ready to use as soon as the first cold snap arrives.
Our masonry services
At Jack Pixley Sweeps, we can clean your chimney inside and repair your masonry outside. We are proud to offer our customers a wide range of masonry services that will keep your fireplace system looking beautiful and burning safely. Our skilled masons can handle any chimney repair, from small areas of tuckpointing or flashing repair to rebuilding your chimney from the ground up.
Don’t put off your masonry repairs until fall. Instead, schedule your masonry work this spring to get the best appointment flexibility and have your fireplace ready to use again in the fall. Contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today to schedule your masonry work today!
We’re proud to serve the city of Minneapolis
For nearly 40 years, Jack Pixley Sweeps, Inc., has served the greater Minneapolis area. From installation to cleaning and inspection to rebuilding, our certified technicians can meet all of your fireplace and chimney needs.
Chimney sweeping and inspection
We at Jack Pixley Sweeps go above and beyond national guidelines in our chimney sweeping and inspection service.
During your cleaning our CSIA-certified sweeps will insert a rotating brush up your flue. As it travels up your chimney, it will expand to remove all of the creosote and soot that has built up in your fireplace. Following your cleaning, your chimney sweep will go beyond the visual, “level 1” inspection recommended by the Chimney Safety Institute. Our sweeps will insert a closed-circuit camera up your flue so they can visually inspect to your chimney to make sure there is no crumbling mortar, cracked tiles, or damage from an unobserved chimney fire.
Chimney and firebox repairs
We can repair leaking chimneys, diagnose and correct chimney draft problems, or repair a damaged firebox. Our skilled technicians can go so far as to rebuild your chimney or firebox, if needed.
If you’re looking to upgrade your fireplace, Jack Pixley Sweeps can help. If you prefer a traditional fireplace but would like to return more heat to your home, we offer open-hearth Ahrens Fireplace Systems. Or, if you’d like to upgrade to a closed insert, we offer Regency gas and wood-burning inserts.
If you’d like to change the look of your hearth, either to update, make it better suited to your taste, or have it made to fit your new fireplace insert, Jack Pixley Sweeps is the company to call. We specialize in rebuilding fireplace fronts to meet the aesthetic and practical needs of our customers.
Many chimneys have been constructed with the wrong size chimney tiles, which can lead to drafting problems and smoke flowing back into a home rather than out of the flue. Jack Pixley offers stainless steel chimney liners, which can solve your drafting problems, or replace any older, cracked tiles.
Dryer vent cleaning
Clogged dryer vents are a leading cause of home fires, and Jack Pixley Sweeps provides the best dryer vent cleaning in the area. We hook up a vacuum to your dryer vent to ensure that lint doesn’t litter your yard, and then we remove lint with a rotary system. We’ll also make sure your vent utilizes a safe aluminum lining.
Raccoons and some birds love to nest in your chimney, while other animals, such as ducks or squirrels, can make their way into your chimney and become stuck. An animal nest can be a chimney fire hazard, and a trapped animal is obviously in danger. Our technicians can safely remove any animal you hear trapped or making a home in your chimney. We also can install stainless steel screen and chimney cover to prevent animals from getting into your chimney.
Your gutters should be cleaned each spring and fall to prevent leaks or water damage to your home. Jack Pixley Sweeps is happy to provide gutter-cleaning service!
Chimney repairs can take extensive scaffolding setup. We set up our own scaffolding, saving you from hiring a scaffolding company.
If you have any questions about the services we provide and live in and around Minneapolis, please contact us or give us a call! We’re locally owned and happy to help!
Vines, ivy, and other climbing plants are often seen as a charming way to add character to a home’s exterior. However, many homeowners do not realize that these plants can cause serious problems to the masonry underneath them.
How vines harm masonry
While climbing vines might seem like an easy way to add interest or spruce up your chimney, they can actually do more damage than good. The following are just some of the ways that vines can cause problems for your chimney.
- Insects: The leafy foliage of climbing vines provides the perfect hiding place for bugs and insects. With shade, water, and access to food, the vines on your chimneys exterior are irresistible to many insects. Unfortunately, this also gives bugs direct access to your home. Insects can crawl through cracks in the masonry to get inside; likewise, bugs like termites can use the vines as a way to travel directly to wood siding or trim.
- Tendrils and roots: Whether they’re growing on siding or masonry, the tendrils of climbing vines have to stick to something as they grow. When growing on chimneys, the shoots, roots, and tendrils from climbing plants can easily force their way into the masonry, creating cracks, chips, and holes. Masonry joints are particularly susceptible to damage from tendrils and roots; left unrepaired, this can cause damage to the stability of the chimney structure.
- Trapped moisture: When covered in a thick layer of leaves, moisture from dew, rain, snow, and even sprinklers and hoses can become trapped against the masonry. With plenty of shade caused by branches and leaves, much of the water may not evaporate. The presence of water, coupled with the damage to the masonry caused by the climbing roots and tendrils, can seriously damage the masonry.
Although climbing vines look beautiful, there can be trouble lurking underneath them. In addition to damaging your chimney, they can also damage other building materials including wood, gutters, trim, shingles, and even vinyl siding. Because of this, it is recommended to remove vines as soon as possible in order to repair any damage that has occurred as well as prevent future deterioration.
The best way to remove vines is by cutting off the base of the plants at the roots. Doing this stops the plant from growing further, allowing shoots, tendrils, and leaves to dry and fall away. It is important to allow as much of the vines to fall away on their own as possible; pulling on branches or tendrils, especially those that have been growing for years, can actually cause more damage to the underlying masonry. Bricks and mortar that have been weakened by climbing plants can completely fall and break away if the vines are harshly pulled away.
While climbing plants, flowers, and vines add character to the outside of your home by covering your chimney structure, they may be hiding – or causing – serious underlying damage. To keep your chimney in the best condition possible, remove vines and have the damage repaired as soon as possible.
Not sure what a chimney crown is or why it’s important? Learn why below!
In the past, we have had customers come to us to fix what other companies have previously repaired. Not only does this cost them far more money in the long run, but it also typically means their chimney has been further damaged. When it comes to chimney repairs, the lowest bid does not always equal the best service.
What are chimney crowns?
A chimney crown, sometimes known as a chimney wash, is the slab that covers the top of the chimney structure. Chimney crowns are important because they protect both the interior and exterior chimney structure from the elements. An improperly installed or damaged chimney crown can expose the interior of the chimney and fireplace to rain, snow, and other moisture while simultaneously exposing the brick and mortar of the chimney itself.
What to look for in a chimney crown
Although they can be difficult to inspect from the ground, there are several hallmarks of good chimney crowns that homeowners should be aware of. The first is the overhang, or drip ledge. To prevent water from flowing directly onto the masonry of the chimney structure, chimney crowns should have a drip ledge of at least 2 to 2.5 inches on all sides. These overhangs serve as miniature gutters, protecting the brickwork and mortar from direct exposure to rain and snow.
Another detail to look for is the material the chimney crown is made of. While regular masons may be qualified to lay bricks and mortar for a chimney, the same materials should never be used for the chimney crown itself. Because brickwork and mortar are porous materials, they should never be used to construct a chimney crown. If your chimney crown is made of mortar, it will quickly crack and deteriorate due to exposure to the elements. Instead, crowns should always be constructed from solid metal, stone, or concrete slabs.
Chimney crown supporting structures
While not technically part of a chimney crown, chimney flashing is an important structural element that also helps prevent moisture from entering a chimney structure. Even with a properly sized overhang, flashing is an additional layer of protection against the elements. Often made of metals such as aluminum, galvanized steel, or copper, flashing is designed to create a waterproof seal between the chimney and the roof itself.
However, flashing is often improperly installed which may cause the waterproof seal to be broken. Roofers often use too many nail holes, creating tiny crevices from rain and snow to gain access to the brick and mortar underneath. Likewise, over time the flashing may become loose or damaged, especially in areas prone to severe weather.
At Jack Pixley Sweeps, we can do more than just clean and inspect your fireplace. Our masons are specially trained to craft chimney crowns that are constructed with extreme attention to detail. While our services may not always be the least expensive, our chimney crowns are guaranteed to protect your chimney and last for years to come.