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Spring is the perfect time to have your chimney inspected and swept for numerous reasons.

COURTESY PHOTO: PORTLAND CHIMNEY & MASONRY INC. - Portland Chimney & Masonry Inc. can provide free estimates for needed repairs, including masonry repair, liner installations and more.Spring is the perfect time to wash windows, air out rugs, and clean your chimney.

Yes, you heard that right, clean your chimney.

After the winter burning season, many homeowners forget about their chimneys, but spring is the perfect time to have your chimney inspected and swept for numerous reasons.

Over time, creosote — the byproduct of wood combustion — can go from a powdery, easy-to-clean substance into a tarry matter that is more difficult to remove. It builds up over frequent fireplace usages and reacts with moisture that comes with warmer weather. The recent ice storm and cold weather had Oregonians using their fireplaces more, thus creating more creosote. These buildups are the reason for most chimney fires. Keeping a clean and functioning chimney can also keep efficiency at its maximum and prevent smokey odors from entering homes.

Although Oregon typically has mild weather, freezing cold water can get into chimneys and deteriorate the integrity of the masonry. In damp weather, mold can also be a factor. Homeowners should get the mold removed and followed up with a Masonry Waterseal to help guard against water getting into the brick and mortar.

Portland Chimney & Masonry Inc.

Address: 9136 NE Glisan St., Portland

Phone: 503-256-9140 Website: portlandchimneyinc.com

Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays

Spring also brings birds and squirrels who are looking for a nesting place. The famous chimney swift is the only bird that can roost vertically and once roosted in old-growth trees. Today, these birds (which are federally protected) find their homes in chimneys in the springtime and sometimes stay until mid-September. Chimney caps keep these critters out and also protect the top of the chimney. Stainless steel rain caps (with screens to keep critters out) or custom caps can be made and installed over the top of the chimney, which is more exposed to the elements.

"Portland is filled with beautiful, old homes that have been expertly remodeled," said Therese Lee, owner of Portland Chimney & Masonry Inc. "But in the remodeling process, some residents forget about their chimney. Many of these chimneys are 50 to 100 years old and need updating, too. All chimneys need to have a liner; clay or stainless steel to prevent fires. Over time, these liners — if there was even one to start with — can deteriorate, making the possibility of a chimney fire more common."

Portland Chimney & Masonry Inc. can provide free estimates for needed repairs, including masonry repair, liner installations and more, depending on the condition of your chimney. Annual inspections, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association, have set pricing. Their trained technicians will inspect and can clean your chimney and follow up with a full report and suggestions to ensure your chimney is in good working order.

"Ultimately, we want to leave our clients with peace of mind knowing their fireplaces are working as intended, clean and safe," Lee said. "With over 35 years experience in the chimney business, we can offer that to our customers with confidence."

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