The FAQs

Why is "Boston" in the Name of a Pasadena Masonry Company?

When we were looking for a name for our masonry company, a survey was done to people who had some masonry work done. They were asked what represents high quality brickwork in their mind? Boston was the answer that came up more times than any other answer. To most people surveyed, Boston stands for quality and we are all about quality, hence the name BOSTON BRICK & STONE.

What is The Chimney Specialist's Code of Ethics?

The Chimney Specialist's Code of Ethics is a 17-point reference written for the chimney and fireplace industry by Dave Laverdiere, the owner of Boston Brick & Stone. The document details a uniform standard of professional chimney and fireplace ethical practices regarding quality, safety and pricing. It is also the foundation upon which all Boston Brick & Stone masons operate. Click to read and download The Chimney Specialist's Code of Ethics.

Are you licensed?

Yes Boston Brick & Stone, Inc. is a licensed California General Contractors, our License numbers are: 783578, B, C29, D34, C-8.

Are you insured?

Boston Brick & Stone, Inc. is insured, bonded and covered by Workers Compensation. License Number: 783578.

Do you use outside workers?

No. All of the men who will work at your home are employees of Boston Brick & Stone, Inc. and covered by our Workers Compensation.

Do you have financing?

We work with a company that has zero percent financing for up to 12 months for those who are qualified.

Are there different types of Fireplaces?

Yes, there are three basic types of chimneys:

  1. Masonry chimneys are made of brick, concrete and mortar.
  2. Prefabricated chimneys are manufactured at a factory and installed as a unit. There are several kinds of prefabricated chimneys including the Isokern, which can be made to look like a masonry chimney.
  3. Hybrid chimneys have a masonry base, firebox and smoke chamber, but it transforms into a high temperature pipe with a steel stud frame. This system is used for the majority of chimney repairs in Los Angeles.

How can I tell what type of chimney I have?

There are different indicators for each type of chimney:

  1. Masonry system: Real bricks in the firebox or a clay type square or oval pipe protruding from the top of the chimney.
  2. Prefabricated system: If the firebox is metal.
  3. Hybrid Systems: A metal pipe with a metal cap that fits the pipe perfectly protruding out the top and the firebox is made of brick and mortar.

What is a Masonry Chimney?

A masonry chimney is made of brick, concrete and mortar. The firebox is made with real bricks and the liner is a clay square or oval pipe.

What is a Prefabricated Chimney?

A prefabricated or factory made chimney system. It typically has a metal firebox and a thin metal pipe for the flue. The pipe is kept cool by air rushing through the cooling cavity in the pipe.

What is a Hybrid Chimney System?

A hybrid chimney has a firebox and smoke chamber made of brick and mortar. It transforms into a high temperature pipe with a steel stud frame.

What position should my damper be in?

The damper should always be open during a fire but closed during cold days because the heated air from the furnace will rise and escape out the chimney. A damper in the closed position will stop this flow of heated air out your chimney and save you money and natural resources.

What is a top mounted damper?

A damper installed at the top of the chimney. It is a part added to a chimney cap. A cable runs down the chimney to a metal "L" shaped bracket that is mounted on the side wall of the firebox. This cable comes down and runs through the bracket. To close the damper at the top, pull down on the cable and lock it in the bracket. This pulls the stainless steel plate down over the top of the flue, sealing it off.

I heard you cannot build masonry chimneys in Los Angeles anymore, is that true?

Boston Brick & Stone, Inc. builds masonry chimneys almost daily. We understand the building codes and the engineering required. We have no problem getting the permits to construct a full masonry chimney.

Can we still get a wood burning fireplace

In 2008, the Air Quality Control Management District (South Coast) or the AQMD, adopted Rule 445 governing wood-burning devises. Although this rule should be read in full to fully understand the implications, it basically affects all buildings which began construction after March 9th, 2009.

If a fireplace began construction prior to this date it can still be operated as a wood burning devise as long as it abides by the restrictions put forth in Rule 445. In a new development, according to Rule 445 a masonry fireplace and chimney system can be constructed as long as it has a dedicated gas appliance permanently affixed to the new system.

Is there a danger that carbon monoxide may escape from my chimney back into my home?

Yes. Carbon Monoxide affects people differently. There are recorded cases where some people have suffered devastating effects from CO exposure while others in the same room suffered no effects.

Boston Brick & Stone recommends that ALL gas and woodburning fireplaces have CO detectors installed around the fireplace. It is also a building code requirement that any fireplace with a gas log set must have the damper permanently fixed in the open position. Should someone light a gas log with the damper closed, the people in the room will not notice. Carbon Monoxide is odorless and colorless gas.

Are your chimney inspectors licensed?

There is no licensure for chimney inspectors in California. There is also no certification requirement in California. However, all of our chimney inspectors complete a level i certification program designed by Dave Laverdiere to teach the basic fundamentals of chimney inspection including techniques of inspection, code knowledge and basic understanding of chimney types and operation, after the level 1 certification has been awarded the Boston Brick & Stone chimney inspector graduates to level 2 where his basic knowledge is expanded. At level 3 the inspector will attend a one-week chimney inspector course. Their on the job training takes over a year and is personally supervised by the owner, Dave Laverdiere and our Quality Assurance Manager, Burten Carraher.

Do you use a camera?

Yes, the only way you can really see what is going on inside a chimney is with a camera. As the inspector is rolling the camera up the chimney, you can see what he sees on the monitor. He will point out any problems he is seeing. Of course, he will photograph any problem site to add to his written report.

Will we get a report of the findings from the chimney inspection?

Yes, we give you a detailed report of our findings. The report includes pictures of any areas of the chimney or fireplace that need to be addressed. If there are problems that need to be addressed, we will give a detailed estimate of repairs. The price is guaranteed for 30 days.

Why should I get a Chimney Inspection?

The National Fire Protection Agency edition 211 recommends that chimneys should be inspected once a year, as well as at every major event such as an earthquake or windstorm and at every change of owner.

How do you clean the chimney?

Our technicians start in the house, covering up the opening of the fireplace with heavy plastic. They will even cover furniture that is close to the fireplace. Then they go to the roof, and sweep the inside of the chimney from the top down twice. The technicians come back into the house, carefully open the plastic and vacuum out the fireplace. They sweep the inside of the fireplace and vacuum that out. Finally, they carefully remove the plastic working hard to avoid letting any of the chimney dust into the home.

How often should I clean my fireplace?

That depends on how often you use the fireplace. Here are a few "rules of thumb" to determine when to get your chimney cleaned.

  1. If you use your fireplace every day during the chilly season
  2. When you use up a cord of wood.
  3. After 100 uses.

This is the first year I have smoke in my room when I light a fire, what happened?

The first question we always ask is when was the last time you had your chimney cleaned? Creosote builds up in the flue and may suppress the proper upward flow of the smoke. Whenever Boston Brick & Stone cleans a chimney, we also have a certified chimney inspector do a complete inspection. This way you will know what the problem is and get a recommended solution.

My chimney does not draft properly. How can I solve this problem?

Have your chimney inspected by a professional. If your fireplace starts to smoke in the middle of a fire and smoke is coming into the room, first make sure the damper is open. If the damper is open, then the opening of the fireplace must be made smaller. The simplest way is to take household aluminum foil and tape about 10 inches across the entire top of the fireplaces. This should allow the system to draft properly. Do not add anymore wood, just allow the fire to go out. Do not use your fireplace again until you have the chimney inspected by a certified chimney inspector.

Would it be better to have a general home inspector inspect my chimney?

If you want to make sure your chimney is structurally sound, and is safe to operate. If your primary concern is the comfort and safety of your family and your home, you will want the most experienced and knowledgeable chimney inspector available.

While purchasing a home I noticed the bricks near the fireplace opening have been painted over. Should I be concerned?

Yes. This may be an indication that the fireplace did not work correctly and the owner tried to hide it by painting over the soot stained bricks. Moreover the paint may not be high temperature paint. Regular house paint gives off toxic fumes when exposed to high temperatures.

When looking for homes I notice that some chimneys have been painted over. Is that a concern?

Yes. There may be a structural break that has been patched up and painted over. Structural breaks must be professionally corrected before you can safely build a fire in the fireplace.

While house hunting I noticed some fireplaces in older homes have never been used. Is this something to worry about?

Yes. When these houses were built, the fireplace was usually the only source of heat. If the fireplace has never been used, you can be almost certain that something is wrong.

Why do you recommend that all chimneys built before 1940 get an inspection?

Chimney design changed after the long beach earthquake. Prior to this time, most chimneys were not reinforced, had "lime & ash" mortar and most did not have a flue liner. Most of these chimneys were single width, meaning they are only one-brick-wide. The "ash & lime" mortar is very weak making this type of chimney a potential safety hazard. They must be carefully inspected before being used to burn gas or wood.

Why should all prefabricated chimneys be inspected?

Prefabricated chimneys are manufactured in a factory and UL tested. They must be installed to exact manufacturer specifications. A simple mistake made during its install could be a disaster. If the pipe comes apart inside the wood frame chase, a fire is possible. Most chimney fires are caused by prefabricated systems.

If I see a crack on my chimney, is this something I should be worried about?

Yes. The only way to know if the crack is superficial or more extensive is with a full chimney inspection.

Is it a good idea to have a rain cap installed on my chimney?

Yes, always. A chimney cap prevents rain and animals from coming in as well as embers from flying out on the roof, which could cause fires.

Is it safe to burn only gas in my damaged fireplace and chimney system?

No! Of the fireplace fires investigated over 60% were gas only. Gas is more likely to cause a fire because the temperature is constant and can be accidentally left on for long periods of time. Although a wood fire does reach higher temperatures, these temperatures do come down and an unattended fire will go out.

What our clients say

"Thanks to Boston Brick & Stone's EXCELLENT inspections of the chimney/fireplace and the foundation, I was able to make an informed decision about a home purchase. The pictures and diagram included in my report spoke a thousand words and perhaps, literally, may have saved my life."

- D.B

"I would give Boston Brick & Stone something better than an A. They were the best company that I ever dealt with for anything. They took care of everything. They came according to my schedules. Golden Angie's list and golden golden company."

- J.M

"They included rebar which was not incorporated in the original construction. Brilliant craftsmen! Responded promptly, Gave an estimate and stuck to it. Continued to work in a rainstorm by placing a plastic tent over the work area. I would use them again and recommend them to anyone who will listen."

- S.W

"Nancy and I would like to thank you and the whole team at Boston Brick & Stone for our new chimney and front walkway. This was an exceptionally positive experience for us. Your company's professionalism and focus on detail and workmanship is refreshing and appreciated. "

- J. & N.G

"I was quite pleased with the work Boston Brick and Stone did in my garage and of my driveway. I was taken to their shop and got to meet everyone. I had changed my mind several times on trying to decide somethings during the processes and they were more that willing to adjust to suit my needs. I would recommend them for your home improvement projects anytime."

- E.S

"I had been in the process of buying a new home and was told by our home inspector that it would be advisable to receive a chimney inspection. So, I called Boston Brick & Stone and they were able to send someone out the very next day. The inspector was very courteous and professional he answered all my questions, I was very happy with this service."

- L.K

"The work on our two chimneys was an extensive job that we were not looking forward to. But the company's service was thorough, and the work crew was excellent. Always on time and courteous, they kept the work sites shockingly clean. A pleasant surprise!"

- N.R

"Boston Brick rebuilt the fire box in our fireplace and made some repairs to the chimney. During the job, they took care to minimize the mess they created. They cleaned up carefully afterward. All their dealings with us were polite and professional. The work itself looks solid. I would use them again. "

- D.H.B

"They were always here on time. They took our basic idea of what we thought needed to be done and turned it into just a wonderful, wonderful project that was more than what we had expected"

- A.B. | Homeowner

"My wife and I couldn't be more pleased with the work that was done to our new patio. It looks far better than we envisioned. The attention to detail, especially around the steps, is simply amazing. Boston Brick & Stone showed expertise in their field, beyond others. Its a new flagstone patio that we are in love with. The workers were diligent and cleaned up completely at the end of the job. Highly recommended. "

- A.N

Some of Our customers