Frequently Asked Questions
Answers from Our Expert Los Angeles Masonry Contractors
As a trusted source for concrete, masonry, brick, and stone work in Pasadena and the Greater Los Angeles area, Boston Brick & Stone, Inc. is known for our high standards of service and commitment to client satisfaction. We are frequently asked a number of questions and you can find our expert’s answers to a number of them below.
If you need answers to your unique project, call us today at (626) 551-4919 to discuss your situation. Our team members are standing by to help you.
Why is "Boston" in the name of a Pasadena masonry company?
When we were looking for a name for our business, a survey was done to people who had some masonry work done. They were asked what represents high-quality brickwork and 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, Inc.
What is The Chimney Specialist's Code of Ethics?
This 17-point guide was by Boston Brick & Stone, Inc. founder Dave Laverdiere. It seeks to create a standard of professional service and practices that involves detailing safety measures, costs, and standards of quality. This is the code to which all our Pasadena masonry contractors adhere to and you can read it in full by clicking here.
Are you licensed?
Yes. Boston Brick & Stone, Inc. is a licensed California General Contractors, our License numbers are: 783578, B, C29, D34, C-8.
There is no licensure for chimney inspectors in California. There is also no certification requirement in California. All of our Pasadena chimney inspectors complete a level 1 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 this certification has been awarded, the Boston Brick & Stone, Inc. chimney inspector graduates to level 2 where 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 Dave Laverdiere and our Quality Assurance Manager, Burten Carraher.
Are you insured?
Boston Brick & Stone, Inc. is insured, bonded, and covered by workers’ compensation. License Number: 783578.
Do you offer financing?
We work with a company that has zero percent financing for up to 12 months for those who are qualified.
Do you use outside workers?
No. All of our Pasadena masons who will work at your home are employees of Boston Brick & Stone, Inc. and covered by our workers’ compensation insurance.
Would it be better to have a general home inspector inspect my chimney?
If you want to make sure your chimney is structurally sound, is safe to operate, and 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.
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.
Will I get a report of the findings from the chimney inspection?
Yes, our Pasadena chimney inspectors give you a detailed report of all of our findings. The report includes pictures of any areas of the chimney or fireplace that need to be addressed. If there are problems, we will give a detailed estimate of repairs. The price is guaranteed for 30 days.
Do you use a camera for inspections?
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.
Are there different types of chimneys?
There are three basic types of chimneys and fireplaces. These include:
- Those made from brick, concrete, and mortar, known as masonry chimneys.
- Prefabricated chimneys that are installed as one unit. These are made in a factory and include Isokern chimneys, which look like masonry.
- Hybrid chimneys are a combination, using both masonry at the base and in the fireplace and a steel frame that is stronger, especially against earthquakes. This is the primary reason that hybrids are so popular throughout the Greater Los Angeles area.
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 devices. Although this rule should be read in full to 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 device as long as it abides by certain restrictions. 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.
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 installation 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.
What is a top-mounted damper?
A damper is at the top of your chimney. It is a part added to a chimney cap. A cable runs down the chimney to a metal "L" shaped bracket which is mounted on the side 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.
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.
How often should I clean my fireplace?
That depends on how often you use the fireplace. Here are a few good rules of thumb to determine when to get your chimney cleaned:
- If you use your fireplace every day during the chilly season
- When you use up a cord of wood
- After 100 uses
How do you clean chimneys?
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.
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, Inc. 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.
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 and 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 and lime" mortar is also very weak, making this type of chimney a potential safety hazard. They must be carefully inspected before being used to burn gas or wood.
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 safe to burn only gas in my damaged fireplace and chimney system?
No! Of the 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.