Chimney Cap 101

A proper Chimney cap is designed to shelter and protect the entire footprint of a masonry crown on the chimney. Moisture absorbs through the masonry crown and will crack and expand causing leaking in extreme cold weather conditions. Freezing Temperatures cause the cracks to expand and contract creating a larger waterways through your chimney. We have found many chimneys in disrepair due to the fact that customers do not have a proper That protects their chimney.


Always Hire a Certified Expert

Our founder, Louis Lee proudly serves as the Vice President of the O.C.S.A. , and we encourage homeowners to hire certified experts. You can learn more by visiting the Oregon Chimney Sweep Association.

We strongly recommend that people take a few steps when considering which chimney sweep will perform an annual inspection or related service on their chimney or vent. Because proper care and attention to service can help protect people from unnecessary fires and carbon monoxide poisonings, it is important to choose the professional wisely. While the O.C.S.A. recommends that people consider a O.C.S.A. Certified Chimney Sweep, there are additional questions that should be asked to ensure that the person hired is a credible service technician:

How long has the company been in business?
Do they offer current references?
Are there any unresolved complaints filed within the city or state consumer protection agency or Better Business Bureau?
Does the company or individual carry a valid business liability insurance policy to protect your home and furnishings against accidents?
Does the company ensure that a O.C.S.A. Certified Chimney Sweep will be on the job site?​​​​

To ensure that homeowners receive a certified sweep at every job, all chimney sweeping companies promoting themselves as “O.C.S.A. Certified” or displaying the O.C.S.A. Certified Sweep logo are required to have a O.C.S.A. Certified Chimney Sweep sign off on every job.

The O.C.S.A. meets the highest of educational standards.

The O.C.S.A. credential was established in 1983 to provide homeowners a means to measure a chimney sweep’s technical expertise.

Code of Ethics
In addition to passing a rigorous examination, each person wishing to hold a O.C.S.A. certification must also agree to abide by a stringent Code of Ethics. We feel this is critical to protecting homeowners from potential scams. If a O.C.S.A. Certified Chimney Sweep is found to be in violation, their certification may be revoked.

​Focus on Public Safety and Industry Advancement
O.C.S.A. does more for the industry than certify chimney sweeps. O.C.S.A. ’s mission includes public and professional education with a commitment to the elimination of residential chimney fires, carbon monoxide intrusion and other chimney-related hazards that result in the loss of lives and property.

​Continuing Education
O.C.S.A. Certified Chimney Sweeps must re-certify through examination or continuing education credits every three years. Since the industry is constantly evolving, O.C.S.A. does not believe in providing a “one-and-done” lifetime certification.

Reciprocal Affiliated Trades Relationships
O.C.S.A. devotes its resources to educating the public and related industries through traditional and social media and its relationships with affiliated trades such as home inspectors, realtors, and homeowner associations. Many of these same trade groups promote O.C.S.A. ‘s mission through their own channels.

Care for your fire glass or lava rock

Fire glass and lava rock, should only be used with units that utilize natural gas or propane. Never use either in a wood burning fireplace. Here are some tips, to keep the media in your gas fireplace or insert working well for years to come.

-Soot build up can occur, especially if you have a liquid propane unit. However, watch for excess amounts of soot on your fire glass. This is NEVER a result of the media. If you notice that your fire glass is soot covered, your air mixture may be incorrect. Contact your installer to verify that your unit is burning cleanly and efficiently.

-Your installer should also be able to ensure that the burner pan in your outdoor fire pit is properly ventilated on all sides. Otherwise, the trapped heat has the potential to crack or melt your fire glass. Contact your installer if this becomes a concern.

-If using fire glass or lava rock outdoors, make sure to keep your fire pit covered when not in use to prevent moisture from entering the unit. Heated water – even condensation – will cause steam, which can negatively impact the performance of your media.

-The longer that your media has been in an operating fireplace or fire pit, the hotter it will be. Remember that the bottom layers of media will continue to radiate heat even after the fire has been extinguished. Only handle media after it has had time to completely cool.

-If you have children or pets, use a fireplace screen to keep little hands (and paws) out of reach.

-Many kinds of fire glass are designed to have smooth edges – but you are still handling glass! If you drop it, this product has the potential to crack or fracture, creating sharp edges.

-Never place any kind of other fire media on top of fire glass.

Need an inspection or service on your gas unit?
Give Portland Fireplace and Chimney a call, (503) 758-4710

SW Portland Rebuild

This chimney had no chimney cap, as a result the chimney has absorbed extensive amounts of water and has become saturated. During this saturated period, freezing temperatures have caused expansion and contraction in the brick and mortar joints. The chimney is now loose and crumbling. Our recommendation was be to take the chimney down to the roofline and rebuild using new Mutual used brick. This way you don’t have two sections of the chimney decaying at different rates, it will be consistent and match.

We took this chimney down to the roofline and rebuilt it using new mutual used brick.  Built a new crown with four new 12″ x 16″ flue tiles, staggered the flue tile terminations. Also supplied and installed new black masonry counter flashing. We supplied and installed three new 12″ x 16″ top seal damper kits, and finished with a custom stainless steel chimney cap that we powder coated black at the customers request.


Portland Fireplace and Chimney has long been doing roofing in conjunction with chimney projects (As you may have seen in prior blog entries). We’re now officially offering roofing as a standalone service as well. Our roof replacement service includes the tear off of all layers of roofing and an inspection of the roof deck for any damaged or deteriorated decking. We use high quality materials as well as experienced, knowledgeable and efficient installers. We will make sure to work within your budget to install a roof to protect one of your most valued assets, your home. PFC is licensed and insured in both Washington, and Oregon, rest assured your project will be properly permitted and inspected.

We specialize in Composition (asphalt shingles) and membrane roofing applications. Call us today to get an estimate on your project! (503) 758-4710

NE Couch Rebuild

This NE Portland chimney was cracked loose and crumbling above the roofline. It was suffering from extensive saturation decay. The flashing at the roofline transition point was installed incorrectly by a roofer instead of a mason. (The roofer took a quarter inch grinder and ground out a line through the face of each masonry cell) This has caused a break in the chimney at the roofline, this chimney was not structurally sound and required a steel rebar retrofit.


We’re taking this fireplace chimney down to the shoulder and rebuilding it using new old town red brick. While we’re doing that, we’re rebuilding with a masonry the tile liner.  We’re also going to tie this chimney structure to the house using interior chimney straps, build a new crown, and install new black roof and masonry counter flashing in with ice and water shield. Here are some progress photos from this week.



We’ll keep you posted on this project as we finish things up next week.



Do I Need a Chimney Cap?

The Chimney cap plays an important role in your home’s chimney system. If you don’t already have one, or if yours has seen better days, here are a few reasons you should get a chimney cap installed today!

  1. Chimney caps keep birds, bats, squirrels, and raccoons from entering your chimney. In addition to the nuisance of having animals in your chimney, nests can become fire hazards during winter. Not to mention the smells! We often get calls from frustrated homeowners with mysterious smells coming from the firebox, only to discover animals have taken over and nested or died in their chimney.
  2. A chimney cap will keep rain water from coming down your home’s chimney. Rain water can damage chimneys with stainless steel liners, chimney dampers and chimney mortar joints.  As water seeps into cracks and freezes, it expands, slowly widening the crack. Over time, this process can require expensive repairs. Chimney caps shield your chimney from water, preventing damage. Beyond the damage from the water itself, moisture from rain water can produce mold and mildew.
  3. Some people refer to chimney caps as spark arrestors, which basically means that the chimney cap helps prevent lit embers or sparks that travel up the chimney from landing on roof, possibly catching it on fire. Chimney caps keep burning embers and sparks from flying out of your chimney and potentially starting a wildfire.
  4. A common misconception that comes along with the topic is the worry that caps will cause problems with the chimney draft. At times adding a chimney cap incorrectly can create draft problems. But if you hire a professional chimney sweep to do the job, a chimney cap can often fix a draft problem. There are specially designed chimney caps that reduce draft problems or correct existing ones. If the wind is blowing in a certain direction, it can introduce a downdraft. If you don’t have a chimney cap and you’re using a wood-burning fireplace at the time, a wind-induced downdraft has the potential of blowing smoke back into your home. The flat-shaped top of a chimney cap is designed to help prevent wind-induced downdrafts.

Call Portland Fireplace and Chimney today, and get a quote for your custom chimney cap! 503-758-4710

Eagle Creek Remodel

We removed this customer’s existing masonry fireplace chimney down to the firebox floor. Then we came in and rebuilt and reinforced the existing floor with concrete block as needed to ensure a sound foundation to accommodate the NZ6000. Once demo was complete, we supplied and installed a new Napoleon NZ 6000 fireplace. The details of course included  new Eldorado stone  for the the fireplace surround, with new grey keystone detail around the fireplace doors.

Here you see, before.


…and after

Mysterious noises

A family called in and were hearing a rattling sound in chimney anytime it was windy. This naturally had them nervous  to have a fire, as the cause of the sound was a mystery. After coming out to check on things for them we found that the spot welds on the stainless steel chimney liner cap had broken, and their cap was loose.  Our technitian drilled some pilot holes, and installed a set of 1/4″ stainless fasteners, making sure everything was secure at no charge to the homeowner.


Have a mystery noise? Call Portland Fireplace and Chimney for all your fireplace and chimney related needs. 503-758-4710


Vancouver Wood Stove Insert

We supplied and installed this  new Regency CI 1250 wood stove insert with built-in blower. This home owner chose cast iron trim, and the application called for an off set flue adapter, and 6″ x 25′ stainless steel chimney liner kit. After the proper electrical and mechanical inspection were complete, this is the finished product.




Call Portland Fireplace and Chimney to discuss your wood burning (OR GAS!) insert options! 503-758-4710