For 30 years, the home-improvement contractors at Columbia Exteriors have been installing quality windows, doors, roofing, and siding that beautify homes and bolster energy efficiency. The airtight, insulated chambers of new windows trap in escaping heat, and shingled roofing materials keep out the elements. Technicians can also robe exteriors in soffit siding or fascia roof coverings that help prevent damage by covering any gaps that could collect water.
Whenever Doug Hetsch's chimney sweeps head out, they always tote along a bag of toys. On his most memorable job, Hetsch snuck one of them up the flue when the homeowner's child—who'd been watching them work—wasn't looking. When the toy tumbled out minutes later, Hetsch picked it up and said casually, "Yeah, these things fall out of Santa's bag all the time." The little girl nearly hyperventilated. Overwhelmed by the experience, and amazed that chimney sweeps were allowed to get dirt on their faces, she ran after Hetsch as he left, saying she wanted to be a chimney sweep when she grew up.
Hetsch expects this kind of service from his crew, all of whom are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. A pilot in his spare time, Hetsch trains his team to deliver service with the diligence of an aviator—always well groomed, crisply uniformed, and able to explain complicated terms in plain, direct language. Using a closed-circuit video scanner, teams create a digital image of each chimney's interior to more accurately assess the job. Based on these renderings, they can adjust cleaning methods, as well as recommend services to bring chimneys up to or beyond current building codes. All American Chimney Service works on smokestacks up to 100 years old, ensuring a safe conduit for smoke or the ghosts of logs originally chopped by Teddy Roosevelt.
Fireplaces bring many comforts into a home, from warmth to the tranquil sounds of a crackling log. Unfortunately, there's a price to pay for this coziness: soot, ash, and Santa's discarded candy wrappers. Ashes Away Chimney Sweeps' team addresses this issue, cleaning out chimneys from top to bottom. While peering into these fireplace holes, they can also remove errant animals, check for damage, and make repairs—a service they have performed since 1980.