AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Here is another great article, about the need for installing a chimney cap! A bigs thank you goes out to Doug Hetsch and his entire team over at ” All American Chimney ” in beautiful Louisville KY. After reading this article, if you have time jump over to our interview with Doug Hetsch on our HomeContractors HQ– podcast Episode 25 .
When you have a chimney, one of the most important things you can to do prolong its life and protect it from damage is to prevent water penetration. All American Chimney Service knows how important it is to keep water out of your chimney, and we are proud to offer several maintenance and installation services that are the best ways of preventing water damage to your chimney. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends a chimney cap as the least expensive preventive method against water penetration. Over our years of working on chimneys in the Louisville area, we have repaired many chimneys that were damaged because they were not capped. Sometimes the damage can become so bad that we have had to rebuild chimneys. This is one of the reasons why the CSIA has called water the biggest enemy of masonry chimneys. We would like to tell you more about chimney caps and how they can save the life of your chimney by protecting it from water penetration.
Without a good quality chimney cap installed at the top, your chimney is an open hole on your roof. Water from rain and melted snow can easily get inside your chimney to penetrate into the bricks and mortar of your chimney. This trapped moisture can lead to spalling damage in the winter, which is when the water freezes, expands, and thaws. The repeated freeze/thaw cycles cause the bricks and mortar to crack, break apart, and become loose from the chimney. Making sure your chimney is protected by a chimney cap at its top will help to decrease the spalling damage to the bricks and mortar.
Not only do chimney caps prevent water from getting into chimneys, they also keep birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other wild animals out of the flue. All American Chimney Service can show you chimney caps that are equipped with metal mesh sides that make it impossible for any critters to even try to enter your chimney to use as a nesting spot. These metal mesh sides serve another important purpose as they keep hot sparks and embers from jumping out of the top of the chimney. This reduces your risk of experiencing a fire on your roof or in your yard. If you are having trouble with the draft in your chimney, we can also show you chimney caps that are vented on the sides to direct the wind to help pull exhaust gases out of the chimney.
By serving several important functions, a chimney cap is one of the most essential components of a chimney and venting system. Contact us at All American Chimney Service to find out more about our chimney cap sales and installation services.
Over the past few years, there has been some commotion in the industry regarding non-vented gas logs. (BEING UPDATED)
Fireplace dampers sit almost directly above the heat of the fire. Over time, the extreme heat and rapid change in temperature can warp and damage the fireplace damper such that they need replaced. A damper must be in one piece that is snug to the flue in order for it to work properly, and if the damper cracks while being rapidly heated and cooled, it will no longer work properly. Replacing a fireplace damper by yourself is possible, and you can save yourself some serious money by foregoing professional consultation.
One step that folks who want to complete the job themselves often skip is actually removing any debris up where the damper sits and also in the firebox itself. Any ashes in the firebox should be removed and thrown away, but be sure that the ashes have fully cooled before manipulating them. We recommend putting the ashes into a metal can
From here the process is actually quite simple. There will be a rod that is fixed inside the chimney by nuts. Use a wrench to loosen the nuts and remove the metal rod. The damper itself will now be able to be twisted off. If your damper has significant rusting, this part may be difficult, and if the metal rod itself has rusted you will want to replace it and the corresponding nuts. You may want to consult a professional in choosing a new damper, but if you do not want to simply taking your existing damper with you when you go to get the new one will allow you to compare dimensions and ensure that you have a proper fit. Very large chimneys may need custom made dampers, but this is rarely the case.
Installing the damper is quite easy– simply slide it back onto the rod in the same fashion that you removed the old damper and fix the rod and damper back into place using the same nuts as before. Be sure it is securely fastened and that it will not wiggle or fall over time. Despite the simplicity of replacing a fireplace damper, I have heard from folks who have installed the damper incorrectly that they lit their first fire after the replacement and their whole room filled with smoke!
This is no problem and is usually not the fault of the damper’s construction.
Put the fire out and look closely at the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that you have installed it as the manufacturer had intended. If you are still experiencing problems, consult a professional.
When replacing your existing damper, a product now available on the market is called a top sealing damper, where the damper is actually located at the top of the chimney, controlled by a cable that reaches down the chimney, which prevents heated air in the winter from being lost up and out of the chimney. LockTop top sealing damper systems are generally what are installed by professionals these days because of their efficiency and ease of use for the customer.
When a chimney fire occurs, wind damage, or lightning strikes your chimney, damage is incurred. Most folks’ insurance policies cover such occurrences, and a chimney professional must try to help homeowners to make the insurance process go as smoothly as possible. My number one recommendation when it comes to insurance claims, no matter what kind of insurance, is to document everything at the very beginning of the process. You need to be sure to document the date it occurred, the name of the professional(s) who comes out to evaluate the situation, and the date(s) the professional evaluated the situation. Your professional should also be doing some documentation as well.
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If you are not familiar with podcasting, I assure you that you will be soon! Podcasting is kind of like internet radio. Only you get to pick who you want to hear from, as well as when you want to hear them.
Home Contractors HQ podcast can now be heard on iTunes , Google Play and Stitcher podcast phone app.<——( podcast-catchers)
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For years service companies from all across the country have told me that they use our * Ask The Chimney Sweep videos, to train their own servicemen, as well as being a great a tool to email to their own customers to help explain, just what kind of repairs that they are recommending to be completed at their homes.
Our new educational training podcast is directed to help answer questions for new startup service companies, as well as hearing from hundreds of very seasoned contractors, that will be sharing their wisdom and experiences with the next generation of home repair service companies.
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With all of the wood-stove and gas fireplaces being used by millions through -out America, our blog and the Q & A section is exploding.
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Unlike some appliances which need maintenance only when a problem arises, dryer vents need ongoing maintenance to keep them safe. When it comes to a sweeping company, most people really only consider having their fireplaces cleaned, and maybe their furnace, but what about your dryer vent? This must be cleaned regularly in order to best prevent a fire from starting. Here are some tips in caring for your dryer in between servicing.
1. After every load of laundry, clean off the lint screen! This simple task is a habit for most people accustomed to doing laundry, but doing so really increases the efficiency of your dryer.
2. If your dryer vent (the circular, flexible pipe extending from the back of the dryer to outside of your home) is a vinyl hose, it should be replaced. These are very old dryer vents. Newer models of dryers come with rigid, metal ducts in order to decrease the likelihood of a fire occurring. These rigid pipes are smooth on the inside to keep lint and other debris from catching on the sides and causing blockage. Regarding your chimney’s duct, the shorter the better; the longer the pipe and the more turns that exist the harder your dryer has to work, increasing your electric bill monthly.
Pic courtesy of Chimney Solutions Alanta GA
Having your dryer vent serviced yearly keeps your dryer running efficiently for a longer period of time. Dryers that don’t work efficiently causes each load to take longer to dry and for heavy items such as towels to come out still damp. Having to put items back through the cycle again is extremely wasteful. Finally, if there is no lint appearing on the lint screen when you check it for lint (meaning none whatsoever) there is a very good chance that your dryer vent’s exhaust system may be clogged.
Most chimney sweeping companies are also certified for cleaning dryer vents. Don’t skip this process! An inefficient dryer or a fire caused by a clogged dryer vent will cost you more in the long runt. It is very important to check your dryer vents to ensure there is not a lint buildup! Clogged vents will restrict the flow of air and the efficiency of the dryer. Your dryer will work much harder and longer to dry your clothes, which cost you money and energy.
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Spring is right around the corner, and folks that means its home improvement time. Were you disappointed by your heating bill using a furnace? Or did you struggle with your fireplace all season long? There are so many modernizations available for fireplaces to make them more efficient, send heat further in the room, and much more, which you may want to look into this season while you are working on other parts of your home.
Its true although it may seem counter-intuitive, some fireplace are actually so inefficient that they lose more heat up the flue system than they emit into the room. Extreme cases can actually cause a 20% heat loss! Imagine factoring in an extra 20% to your heating bill from this winter, or more importantly factoring out 20%. Everyone wants lower energy bills, and achieving a lower heating bill next winter is as easy as taking some of the suggestions listed below.
Glass Doors display, at Bromwell Fireplace shop in Cincinnati, just an amazing store to visit and shop at!
One of the most obvious solutions to the problem of heat loss is to physically prevent the heat from exiting the home. Installing fireplace glass doors is an easy way of doing so which also is an attractive addition to any home. I find these glass doors most helpful when I’m waiting for the fire to go out and its burning low but its still too early to shut the chimney damper. Preventing air from
heading up the chimney is a huge efficiency booster.
Similarly, the installation of a fireplace fireback is another relatively small price to pay for increased fireplace efficiency. These firebacks can be highly decorative or very simple and can be made of stainless steel or a more expensive, decorative cast iron. Firebacks are simply set in the fireplace behind the grate and amplify the radiant heat from the fire into the room, more so than the firebox wall would. Some manufacturer’s cite huge efficiency increases with the installation of their product, most of which are noticeable immediately after installation.
Fireplace Tool Set
Some people might not think of efficiency of burning as including the stoking and care of the fire before and after the fire burns, but technically speaking if you can decrease your time spent handling the ashes, etc., that makes the fireplace a more efficient heating method because it provides heat in a shorter period of time. A nice tool set will aid in ash removal and stoking the fire so it burns to its maximum potential.
Options to Discuss with a Professional
If your fireplace smokes toward the beginning of your fire or continuously even during the time you are burning a fire, you are burning inefficiently due to a poor draft more than likely. You will want to discuss options with your professional to improve this draft because once draft is improved not only will the smoking problem cease but the fire will burn hotter and longer all the while
needing less care from you once its lit.
You also want to consider carefully if your fireplace has an odor when its raining or humid outside or if you feel cold air when the wind is blowing. In these cases you’ll want to install a top sealing damper, also called a chimney damper cap to close the chimney off at the top when your chimney is not in use.
Finally, a clean chimney is the most efficient version of your chimney without any other alterations because a clean chimney provides for the best draft (besides being more safe for burning). Having your chimney serviced and swept regularly will provide you with the opportunity to discuss options discussed above with a professional as well as make sure there aren’t any ongoing problems with your chimney.
I certainly would hope that no one would ever experience one of these hostile chimney fires in their home. Many a chimney fire ruined a Christmas or New Years Holiday gathering. Chimney fires are known to be either very quiet and almost an undetectable rumbling, or as many customers has told me it had a sound like that of a very loud jet aircraft or freight train going through the house.
This loud tornado wind sound is caused as room air is being sucked up the chimney flue and is often accompanied by hot flames that are shooting out of the chimney, while spitting hot chunks of swollen creosote on to the rooftop. A loud popping and cracking sound is often heard as terra-cotta clay flue tiles are breaking from the rapid heat expansion.
It is not uncommon to hear from a homeowner that a neighbor came pounding on their front door, shouting that flames from a fire where shooting out of the top of their chimney, then the local fire department was called and came rushing to the fire.
As I mentioned, to often chimney fires are not heard at all. It may be a quiet rumbling and referred to as being slow burning. This slow burning fire is what chimney sweeps often discover during a standard maintenance chimney cleaning. If a chimney fire is discovered, a video scanning of the interior of chimney liner is recommended, we would be assessing for any possible damage. I will say that it is rather unusual that no fire damage had occurred, as this intense heat from the fire can exceed 2,000 degrees, buckling metal chimney pipes and cracking flue tiles as well as damaging mortar joints found both in the smoke chamber and the flue tiles mortar system.
Signs of a Chimney Fire https://youtu.be/5e2_6HUVtjI
It is very important to understand that fire is only supposed to be present in the firebox area, and not in the smoke chamber or chimney flue system!
According to building codes standards, a fireplace chimney flue system must be able to contain the products of combustion (smoke) and that the fireplace must be repaired before further use, if it is damaged!
Sudden Occurrence Insurance Claims https://youtu.be/ImkfRabTTPI
Video Scanning the interior of the Chimney Flue
I would recommend that a chimney contractor photograph damage areas of the chimney, bag a sample of the swollen or puffed creosote. As a chimney contractor we will have our customers sign our receipt of our discovery, documentation and communication of their chimney fire incident and to discontinue use further use, until proper repairs are made. We will also recommend having the homeowner contact their homeowners insurance carrier, as this is most often considered a “Sudden Occurrence” within the insurance industry terminology and possibly chimney repairs of like and kind may be covered under their Home Owners insurance policy.
In conclusion Christmas …..is a perfect time for a Chimney Fire, as any homeowners toss their Christmas wrapping paper and cardboard boxes in the fireplace and ignite a needless chimney fire. As a side bar there are two other times of the year that a chimney fire often occurs. One is when the Christmas tree is broken apart and used to get a roaring fire started. The other time is on those “Special Football Sundays” as greasy pizza boxes are pitched into the fireplace… A loud whoosh can be heard as a chimney-fire is now blazing out of control from the top of your house. Smoke alarms are blasting, the sound of fire truck sirens can be heard 6 blocks away, as they are coming into your neighborhood to connect their fire-truck hoses up to the water hydrant, ladders are going to be thrown up onto your gutters to mount your rooftop to begin attacking your chimney fire. This doesn’t need to happen to you and your family over the holiday season or at all. That is if you’re having your fireplace regularly serviced and practices some basic fireplace burning techniques.
Burn Safe and Warm
Creosote odor problem. … Oh my goodness do they ever stink up a home!
I couldn’t tell you how many times over the years that I have been called by a rather frustrated customers, telling me they have a horrible odor that is filling their home and the smell seams to be coming from the fireplace.Being in the fireplace business over 30 years I have found that most odor problems stem from one of two things.
Either there is something dead in a chimney such as birds, squirrels or a big old nasty dead raccoon. Not going into detail here, trust me that is not a fun job to remove!The second odor culprit and the most common is the foul smell of creosote soaked air that is being pulled down into the home often by the cold air returns and furnace ductwork.Creosote is from smoke that contains droplets of unburned carbon and is often referred to as tar-fog, within the chimney and fireplace business, These tar-fog droplets often will condense and collect on the cooler interior walls of both the fireplace and chimney flue system.Creosote is that black flammable substance that is left in a fireplace or wooding burn stove.
Hot fires that are associated with burning cardboard or paper can easily flame up past the damper area and often ignite droplets of creosote. Now you have an un-friendly or possibly an out of control chimney fire. Know well that many chimney-fires are much quieter and are referred to as being “slow burning”, still often cause a huge amount of damage to the interior of the fireplace masonry as well as to hidden wooden framing and mantels.
Now lets get back to identifying and solving your fireplace odor problem. Over the years I have tried many concoctions’ of home remedies. I have read a lot regarding house pressures induced odor problems. I have purchased many of these odor products online as well as at the local hardware store. Using those fresh air smelling small carbon jell tubs, vinegar filled bowls or those Chimney cleaning logs all work to some degree, but have not offer a lasting solution for stinky fireplaces. I’m sorry to report to you, but these pungent odors don’t seem to be able to masked over to satisfy for myself, or my customers’ noses’
So let start with your wood source, and as we discussed that incomplete combustion term may sound high tech, but in reality is that it boils down to your firewood is not being “burned completely and /or the fireplace is not drafting up enough to properly flush those Smokey-gases out of your homes fast enough.
In other words the smoke is lingering in the chimney flue way to long, it is then condensing into creosote and collecting on the cooler walls of the fireplace. Then when your furnace system kicks on, the air pressures within your home are often reversed, thus pulling odors down and are now being re-distributed throughout the home.
Whenever I’m called out to a customer’s home for an odor problem, as soon as I arrive I go looking for their woodpile. I want to see if the wood is covered properly from those soaking snowfalls and spring rains and if it is it soaking wet?
Wet unseasoned wood burns slow and will often make a hissing sound as it is steaming the water out. I’ll check to see if is it appears to be a hard wood or not. Most important is the wood seasoned.
Just because the woodpile appears to look gray or weathered, it does not indicate to me that it is seasoned properly. Looking at the butt end of the wood is it smooth like it was just cut recently or does it have lots of weathered cracked ends. This cracking is, caused by the moisture being dried out of the wood. For properly seasoned wood it is often cut, stacked and has a waterproof covering and should have a moisture content after seasoning of 15% to 25%.
When I enter a home I’m questioning, where are the cold air returns in the room? Is there a cathedral ceiling, what is the proximity to the stairwell in relationship to the mouth of the fireplace opening?
Odor Problems ——————-> https://youtu.be/2s_DsVFXc1A
Did you know that a stairwell could produce a much stronger up draft than the actual fireplace? This is especially true while starting a fire, so I recommend starting off with smaller fires. It takes about 45 minutes to heat cold masonry up to draw properly. Smoke and odors will follow the path of least resistance, so high cathedrals ceiling and stairway can be very problematic to the air balance within your home.
The locations of your furnace cold air returns within the home can be very critical in creating a sluggish draft. This is especially true when starting up your fireplace. Also leaving large amounts of ash in the fireplace can actually hold moisture and odors, so be sure to remove these ashes if you’re having an ongoing problem.
To often I have gone to homes where the customer is choking the fireplace damper down, they are doing this to create a much longer burn time. Often this smoke is getting up to the top of the chimney, but it is now collecting on the spark arrestor screening. This sluggish draft is now lingering way to long and this creosote is now collecting on the walls of the flue system, as well as the screening. This is way to often the case for my wood stove burning customers.
Negative Pressure Issues ——–> https://youtu.be/AN4X9jPJdqI
Be sure to check the spark arrestor, as you drive off to work or are taking the kids to school take a look back at your chimney top is your spark arrestor clear of blockage or not?
Be sure to check the spark arrestor, as you drive off to work or are taking the kids to school take a look back at your chimney top is your spark arrestor clear of blockage or not?
Like most things in life, most problems need to be resolved by a process of elimination.
Here are my possible solutions to your stinky fireplace problem!
) In early spring before your AC kicks on have your fireplace cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. You can find a reputable Chimney Sweep in your area by using this link to the National Chimney Sweep Guild locator http://www.ncsg.org/search. Also be sure and go online and read their customer reviews from Google, BBB and AngiesList. I’m never impressed with those cheaper “Swab and Rob companies
2) Only burned wood that has been seasoned properly for at least 6 months.
3) Coverer your seasoned firewood.
5) Consistently monitor the spark arrestor on the top of your chimney cap.
* Let me Know if this help with your odor problem or not!
Burn safe and warm!