Replacing a . . . Fireplace Damper

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

 

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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 can100_0853

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! LT II Cap Damper 2 09507

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.

LY Damper Handle (2)

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Learn More About Dryer Vent Safety

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

linteatersystem
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.

<—-Gardus RLE202 LintEater system

 

 

 

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.

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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

3. Check the exhaust flap to ensure that you have strong air pressure.

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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Affiliate Disclosure
I NEVER recommend a product or service that I don’t personally use (and love) myself. But, just to be totally transparent you should know that some of the links on my site ARE affiliate links and I DO make a small commission from any sales that are made. Thanks for your support!

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Creosote Odors fireplace problems

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

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!

imgres-1) 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.

4) Don’t choke your fireplace damper down so much!

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!

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

The Pros and Cons of Using Manufactured Fire Logs

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

There are very few supermarkets these days that do not have firewood stacked up outside: small batches of logs wrapped in cellophane with a handle attached that seems to be more useful for punishing hands than serving as an effective method of carrying 20+ pounds of wood.

It’s all in the spirit of convenience, however, and although those tortuous totes of timber can make an effective fire, there is no retail option more appealing than manufactured firelogs.  There are many brands, but one purpose: to provide a quick, easy-to-light fire for homeowners who wish to entertain their family or guests for the evening.

But how safe are they?  Are they better than just using traditional firewood?  Let’s compare firewood and firelogs to figure out the pros and cons of each.

1) Emissions

The biggest complaint against burning firewood is the amount of greenhouse gases created by a typical fire.   Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of burning wood, and although the levels are not high enough for concern to the homeowner, the gases that come out of the chimney are considered significant enough by some locales that limits have been placed on wood burning, such as “no burn” days.

imgresThe most common fire logs are made from two components: paraffin wax (a petroleum byproduct) and sawdust.  Both are manufacturing waste products that are now combined, packaged and resold by some companies as firelogs.

The origin of firelogs may not sound incredibly environmentally friendly, but they do provide ecological upside when used in the fireplace as a replacement for wood.  Studies have been performed on the emissions from firelogs, and although their final conclusions vary, they all agree that firelogs give off less harmful emissions than a fire fueled by wood.

Part of the difference is also due to the amount of material used.  In a typical evening’s fire, 20-25 pounds of wood are used.  Firelogs are designed for single use, and weigh up to six pounds.  Less material burned equates to less emissions.  It also means less creosote buildup over the course of a burning season.

Manufacturers have improved on the initial sawdust and wax model over the years by offering products that use more natural vegetable-based binders and even coffee beans.  So, as far as the Earth is concerned, chalk a victory up to firelogs.

Winner: Firelogs

2) Ambiance

Part of the appeal of a fire in the fireplace are the nostalgic tingling of many senses: the smell of a fire, the crackles and pops, the dancing flames.

Burning a firelog may be a bit of a letdown for those looking for a more traditional fire.  The smell is certainly different, the flames are there but aren’t necessarily as random as a wood fire, and all that can be heard is the faint hiss of the escaping gases.

Some manufacturers have introduced firelogs that imitate the sounds of a wood fire, and even some with different colored flames.  But quite honestly, there’s nothing that compares to a good, raging wood fire.P33CE-A-610x340

Winner: Wood

3) Heat

Although aesthetic appeal is a big plus of owning a fireplace, many also enjoy (or even rely on) the heat that is generated by their fires.  It’s one thing to see the beauty of a fire from across the room, but even better when it can be felt from up close.

As mentioned previously, a wood fire is often made up of many logs, not just one, and the volume of fuel helps to create a warmth that is a signature of wood fires.  As firelogs are designed to only be burned one at a time, the single log certainly does not generate enough warmth to attract anyone to want to sit closer.

If the attraction of heat is a big desire, steer away from firelogs.

Winner: Wood

4) Convenience

Walking by that woodpile in front of the local supermarket might be tempting, but consider this: is tinder and kindling handy?  Will someone be around to add another wood log on the fire when it dies down?  Is someone even available who knows how to properly start a wood fire?

Picking up a four-hour firelog for the night and merely lighting the packaging may seem like cheating to some, but it sure makes having missed out on being a scout that much easier to deal with.

Winner: Firelogs

5) Cost

This may seem like an easy answer, but it all depends on how often the fireplace is used.  Will it be used on just the occasional weekend, or is this the type of home that has a fire every night?

For some, wood is easily the cheaper choice because fallen trees are readily available for cutting and splitting.  (Of course, the monetary cost is replace with much blood, sweat and tears, but adds the benefit of feeling tough.)  For the frequent burners, it may also be more economical to buy a cord or two of wood every burning season.

For others, it is much better to buy individual firelogs for the handful of times company is over to enjoy the fireplace. So, as the frequency of fires increases, wood becomes the more affordable choice, and firelogs benefit the casual burners.

Winner: Even

What did you expect, an endorsement of some sort?  Of course, it is not the chimney sweep’s job to recommend one over the other, as both have their positives and negatives. Regardless of whether wood or firelogs are the best choice for home burning, make sure to still have an annual inspection done by a reputable chimney professional, and cleaned if necessary

Smoking Fireplace Problems

https://youtu.be/4F9m8dMhJmQ

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Levels of Chimney Inspection – 1-2 or 3 which one is right for you?

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

imgres-1As burning season approaches, many homeowners already have it in their fall checklist to have their chimney inspected and cleaned.

Of course, this includes prospective homeowners as well. A fireplace is never more appealing than when home shoppers walk through crisp, cool air on their way from the car to their next home tour.

Many homeowners, and even real estate professionals, are not aware that all chimney inspections are not the same. As home inspections kick in for properties, home buyers don’t just concern themselves with aesthetic appeal, but safety as well.

To address this concern, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has established guidelines for chimney and fireplace system inspections. As outlined in their NFPA 211 publication, there are three levels of classification for these inspections: Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3.

Most inspections that are given by chimney professionals to existing homeowners are Level 1 inspections. A Level 1 inspection includes an examination of the readily accessible portions of the chimney exterior, interior and accessible portions of any appliance in the system and its connection to the chimney. The basic structure of the chimney is inspected as well as the flue, verifying that there are no obstructions or combustible deposits in the system. A basic inspection of any appliance and its installation is also performed, including connections to the chimney system.

If there has been no change in the condition or the use of the system (for instance, no damage and roughly the same amount of wood or fuel is being burned), a Level 1 inspection is sufficient.

If there is any change to the system, such as a new fuel (like converting from wood use to natural gas use), a new lining (for example, relining with a stainless steel liner) or any appliance change, a Level 2 inspection is required. Additionally, if there is a home ownership change or some external event has damaged the chimney (such as a lightning strike, earthquake, etc.) a Level 2 inspection is necessary.Home & Garden Pic's 290

A Level 2 inspection will include all elements of a Level 1 inspection, but also requires the evaluation of additional accessible portions of the chimney both inside and out, including areas that may be harder to access like crawlspaces, basements and attics. The person inspecting these areas should look for combustible material and ensure the chimney system has sufficient clearance from these materials.

It also requires full visual inspection of the interior of the flue system, which usually requires a video scan. This is meant to examine all flue joints and internal surfaces within the chimney to look for gaps or deterioration.

In unusual or extreme cases, when a Level 2 inspection might uncover a potential issue and troubleshooting requires accessing an area of the chimney system that is not readily accessible, a Level 3 inspection should be performed. If a serious issue is suspected, a Level 3 inspection could include removing or destroying portions of the system to reveal hidden areas not otherwise accessible in other forms of inspection. This could include the chimney crown or an external or internal chimney wall, and should only be done when it is absolutely necessary and when a serious situation is suspected.

It is recommended that every chimney system be inspected annually by a professional Chimney Sweep, and cleaned if necessary. Though most of those visits would only need a Level 1 inspection, there are other tools the chimney professional has at their disposal to perform increased levels of inspection to ensure the chimney system is as sound as it can be

 

Levels of inspections

https://youtu.be/jJEJq6fATfE

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Manifold Relining

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

In this video, American Chimney Sweep & Masonry will be doing a manifold reline for an antique shop.

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Antique Fireplaces

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

These beautiful antique fireplaces are from the Hauck home in Cincinnati Ohio.

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Chimney Fire . . . Safety Tips

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

No one welcomes a chimney fire. Use these tips to help stay safe!

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Brick Wall . . . Repair

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

On this job, we work to repair an old brick wall downtown.

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Repainting a 3 sided Fireplace

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Follow along as we repaint a 3 sided fireplace for a customer.

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