Wood Stove Installation Guide

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

Installing aStainless Steel liner or a wood stove it must always be done according to the manufacturers instructions and follow all building codes and any fire codes in your area.

How to Install a Stainless Steel Chimney Liner .

** Be-sure and watch my second … “Ask The Chimney Sweep “ video *”Chimney Fires”at the bottom of this posting!

That being said, this guide can give you insight as to the basics on how you would go about installing a wood stove to see if it is a task you are willing to take on for yourself. One of the most important factors in installing a wood stove is making sure that you have a chimney that is suitable to vent whatever type of stove you elect to purchase. If you have an existing masonry chimney you will need to be sure that it is in good working order and properly sized for the new appliance.

Have your chimney sweep video inspect the interior of your chimney to check for cracked flue tiles or missing mortar joints. If the chimney is not safe to hold the products of combustion or properly sized you will need to install your wood burning stove with a stainless steel liner. Remember that stainless steel chimney pipe cannot pass through a wall, window, etc. unless a professional is consulted and UL listed equipment is utilized. The least amount of creosote build up is obtained by having an insulated stainless steel chimney pipe vent your wood burning stove.

Installing a wood stove into an existing masonry chimney that is cleared for use still requires pipe to be installed although it does not need to go through the entire length of the flue system according to NFPA 2:11.

Your local building codes may require the whole flue to be lined.  Five feet of chimney liner pipe must be installed from the back of your stove up through the smoke chamber. This is the least efficient option and my company rarely operates on this technique. Generally speaking installing an insulated, stainless steel liner up through the entirety of the chimney is the best way to go. We always recommend the entire flue system be lined.

How to Install a Stainless Steel Chimney Liner detailed information on installing a stainless steel liner into your chimney, please visit my chimney liner section of this blog. In short, you must first wrap the necessary length of stainless steel liner pipe in insulation. This insulation will actually help to reduce creosote buildup by keeping the flue system warmer.

Connecting your liner to the stove or installing the stove into the chimney without a liner can be dangerous. 

After insulating your stainless steel liner you will drop it down the chimney to be connected to the wood stove or wood stove insert.
After insulating your stainless steel liner you will drop it down the chimney to be connected to the wood stove or wood stove insert.

The stovepipe itself can be single walled or double walled and come in varying thicknesses. Single walled stovepipe have a greater clearance requirement than double walled and double walled stove pipe is generally more efficient than single walled. If you are having a tough time achieving necessary clearances you may want to check out different manufacturers of stovepipes to see if there are any double walled stove pipes that will fit in with the clearances that you have currently.

This stove pipe is going to connect to your existing liner or be inserted up through your chimney. A Liner kit will come with termination kits that will actually attach to your existing stovepipe and form a rigid, tight seal. Usually three screws are needed for every connection.

Check with your *insurance company before tackling a project like this; some insurance companies do not cover damages caused by a stove that was not installed by a professional and often manufacturer’s warranties are void if the product is not installed professionally. Check with your local fire department or chimney professional to determine what firebox clearances are required in your area. Floor protectors are needed in some cases

Chimney Fires

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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

Wood Burning Basics

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
Spark guards can be ornate, like the one pictured, or plain but are a great wood burning tool because they contain sparks.
Spark guards can be ornate, like the one pictured, or plain but are a great wood burning tool because they contain sparks.

The burning of wood is a huge biomass burning industry used to spin turbines, cook food, and heat the homes of people like you. Correctly burning wood is a skill that can save you a house full of smoke or any number of other problems. The first step is to make sure that the fireplace or wood burning stove is clear of any debris from a previous fire.

Scooping any excessive ash down an ash dump or cleaning out a wood burning stove is the first step, although an inch or two of ash can actually help the new fire burn more successfully. Keep any grates in the fireplace clean to prevent smoking problems. It can take ash up to an entire day to cool completely.

I recommend starting the fire using some paper and kindling and adding in seasoned wood. I do not recommend burning wood that is still green or wet because it will cause a lot of smoke. Seasoned wood burns the best. Open the damper half way, not all the way. VL Small Safety Grate 26432This gives the fire an air source while still venting any smoke. Place the paper underneath your grate and kindling wood on top of the grate after the fire is lit. If your fireplace is prone to smoking problems or has a poor draft caused by other factors, carefully (using gloves) holding lit paper up into the flue system to warm it can help increase the chimney’s draft. Stack your seasoned logs on top of the kindling strategically to allow the kindling to burn fully. Open the damper completely once you have the fire really going.

As time goes on it may need adjustment or additional wood to be added to keep it burning. Using fireplace tools can help immensely

Wood burning tools such as these not only add to the look of your hearth, they also come in handy when a hot long needs to be handled.
Wood burning tools such as these not only add to the look of your hearth, they also come in handy when a hot long needs to be handled.

in getting a proper burn. A fire poker or a pair of tongs are very helpful for when this needs to happen. If a log is smothering kindling or it just needs stirred up a bit these tools are great to have. Scooping ash out of a wood burning stove can be cumbersome so purchasing a high powered ash vacuum can save you the trouble and the mess. An important thing to remember is to not leave a fire in a fireplace or a wood burning stove unattended for a very long time. A fire that is nicely contained in your firebox can wreak havoc should it start to burn up in the flue system. Paying attention to the fire the entire time it is lit is one way to ensure that if this should happen, damage is minimized.
100_1408Close the damper once the fire has completely stopped burning and smoking. Keeping the damper closed keeps the air you paid to heat from floating up through the chimney and heating the whole neighborhood. Fireproof mesh/ Screens is a great idea to place in front of the fireplace to prevent embers from hopping out and burning family members or lighting a fire. There are also fireproof rugs available for purchase to be placed in front of the firebox.

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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

How to Clean a Brick Patio

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
Effective at cleaning patios yet less harmful than muriatic acid.
Effective at cleaning patios yet less harmful than muriatic acid.

Often times, since my company does all types of masonry work not just limited to the chimney, we get calls regarding to how to best clean moss, dirt, etc. from a brick patio. Brick patios are generally made of either actual bricks or brick paver stones, and cleaning brick paver stones and the like is easiest when using a pressure washer. Pressure washing the patio will remove actively growing moss the best. If the moss seems dead or if it is during a cold season that you decide to do this work, pressure washing should work.

One thing to avoid when pressure washing is actually damaging the brick or brick paver stones. A clean brick patio is not worth a cracked and chipped brick patio. For brick veneer keep your pressure at below 400 PSI (pounds per sq. in.). For regular bricks 100 PSI should do the trick. Start off with less pressure and only use the pressure absolutely needed to remove the stains on your patio. A pressure washer will remove dirt as well. A nozzle that causes the spray to come out in too tight of a stream is particularly prone to damaging your patio. Power washing is also particularly effective on black mildew stains as well.

For a completely beautiful patio you may still have some stubborn stains that can’t seem to be removed by pressure washing alone. To decide exactly which chemical is right for you, you will want to contact the manufacturer of your brick. Some chemicals are particularly harmful on certain types of brick or brick stone pavers. The

ChimneyRx Safer Brick and Masonry Cleaner is one product which I recommend if the manufacturer of your patio material does not have any qualms regarding it. It is safer than muriatic acid but still fights tough stains. Dilute each gallon with water at a ratio of 1:4. Each gallon of diluted solution will cover 75-125 sq. ft. depending on how porous your brick is. Using this product, a stiff bristle brush, and some elbow grease will aid in stain removal. Always wear safety equipment including eye protection and rubber gloves.

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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

How to Prevent Chimney Fires

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

Chimney fires can damage more than just the chimney on your home. If a chimney fire occurs it can catch the roof, any walls near the chimney, or any other part of the home. Once a chimney fire occurs the chimney flue must generally be completely replaced. The chimney fire will have cracked the flue tiles because all though the flue is made to vent the products of combustion, it is not meant to hold an actual fire, which is much hotter.

Chimney caps, although effective at preventing chimney fires caused by debris in the flue, do not protect against chimney fires with other causes.
Chimney caps, although effective at preventing chimney fires caused by debris in the flue, do not protect against chimney fires with other causes.

Preventing chimney fires includes many steps because there are many chimney fire causes. You must take all necessary precautions because a chimney fire can put the lives of those who live in the home in danger.  One cause of chimney fires is debris in the chimney. If birds drop in nesting material or the like, the hot products of combustion can cause the nesting material to catch on fire, resulting in a fire in the flue system. In order to prevent chimney fires from being caused in this manner, it is important to have a cap at the top of your chimney. A stainless steel chimney cap will not allow birds or bats to enter the chimney at all due to small wire mesh. A chimney cap saves the lives of animals and also prevents chimney fires.

Another cause of chimney fires is cracked chimney flue tiles. Cracked chimney flue tiles can be impossible to detect if the chimney is not swept regularly because they will be covered up by creosote. Regular chimney sweeping, with routine video inspection, can prevent chimney fires in that the video inspection will be able to reveal any cracks or missing mortar joints even, after the creosote is removed.

Should a chimney fire occur, you must call 911. It is smart to keep a chimney fire extinguisher in the home. They are basically flares which take up all of the oxygen in the chimney for a period of time in order to prevent it from burning. The cost of a chimney fire extinguisher is small in comparison to the cost of rebuilding a chimney, a chimney and a roof, or  a chimney and a portion of the home. Keeping them nearby whenever you burn a fire in your fireplace or wood burning stove is always  a good idea.

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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

How to Increase Chimney Draft

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

Having been in the chimney business for so long, I have come to realize how widespread the issue of poor draft is all across the country. Poor chimney draft can be extremely frustrating, especially when you light a fire in the fireplace and you get smoke pouring into your living room. There are many steps you can take to fix such a problem, but understanding the cause of a chimney draft problem is the key.

The root of your chimney draft problem may be one of many. To start with, you may be lighting a fire that is too hot and expecting it  to vent up a flue that is too cold. If this is the case then fixing the problem can be quite easy. Prior to lighting your fire burn newspaper, holding it up in the flue system to allow the flue to warm up. Do  cautiously of course and wear protective eyewear and gloves.

Another common problem lies in the chimney height. If the chimney is not tall enough to create a good draft then problems can arise. A chimney must be a certain height in proportion to the size of the firebox in order for optimum draw to occur. The width times the height of the firebox cannot exceed ten times the flue opening. These dimensions should be two to three times the depth of the fireplace and the width of the back of the firebox and the firebox’s depth should be equal. If your dimensions do not reflect these recommended dimensions you may want to consider purchasing a Smoke Guard, a metal strip that you attach to the front of the firebox to change it’s dimensions. A way to test to see if a Smoke Guard will resolve your issue is to tape aluminum foil to the top boo make the firebox smaller.

If you or a professional determine that the height of your chimney is not sufficient to create proper draft and resizing the firebox using a Smoke Guard does not help you may have to make the investment of adding few courses of brick to the chimney. This is an expensive endeavor compared to the other options. Your existing chimney crown will have to be removed, courses of brick added, and the crown replaced. If you are committed to resolving your draft problem this solution is what you may have to resort to.

Consulting with a professional before making any expensive repairs to your fireplace will prevent you from wasting money as well as ensuring that whichever step you choose to try to stop your draft problem is the most appropriate for your situation. Remember that tall trees very near the chimney or other tall structures near the  top of the chimney may affect the draft. Take all factors into account before making any decisions and follow any and all building and fire codes in your area.

This smoke guard can help resize an improperly sized firebox and improve a draft problem.
This smoke guard can help resize an improperly sized firebox and improve a draft problem.
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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

How to Repair a Cracked Chimney Flue Tile

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

Your chimney’s flue system is used to vent the products of combustion. This fact alone makes it prone to cracks.

Your chimney’s clayMVC-009S (2) 2 flue tiles will crack if the flue system becomes too hot. This would occur if a chimney fire occurred. A chimney fire occurs when the fire in your fireplace is no longer contained strictly in your fireplace.

 

If the fire is able to move up the chimney into the flue system the extreme heat will most certainly crack your chimney flue tiles.

This verticall cracked flue liner should be repaired using HeatShield or a stainless steel liner.
This vertical cracked flue liner should be repaired using HeatShield or a stainless steel liner.

 

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In some cases if only one flue tile is broken near the top of the chimney and it is accessible enough for replacement, then it can be removed and replaced. Using a masonry hammer you would remove the ENTIRE flue tile. Strike it only a few times to crack it further and remove the pieces by hand for best results.

HeatShield Chimney Liner Repair System
HeatShield Chimney Liner Repair System is another method for repairing chimney flue tiles is to use a HeatShield chimney liner repair system. HeatShield involves winching a foam piece up through the flue system, smoothing heat resistant mortar through all the cracks and open mortar joints.

 

 

 

 

Stainless steel liners are the most expensive repair for the flue system. These are insulated and dropped into the flue, creating a whole new flue system for  the fireplace to vent through. This method is a surefire way to repair your cracked chimney flue tile. Always consult with a professional about what repair is most appropriate for your chimney flue liner. Follow any manufacturer instructions and follow all fire and building codes in your area. Consulting with a professional before and after you complete the repair will ensure that the work you’ve done is up to code and safe for use

 

 

 

 

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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

How to Install a Chimney 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
This top chimney damper is called a Lock Top damper and actually doubles as a chimney cap.
This top chimney damper is called a Lock Top damper and actually doubles as a chimney cap.

Installing a chimney damper does not require any special tools. If your fireplace does not already have a damper installed, especially if your home is older, it is prudent to install one. The energy savings that the damper will bring about will cause it to pay for itself over time. A damper generally sits right before the smoke chamber in your chimney. The damper is to be opened when a fire is lit in the fireplace and closed when it is not in use. This will prevent the air that you have heated from rising out of the home and also prevent cold air from outside from entering. Both wood burning and gas fireplaces should have dampers to prevent energy loss, even if the chimney is not in use.

Chimney flue sizes are generally about standard. For square flues, take measurements of your flue system and decide what size damper you will need. A single flue chimney is very easy for damper installation. The damper will fit right up into the flue system and should sit above the smoke chamber. Getting the damper to stay in place in a flue system such as this is as easy as tightening the screws that come with the damper into the walls of the flue system. You should always wear protective gloves when handling sheet metal because there is a tendency for sharp edges. You will need a screwdriver to tighten the screws into place.

For round tile chimney flues installation is even easier. After locating the appropriately sized damper, all you will need to do is push the damper down into the flue system. The damper should fit tightly. Seal the edges with a silicon to ensure it does not move over time. For a metal chimney installation is much the same only no silicon is used. To be sure that a damper that you have installed yourself is properly installed it is a good idea to consult a professional. Usually they will charge you a service fee for coming out to your home but this fee is small compared to the peace of mind you get from knowing you have a properly installed fireplace damper maximizing energy savings.

Top chimney dampers are another option. These seal at the top of the chimney and prevent animals and pests from getting into the chimney while still keeping your heated air inside the home. This is different than the chimney throat dampers described earlier in this article; chimney throat dampers sit inside the flue system above the smoke chamber.

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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

How to Determine Whether Your Flue Needs a Chimney Liner

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 many reasons why your chimney may need a chimney liner. The tiles in your flue may have cracked for any number of reasons. If these tiles are damaged in any way the chimney is not safe to burn and should be relined with a stainless steel liner prior to use. The clay flue tiles in the flue system

This liner has been cracked and must be replaced before it is safe to burn.
This liner has been cracked and must be replaced before it is safe to burn.

can become damaged in many ways. If a chimney fire occurs in your flue system the extreme heat may crack the flue tiles. The chimney flue is not intended to actually contain fire, only the products of fire which would be the gases that vent up through the chimney. If something causes a fire to start up in the flue system, say a bit of nesting is in the chimney and it catches fire, the heat can crack the flue tiles.

A shifting foundation may also cause flue tiles to crack. If the home is settling or the foundation shifts significantly it can cause a crack in the flue tiles. When there are cracks in the flue tiles the heat in the

flue system is able to reach combustible parts of the chimney. This is the reason that chimney relining must occur; it prevents fires in the flue system which can spread to the rest of the home. Chimney repair after a chimney fire is not cheap.

Your clay chimney liner has mortar joints in between each tile. If the liner is missing mortar joints the chimney cannot be burned until a liner is put in for similar reasons to those of cracked flue tiles. The missing mortar joints expose more of the chimney than should be exposed, making it more likely for any combustibles to combust.

The only real way to tell if your flue system has experienced any of these conditions, whether it be cracking or missing mortar joints, you must have your chimney swept and a video inspection of the flue system run. It is extraoridinarily difficult for a sweep to check out each individual flue tile for cracks or missing mortar joints by merely shining a flashlight in up the chimney. Using advanced chimney inspection tools, such as video cameras which are planted into small rods with lights, enables sweeps and homeowners alike to see what is going on in the flue system. Similarly, pictures can be taken using such equipment which can be used to make insurance claims if a chimney fire has occurred.

Another reason you may need to reline your chimney is if the chimney’s current chimney flue liner is too large for whatever it is venting. If you are experiencing draft issues or smoking problems, relining your chimney may be the way to go. An improperly sized flue may cause your chimney to not be able to draw properly. If you install a new stove or an insert it is generally required by the manufacturer and by NFPA 211 to have a chimney liner. If you are experiencing a draft issue or have a smoking problem you may be in a situation requiring a chimney liner.

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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

How to Keep Pests Out of Your Chimney

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
Installing a cap prevents pests from being able to enter the chimney and cause problems.
Installing a cap prevents pests from being able to enter the chimney and cause problems.

Pests in your chimney can cause huge problems. Not only do they bring in mites, ticks, fleas, and other parasites, but they can actually cause a blockage in your chimney that will result in the dangerous products of combustion being unable to vent through the chimney. Only raccoons, chimney swifts, and bats are capable of getting out of the chimney again once they’ve gotten themselves in. Most birds, squirrels, and other animals will die in the chimney. Animal bodies and nesting materials can block off the flue which creates a dangerous situation in which carbon monoxide and other lethal gases are unable to exit the home in a safe manner. Keeping pests out of your chimney is crucial.

Removing chimney pests can be quite expensive. The service man will charge you a fee for even coming out to confirm there are actually animals in there and then charge anywhere from $50-100 dollars per animal removed! Chimney animal removal turns into an astronomical fee which could have been avoided all together if the pests were never allowed into the chimney. Squirrels, raccoons, and birds are drawn to chimneys because it acts as a perfect nursery. Before chimneys were invented they would look for tall, hollow trees. These would provide a safe place for their young seeing that it would be very difficult for predators to reach them.

Capping your chimney is by far the best way to prevent animals from entering your chimney. A stainless steel chimney cap with wire mesh that is small enough to keep bats and other small pests out but large enough to allow the products of combustion escape freely is ideal. You can also purchase a more expensive copper chimney cap but be warned that the shiny penny color will turn greenish over time without proper care.

There are ultrasonic devices that can be purchased at hardware stores or online at various websites that will actually scare away birds. These devices do not, however, protect your flue system from dropped debris or water. A chimney screen could also be installed but requires checking yearly to be sure that no animal has gnawed a hole through it. By far the most recommended method of keeping pests out of the chimney is to install a cap; they are durable and not unsightly.

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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

How to Clear a Blocked Chimney

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
This chimney cap will prevent a blocked chimney from occurring.
This chimney cap will prevent a blocked chimney from occurring.

Blockages in chimneys occur for a variety of reasons. Take, for example, a normal fireplace flue. If this flue was not capped by a chimney cap, it was be extremely easy for birds, squirrels, or other critters to climb into the chimney bringing large amounts of nesting materials with them. This nesting material can completely block your flue, preventing the chimney from drafting properly. This material is extremely flammable; flues are not meant to contain fires only the products of combustion. If this nesting material were to catch on fire and the flue were to contain this fire, flue tiles could crack and the entire chimney could catch on fire.

Always, always, always unblock from the bottom. Never unblock a chimney from the top. In cases of nesting material there are corkscrew attachments that can be put onto cleaning rods to actually hook into the nesting material and lift it out.

If you are dealing with a chimney that is venting two different flues, say the furnace and the hot water heater, the white wall that is between the two flues may buckle and block the flue system. This can cause these appliances to vent improperly. You may have a carbon monoxide detector go off if this is the case because often times the gases that are the products of combustion from gas appliances cannot escape the chimney. In this case you would unclog the flue from the bottom. You may need to widen the bottom opening where the appliance connects in order to successful unblock the flue system in this case. Signs that a white wall has collapsed would be the appliance immediately shutting off or the carbon monoxide detectors going off.

The flue is not properly unblocked until one of two things occurs. First, if the flue has no bends or offset flue tiles, the flue is properly unblocked when you can tilt a mirror up the flue and see daylight (when the cap is removed, of course). If there is a bend or offset flue tiles, the flue is properly unclogged when you can run a sweeping rod the entire way up the flue system to the very top.

Clearing out a blocked chimney can be very expensive, especially if the sweep charges per hour and takes a long time to remove compact debris. The best way to avoid a blocked chimney is to install a chimney cap. This cap will prevent animals of all shapes and sizes from bringing any nesting material into your flue. This will prevent costly chimney repairs if a fire catches up in the flue system.

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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
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Clay Lamb