Venting Gas Appliances in Masonry Chimneys

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
Gas Log Set
Gas logs are formulated to look like a natural fire.

Gas appliances, depending on the type of appliance, can be directly vented, vented through a masonry chimney, or even vented through certain stainless steel. Some gas log sets are specially made to not need to be vented at all. Natural gas is a relatively cheap way to heat the home, and as time goes on new advances in technology allow less and less gas to be used to produce the same amount of heat. Using gas a fuel for heating your home can be great, but there are some things that you should know regarding situations where a gas appliance is being vented through a masonry chimney.

For starters, even though gas burns clean (or should when conditions are up to code) you still must have your chimney inspected annually. The products of combustion that vent up the chimney when gas is burned are highly acidic and can eat away at your masonry. This could create an unsafe situation in which the extremely hot gases could cause a chimney fire.

White Stain on Chimney
This white stain may be efflorescence, which is another indicator that your appliance and venting system aren't compatible.

There are so many regulations regarding the way a particular appliance must be vented that there is no way to delve into all of them. The most important thing to remember is to follow manufacturer’s regulations to the letter. A chimney professional can help you evaluate your current system to ensure that things are up to code. When installing a new appliance into an old chimney, it is especially important to have a professional out to check not only that the two are compatible, but also that the chimney is functioning properly. A chimney must be in good working order in order to vent a gas appliance. There can be no cracks or missing mortar joints, and if these problems do exist they must be repaired prior to venting the appliance.

Water vapor is a product of combustion of any fuel. If the flue system and the appliance are compatible, a draft that is strong enough to move these byproducts out of the chimney before the water vapor has time to condense on the walls of the chimney. If the relationship between the appliance and the flue system is not appropriate, you will experience problems with different acidic residues building up in your flue system and that will eat away at the inside of the flue. If you are experiencing peeling wallpaper or bubbling paint, damp areas on the inside or outside walls of the home, or stains on the ceiling, you may have a ventilation system that is not appropriate for use with your appliance. If this is the case you should contact a professional for diagnosis.

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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

Benefits of Chim-Scan Video Cameras

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 your chimney swept and evaluated using Chim-Scan technology is key to a safe burning season.

My crew has utilized Chim-Scan video cameras for years now, but some companies who do not use this technology after sweeping a chimney. Companies who do not use the Chim-Scan technology are missing out on opportunities to not only simplify customers’ concerns regarding documentation in any possible insurance claims or fire inspections, they give the company an opportunity to provide a well documented case to the homeowner and all other parties involved.

A Chim-Scan video camera is an excellent tool for my sweeps, and no sweep is complete without a Chim-Scan video evaluation and written report. A video camera is mounted on a rod and inserted up the chimney so that the homeowner and professional can each see clearly the condition of their fireplace and flue system after a thorough chimney sweep. As the professional works, he and the homeowner can view the condition of the interior of the chimney on a small monitor, providing assurance for the customer when the professional makes a diagnosis or recommends work for a chimney.

Any cracks in the flue system or missing mortar joints can be very risky. These cracks allow the hot products of combustion to reach parts of the chimney not specially formulated to withstand the extreme heat. Gases from combustion can erode away at mortar joints, and moisture that enters the chimney in some way, whether rain, snow, or merely vapors in the air can freeze and cause damage and deterioration to the chimney flue. The technician will be able to pinpoint and document with pictures any of these flue

defects for peace of mind for the homeowner and to aid them in documenting any insurance claims they may wish to make.

This photo of a missing mortar joint obtained through Chim-Scan inspection will help the homeowner file a claim for a reline.

A Chim-Scan video inspection not only pinpoints damage in the flue system, it can diagnose chimney fire damage, spot “patch” jobs done by non-professional chimney servicemen, and also indicate the presence of animals or nesting materials which are a fire hazard to the entire home. If the chimney was built improperly outright, using a Chim-Scan video camera will aid in documenting the existing condition so that repair will be easier.

If you have had a chimney fire, a Chim-Scan inspection is particularly important. It can help to indicate what the cause of the chimney fire was, how much damage was sustained during the fire, and aid the homeowner by thoroughly documenting the situation so that an accurate claim can be filed. Depending on the chimney professional you call out to your home who uses this technology, there are various types of media you may receive after the scan has been conducted. Most commonly, written reports are issued. Often times these written reports include pictures which can be mailed or e-mailed to the customer, and in some cases the sweep has an actual recording of the inspection for your 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

Glazed Creosote

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 in Flue
This is what loose, puffy, sweepable creosote looks like looking down a chimney flue.

When I send my sweeps into a home, not only do they check the integrity of the chimney to ensure that it is structurally sound, they also sweep the inside of the flue system to remove any creosote or other debris that may have built up since the last cleaning. Creosote is usually puffy and loose and relatively easy to remove from the walls of the flue system. Creosote like this is caused by the natural byproducts of burning wood. Sometimes, however, the creosote is not in this loose, puffy form. Glazed creosote starts out as a substance that is a lot like tar in texture and viscosity. The best word to describe the way that this stage of glazed creosote feels and looks like is gooey. After some time, this gooey creosote will harden so that it is very shiny and quite hard. You will not be able to merely scrape off creosote that has been glazed onto the walls of your flue system.

When the layers of glaze stack up on each other at a rapid enough pace that the layer below the new layer is not given a chance to dry out, then the gooey substance is formed which turns into glazed

ACS Spray
This ACS Spray is sprayed directly at the logs in order to etch away at the glazed creosote.

creosote. If you are venting an appliance through a flue system which is larger than the size of the appliance’s ventilation opening the chimney will not be able to draft quickly enough which aids in the formation of glazed creosote. Another catalyst for heavy glazing is burning wood that has not had time to season properly. Wood that has not had sufficient time to dry out will allow more creosote to build up than dry wood because it burns at a slower and cooler rate.

Removing glazed creosote is no easy task. Glazed creosote must be chemically altered before it can be properly removed. Any blunt force to the glazing that is powerful enough to remove it will more than likely damage the flue system as well, and that is certainly not a problem that you want to have to tackle. There are various chemical treatments available to chemically alter glazed creosote.

One example is Anti-Creo-Soot, or ACS which you spray on the logs prior to burning them. The spray will cause gases that slowly break down the glazing as it evaporates up into the flue system. Similarly, there are powders, such as Cre-Away, which are sprayed directly up into the firebox. As the heat of the fire causes the chemicals to react, it will loosen up the glazed creosote to make it sweepable. When these products and others like them react with the glazed creosote, it “etches” it, which makes it more like the loose, puffy creosote that can be swept away using standard chimney cleaning tools and methods.

Missing mortar joints like these are very dangerous and can be missed by a chimney professional if glazing is prominent in the chimney.

Do not take creosote glazing lightly. If your chimney professional recommends using a creosote glazing removal product, you should follow their instruction because that heavy glazing could be hiding a cracked flue tile or missing mortar joint that can potentially cause a chimney fire.

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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

Properly Size . . . .Your Fireplace Grate

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

Cast Iron Grate With grates coming in different materials, different sizes, and different levels of durability there are a few things to consider.

              <——————————- (*Best )

This is a very sturdy one piece deep gate

First, when choosing between grates made from stainless steel and grates made of cast iron, you need to consider what type of use your fireplace experiences.

If you are the very occasional burner and are lighting up fires for the holidays and other occasions throughout the winter, a lighter stainless steel grate should fit the bill. If you have a fire burning most or all of the time then a cast iron grate would be more appropriate Cast Iron Gratefor your needs. Cast iron grates are usually more heavy than stainless steel grates and therefore will not burn out as quickly.

Grates come in one piece, meaning that you will not have to worry about accidentally knocking the grate over when shifting or adding firewood. Grates that are “not one piece” units could be a fire hazard. Similarly, grates that are shapedsuch that the wood sits extremely close to the fire, nearly touching the embers, is a great choice especially for folks who just want to let their fire sit and burn because there is a decreased likelihood of logs falling out of the fireplace as they shift as the fire is  burning.                                                                  (*Better)

Fireplace GrateWhen you are looking to see what size grate you should purchase, you will need to take the dimensions of your firebox.

<— Expensive or (cheap) grates  burn out much quicker !      <———-      (*Good ) 

After measurements are taken, select a grate that leaves approximately two or four inches between the edge of the grate and the walls of the firebox. You will want to leave additional room if your fireplace has glass doors closing off the front of it.

If you do choose to install a grate, you should consider also purchasing a spark screen. Such a screen is made of a fireproof material and arrests the sparks that fly out from the fire. Since the actual fire will be sitting up those added inches due to the grate, the sparks have a greater chance of exiting the firebox and reaching nearby combustibles such as rugs or furniture. Remember when purchasing your grate, however, that the grates that weight more are going to last longer than lighter grates in general.

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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

Masonry Firebox . . . . tuck-pointing repairs

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

AZ sitting on hearth with chamber tech 2000 all over himself 2Masonry fireboxes, meaning that the fireplace is not a prefabricated or metal chimney, can deteriorate over time. Repairing your firebox is a job that is generally doable by the average homeowner, but professional consultation is always advised.

Older masonry fireboxes were often constructed with regular old Portland cement. This cement “is not” specially formulated to withstand the heating and cooling process that the firebox undergoes with every lit fire.  As the firebox heats up, the cement stays pretty solid, but over time the cement will deteriorate such that only fire clay and sand remain in the joints. These loose joints will fall out easily and have occurred if your chimney professional states that you have ‘open or loose mortar joints’ in your masonry firebox.

Different localities have different regulations on exactly how the joints between firebricks in the firebox should be tuck-pointed. NFPA 2:11 has recently stated that refractory mortar is what is appropriate for filling the mortar joints between firebricks.

Local building codes have slowly started to adopt this specification as well. Portland cement, even with fire clay, is not appropriate due to the face that no matter what it is mixed with the Portland cement will deteriorate over time, leaving you with open mortar joints that become a fire hazard. Fireplaces joints in the firebox should never exceed a fourth of an inch. Larger mortar joints are prone to coming loose and falling out. The products of combustion from the fire in your fireplace are extremely hot and will seep through any cracks in the firebox. This leads to the possibility of combustibles in the frame of your chimney catching fire.

There is premixed refractory mortar and hydraulic refractory mortar. Premixed refractory mortar dries as opposed to hydraulic refractory mortar, which cures. Hydraulic refractory mortar has been approved for outdoor fireplaces and premixed refractory mortar has not. Similarly, only use the hydraulic refractory mortar when setting clay flue tiles. This is due to the fact that premixed mortar will dissolve with water and the acidic fumes that are the products of combustion. If you have questions as to which kind of mortar a particular refractory mortar is, consult the manufacturer or a professional because using the right type of mortar is key to making a lasting repair or strong first construction.

Protecting Your Firebox

Fireplace FirebackWhen your chimney professional comes out to inspect your chimney, make sure that he takes a good look Fireplace Firebackat the firebox as well as the rest of interior of your chimney.

Any missing mortar joints, whether in the firebox or elsewhere in the chimney, are dangerous and not according to code.

You can protect the back wall of your firebox as well as increase the efficiency of your by investing in a cast iron or stainless steel fireback. These firebacks cover nearly the entire back wall of the firebox and will deflect the heat from damaging the back wall and radiate it out into the room. Stainless Steel firebacks are less expensive than Cast Iron firebacks , so I would encourage you to look into both kinds before making a final purchase. What the stainless steel fireback lacks with its lower price is the intricate designs present in cast iron firebacks.

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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

Benefits of Purchasing a Fireback

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
Fireplace Fireback
This beautiful cast iron fireplace adds beauty to any hearth.

Stainless steel firebacks have been used for centuries. Their purpose is to reflect heat back into the room and protect the actual firebox from damage. Firebacks have been used since colonial times here in America. Originally they were used to protect the back wall of the firebox, which has often been susceptible to damage from very hot fires burning over long periods of time. Fire clay and other advancements in fireplace technology have made heat from burning logs less detrimental to the firebox, but damage can still occur an placing a stainless steel radiant fireback in the firebox will protect it from certain damages.

The bricks in your fireplace are able to withstand extreme temperatures. This being said, they are able to absorb a lot of the heat so it safely dissipates and does not catch other materials in the construction of the chimney on fire. A stainless steel radiant fireback will allow some of the heat which is generally absorbed and wasted by the back wall of the firebox to reflect back into the

Fireplace Fireback
This fireback is half the cost of cast iron firebacks and increases the fireplace's efficiency as well.

room. Experts say that the installation of a radiant fireback increases the efficiency of your fireplace by almost 50%.

Although there are plain, stainless steel firebacks that are most widely available, there are also some truly beautiful decorative firebacks to add to the ambiance of your living room in general. With an about standard sized firebox, say 28″-32″ by 46″-50″, you can allow between 5″ and 15″ on either side of the fireback to not be covered by the fireback. This being said, you want the fireback, at minimum, to cover the back wall of the firebox directly behind the fire. If you have grates in your firebox which you set your logs on, this is often a helpful indicator of the minimum sized fireback you need to purchase.

Cast iron firebacks are the most sure protection for the back wall of your fireplace. Both cast iron and

Fireback Stands
Fireback boots such as these raise up beautiful firebacks so they can be seen better.

stainless steel firebacks provide protection for the back wall, however, and the stainless steel version are far less expensive in cost but generally do not come with the beautiful and intricate designs available for purchase in stainless steel. Cast iron firebacks usually come in a wider range of sizes than stainless steel firebacks. The cast iron firebacks are warmed by the heat of the fire which is then spat back into the room by the process of radiation. Since stainless steel firebacks radiate less heat than cast iron firebacks due to their smaller size, but reflect more light. You can either lean the fireback against the back wall of the firebox or stand it in metal brackets that sit on the floor. This raises up the fireback for better view by those in the room with the fireplace.

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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

Dangers Posed by Wood Burning Stoves

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 Stove
This free standing wood stove needs to have about four feet of clearance from combustibles like furniture.

Although a professionally installed wood burning stove is expected to be sound, there are dangers to having a fire burning inside of your home. Here are some things to watch out for if you have or intend to install a wood burning stove that can make having a stove much easier and require less maintenance in the long run.

Whether you are using a wood burning stove or an open fireplace to burn your fuel, if the wood you are burning is not seasoned properly you are going to get excessive smoke which can cause problems with the respiratory system, especially in older individuals or in individuals who have asthma or other breathing-related illnesses. It is never healthy for excessive smoke to be pouring into the room. To combat this danger, make sure that you always are using seasoned wood. Seasoned wood has had time to dry out completely. It does not have a green look to it on the inside. Whether you are burning hardwood or softwood is a matter of preference, but if the wood is not completely dry excessive smoking will occur. If you are sure that you are burning seasoned wood and are still experiencing smoking problems, read our blog on smoking problems to help you diagnose why this is occurring.

One aspect of having a wood burning stove that people  often forget about is maintaining proper clearance from combustibles. Although different manufacturers have different clearance requirements, you shouldn’t have your furniture within four feet of your stove. Do not operate your wood burning stove without all the necessary parts that the manufacturer had recommended. If a screen is necessary for use to arrest sparks you must have one. Sparks can cause fires, especially if combustibles are placed too close to the stove.

As with any wood burning appliance, creosote buildup in the flue system is a huge danger. Excessive creosote that has been able to build up is a danger for a chimney fire. A lot of creosote buildup in the flue system is also dangerous because it prevents chimney professionals from being able to see the actual flue system- it may be hiding cracks or missing mortar joints. Having your wood burning stove or appliance serviced regularly by a professional will help to eliminate these dangers and give you, the owner, peace of mind regarding your wood burning stove.

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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

Hidden Brick Paver Expenses

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
Masonry Cleaner
After repairing your masonry, using a masonry cleaner and sealing the pavers beautifies and protects them.

Brick paving can need to be repaired for numerous reasons. Cracks can appear in the paving as a result of water damage or the actual shifting of the ground the pavers sit on, the mortar joints in between the pavers can erode away with time, or the faces of the brick pavers may become loose and pop off just like a brick wall or brick chimney on your home. These damages occur for a number of reasons, primarily due to poor construction or poor materials used during construction.

Generally, brick pavers are laid over a sand base which in this article will be referred to as a substrate. Water that is able to get through large mortar joints will sit directly underneath the brick and freeze and thaw over time, working the bricks loose and causing cracking to occur. An improperly sized substrate will cause problems as well; a good mason will take exact measurements and work hard to make sure that everything is squared away after the project is finished in order to prevent water from being able to pool in any particular area. Brick paving that is laid improperly in terms of the substrate is not fixable without replacing both the substrate and the pavers in most cases.

Ideally, brick pavers should all be exactly the same size. If they are not exact, your mortar joints are likely very large in some places and very small in others. Large or wide mortar joints are the cause of a lot of damage to brick paving because the mortar joints let more water into the system than the pavers do which ultimately causes cracking or spalling because the water that has entered the system expands and contracts as it freezes and thaws. A bad design is not really fixable without replacing the entire brick paved area. One step you can take to prevent such cracking from happening or prevent existing cracking from worsening would be to apply a water repellent specially formulated for pavers (which lay horizontally as opposed to vertically and therefore take a stronger repellent) in order to bar more water from entering.

All of these factors and more stress the fact of finding a mason who is going to really put time and effort into making sure that the job is done right because more often than not repair of the pavers is going to be outrageously expensive. Unless damage occurs on the edge of the paved area, you are usually looking at replacing  a large chunk of the paving as well as the substrate it sits on with each repair. Remember that properly and promptly filling and sealing cracks can help prevent a bad job from getting worse, but diligence in terms of selecting an experienced mason who knows the tools and processes of the trade will save you a headache and hidden expenses later on.

Click here for Safer Brick & Masonry Cleaner.

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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

Used Brick Maintenance

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
Used Brick Wall
This brick is obviously used due to its irregular size and rounded edges.

As you may or may not already know, used brick is called used brick because it has been used in constructing another building and was salvaged after the building was demolished. This being said, used brick needs extra maintenance as opposed to new brick simply because of the stress that the brick has already been through. The brick has not only been subjected to the elements for an unknown amount of time, including water and freezing temperatures, it has also essentially been tumbled because when the building was demolished the brick tumbled on top of one another and other building materials as it fell to the ground.

Due to these factors, used brick requires maintenance above and beyond what new brick requires. Used brick usually has rounded edges and corners that aren’t sharp. You can identify used brick by the fact that it often has chips missing. Used brick is soft relative to new brick. If you scratch across the surface of a new brick with a metal tool you will not be able to perform any damage to the strong, sturdy brick. If you took a

Breathable Waterproof
This model shows how the ChimneySaver Water Repellent works to save the integrity of used brick.

tool and scratched the surface of a used brick, more likely than not you will be able to scratch the surface. If you are unsure whether the brick on your home are used or not you will want to try and scratch the surface. If they prove to be used brick, preventative measures  must be taken to keep the weak brick from deteriorating.

Used brick must be waterproofed more frequently than new brick due to its weakened state. A water repellent that penetrates the brick and provides protection that is greater than merely a silicon coating on the surface is recommended. I recommend

ChimneySaver Water Base Water Repellent for waterproofing used brick. This water repellent has stood the test of time and provides your used brick with the best protection available because it penetrates the brick, entering through the pores, in order to prevent water from damaging the brick any further.

An interesting aspect that sets used brick apart from new brick is that, due to their irregular size and quality, they deteriorate brick by brick as opposed to in sections like new brick do. You will experience problems with an entire section of new brick but will have to walk around the home or business actively looking for deteriorating used brick because they will deteriorate as a single unit. Used brick provide a weathered, colonial feel to any home but must be maintained properly or you risk serious issues down the road.

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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

Brick Cleaning Before Winter

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
Brick Mold Removal
The mold growth on this chimney could have been prevented by an application of a strong water repellent.

Winter can be felt in the air all across Ohio and the rest of the Midwest after these past few weeks of ambivalent weather. Take advantage of the last few weeks of mild weather before the cold sets in for good. One project to cross off your list before the cold weather sets in is cleaning and sealing your masonry. It is especially important to clean your masonry if mold is growing on it because this moss will hold water and as the temperatures fluctuate over the next few months the masonry will begin to crack due to the water freezing and thawing.

Power washing your masonry is not what I would recommend for removing moss. This troublesome growth is unsightly but not difficult to remove by any means. Should you elect to power wash, keep the PSI under 3000. Power washing will often chip brick that has already been weakened and cause more damage than good. Muriatic acid is also not what I would recommend for removing the mold because this powerful acid has the tendency to stain your brick and leave you with a more permanent unsightly mess than the mold was in the first place. It can leave behind white, powdery efflorescence.

When we are called out to clean a masonry surface, whether it be a chimney, a wall, or a section of the home in general, not only will

Brick Cleaner
This cleaner is safer than muratic acid and works effectively against mold, dirt, moss, rust, and other stains.

we evaluate the integrity of the brick to see what is causing such growth (brick structures that are constantly damp or that are near standing water have a higher likelihood of mold regrowing after it is removed).

To clean mold and other unsightly stains from masonry, I recommend the ChimneyRx Safer Masonry Cleaner, which is deemed”Safer” because it is less corrosive than muriatic acid which can eat away at skin, clothing, and the brick itself as well as leave behind unsightly stains after the mold has been removed. The Safer Masonry Cleaner has easy application and has taken care of even the toughest mold growths we’ve seen yet.

After the mold is removed, it is keen to waterproof the area. Obviously, this area has proven it is likely to retain water to the point where mold can flourish. A water repellent that fills the pores of a brick surface and prevents vapors from being trapped beneath the sealer is preferred. Areas that hold water constantly or sit adjacent to standing water must be water proofed due to the extremely high likelihood of mold regrowth. If the area that you are experiencing the mold is horizontal, you MUST water proof because the water that stands on the ground after rainfall will almost certainly cause the mold to grow again.

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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