Sweeping a Dirty Oil Flue

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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imgresDid you know that it is possible for an oil-fired appliance to be clean, but its flue system dirty? Or that an oil-fired appliance can go from working very well and efficiently. Then to poorly and relatively less efficient in a matter of a few years? Why does this happen, and what are the specifics for cleaning an oil appliance?

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 Angies List. I’m never impressed with those cheaper “Swab and Rob” companies. Especially when it comes to cleaning a dirty oil flue.

Most of you may know that it is important to have you appliance serviced each year, preferably before burning season, in order to assure that things are running properly. Often times you need to call in two separate specialists, one to specifically clean and handle the oil appliance and one to deal with the actual flue system.

In some cases, folks have the oil-fired appliance specialist out and forget to actually have the chimney swept. You may find it more prudent to find a service provider who can clean both the appliances. This saves yourself the hassle of more than one appointment.

Cleaning Dirty Oil Flueimages-9
Cleaning a Dirty Oil Flue

The oil appliance specialist, usually an HVAC contractor, will come to clean the nozzle on the system and other areas of the appliance. A nozzle that is not cleaned regularly will cause various parts in the oil appliance to begin to collect soot. This includes the connector pipes and the heat exchangers. For cleaning an oil-fired appliance, the National Oil Heat Alliance recommends using a brush to clean the appliance. Also, a high powered vacuum to suck up all the debris. The cleaner your appliance is, the more efficiently the appliance will work.

Before having your appliance cleaned it is recommended to have your chimney or flue swept. This is the recommended first step by many professionals. This is because as the sweep is cleaning the flue, bits and pieces of soot and other debris fall down into the appliance, making it dirty. If you have the appliance cleaned first, it is likely that it will need to be cleaned again. This is often at an additional charge.

Many sweeps say there is the hardest part about dealing with oil-fired appliances. It is containing the oily, dirty particles that build up in the system. Some recommend using heavy duty vacuums and compressed air. This is a valid method and works very well for some. However, in my professional opinion, stick to the code stated by the National Oil Heat Alliance manual.

Check out our other blogs at http://askthechimneysweep.com/

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 you 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

Episode 11 – Brion Barnhill of Barnhill Chimney & Fireplace Shop

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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SMILEY-PETE_SARAH-JANE-SANDERS-c2015_Barnhill-Chimney-47

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Home Contractors HQ Podcast, Clay Lamb speaking with Brion Barnhill of Barnhill Services in beautiful Lexington Ky.

Hear how Brion still continues to  overcome the many road blocks on his  path of developing an amazing Chimney contracting service and fireplace shop business.

 www.HomeContractorsHQ.com <– find us on both Stitcher and iTunes

 

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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

Where is the . . Smoke Chamber ?

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
Smoke Chamber
Drawing by Ahrens makers of Chamber -Tech Smoke Chamber

An important part of any fireplace is the smoke chamber. It’s the area of the chimney which provides support for the clay flue tiles that make up the chimney’s liner. Smoke chambers are often a tricky part of a chimney sweep’s job, seeing that the design of any particular smoke chamber generally varies and may be constructed such that the smoke has a difficult time venting up through the flue system. Uneven inner surfaces cause the smoke to move in a circular motion over each of the uneven parts which decreases the chimney’s performance and may even cause issues like smoking problems.

Smoke Chamber

According to NFPA 211, the walls of smoke chambers should be 6″ thick if lined with firebrick or 8″ thick. If no firebrick is present and the inside surface of the smoke chamber should be smooth.

This is important to note it is the heat, not flame. In which it is needed to ignite combustibles. If there is not sufficient clearance between the smoke chamber and combustibles, or any part of the chimney’s flue system and combustibles for that matter, if the chimney’s flue system gets too hot combustibles near the chimney can ignite.

Another problem surrounding smoke chambers is an over sized smoke chamber. In which creates problems as well. Smoke chambers which are too large for the firebox often cause a fireplace to smoke excessively. This is until the fire gets hot and a good draft is established. Hence, this makes it harder for a sweep to access and clean.

NFPA 211 states that the height of the smoke chamber should not be greater than the inside width of the fireplace’s front opening and that the depth of the smoke chamber should be less than the depth of the firebox. Keeping these codes in mind, some fireboxes are not as they should be.

Approximately 60% of chimney fires originate in the smoke chamber. Using a video camera to inspect the interior of a flue system is often times the only way to see the entirety of a flue system. Or a smoke chamber for that matter. Hiring a sweep who uses video scans of the flue system is helpful to you as a homeowner. It’s also because the professional can then show you what he is talking about using pictures as opposed to words. imgres

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. …Never  beimpressed with those cheaper “Swab and Rob companies

 

 

 

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

What are Chimney Sweeps … Looking For?

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

Some people may not realize how important it is to have their chimney cleaned. They may think that a chimney sweep merely removes creosote and tries to remove any  odor causing agents in the chimney. What a sweep is looking for is much more than this.

MVC-014S copyAssuming your sweep is running a video inspection of the inside of the chimney and an inspection of the exterior of the chimney as well (especially above the roof line) your chimney sweep is looking for a number of dangerous problems or problems that could become expensive eventually.

Damage to the Flue System

When the flue system is damaged, either by vertical cracks in the actual flue tiles or missing mortar joints between the flue tiles, the amount of material between your flue system and combustibles in the frame of the home is lessened. If there are cracks in the flue.

This is a missing mortar joint in a chimney flue, pinpointed by using a video inspection of the chimney. This is very unsafe.tiles or missing mortar joints, a chimney fire is more likely to occur. A chimney should not be operated if you have missing mortar joints or cracked flue tiles and a chimney professional can only detect such damage by conducting a video inspection.

Home & Garden Pic's 224Exterior Damage to the Chimney

Another point of inspection for a chimney sweep is the exterior of the chimney. The sweep should go up on the roof to inspect the integrity of the brick on the chimney, including the mortar joints, as well as the crown and the cap. If the crown or brick has physical damage to it (cracks, spalling, flaking) there is a good chance that water will be able to move into the home and cause damage to the interior as well. Any problems on the exterior of the chimney should be repaired as quickly as possible in order to prevent further damage from occurring or the current damage from worsening.

Damper and Chimney Cap

Your chimney sweep will inspect the damper to make sure that it is not rusted, that there are no problems with the way it functions, and ensure that it will continue to function properly. Proper damper function is important to the actual burning of a fire in the fireplace. Similarly, your chimney professional will check your chimney cap to ensure that it is installed properly, that it has no damage to it, and that it is not rusting out. A rusted out cap is easy for animals to damage to the point where they can enter the chimney.

Firebox Integrity

Your chimney sweep also checks to make sure that the firebox is not damaged. Similar to the flue system inspection, your professional is checking for damaged fire brick and missing mortar joints in the firebox which would allow the heat from the fire to move to the combustibles in the frame of the home and cause a fire. A firebox with damage must be repaired. Usually, these repairs are not expensive but are crucial to the proper functioning of the firebox.

This list of what the chimney sweep is looking for is by no means exhaustive. Chimney professionals are looking to be sure that the chimney is designed in such a way that it will function properly, that it is not a danger to the home or its inhabitants, as well as a myriad of other points of inspection. This list is intended to merely reiterate the fact that a chimney inspection is necessary on a regular basis and that it really is serious businessimgres

You can find a reputable Chimney Sweep in your area by using this link to th

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

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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

Carbon Monoxide Hazards

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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Why is carbon monoxide hazardous?

When carbon monoxide, or CO, accumulates to a certain point in your blood, death can occur. Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless gas and exposure to it is life threatening. Even continued low-level exposure to carbon monoxide can permanently damage your brain and vital organs. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause symptoms that are similar to the flu or the cold, so one may not even realize that they are being exposed to the gas.

 

 

 

Carbon Monoxide MVC-004S (3)
Worker working on Carbon Monoxide containment

What causes heating system problems that could potentially cause carbon monoxide poisoning? Newer, higher efficiency appliances intended for saving money often do not perform as well as they can when inserted for use in an existing masonry chimney flue. Improper sizing ratios between the new appliance and the flue it is being vented into may cause toxic gases to enter the home. Similarly,  the fact that houses are more air tight today than ever before allow less fresh air into the home, and appliances that do not receive enough fresh air input may not burn their fuels completely, creating carbon monoxide.

When any type of fuel is being burned it is important to remember that carbon monoxide is not the only danger to your health- toxic nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter,and acid water vapors can also be emitted depending on the conditions existing when the fire is being burned.

 

 

Chimney Cap
This chimney is properly capped to avoid debris or nesting material from making the chimney a CO hazard.and acid water vapors can also be emitted depending on the conditions existing when and acid water vapors can also be emitted .

 

There are many steps you can take to prevent a carbon monoxide hazard. Keep blockage in the flue system from nesting material or other debris from occurring by installing a chimney cap.
When gases are blocked from exiting the flue they will back up into the home creating a dangerous situation. Nesting materials are also a fire hazard. Having your chimney inspected regularly is the best way to prevent a possible hazard from occurring. The professional can check the integrity of your existing flue system and any connector pipes in appliances for rust or other problems.

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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

“Get a bucket, the Chimney is leaking”

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

“Oh my gosh, Honey the ceiling by the fireplace is leaking like crazy, get a bucket, NO…. get lots of buckets”

I get lots of water problem phone calls like this all during our rainy season. This is all through March and through July. This could be a sign of a leaking chimney. I found some interesting rain fall statistics for here in  Cincinnati. Did you know that our heaviest rainfall herein Cincinnati occurs during the month of May, with over 5 inches rainfall.

The month of June is 2nd and has over 4” of rain. The months of March, April, and July are darn close to tying at 3.86 rainfall. Cincinnati has on the average 132 days rain that brings us 42 “1/4 inches of rain For a little comparison of a few other cities Portland, OR has 39” and Seattle, WA comes in at about 38”. Atlanta comes in at 48 inches and Orlando Florida is just a touch over 53 inches.That is almost 41/2 feet of rain.

 
*My Job
 is to help identify where the water is making entry into the structure of a home. I want you to keep in mind, that there actually may be multiple points for water entry into the home.When addressing water problems use “ a systematic process for eliminating each possible points for unwanted water entry”

*It is my opinion that almost in all residential interior water problems are…One of (Three)   possibilities Area of concern.

Chase Pan is Reinstalled (New)

My 1st Area of concern is what I’ll refer to as the “Roof top area”Starting from the top of your roof it heir could be damaged or actually missing shingles.

There could also be water entry through popped nail holes on the wood decking where the shingles were once installed.

Did you know that just one little hole could allow gallons of water into your home?

There are a number of roof penetrations that may be problematic, such as those rubber boots around those short plumbing vent stacks, these could be cracked or worn out from the sun.

Roof vents are those square looking vents are required to exchange the air in our homes and attics. Whole house attic fans, Sky lights and window lintels flashings may need to be re-calked or replaced or weatherized.

DSCN1662There is metal valley flashing on the rooftop that can be found at every angle, rise or dimension of the rooftop shape.

There is term called Ice Damming this is where in the winter ice is collecting in the gutter and as it melts on those sunny after noon it refreezes as the sun goes down, but the problem here it that it starts to accumulate and backs-up under the shingle and now is again freezing and melting and then dripping into the attic, then down into the ceiling in your bedrooms or living room of your home.

 

 

R: 161 G: 255 B: 161 X:39852 Y: 0 S: 0 Zs: 0 Zp: 0 F: 666 I: 1 ImgVer:08.05.07.23

A crickets this is a pyramid design that flush rainwater around the backside of a chimney and into the gutter. Then there is the chimney flashing this is a metal collar that fits around the chimney that may have rusted out or damage by raccoon working to pull it back as they are making entry into your attic or maybe tree branches may have been rubbing against it. Metal chimney flashing wraps round the shape of the chimneystack preventing rainwater entry that is running down the roof top shingles.

… Honeys get the buckets it is raining in the living room; all over new Flat screen TV !

 

My 2nd area of Concern Is what I’ll refer to as the Chimney Chase Area; this is the shape of the chimney. It could be made of wood framing or brick masonry. It really doesn’t make any difference if the water is coming into your house

.. Just Fix It , is what I hear the most!

-Starting at the top of the chimney, it maybe called by a number of names. Such as the crown, cap, crown wash, splay. If its made of metal it is refer to a as a metal chase cover.

-The Crown of the chimney must be watertight. .

One of the biggest problems we see, is that during the rapid construction days of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s that many of the masonry crowns were made of left over brick mortar that is a much softer material than the properly required harder concrete that is needed to protect the brick on the chimney masonry.

fixing a leaking chimney
This picture shows our team member fixing a leaking chimney

-Masonry tuck-pointing is the process of replacing damaged or worn out mortar joints from the bricks on both the chimney and any other masonry surface of your home. This is often a big problem that is found at the top the brick chimney. As well as what’s referred to as the corbels, which are hips or shaping on the outside of the chimney.

All of these damaged mortar joints need to be ground-out and filled back to prevent water from enters the home, We always want our work to blend in with the rest of the home as well as can be. We always use colored dye tints in our mortar. We do this so that our tuck-pointing work does not have that bright gray newly repaired look

 

 

 

July14 two chimneys 015

Again moisture is not your homes friend, as over hanging tree branches, and shrubs laying up against the house brick can bring big problem. The same is true as we watering our yards and shrubs in the summer, as well as repeated water sprinkling of the masonry brick surface over and over is very damaging.

 

 

 

My 3rd and final area of concern; is the internal working of the chimney flue system. The flue system is designed to move hot gases from the hot water heater and furnace. For every 100,000 BTU of natural gas used in your home it will generate about 1 gallon of water. Flashing water stained brickwork and cieling1a.jpgThis moisture has to go somewhere, either up the chimney or it will condensate and leak back down into your home. Your Chimney flue may have be improperly sized for a new furnace or hot water heater replacement.  It’s now possible for it to run out onto the basement floor.

If the chimney flue blocks this, it will also cause condensation water problems. You may ask what could case this blockage. It could be broken chimney flue liners or bird nesting blockage. This is why we always recommend a properly sized chimney cap along with a bird screening on every chimney top.

 

To sum all of this up , we have identified the chimney leaking water problems. I have offered you some reasonable solutions.

Now picture this with me, you have had a very busy day, your rather tired. It is 10:30 at night, you shut the TV off and you’re locking up the house. As you prepare to go upstairs to bed, then you hear that voice coming from upstairs saying.

… Honey hurry; get the buckets it is raining in our bedroom.  …. And it’s on your side of the bed ;(

 

If you want to know more check out another post from Ask the Chimney Sweep or check out this video 

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

Caring for Prefabs

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 Pre Fab New Construction Firebox12

The fireplace has certainly changed since its original design so long ago. Improvements have been made since the primitive use of fire containing devices, one of the most recent of which being the factory built or prefabricated fireplace unit. A prefabricated unit, or prefab, is made of metal instead of brick or other masonry materials. A prefab uses insulation, pipes which are cooled by air, and blowers to move the heated air around the house. These systems are very sophisticated and manufactured and listed for use as a unit. Each part is approved by the Underwriters Laboratory to be used in a certain way under certain conditions with other parts that make up the unit.

A prefab doesn’t require a cement base for a foundation like a masonry unit due to how much lighter the prefab is. These systems have either cooling spaces in which air pockets act as insulation or actual insulation which allows the units to be closer to combustibles than would be otherwise.

 

 

Factory Built Fireplace
Prefabs have reduced clearances and can sometimes be housed in wooden chimneys.

Factory built fireplaces generally last until a part needs to be replaced but is no longer manufactured. At this time the prefabricated unit has reached the end of its useful life because it needs that specific part in order to be operated according to UL standards. They must be installed according to manufacturer’s instructions and is not easy to remove in order to conduct an inspection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never install a wood stove into a prefabricated unit, a prefab is meant to be operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions exactly. Similarly, it is not safe to burn paper waste in a prefabricated fireplace unit because of how hot these fires get and how quickly they get so hot. (Since its close to the holidays, please remember that it is not safe to burn your Christmas tree in a prefab either; it produces a similar effect to a paper waste fire.) Also, when operating your prefab, the damper must be completely open and should remain open until the fire is completely out. Prefabs require less clearance than other appliances and are easily to install in most areas of the home because they are so light weight.

Prefab Fireplace Wall Panels

https://youtu.be/MLfY-fKpCAc

Prefab Fireplace Repair and Replacement

https://youtu.be/68_UdeIiWEY

 Replacing a Prefab Fireplace

https://youtu.be/lCWSKSnojWA

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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

of … Unvented Gas 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

Over the past few years, there has been some commotion in the industry regarding non-vented gas logs. (BEING UPDATED)

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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

Chimney Fire

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 Fire
A chimney fire warped this chimney cap.

A chimney flue is very important because it carries dangerous byproducts of combustion out of your home. Fires have been used for warmth for centuries, and over time our knowledge of what needs to be done in order to keep the chimney safe has evolved. A dirty or damaged chimney can be potentially destructive in that it can cause a chimney fire which can significantly damage your home and hurt or kill those who live inside of it.

What is a chimney fire? A chimney fire occurs when a fire actually moves up into the flue system so that it is not burning only in the specially designed firebox, it is burning in the chimney itself. A chimney is designed to hold the hot gases that are byproducts of burning a fire. It is not designed to hold a fire.

Some characteristics of a chimney fire include a lot of dense smoke and intense heat and a noise that sounds like a freight train rumbling by. Not only does a chimney fire cause damage to your chimney which almost always results in the chimney having to be relined or rebuilt, it can damage nearby combustibles which include walls to your home, the roof, etc.

Chimney Fires and Insurance Claims

The worst part about the incredible damage that a chimney fire can cause is the fact that it was completely preventable in the first place. A properly working and designed chimney is capable of ventilating the extremely hot gases that are the byproducts of combustion. However, when the flue system is missing mortar joints or has cracks, a chimney fire is able to happen because the fire is able to catch the wood framing of the home. Creosote buildup is another condition conducive to a chimney fire occurring. Any amount of creosote is capable of being caught on fire, but an excessive buildup is particularly bothersome to chimney professionals because this provides a chimney fire with plenty of fuel to burn for a long time, causing destruction.

In prefabricated, metal chimneys, it is important to use only Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) listed parts for replacement. Most UL listed parts and systems have been tested by this organization to withstand very high temperatures (above 2000 degrees) but under chimney fire conditions can still be damaged. When a prefab unit has been damaged by a chimney fire it must usually be replaced completely.

DSCF0712Cracked flue tiles, warping of metal parts associated with your wood burning system, warped or discolored chimney caps, and very puffy creosote which may be multicolored are all indicators that a chimney fire has occurred. A chimney that is cleaned regularly and inspected with video equipment is the safest chimney to burn a fire in. If a chimney fire should occur you must get out of the home immediately and call the fire department. If you are able to without putting yourself or anyone else in danger, before the fire department arrives it is helpful to spray down the roof of the home to prevent the fire from spreading to the roof.

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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

Expansion Joints Around the Top 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

An expansion joint around the top flue tile serves a very practical purpose. As the fire burns in the fireplace, the hot gases of combustion vent up the flue system. These hot gases in turn warm the flue system, causing it to expand. If the crown is constructed such that the cement is installed all the way up to the top flue tile, as the top flue tile expands when it heats, it will crack the crown itself which can cause water problems or other problems to occur.July14 two chimneys 044 (2)

An expansion joint is created by leaving a gap between the actual cement crown and the top flue tile and filling it with a flexibleChimney crowns, even when constructed professionally, are often installed incorrectly. Everyone has a different philosophy on the proper construction of a chimney crown from the material that should be used to construct the crown to its whether the crown should hang over the edge of the actual brick on the chimney or stay flush. One fact that cannot be disputed, however, is the need for an expansion joint around the top flue tile. A chimney crown lacking an expansion joint around the top flue tile will almost always need to be repaired after some time.

 

 

Properly Constructed Crown
The white ring around these top flue tiles indicate that an expansion joint exists and cracking due to expansion of the top flue tile is not likely.

This flexible sealant allows the flue tile to expand without pushing against the cement crown, preventing cracking. The flue is most likely to expand and crack the cement in the winter time when it is very cold because the cold cement is even more prone to cracking from pressure exerted on it by the flue tile.

Crowns constructed without an expansion joint around the top flue tile usually need to be reconstructed entirely. Although filling the cracks in the crown is an option, the problem is likely to occur again because the same processes are occurring that caused the cracking in the first place. If your crown is cracking and you do not see an expansion joint around the top flue tile, consult a professional who will be able to assess the situation. Sometimes the cracking is minimal and the professional is able to seal the cracks using a high grade sealant and waterproof the crown to prevent water damage from deepening the existing cracks, but other times the cracking has become so severe that crown reconstruction becomes necessary….. Now I’m starting to sound like a dentist 🙁

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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