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

Replacing a . . . Fireplace Damper

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

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

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

 

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Fireplace dampers sit almost directly above the heat of the fire. Over time, the extreme heat and rapid change in temperature can warp and damage the fireplace damper such that they need replaced. A damper must be in one piece that is snug to the flue in order for it to work properly, and if the damper cracks while being rapidly heated and cooled, it will no longer work properly. Replacing a fireplace damper by yourself is possible, and you can save yourself some serious money by foregoing professional consultation.

 

One step that folks who want to complete the job themselves often skip is actually removing any debris up where the damper sits and also in the firebox itself. Any ashes in the firebox should be removed and thrown away, but be sure that the ashes have fully cooled before manipulating them. We recommend putting the ashes into a metal can100_0853

From here the process is actually quite simple. There will be a rod that is fixed inside the chimney by nuts. Use a wrench to loosen the nuts and remove the metal rod. The damper itself will now be able to be twisted off. If your damper has significant rusting, this part may be difficult, and if the metal rod itself has rusted you will want to replace it and the corresponding nuts. You may want to consult a professional in choosing a new damper, but if you do not want to simply taking your existing damper with you when you go to get the new one will allow you to compare dimensions and ensure that you have a proper fit. Very large chimneys may need custom made dampers, but this is rarely the case.

Installing the damper is quite easy– simply slide it back onto the rod in the same fashion that you removed the old damper and fix the rod and damper back into place using the same nuts as before. Be sure it is securely fastened and that it will not wiggle or fall over time. Despite the simplicity of replacing a fireplace damper, I have heard from folks who have installed the damper incorrectly that they lit their first fire after the replacement and their whole room filled with smoke! LT II Cap Damper 2 09507

This is no problem and is usually not the fault of the damper’s construction.

Put the fire out and look closely at the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that you have installed it as the manufacturer had intended. If you are still experiencing problems, consult a professional.

When replacing your existing damper, a product now available on the market is called a top sealing damper, where the damper is actually located at the top of the chimney, controlled by a cable that reaches down the chimney, which prevents heated air in the winter from being lost up and out of the chimney. LockTop top sealing damper systems are generally what are installed by professionals these days because of their efficiency and ease of use for the customer.

LY Damper Handle (2)

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

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

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

What the Heck is a Sudden Occurrence Insurance Claim

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

Chase blown over3.jpg copyWhen a chimney fire occurs, wind damage, or lightning strikes your chimney, damage is incurred.  Most folks’ insurance policies cover such occurrences, and a chimney professional must try to help homeowners to make the insurance process go as smoothly as possible. My number one recommendation when it comes to insurance claims, no matter what kind of insurance, is to document everything at the very beginning of the process. You need to be sure to document the date it occurred, the name of the professional(s) who comes out to evaluate the situation, and the date(s) the professional evaluated the situation. Your professional should also be doing some documentation as well.

  • The service technician must document the damage, the date it was discovered, and how they discovered it. Most chimney fires are discovered by chimney sweeps who come out and observe signs that a chimney fire has occurred when running a video inspection of the flue system. This is a dangerous situation which cannot be ignored; you cannot continue to burn wood regularly in your fireplace without repair. You may notice exterior damage on the chimney caused by a lightning strike, in which case the technician should document that he came out to observe possible lightning strike damage at the request of the owner of the home.
  • Most insurance policies do not cover normal wear and tear of the chimney, for example, deterioration over many years. Similarly,
Vertical Crack
Vertical cracks in flue tiles often indicate a chimney fire has occurred.they do not cover problems such as a clogged flue or spalling brick, which is almost always the result of poor maintenance of the chimney. Instead, documentation for insurance claims are used to file a “sudden occurrence.” It has been my experience that most insurance companies are willing to work with you so long as you provide the documentation and information that they require.
  • Fire is only supposed to be contained within the firebox of your chimney. When the fire escapes this area, it often causes vertical cracks in the flue tiles of a chimney, can warp a stainless steel liner, and cause other damage to the chimney and home in general. Documenting your claim on a large, roaring chimney fire is easy, seeing that the fire department must be called. What about slow burning chimney fires, which most home owners are not even aware occurred until a chimney sweep comes out and tells them.
  • Chimney professionals are almost always willing to come out, meet with an insurance agent or a homeowner, and do whatever work is necessary in cases regarding sudden occurrence insurance claims. My policy is to never get ahead of the insurance agency and follow their lead when it comes to the claim, providing what documentation and service they require. Remember, it is not the chimney professional’s job to defend the home owner’s claim, but review observable facts and provide documentation that a person other than a trained professional could not do. Call out one or more professionals if you suspect a sudden occurrence has taken place; they can almost always make the insurance claim process less of a hassle
  • Sudden Occurrence Insurance Claims

  • https://youtu.be/ImkfRabTTPI

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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

Ask The Chimney Sweep is now offering a business building (PODCAST) for Home Contractors

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

... So Darn Excited ! ! ! I’m just so darn excited, after receiving  over 2,000,000 (that’s Million) down loaded views on our Youtube channel .. *Ask The Chimney Sweep.  we are now  launch ing a podcast show called  *Home Contractors HQ.com. 

Please share this if your are or know of anyone thinking of starting their own business!

If you are not familiar with podcasting, I assure you that you will be soon! Podcasting is kind of like internet radio. Only you get to pick who you want to hear from, as well as when you want to hear them.

Home Contractors HQ podcast can now be heard on  iTunes , Google Play and Stitcher podcast phone app.<——( podcast-catchers)

Yes, I’m  Excited!

 

Home Contractor HQ is our new educational podcast show Join
Home Contractor HQ is our new educational podcast show
Join us Facebook in building an even bigger community at    www.Home ContractorHQ.com
Helping SeHome Service Contractors build their own business
Helping Home repair Contractors build their own business’

Ask The Chimney Sweep” ….  is not going away ! 

 

For years service companies from all across the country have told me that they use our * Ask The Chimney Sweep videos, to train their own servicemen, as well as being a great a tool to email to their own customers to help explain, just what kind of repairs that they are recommending to be completed at their homes.

Our new educational training podcast is directed to help answer questions for new startup service companies, as well as hearing from hundreds of very seasoned contractors, that will be sharing their wisdom and experiences with the next generation of home repair service companies.

With thousands of visitors and subscribers * Ask The Chimney Sweep <——“is not going away !
With all of the wood-stove and gas fireplaces being used by millions through -out America, our blog and the Q & A section is exploding.

After 35 years of being a home contractor, starting business’ in 5 different states, as wellas  facilitating over 90 other  service companies in Master-mind groups, we now have I a huge amount of educational resources that are sure to help both the new Home Contractor, as well as home owners who want to know what to expect from their own home contractor.

Visit us at   www.HomeContractorsHQ.com

Clay Lamb

www.AsktheChimneySweep.com                 … Educational  Videos

www.HomeContractorsHQ.com                   … Coaching Podcast

www.FireplaceandChimneySupply.com    … Chimney products

Join our new podcast at  …. www.HomeContractorsHQ.com

 

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Learn More About Dryer Vent Safety

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

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

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

linteatersystem
Unlike some appliances which need maintenance only when a problem arises, dryer vents need ongoing maintenance to keep them safe. When it comes to a sweeping company, most people really only consider having their fireplaces cleaned, and maybe their furnace, but what about your dryer vent? This must be cleaned regularly in order to best prevent a fire from starting. Here are some tips in caring for your dryer in between servicing.

<—-Gardus RLE202 LintEater system

 

 

 

1. After every load of laundry, clean off the lint screen! This simple task is a habit for most people accustomed to doing laundry, but doing so really increases the efficiency of your dryer.

images-10

2. If your dryer vent (the circular, flexible pipe extending from the back of the dryer to outside of your home) is a vinyl hose, it should be replaced. These are very old dryer vents. Newer models of dryers come with rigid, metal ducts in order to decrease the likelihood of a fire occurring. These rigid pipes are smooth on the inside to keep lint and other debris from catching on the sides and causing blockage. Regarding your chimney’s duct, the shorter the better; the longer the pipe and the more turns that exist the harder your dryer has to work, increasing your electric bill monthly.

Pic courtesy of Chimney Solutions Alanta GA

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

Having your dryer vent serviced yearly keeps your dryer running efficiently for a longer period of time. Dryers that don’t work efficiently causes each load to take longer to dry and for heavy items such as towels to come out still damp. Having to put items back through the cycle again is extremely wasteful. Finally, if there is no lint appearing on the lint screen when you check it for lint (meaning none whatsoever) there is a very good chance that your dryer vent’s exhaust system may be clogged.

Most chimney sweeping companies are also certified for cleaning dryer vents. Don’t skip this process! An inefficient dryer or a fire caused by a clogged dryer vent will cost you more in the long runt. It is very important to check your dryer vents to ensure there is not a  lint buildup! Clogged vents will restrict the  flow of air and the efficiency of the dryer. Your dryer will work much harder and longer to dry your clothes, which  cost you money and energy.
Make sure you check out our YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/user/askthechimneysweep
And other blogs
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 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
How to Install or Repair Chimney Flashing

How to *Install or *Repair Chimney Flashing

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

Flashing provides protection against water for your chimney.

This video shows how to both install new flashing and repair flashing that has deteriorated.

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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

It’s is the . . . Perfect Time for a 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 FireChimney Fires and Insurance Claims at Christmas  ………Yes it is the perfect time for a  “Chimney Fire”

I certainly would hope that no one would ever experience one of these hostile chimney fires in their home. Many a chimney fire ruined a Christmas or New Years Holiday gathering. Chimney fires are known to be either very quiet and almost an undetectable rumbling, or as many customers has told me it had a sound like that of a very loud jet aircraft or freight train going through the house.

This loud tornado wind sound is caused as room air is being sucked up the chimney flue and is often accompanied by hot flames that are shooting out of the chimney, while spitting hot chunks of swollen creosote on to the rooftop. A loud popping and cracking sound is often heard as terra-cotta clay flue tiles are breaking from the rapid heat expansion.

It is not uncommon to hear from a homeowner that a neighbor came pounding on their front door, shouting that flames from a fire where shooting out of the top of their chimney, then the local fire department was called and came rushing to the fire.

As I mentioned, to often chimney fires are not heard at all. It may be a quiet rumbling and referred to as being slow burning. This slow burning fire is what chimney sweeps often discover during a standard maintenance chimney cleaning. If a chimney fire is discovered, a video scanning of the interior of chimney liner is recommended, we would be assessing for any possible damage. I will say that it is rather unusual that no fire damage had occurred, as this intense heat from the fire can exceed 2,000 degrees, buckling metal chimney pipes and cracking flue tiles as well as damaging mortar joints found both in the smoke chamber and the flue tiles mortar system.                                                                                 chim fire

 Signs of a Chimney Fire https://youtu.be/5e2_6HUVtjI

It is very important to understand that fire is only supposed to be present in the firebox area, and not in the smoke chamber or chimney flue system!

According to building codes standards, a fireplace chimney flue system must be able to contain the products of combustion (smoke) and that the fireplace must be repaired before further use, if it is damaged!

 

cleaning

Sudden Occurrence Insurance Claims https://youtu.be/ImkfRabTTPI 

Video Scanning the interior of  the Chimney Flue

I would recommend that a chimney contractor photograph damage areas of the chimney, bag a sample of the swollen or puffed creosote. As a chimney contractor we will have our customers sign our receipt of our discovery, documentation and communication of their chimney fire incident and to discontinue use further use, until proper repairs are made. We will also recommend having the homeowner contact their homeowners insurance carrier, as this is most often considered a “Sudden Occurrence” within the insurance industry terminology and possibly chimney repairs of like and kind may be covered under their Home Owners insurance policy.

In conclusion Christmas …..is a perfect time for a Chimney Fire, as any homeowners toss their Christmas wrapping paper and cardboard boxes in the fireplace and ignite a needless chimney fire. As a side bar there are two other times of the year that a chimney fire often occurs. One is when the Christmas tree is broken apart and used to get a roaring fire started. The other time is on those “Special Football Sundays” as greasy pizza boxes are pitched into the fireplace… A loud whoosh can be heard as a chimney-fire is now blazing out of control from the top of your house. Smoke alarms are blasting, the sound of fire truck sirens can be heard 6 blocks away, as they are coming into your neighborhood to connect their fire-truck hoses up to the water hydrant, ladders are going to be thrown up onto your gutters to mount your rooftop to begin attacking your chimney fire. This doesn’t need to happen to you and your family over the holiday season or at all. That is if you’re having your fireplace regularly serviced and practices some basic fireplace burning techniques.

Burn Safe and Warm

Clay Lamb

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

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

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

Creosote Odors fireplace problems

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

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

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

Creosote odor problem. … Oh my goodness do they ever stink up a home!

I couldn’t tell you how many times over the years that I have been called by a rather frustrated customers, telling me they have a horrible odor that is filling their home and the smell seams to be coming from the fireplace.Being in the fireplace business over 30 years I have found that most odor problems stem from one of two things.

Either there is something dead in a chimney such as birds, squirrels or a big old nasty dead raccoon. Not going into detail here, trust me that is not a fun job to remove!The second odor culprit and the most common is the foul smell of creosote soaked air that is being pulled down into the home often by the cold air returns and furnace ductwork.Creosote is from smoke that contains droplets of unburned carbon and is often referred to as tar-fog, within the chimney and fireplace business, These tar-fog droplets often will condense and collect on the cooler interior walls of both the fireplace and chimney flue system.Creosote is that black flammable substance that is left in a fireplace or wooding burn stove.

Hot fires that are associated with burning cardboard or paper can easily flame up past the damper area and often ignite droplets of creosote. Now you have an un-friendly or possibly an out of control chimney fire. Know well that many chimney-fires are much quieter and are referred to as being “slow burning”, still often cause a huge amount of damage to the interior of the fireplace masonry as well as to hidden wooden framing and mantels.

Now lets get back to identifying and solving your fireplace odor problem. Over the years I have tried many concoctions’ of home remedies. I have read a lot regarding house pressures induced odor problems. I have purchased many of these odor products online as well as at the local hardware store. Using those fresh air smelling small carbon jell tubs, vinegar filled bowls or those Chimney cleaning logs all work to some degree, but have not offer a lasting solution for stinky fireplaces. I’m sorry to report to you, but these pungent odors don’t seem to be able to masked over to satisfy for myself, or my customers’ noses’

So let start with your wood source, and as we discussed that incomplete combustion term may sound high tech, but in reality is that it boils down to your firewood is not being “burned completely and /or the fireplace is not drafting up enough to properly flush those Smokey-gases out of your homes fast enough.

In other words the smoke is lingering in the chimney flue way to long, it is then condensing into creosote and collecting on the cooler walls of the fireplace. Then when your furnace system kicks on, the air pressures within your home are often reversed, thus pulling odors down and are now being re-distributed throughout the home.

Whenever I’m called out to a customer’s home for an odor problem, as soon as I arrive I go looking for their woodpile. I want to see if the wood is covered properly from those soaking snowfalls and spring rains and if it is it soaking wet?

Wet unseasoned wood burns slow and will often make a hissing sound as it is steaming the water out. I’ll check to see if is it appears to be a hard wood or not. Most important is the wood seasoned.

Just because the woodpile appears to look gray or weathered, it does not indicate to me that it is seasoned properly. Looking at the butt end of the wood is it smooth like it was just cut recently or does it have lots of weathered cracked ends. This cracking is, caused by the moisture being dried out of the wood. For properly seasoned wood it is often cut, stacked and has a waterproof covering and should have a moisture content after seasoning of 15% to 25%.

When I enter a home I’m questioning, where are the cold air returns in the room? Is there a cathedral ceiling, what is the proximity to the stairwell in relationship to the mouth of the fireplace opening?

Odor Problems   ——————->  https://youtu.be/2s_DsVFXc1A

Did you know that a stairwell could produce a much stronger up draft than the actual fireplace? This is especially true while starting a fire, so I recommend starting off with smaller fires. It takes about 45 minutes to heat cold masonry up to draw properly. Smoke and odors will follow the path of least resistance, so high cathedrals ceiling and stairway can be very problematic to the air balance within your home.

The locations of your furnace cold air returns within the home can be very critical in creating a sluggish draft. This is especially true when starting up your fireplace. Also leaving large amounts of ash in the fireplace can actually hold moisture and odors, so be sure to remove these ashes if you’re having an ongoing problem.

To often I have gone to homes where the customer is choking the fireplace damper down, they are doing this to create a much longer burn time. Often this smoke is getting up to the top of the chimney, but it is now collecting on the spark arrestor screening. This sluggish draft is now lingering way to long and this creosote is now collecting on the walls of the flue system, as well as the screening. This is way to often the case for my wood stove burning customers.

Negative Pressure Issues   ——–>   https://youtu.be/AN4X9jPJdqI

Be sure to check the spark arrestor, as you drive off to work or are taking the kids to school take a look back at your chimney top is your spark arrestor clear of blockage or not?

Be sure to check the spark arrestor, as you drive off to work or are taking the kids to school take a look back at your chimney top is your spark arrestor clear of blockage or not?

Like most things in life, most problems need to be resolved by a process of elimination.

Here are my possible solutions to your stinky fireplace problem!

imgres-1) In early spring before your AC kicks on have your fireplace cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. You can find a reputable Chimney Sweep in your area by using this link to the National Chimney Sweep Guild locator http://www.ncsg.org/search.  Also be sure and go online and read their customer reviews from Google, BBB and AngiesList. I’m never impressed with those cheaper “Swab and Rob companies

2) Only burned wood that has been seasoned properly for at least 6 months.

3) Coverer your seasoned firewood.

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

5) Consistently monitor the spark arrestor on the top of your chimney cap.

* Let me Know if this help with your odor problem or not!

Burn safe and warm!

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

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

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