Vent Free Logs: Smells and concerns

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

Question regarding; Vent Free Logs:

Smells, heat & respiratory concerns,

Q. My husband just had Open Heart Surgery. We had a Fireplace Build 30/years ago and have been using a large buck stove. Because of his health conditions, we decided to go to Vent Free Natural Gas Logs. We have had a gas smell since we have had them installed.

The installer of our Vent free gas logs has been back and everything is correct. Today I called the Gas Company, no gas showed up on their monitor. But they could also smell the gas, “just a small odor”. I do not burn these thru the night, only from around 11: am to 8 or 9: pm and sometimes not that long. The biggest problem the gas order is smelling stronger in two bedrooms 20 ft away. Nothing would show up on the gas company’s monitors, but they to could smell the odor.

First, they claimed it was our cold air return, but we do not use our furnace/heat and cut the logs off at night. Then they came up with when we took the buck stove out, there is a lot of creosote back in where the stove was which is now open and the logs are setting in. He is claiming the creosote is melting and causing the smell Is this correct. Is there any product that I can get to clean this since it is baked on?

Stage 1, Creosote is often a dusty looking or may appear as a coffee ground texture.

 

 

Stage 2 Creosote, This often starts out as a very layer of lightly glazed creosote in the chimney system. This creosote will expand rapidly as it catches fire and changes into a brittle, fragile and puffy styrofoam consistency and can then easily block the chimney flue cause serious smoking problems!

 

 

 

 

 

Stage 3 Creosote, this stinking, tar, or gummy substance can accumulate in the firebox, on the damper, in smoke-chamber or at the top of the chimney flue cap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answer

Creosote is a fuel and “could possibly ignite into a fire, and it does stink! Odors move as air moves in many homes. It is my experience that some air is “still moving”, even if the furnace is not running, or pushing or blowing the hot air out of the vents

PCR being applied using a slip casting method of coating the interior of the walls of the chimney flue system.

If any creosote is visible at the start of one of our repair or installation projects,  we would have included a price to remove all of this creosote from the firebox, smoke chamber and chimney flue with a product called Heat Shield PCR (Poultice Creosote Remover) manufactured by CeCure LLC; c/o Saver Systems www.ChimneySavers.com/pcr

In most cases, this is not cheap to repair, but it does work and it will remove the creosote problem.

$1,200 to $1,900 dollars and possible higher are not uncommon. Once again PCR has resolved stinking flammable creosote problems for us.

We would have also included what is called a level 2 chimney cleaning inspection with our chimney scanning equipment. It is viewed as a “change of use” of fuel source according to the NFPA 2:11 or National Fire Protection Association. The standard for Chimney, Fireplaces, Vents and Solid fuel Burning Appliances.

 . . . . WITH ALL OF THAT BEING SAID, LET’S TALK ABOUT  

VENT-FREE GAS LOGS 

With that being said I’m personally not a fan of vent-free logs at all. My customer’s odor problems alone and this is just one reason that I stopped selling Vent Free Gas units altogether.
Take some time to read your manufacturer’s installation instructions, as well as their printed CAUTIONS section.
To the best of my knowledge, most manufacturers will state something about opening a window while the vent-free products are in use, which seems somewhat defeating when you think of it.
How long of a period of time they can be burned is also referenced.

I also feel you may be using these logs way too long of a period of time. But again follow your Mfg. instruction or call their help or customer support line.

Does the manufacturer of your Vent Free Gas Logs have cautions or warnings, regarding respiratory heath issue for seniors small children?

I have often read heath cautions on the use of vent-free gas around seniors, small children as well as family members with respiratory problem warnings; to seniors, small children along with individuals with breathing problem would knock out about 85 % of families that I know of, from installing these log sets, including myself with my own bouts with asthma.
It has been stated that burning 100,000 BTU of natural gas in any form, generates about 1 gallon of water. So my question is, so where does that water go, especially since the chimney flue is now closed up tight. Another possible issue is the dramatic rise in temperature of surrounding masonry, wood mantel and any possible hidden. Construction framing on the sides or the fireplace or under the hearth.

I know well that many fireplace shops and chimney contractors sell lots of these vent free units to a homeowner on the warmth benefit. And many of their customers really love them. For me personally, I know well that vent free appliances’ actually do produce a huge amount of heat. But for me, it comes with a high cost, as well as potentially to many health and safety concerns to my customers, as well as my own family.
I hope that I have shed some additional insights, on possible solving your issue.
Clay

 

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.

In addition, be sure and go online so you can read their customer reviews from Google, BBB and AngiesList.
I hope that this information helps!
Burn Safe and Warm
Clay

* Sudden Occurrence Insurance Claims

* SIGNS OF a chimney fire

*Installing a Wood Stove Insert
http://youtu.be/6lT3N8h1qbQ

* Sudden Occurrence Insurance Claims

* SIGNS OF a chimney fire

*Installing a Wood Stove Insert

http://youtu.be/6lT3N8h1qbQ

Installing a liner (to stove)

 



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 Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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 Poisoning “

Nighthawk Carbon Monoxide Alarm 62525 copy
Carbon Monoxide Detector

* 7 Ways to help prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (CO)

1)- Have carbon monoxide detector installed on each level of your home

2)- Have your home’s heating and venting systems inspected annually

3)- Have your wood-burning and gas fireplace serviced yearly

4)- Do not use charcoal grills inside your house or fireplace

5)- Never operate a gasoline-powered engine in an unvented garages or basement.

6)- Never operate a car, mower or generator, running in the garage, even with the garage door open

7)- Never use a gas range or cook stove for heating inside your home, cabin, tent or camper 


* Carbon Monoxide poisoning is often referred to as “CO” poisoning . . .  the “Silent Killer”

 This poisonous gas is a by-product of the burning of any type of fossil fuel, or by-products such as gasoline, natural gas, fuel oils, kerosene, coal, wood, or charcoal.

When you breathe in Carbon Monoxide, it quickly replaces the oxygen in your bloodstream that your body requires. Without this needed oxygen, the cells throughout our body die, and your internal organs will begin to shut down. Thus, this is what makes CO gas so dangerous because that you can’t see, smell it, or taste it.

Carbon Monoxide detectors should be installed on each floor of the home!


Carbon monoxide produces whenever we use our automobiles, fireplaces, charcoal grills, and gas appliances. Usually, these appliances will cause no problems if you correctly vent them.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
In finding Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Areas, be sure to inspect both the furnace and hot water heater flues.

All of the flue vents in your home, including your dryer vent, need to be serviced regularly.

CO can become very deadly with just a minimal amount of exposure. It is important to be aware of the many signs of CO poisoning, and knowing what to do may mean life or death for you or your loved ones.

Carbon Monoxide trouble often occurs when cars, trucks, or other engines are left running in enclosed spaces, such as garages. Therefore idling a car in an open garage could be very dangerous, as fumes leak back up into the living space of the home.

R: 128 G: 255 B: 192 X:39852 Y: 0 S: 424 Zs: 0 Zp: 1 F: 670 I: 0 ImgVer:08.05.07.23
Removing bird nesting from the fireplace

Sealing and insulating homes may trap poisonous gases inside the house. Often this is due to misusing charcoal grills, generators and heating appliances in unvented areas of the home.

You may have heard of restaurants closing because of customers becoming sick because of CO poisoning. Often this occurs in buildings burning gas stoves and ovens consistently.


* What are some of the symptoms of CO Poisoning? 

As carbon monoxide gases build up in the bloodstream and rob us of oxygen, symptoms may vary but include dizziness, headaches, upset stomach and vomiting. Other warning signs maybe a feeling of disorientation, confusion, drowsiness, rapid breathing, racing of the heart, clamminess of the skin, chest pains, blurred vision and even possibly seizures.

Therefore, if you breathe in too much CO it could make you pass out or even kill you. Because breathing in rather low levels of carbon monoxide gas over a prolonged period may go somewhat undetected as a feeling of being little sick or coming down with the flu. Those “flu-like” symptoms’ could be causing prolong heart problems or possibly brain damage.


Three Signs of a possible chimney flue blockages that may be causing spillage of very deadly Carbon Monoxide gases into your home.

1-White chalking called (efflorescence) on the outside of the chimney bricks 

2- Watermarks on the walls in the basement flue vents

3-Broken flue tiles on the top of the chimney   

100_2873

 

DSCF0712100_3230

Have you heard someone say ‘I smell Gas”?

If you think your smelling the rotten egg sulfur smell of natural gas what you are smelling is a chemical called Mercaptan and it gives off a very distinctive odor. Most people describe as the odor as “rotten eggs “or hydrogen sulfide. So, if you smell rotten eggs – leave the house quickly!  Do not use a light switch, telephone or cell phone from within the house; get everyone outside as quickly as you can!

Finally, everyone is at a potential risk for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.

As a result, each year thousands of individuals are dangerously exposed to CO poisoning, requiring emergency room care. Many are hospitalized or even die in their own home.


          . . . . .  In conclusion, we can’t See, Smell, or Taste Carbon Monoxide, but we can all learn how to identify it, treat it and prevent it!

Click here to check out more videos from Ask the Chimney Sweep.

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

Fireplace Options

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

Fireplaces . . . . In this video you will find answers to the most common fireplace question about

Gas logs –  Vented gas logs  – Vent-free gas logs  – Gas Inserts –  Direct Vent  &  – Ethanol fireplaces 

This video offers simple description of  the different types of fireplaces  narrated  by Taylor president of AcmeStove

. .  produced by Patricia Harris, Keller Williams ; Alexandria VA.

 


 

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4
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

OSHA COMPLIANCE: “NO EXCUSES”

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
. . . . If you own a service company be sure to take time to read this great information. During your OSHA company meetings this would be a good article to share with your team.
 
OSHA COMPLIANCE: “NO EXCUSES”
Brought to us by Jim Gillam
Editor & Publisher of
The Chimney Sweep News (SNEWS)
www.ChimneySweepNews.com
 
Rick Kaletsky, occupational health and safety consultant, outlined employers’ responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act at the National Chimney Sweep Guild convention in Hershey, PA.
 
 
There are no excuses when it comes to complying with OSHA regulations, according to Rick Kaletsky.
Rick Kaletsky is the owner of “Rick Kaletsky – imgres13494958_517252908399373_2957529261877029340_nSafety Consultant,” specializing in hazard recognition, site inspections and citation resolution. Before starting his own company, Rick was employed for twenty years by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration where he served as an occupational safety and health specialist and assistant area director in the agency’s Connecticut offices. He is the author of OSHA Inspections – Preparation and Response, published by McGraw-Hill.
Rick spoke before an audience of about one hundred chimney sweep business owners at the National Chimney Sweep Guild convention in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
 
Safety starts legally and morally with the employer, Rick said. “You have to provide a safe and healthful workplace. You have to train people. If they don’t know what to do and they don’t have the right equipment, you can’t expect them to be safe.
“You want to make sure that everything is safe. Every thing. Everybody. Every minute!
“You might say, ‘I’m only going up on the roof for ten minutes.’ How long do you think it takes to take that trip on the way down? Not very long!”
 
Realize What Could Happen
Rick acknowledged that chimney professionals probably have a different comfort level working at heights than the average person. But he urged us not to become complacent about our safety or overconfident about our skills.
Holding up a newspaper clipping showing a sweep standing on top of a chimney in a typical publicity pose, he exclaimed, “I just can’t believe it has to be this way!
“I don’t care how tough this guy is or how smart he is. Why can’t he get a little kink in his knee? If he does, he goes down!
“Then somebody gives some BS that it was a ‘freak accident.’ It’s not a freak accident,” he declared. “To do what this gentleman is doing is absolutely nuts! Just think about his family!
“I understand you don’t work in an office for the most part,” he acknowledged. “Chimney sweeps, masons – it’s tough stuff. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use reasonable protection and operate within the law. You don’t want to gamble with people’s lives!”
“What this is about is not just the law,” Rick cautioned. “It’s about the fact that you don’t want to visit somebody in the hospital or call someone to say that their husband or wife died on the job!”
 
The Law
The Occupational Safety and Health Act, passed in 1970, requires employers to provide employees with employment and a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
Enforcement in a little more than half of the states is handled by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The other states have chosen to handle their own enforcement. Their programs must be at least as stringent as federal regulations.
The law applies to any equipment in a workplace that has employees. “If you have anything that’s rented, leased, belongs to the homeowner, is old, is new, is stolen, you borrowed it – if it would be encountered in work by your employees, which could include yourself, it is yours,” Rick emphasized.
The law applies to everybody in the workplace. “That means that the boss doesn’t get to do things that other employees can’t as far as exposing themselves to danger. No matter what you make, no matter whether you are part-time or day labor or summer help, you’ve got to be protected.”
 
Why My Company?
“What attracts OSHA to the worksite?” is a question that Rick commonly hears from employers. Although there is a list of items that includes complaints from employees and special emphasis programs, he strongly urged business owners to concentrate on employee safety, not on “beating” OSHA.
“Don’t you want to protect your workers all the time?” he asked. “You don’t want to even worry about accident investigation. It’s more sensible to talk about accident prevention.
“You may not have an OSHA inspection for thirty years,” Rick said. On the other hand, they might visit your business tomorrow.
 
What to Do When OSHA Knocks
Company personnel should greet OSHA inspectors courteously and professionally and “make sure you see their credentials,” Rick advised. “Make sure you know who you are dealing with.
“They don’t think of themselves as cops, but if a $100,000 penalty can be imposed I would say they are law enforcement,” he reasoned.
After you’ve determined who you are dealing with, introduce the inspectors to the person in charge. The person in charge should also check the inspectors’ credentials, Rick suggested.
Sit down in a comfortable area. “You don’t want interruptions,” he insisted. “This really needs attention!”
Remember that you are dealing with human beings. “You might have someone who if you push him the wrong way, his eyes get bigger,” he cautioned. “Or for that matter, you might have someone who came from a job the day before where someone lost an eye.
“They are trying to see if you are complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Act standards for protecting your employees. And it’s not their job to protect your employees, it’s yours.”
The inspectors will tell you the purpose of the visit and furnish a copy of an employee complaint. They will not release the complainant’s name. “They are going to tell you the scope of the inspection,” Rick said. “But, hey, if they’re on your job in the field, they are certainly going to look at the major things: electrical, fall protection, fire hazards, etc. Figure that if they are there then they are going to look at everything.”
“Tell the truth,” Rick advised, “but don’t go ‘off-the-record.’” Excessive candor creates the impression “that you really knew” about the hazard, “not just that you should have known.”
OSHA will take photographs and may take measurements or samples. OSHA may take a look at your training, injury and illness records. OSHA may talk to your employees privately. “You are not allowed to ask them what was said,” Rick warned.
The employer is not allowed to take any adverse action against an employee who speaks up about safety. “People have a right to speak up,” Rick emphasized. “It’s not a special privilege.”
Walk Around
A company representative should accompany the OSHA inspector in the walk around the worksite, Rick suggested. “You want to know what he or she is looking at.” In addition to ensuring that the inspector is not endangered by any conditions on the worksite, you might then be able to prepare to defend yourself if necessary. “If they are going to take pictures, you might want to take pictures or videos.”
Allow complete access, Rick advised, but if somebody needs to get something done right away, let the inspectors know. “That’s okay to do,” he said. “It’s still your workplace.” However, he said it is unlikely that OSHA inspectors will postpone or cut short their visit for any but the most extraordinary reason.
“You want to let the inspectors know that you are trying to provide a safe workplace,” said Rick. “Let them know what your efforts are.”
Don’t pretend that you know it all. “Screwed up is okay,” Rick allowed. “It doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to get cited. But it’s a lot better than ‘We know everything here.’” If you know so much, if the inspectors find something wrong OSHA will assume you intentionally tolerated a hazard. “That’s where you get into serious money” if you are fined, he warned.
If you are able to point out mitigating factors that will show OSHA that it is “not as bad as looks,” then “defend yourself,” Rick encouraged.
Be sure you are wearing any necessary safety equipment during the walk around.
 
Specific Hazards
Rick offered numerous suggestions for chimney maintenance companies about specific hazards, including:
• Ladders. Keep ladders away from overhead lines. Be careful how you move a ladder around so you don’t pull a muscle. Get help if you need it. Do not cover any labels on the ladder. Be sure the ladder has the capacity for your load. An extension ladder should be extended to three rungs above whatever surface you are climbing onto. Set it up at the appropriate angle.
• Scaffolds. Watch out for overhead wires when setting up the scaffold. “In most cases, when you get to 10’ high on a scaffold, you must have perimeter protection,” Rick noted. “We’re talking about a mid-railing about 42” high.” Be sure the scaffold is set up on a stable, level base.
• Electrical. 110 volts or 220 volts can kill. Avoid exposed live parts. Portable electrical tools must be grounded or double insulated. Extension cords should be intact. Temporary power sources should be equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI). “GFCI’s rank with smoke detectors as something that doesn’t cost very much but can save your life,” Rick stated. “When you teach people about electrical hazards, make sure you keep them current,” he quipped.
• Ergonomics. “It’s very important to be flexible and warm,” Rick noted. Avoid twisting motions while lifting.
• Hazard communications. Employers are required to inform employees about hazards associated with chemicals such as flammable liquids, solvents, corrosives, compressed gas, etc. Keep Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) handy so they can be accessed in an emergency and sent with an ambulance or care provider. “You need a written program,” Rick advised, “that includes a list of substances you encounter on the job from A-Z, where the MSDS are located, and training on how to read the MSDS.”
• Protective equipment. Employers are supposed to assess the need for protective gear on any given job. Protective equipment may include eye protection with the right kind of lenses, frames, and side shields; gloves; knee pads; safety shoes; and ear protection.
• Respiratory protection. Respirators should fit tight to the face. Employees must have medical clearance to use a respirator and must be trained in proper usage and cleaning. “If you have a heavy beard, or a broken bone in your face or high cheek bones, you may need a different respirator than everybody else [positive pressure respirator], Rick suggested. Particular care must be taken if asbestos or silica is in the environment. “Don’t blow it or sweep it or vacuum it unless you have a HEPA filter,” he advised.
• Fire extinguishers. Keep an appropriate, properly charged fire extinguisher handy. Make sure your employees are trained to use it. “Sweep the base, do not knock down the flame,” he recommended.
• First aid. “If you don’t have access to an open hospital, clinic or infirmary in a hurry, you need trained first-aiders,” Rick insisted. Check the expiration date on items in your first aid kit and replace any outdated items.
• Be sure that long hair, jewelry, sleeves and shirt tails can’t get caught in drills, blades and other power tools.
• Make sure tools are in good condition.
• Separate the cargo area of your vehicle from the passenger area as a dust control measure and so that tools and equipment can’t fly up and hit the passengers or driver in an accident.
• Be careful with animals, alive or dead. He particularly warned of the danger of bird droppings. “You can get some illnesses from birds that cause lifetime disabilities. Bird droppings are very serious, I can’t stress that strongly enough!”
 
Fall Protection
“If you tie off, you want a personal fall arrest system,” Rick stated. “The anchor is the most important thing.” You must be tied off while using an articulating boom.
 
Jim Brewer (Magic Sweep Chimney Sweep, Chesapeake, VA) wondered whether “you have any good, practical advice when we’re sending guys out, for five jobs in an average day where they are on the roof for ten to fifteen minutes per job?”
Jim continued, “If we start doing fall protection – I know what the law says – I’m going to double my time on the job. I’m going to expose my guys to more hazards setting all this rigging up, compared with training them how to walk on a roof. The economics of it is that I’m going to be charging twice as much as my competition and I’m going to go out of business. Fall protection drives me nuts!” he exclaimed exasperatedly.
“I realize fall protection is tough issue for this crowd,” Rick acknowledged. “Remember as far as economics goes, if one of your guys gets hurt, it’s not just the immediate cost. You are paying forever.”
[See SNEWS – July 2003 for more on fall protection, ladders and scaffolds.]
 
Lobby for an Anchor Point
Rick suggested that the National Guild should lobby with the code bodies for a provision that would require installation of a tie-off anchor point in new construction.
“People may say it will cost money to put it in,” Rick anticipated, “but they will save that money every time they have a contractor or their own maintenance people not have to worry about falling off the building!”
 
Repeated Accidents
If someone is injured repeatedly, “find out why they are getting hurt,” Rick advised.
“If Johnny gets hurt three times, maybe he hasn’t been trained right. Does he have an unsafe job, or unsafe equipment? Is he drinking? Does he have a bad leg or bad eyes?
Does he have a bad attitude? You need to get to the root of the problem.
“No one should ever be disciplined for getting hurt,” he added.
 
Training Documentation
Rick recommended documenting your safety training. “You don’t need fancy notes,” he said. “Write down who came that day and have them sign it. If they need an interpreter, note that. If someone only speaks Spanish or Laotian, find someone who can deal with it. Don’t leave anyone behind in the system. Give them real training!”
Specific items for ladder training include securing, the approximate angle, the overlap, and correct ascent and descent. “Never assume that because these people are adults, they know how to climb a ladder,” he cautioned. “That’s not good enough. Go over it with them.”
 
Closing Conference
As for the opening conference, provide a quiet, comfortable setting. Listen carefully to what the inspectors have to say, repeating their words for clarity.
Don’t wait for a citation to explain or defend yourself, Rick suggested. “A citation is something you would rather avoid.”
OSHA will discuss methods of correction and provide a deadline for correction.
There is an appeal procedure available if you disagree with OSHA’s decision.
OSHA Standards
Standards can be found on the OSHA website, www.osha.gov. “It would be a good idea to purchase the construction and/or general industry standards,” Rick suggested.
 
“There are lots of hazards out there, he cautioned. “Please don’t gamble with the lives, the lungs, the limbs, the eyes of your employees.”
Saying that he hoped his presentation “soots” our needs, Rick concluded, “although you may have to make some changes in your safety program, I don’t think you’re going to need a clean sweep of all of it.”
Rick covers this topic in much greater detail in his book, OSHA Inspections: Preparation and Response (Updated for 2002), available from him directly at 203-393-1233 or rkaletsky@aol.com.
Rick Kaletsky, occupational health and safety consultant, outlined employers’ responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act at the National Chimney Sweep Guild convention in Hershey, PA.
 
OSHA COMPLIANCE: “NO EXCUSES”
 
Thanks so much to Jim Gillam for this very informative reporting !
Editor & Publisher of
The Chimney Sweep News (SNEWS)
www.ChimneySweepNews.com
 
“ . . . if your not reading SNEWS maybe the question is, why not?
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

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

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