Fireplace Odor? Fix my stinking chimney!

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

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

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

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Fireplace Odor? My chimney stinks!

Fireplace Odor
Got a bad case of the fireplace odors!

Fireplace Odor? Ask the Chimney Sweep recently received this question about fireplace odor that you may be dealing with yourself:

I have a wood-burning fireplace that I have not used in at least six years. I have had it cleaned 3 times since last using it. In the late spring and summer, or when it is raining, the fireplace odor is so horrible that I can’t deal with it. It doesn’t bother anyone else. It isn’t “smokey” smell, it is sharp, acrid chemical creosote smell. Short of ordering specially-made doors (2,000$ and that still won’t be totally tight) for it or getting the fireplace taken out (have no idea how much, brick home), I don’t know what else to do.

First off, I agree with you, chimney creosote odors stinks!!

This chimney cap is clogged up with glazed creosote. Most likely associated with closing down the damper with a wood stove. The fire likely never had a chance to burn good and hot because the damper was too tight.

For many homeowners, however, fireplace odor has become second-nature. It emits through the home through the furnace and the duct work to the point where creosote is now a part of the smell of the entire house. Check the faces of your guests the next time they’re over. If you notice anyone cringe or wince when they walk through the door, it may be time to get the fireplace checked out! Additionally, if you’re living with any children or elderly relatives, this also a potential health risk to consider. If it’s a bother to the nose, just think of the bother it is for your lungs! On top of this, creosote build-up can lead to chimney fires! Fortunately, there are much simpler ways to resolve this problem than expensively removing your fireplace.

What causes those nasty fireplace odors?

There are many potential causes of creosote odor, but there are several obvious factors that can easily contribute to creosote build up, thus resulting in fireplace odor.

  • Using wet and unseasoned wood. 

When you’re burning wood in your fireplace, you want to make sure the wood is seasoned properly for burning. If the wood is not completely dry or seasoned, there is moisture in the wood that translates into creosote deposits when burned. Even if the wood looks completely dry, you cannot know this for sure with the human eye alone. The best practice is to buy a moisture meter. A moisture meter is an inexpensive device that you can shove straight into wood that does a very efficient job of determining the moisture content in your wood. You can read more about moisture meters here.

  • Keeping the damper too tight.

For many wood-burning homeowners, it is a habit to keep the damper not open enough. It is important to know that creosote build-up is largely determined by airflow through the chimney system. Frequent hot fires are important to moving the gases in creosote up and out of the chimney. If you’re closing your damper too tight then you’re restricting your air flow, preventing everything from flowing smoothly through your chimney system, which allows for much more likelihood of creosote build up.

  • Your home is fairly airtight.

Creosote odor most often occurs in the spring/summer because the air conditioner is on and pulling creosote odors through the house. Spring rains and those hot summer, humid days are perfect times for odors to be carried back through the house. Air needs to be able to circulate throughout the duct work in your home. If your home is air tight with the air conditioner blasting, usually with lots of glass, tight windows, air has no way to travel outward through your home. This means air can only travel downward through your chimney system, redistributing all the creosote back into your fireplace, instead of out of it.

Chimney Odor Solutions?

Anti-Creo-Soot is a great product to prevent creosote. However, these chemical removers are NOT nearly as effective against serious odor problems in the home.

Many people resort to using chemical cleaners, air fresheners, place heavy glass doors over their fireplaces to resolve their odor issues. Unfortunately, all this does is mask the problem. Creosote odor is distributed into the ventilation of your entire home, so simply blocking or treating the firebox is not going to remove the odor. You must attack the source of. Creosote builds up in the firebox, the smoke chamber, and the chimney flues. This means a complete treatment is in order.

PCR (Poultice Creosote Remover)

PCR
Get a quote from your chimney sweep on using PCR to help resolve a severe fireplace odor problem.

Our most effective and recommended treated for creosote odor is Poultice Creosote Remover (PCR). PCR is designed to completely remove glazed creosote all of forms from the flue tiles, smoke chambers, and fireplaces. Poulitce Creosote Remover is a substance that when applied, the creosote dissolves and completely absorbs it. PCR can be applied by brush in easily accessible areas or with a specially designed tool that can be pulled up through the chimney by a winch, check out our video below. Once it completely drys out the creosote, the creosote fails to stick to the chimney and falls off the sides of the flue tiles. The remaining PCR is removed by then sweeping out the rest of the chimney.

  • Completely removes creosote of all forms
  • Eliminates the need for rigorous and ineffective cleaning methods
  • Cleans and prepares surface of flue tiles for additional chimney applications

How to do I get PCR treatment?

The best way to get PCR treatment is to get a chimney sweep to do the treatment. Using the provided resource on the front page of NCSG (National Chimney Sweeps Guild), you can search by your zip code and it will provide you with the nearest NCSG chimney sweep. http://www.ncsg.org/

Once you’ve found a chimney sweep in your area, you’ll want to ask them if they do PCR treatment. Whenever you allow a contractor into your home you’ll want to do research. Check out Google, Angie’s List, Yelp. A professional will have all the equipment necessary and know-how to complete the job safely. As a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor, I can tell you, everyone I know who’s has this done has told me they’ve been incredibly satisfied with this removing their problems with creosote odors!

Don’t forget to visit our channel, Ask the Chimney Sweep on YouTube.

Affiliate Disclosure

I try NEVER to recommend a product or service that I have not personally used (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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

Chimney Corbeling: Chimney Masonry Repair

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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

Hips and Shoulders: Chimney Corbeling

Chimney Corbeling can cause bigger problems so it is best to get the issue fixed sooner rather than later. The corbelling hips on your chimney could be allowing damaging water to come into your home. Corbelling aligns the shape of the smoke chamber to allow for better air flow inside the chimney. By design, the smoke chamber height can not be any bigger than inside width of the fireplace room opening, and the depth should not be greater than the depth of the smoke chamber.  The smoke chamber has to be placed at 45-degree angle and perched smooth on the inside.

Smoke Chambers

The shape of the smoke chamber should be capped off so not water can penetrate. Do it with concrete stones as you can see below. It is most important during construction any open voids of the brick itself are properly filled to prevent water penetration. Always remember small holes can allow gallons of damaging water in the chimney smoke chamber and even down into the firebox below. In the 60s 70s and 80s, many builders cut costs by making these flat instead of pitched at all. We’d always recommend having your chimney contractor take a picture of the top of the corbeling to determine if it needs a new stone cover, silicone waterproofing, or grind it out and tuck point it.

See also smoke chambers.
corbeling
Here’s a perfect corbeling. Really doesn’t get better than this design!

 

corbel
This Chimney Corbeling looks fine from the ground up. But take note of the picture below…

 

 

 

corbeling
Looking from the roof down you can see that poor masonry craftsman provided trouble for the homeowner. You need to fill these holes in the original construction.

 

Chimney Corbeling
Again looking down from the roof into the corbel, notice the large holes letting the water in and actually causing further damage. Shoddy craftsman has again failed these homeowners and created further damage.

 

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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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

When to get a Chimney Cleaning

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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

When should I clean my chimney?

When to get a chimney cleaning is one of the most common questions that chimney sweeps answer daily. The real answer lies within: when was the last time it was cleaned?

Schedule an appointment with American Chimney to get your chimney swept.

  1. To Prevent a Chimney Fire

A chimney fire can be very large and noticeable with loud popping and cracking sounds, lots of dense smoke and a strong, and hot odor. But chimney fires aren’t always dramatic enough to let the neighbors know something is wrong. Sometimes, they burn slow and aren’t visible. They still can reach high enough temperatures to seep into the walls of your house and ignite flammable objects. Flames from a chimney fire can quickly spread into the walls or onto the roof of your home and cause massive devastation of your home.

This is a very bad scenario, but it can be carefully avoided with the right care and maintenance of your chimney. One of the most common causes of chimney fire is, a dirty chimney. Over time, chimneys will become clogged with creosote. Creosote is a natural, tar-like substance that is created by burning wood. Creosote is black or brown in appearance and, over time, it builds up. As it builds up, it leaves a glazing inside your chimney. So, this glazing is highly combustible and it can take a small amount of glazing to start a chimney fire. Not enough air supply is only one of the factors that contribute to the buildup of creosote. This is an it important reason to make sure your chimney is cleaned regularly.

  1. To Protect Your Health

Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced whenever fuel is burned. At low levels, CO can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion and fainting. So, a blocked chimney or a chimney with an nonfunctioning flu can cause a buildup of this dangerous gas. With too much CO, it can be fatal.  CO is responsible for thousands of deaths in America each year, and many of these poisonings are caused by blocked chimneys. This is why it is critical to have your chimney examined and swept to make sure your flue is clear before using the chimney.

  1. To Avoid Smoke Damage

So, when a chimney is not cleaned regularly, shoot will start building around the flue. This makes it difficult for the flue to draw the smoke upwards. This can cause the smoke to enter your rooms. Soot will leave a black film around your hearth and dirty any furniture, carpeting or decorations nearby. Sometimes, smoke can even cause black staining around your chimney. This can be near impossible to remove.

Make sure you check out our YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/user/askthechimneysweep

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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

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How to Fix Smoking 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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

How to Fix Smoking Fireplace Problems?

A recent question came into Ask the Chimney Sweep blog.

Q: Our house is 20 years old and I have noticed the last 2 years or so and definitely this year that smoke fills our house. I thought it might be because of the chimney needing cleaning so we had a chimney sweeper come out and it didn’t help, it seems to have made it worse! Help!!!

A: Your fireplace operating until 2 ago implies things have changed on the exterior or the interior of your home.

Starting on the exterior of your home and then moving inside, here is my list that I would check!

Solutions to Smoking Fireplace Problems

smoking fireplace problems
Once your wood has been delivered, keep your firewood close to the house. Best practice is to leave it covered six months to a year prior to use. Moisture content should be 15% to 25%.

1 – Check your wood supply because it must be dry of what is referred to a 15-25% moisture content. This can be confirmed with a moisture meter that can be purchased online. Just because you think the wood look seasoned doesn’t mean that it really is.
2 – Outside your home and looking up at the top of the chimney top, have things slowly changed? A 20-year-old home probably has trees that have grown and matured. I personally like to see trees cut back appx 15 feet away from the chimney
3 – Consider any construction changes, either on your part or the neighbors. Room additions over the years could possibly be affecting the draft of the fireplace.
4 – I believe every chimney should have a chimney cover as well as a spark arrestor. If the cap sits less than 6” off of the top of the flue it to may be a culprit. There are many good updrafts inducing caps on the market. I personally like the WindBeater with the Birdguard by HomeSavers.
5 – New roof, new exterior paint, vent and wind turbine can produce new air issues in your home.
6 – And now moving to the interior let’s talk about air balance within the interior of your home. This is where I find most solutions for my customers smoking problem. Newly blown or sprayed in an attic, insulation, new insulated windows, attic fans, bathroom fans, Jen Air ranges. I would go so far as to check the furnace filter if it is allowing enough air to pass throw it.
It is interesting how many homes that we get into, where newly installed glass block windows in the basement seemed to initiate a smoking issue. Any of one or a combination of these items can alter the air balance just enough, to bring air down your fireplace chimney when it is in use.
It is interesting how many homes that we get into, where newly installed glass block windows in the basement seemed to initiate a smoking issue. Any of one or a combination of these items can alter the air balance just enough, to bring air down your fireplace chimney when it is in use.
It is interesting how many homes that we get into, where newly installed glass block windows in the basement seemed to initiate a smoking issue. Any of one or a combination of these items can alter the air balance just enough, to bring air down your fireplace chimney when it is in use.
So, Christina, your mission to solving smoking fireplace problems is to find what has changed so that you can re-adjust it somehow to make your fireplace operational once again.
I would also suggest journaling each step that you make or adjust as well a documenting the outside weather conditions.
I would also suggest journaling each step that you make or adjust as well a documenting the outside weather conditions.
Then noting the flame activity as well as signs of smoke might be beneficial.
smoking fireplace problems
Installing the SmokeGuard reduces the size of the firebox and puts in proportion to the size of the chimney flue liner specifications.

Possible Changes 

1 – First of all, just raising the log grate up by the height of just one brick under each leg “could possible” effect the fire, as it raise the center of the flame just a tad bit closer to the damper and smoke chamber

2 – Consideration possibly investing in a really cool product called a SmokeGuard. This thing is such a simple idea and has solved a lot of smoky fireplace issues. Personally, I like the black colored model as it hides in the fireplace appearance.

3 – I would try playing around by cracking a window little bits at a time (1/2″-1?) and monitoring time required to stop the smoking or to stabilize the fire. If opening a window helps, possibly consider installing an outside fresh air source into the fireplace.

4 – (If) this smoking continues, you could temporally raise the chimney stack. Do this by putting a metal pipe on the chimney flue top (this is only for brief testing conditions). If it solves your smoked odor problem then, I would get a couple of chimney contractor in.They can figure out the best alternatives to raising the chimney flue height.

Is there a cathedral or really tall ceiling in that room or even a large staircase. The reason I throw that thought out is, smoke will always travel the path of least resistance. Smoke doesn’t care if it goes up a chimney flue. Or up to a staircase or just hangs out on the ceiling a stinks up a room.

In conclusion, I hope this bouncing off of ideas helps. Please keep all of us all informed, as solving your fireplace smoking problems may just help one other reader.

So, keep at it, and as I will bet you will outsmart your smoking fireplace problems!

 

Thank you for visiting us here at Ask the Chimney Sweep

Clay Lamb
Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor
(Owner of American Chimney)

http://amchimney.com

http://askthechimneysweep.com

Want more information? Subscribe here to our Ask the Chimney Sweep Youtube channel.

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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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

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Watch Our Chimney Flue Systems YouTube Video

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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

Chimney Flue restoration project in Richmond, Indiana. The face layer of the brick got stripped exposing the building’ flue system.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

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

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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

“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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

“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 

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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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

 

hqdefault

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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

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/

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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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

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

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)