Has the inside condition of your chimney ever concerned you? Are you confident enough to say that after years of successive use and all the times your chimney never let you down, that it’s still in perfect condition? It is important for your home, your family and your bottom line, to keep your chimney cleaned and inspected annually. Knowing the basics can help you understand and make more informed decisions about your home.
Getting to Know the Parts
Learning about how your chimney works makes the annual conversation with your chimney sweep a great deal more clear. You need to understand to make the best decisions with regard to risk.
It is important to know the parts of the chimney. You should at least know which is which and which goes where. There are six important parts to remember that overall, help the function of the chimney.
At the uppermost part of the chimney is the spark arrestor. This performs the duty of preventing sparks from getting out of the chimney. You might think that this part is somehow unimportant but we all know that fire can spontaneously and unexpectedly start with a single spark along with the wind’s aid. It can automatically turn into a blazing roof fire. This is exactly why this part is very important.
Below the spark arrestor is the chimney crown. This functions as a shield and a barrier for any object and huge volumes of water to enter and accumulate inside the chimney.
The flue is another vital part of the chimney. It is long and thin and is often mistaken to be the chimney. This should always have a flue liner attached to it for two reasons:
Protection of the flue itself
Helping hand to the performance of the chimney as a whole
At the very end of the flue is the damper. This opens and closes the flue. Always make sure that when you are lighting up your fireplace, the damper should always be open. When you see abundant smoke coming out of your chimney, this means that the damper is closed. It’s important to check before attempting to ignite a fire in the fireplace.
Below the damper is the smoke shelf. This performs the duty of catching any foreign and unwanted objects that passes through the chimney. This might cause serious problems when involved in the fire.
Lastly, the smoke chamber is one of the most important parts of a chimney. I’m sure you’re already wondering why. This performs the most important task and that is to compress gases during combustion. If this has a defect, the smoke will go into your home instead of going into the chimney flue. This may cause negative air pressure and carbon monoxide to fill your home’s atmosphere.
The Importance of Knowing
You see, chimneys can be very tricky. They might always seem okay on the outside but big problems may start to rise on the inside. Eventually, you might need to get your chimney relined and restored to ensure safe and stable performance all throughout the winter season.
Here at Lords Chimney, we want to make sure you are aware of the fundamental parts and functions of your chimney. This can be beneficial on your part as a homeowner because you are allowing yourself to be completely aware of the things that are really important concerning your chimney. This can help us talk to you about your chimneys’ condition easily and effectively.
Our clients’ safety is important to us, and at Lords Chimney, we want to do everything we can to help you minimize the possibility of fire hazards in or around your chimney system, from regular chimney maintenance to necessary repairs. That also includes helping you develop short-term and long-term fire safety plans that add up to a cleaner and better-performing system.
Maintenance Sets The Stage
This list of smart practices will help you continue using your heating appliance as safely as possible.
Annual cleaning and inspection is one sure-fire way to minimize safety risks with your chimney.
Every Time You Use Your Fireplace
Use the right fuel
Wet or green wood results in an increase in creosote in your flue, and more creosote means a bigger chance of creosote ignition. Use kiln-dried or seasoned firewood (or make sure you dry your own wood for at least a year before using it) — that helps you achieve the optimum small, hot fire, creating the lowest levels of creosote. Stay away from burning trash, Christmas trees, cardboard boxes or anything else that isn’t seasoned firewood, too — and never ever try to speed up lighting your fire by using any kind of flammable liquid.
Don’t leave your fire unattended
If you’re burning wood, it takes a while for the fire to thoroughly extinguish. Don’t leave a smoldering fire alone — if sparks or embers get out of the firebox or another problem arises, you need to be there to handle it.
Use a spark screen
Fireplace screens are affordable and useful — placed in front of the fire, they can create a barrier between flames/embers and your living area and the people and pets in it.
Keep things clean
Make sure you clean wood ash regularly, in the right way: Deposit ash in a metal bucket, and allow it to cool completely before disposing of it a safe distance away from your home. Whatever fuel you’re burning, keep the area around your fireplace or stove clean — keep a good distance between the appliance and anything flammable, from furniture and window coverings to decorative items.
Creosote will build up as you use your wood fireplace or stove, and it needs to be regularly removed from your flue for both safety and performance reasons. A cleaner flue is a safer and a more efficiently venting flue, and Lords Chimney can help.
If something goes wrong in your chimney system, you want to know about it — damaged parts and components can lead to leaks and water damage, dangerous carbon monoxide leaks and fire hazards. So keeping up with your recommended annual chimney inspection is important. If a cracked flue liner, third stage creosote or any other issue is limiting your chimney’s safety and efficiency, Lords Chimney can find the problem and suggest and complete the work necessary to fix it.
Don’t Forget About Your Dryer Vents!
We talk a lot about fire safety associated with fireplaces, stoves and chimneys, but your dryer vent needs your attention too. Lint-clogged dryer vents can become a serious fire hazard — according to estimates from the National Fire Protection Association, dryers or washing machines were involved in nearly 17,000 home fires in 2010, and the most prominent cause of those fires was a failure to clean.
As you use your dryer, lint slowly builds up along the ducts, and over time, that build-up can begin to constrict the vent. That blockage allows heat to build up, and since lint is extremely flammable, that heat can cause it to ignite.
Homeowners often have such an overloaded list of what needs to be cared for that often times they overlook the most important places. Fireplaces and chimneys are usually included since they are only used for a portion of the year. If you have fallen into this category, don’t burn yourself out on figuring out how you will handle the situation. There is actually little to be done and the professionals at Lords Chimney can handle it all. In a short amount of time they can have your yearly chimney sweep and inspection finished so you can be on with the rest of your busy schedule.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America provides training, resources and certification. You can find them at http://www.csia.org/
The Chimney Safety Institute of America
It is important that you hire chimney care that is both professional and CSIA certified, or meets the standards of the Chimney Safety Institute of America. These chimney sweeps and businesses are reliable and can be found a variety of ways, including asking around your community or online. As with any service you want your chimney technicians to be the best.
The In’s and Out’s
So, what is the importance of a chimney sweep? To start, they remove built up creosotes that could potentially start a fire or cause a blockage where smoke would remain inside of the home. If you breathe enough of this smoke you can get Carbon Monoxide poisoning. A chimney sweep can also remove any blockages that an animal may have caused. With the inspection the technicians can make sure the chimney is in working order. What you may think of as no big deal may be a danger to your family and your home, even if it is something as small as a broken tile or brick. If there is a crack, they will continue to grow until they are fixed. Water can then get in and begin to mold, and when not taken care of spread to the rest of your home. If the unit is broken it may not heat correctly which is not only unsafe but may cost you more to operate. It is important that this procedure is done once a year at the beginning of the season, and even if you have no problem getting in small, dirty places, you should still hire a certified professional.
There are so many different things that can go wrong with a chimney when it is not maintained properly. With all of the things that homeowners have to worry about, water entering the chimney is often not at the top of the list. However, it is important for all homeowners with chimneys to realize just how dangerous it can be if they have an excessive amount of water building up inside of the flue. Although it seems like an unlikely issue, it is easy for water to enter a chimney in the form of rain or snow.
When moisture gets into your masonry, you will see deterioration. Do all that you can to divert water from the chimney.
One of the most dangerous problems that can arise from water in the chimney is the growth of mold. When mold grows in the chimney, it is only a matter of time before it spreads throughout the foundation of the home. When it is inhaled by people living in the home, they are at risk for serious respiratory ailments that have, on occasion, been known to be fatal. In some cases, the mold will produce a smell but, in others, it may be impossible to tell that there is an issue until someone becomes ill.
Most chimneys are made of brick and many have liners that are constructed out of clay or tile. When water builds up and sits in the chimney, it can slowly deteriorate these fragile materials. This can compromise the entire structural integrity of the chimney and make it an extremely dangerous thing to have on the home. As it weakens, it will be able to withstand much less in terms of extreme weather and the heat that it endures during a fireplace fire.
Whenever there is stagnant water in a space, there is a chance that it will start to become a home for a variety of bugs. When this happens in a chimney, it is only a matter of time before those bugs make their way into the home. In the best cases, this is simply annoying and can be taken care of with some bug spray. However, in other cases, the bugs will carry diseases and can cause everyone in the home to become terribly sick.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult for homeowners to know whether they have a problem with water in their chimneys. This is why it is so important to have an annual inspection with a certified chimney inspector. They will be able to quickly identify any problems that are in place as the result of water in the chimney. More importantly, they will be able to recommend possible remedies that will correct the situation as quickly as possible.
The best way to avoid problems with water in the chimney is by installing a chimney cap. This simple little piece of material can keep water out of the chimney, as well as animals and other natural debris. All of these things pose a risk to the people in the home and compromise the function of the chimney. It is a simple and inexpensive precaution that can help prevent a great deal of serious problems down the line.
Water in the chimney may not seem like a big problem but, if left unattended, it can actually cause some very serious issues. A chimney with standing water will quickly become a home for bugs and the perfect place for mold to grow. In addition, it can make the entire structure weak and, therefore, dangerous. An annual inspection is the best way to make sure that there are no major issues with water in the flue.