Nothing can ruin a fire more than smoking problems. Whether smoke is blowing back into the room, the fire is burning sluggishly, or a smoky odor remains hours – if not days – after the fireplace has been used, smoking problems may be to blame.
Because there are a number of different causes of smoking fireplaces, there is no one easy answer or solution. Instead, a CSIA certified chimney sweep can use tools such as a chimney inspection to identify the underlying cause of the smoking problem.
Causes of a smoking fireplace
There are as many as 15 different causes of draft issues and smoking fireplaces. The following are four of the most commonly seen smoking problems.
Flue blockage: Flue blockages occur when debris or buildup constrict or block air flow through the flue. This blockage causes the smoke to back up into your home instead of drafting up and out of the chimney. Two of the most common causes of flue blockages are debris such as leaves and sticks and animals and their nesting materials. A quality chimney cap along with regular chimney sweepings and inspections can help remove and prevent future blockages.
Burning the wrong firewood: The type of wood you use has a surprisingly big impact on the quality of your fires. The best wood for indoor fireplaces is seasoned hardwoods such as birch, oak, or ash. Freshly cut or green wood has high moisture content and should be avoided; this causes the wood to smoke excessively as well as burn sluggishly with less heat.
Improperly sized flue: A flue that is too large or too small for the fireplace cannot draft properly. If the flue is too large, the chimney pulls down too much air and smoke blows back into the room. likewise, a flue that is too small is unable to quickly draw smoke up the chimney, leading to smoke that lingers or sits in the home. Draft issues caused by an improperly sized flue are most commonly seen in homes where the original fireplace has been replaced. To avoid this, check with your chimney professional to see if you need to have your chimney relined if a new insert or stove is installed into an existing hearth.
Negative air pressure: Chimney height, nearby buildings, and trees can all affect the air pressure around your home. For both safety and drafting purpose, standard building codes require chimneys to be at least two feet taller than any structures within a 10 foot radius. Building an addition, adding a second story, or allowing large trees to grow nearby can create a negative air pressure and prevent the chimney from drafting correctly.
Let us fix your smoking fireplace!
You don’t have to live with a drafty fireplace, smoky odor, or soot-covered furnishings. Let the expert chimney technicians at Lords Chimney uncover – and repair – the cause of your smoking chimney. Contact us today to help resolve your smoking chimney and enjoy your fireplace this winter!
When temperatures outside drop, it is often harder to get a fire started in your fireplace; even after starting it, smoke may blow back into the room for several minutes until drafting regulates. Caused by a phenomenon known as a cold fireplace, this occurs when the air temperature in the flue is too cold to create proper drafting.
However, there are a number of ways that homeowners can start fires in a cold fireplace. The following five tips will help you better start a cold fireplace – and use your fireplace safely all season long.
Buy the right firewood
The kind of firewood you use can have a major impact on how efficiently your fires burn, how much heat they produce, and how much smoke they give off. Homeowners should only use seasoned hardwood in indoor fireplaces. While it may seem tempting to cut down a tree and immediately use the logs in a fire, freshly cut wood can be bad for your fireplace; the high moisture content leads to fires with lots of smoke that produce low flames and heat.
Fully open the damper
Many homeowners mistakenly believe that keeping the damper partially closed makes starting a fire easier. However, the opposite is often true; keeping the damper partially or fully closed causes more smoke to back up into your home as it cannot fully draft. Keeping the damper open while starting the fire allows fresh air to be drawn it, making it safer for you and your family while kindling ignites. In addition, dampers should remain open until the fire has completely extinguished.
Warm the flue
Because the flue is open to the outside, the air temperature inside is often significantly colder than the air in the firebox. This difference in air temperature can make it difficult to ignite a fire or cause smoke to blow back into the room when a fire is lit in a cold fireplace. This phenomenon occurs when the cold air in the flue drops as heat from the fire rises. This can cause a blowback of smoke, soot, ash, and gas into your home. Warming the flue can help prevent this; before igniting the wood or main logs for the fire, light and hold a small bunch of newspaper, twigs, or other kindling directly under the open damper for several minutes. The small amount of heat produced by the kindling will warm the air in the flue without producing enough smoke to cause a blowback of cold air.
Learning how to start a fire in a cold fireplace can help you enjoy a warm fire on even the most frigid days. However, if after following these tips you still have problems with smoke, drafting, or starting a fire, you may need professional help. Contact Lords Chimney today for more information on how to get the most out of your fireplace, even when starting it cold.
A drafty fireplace that blows smoke and soot into your home is more than just a nuisance; it can also affect the air quality in your home. With a number of potential causes of draft problems, a chimney inspection is often needed to identify the underlying cause. Resolving chimney drafting issues can help get rid of smoky odors in your home, prevent soot and ash from blowing onto your carpets and furnishings, and minimize your family’s chance of exposures to dangerous gasses such as carbon monoxide.
How drafting issues affect air quality
Many homeowners are surprised to learn that indoor air pollution is most often caused by interior sources of pollution – including drafty fireplaces. These drafting issues can affect air quality in two ways: first, by not bringing in enough fresh outdoor air to dilute pollutants, and second, by not venting and carrying air pollutants out of the home. These conditions are often made worse by high temperatures and humid weather, weather conditions which the Houston area is used to experiencing.
When a fireplace “drafts,” the hot air, smoke, and gasses produced by the fire are pushed up and out of the chimney, safely venting to the outside. However, blockages, air pressure changes, improperly sized chimneys, and a whole host of other reasons can prevent proper drafting from occurring. When this happens, dangerous smoke, soot, and gasses can back draft into your home.
Causes of draft problems
While draft problems are fairly common, there are a number of things that can cause them to occur. The following are a few of the many potential causes of a chimney draft problem.
Air tight house: Keeping all the doors and windows shut keeps cold air out, but can also prevent your fireplace from drafting correctly. Often, cracking a window near the fireplace can allow fresh air in and help the fireplace vent properly.
Keeping the damper closed: Partially or completely closing the damper while the fireplace is in use – even when a dying fire is smoldering – can cause smoke and gasses to back up into your home.
Improperly sized flue: If you’ve installed a new insert into an existing firebox, your flue may need to be resized. A Flue that is too small can cause smoking issues as the byproducts of combustion have nowhere to go; likewise, a flue that is too large can let too much cold air into the chimney and cause unwarranted creosote buildup.
Chimney blockages: The presence of debris, animal nests, creosote buildup, and other blockages can prevent smoke and gas from properly venting.
Drafting issues can do more than just prevent you from enjoying your fireplace – they can also affect the indoor air quality in your home. If you are experiencing an ongoing drafting issue, don’t just stop using your fireplace and hope it resolves itself; contact Lords Chimney today to learn how we can help improve ventilation problems and air quality in your home!
Homeowners are always striving to make sure that their homes are in the best shape. This not only includes the way they function, but also the way they look. Chimneys are one part that always seems to get the unappealing visual effects, but now there are ways to fix that. Parging is a mixture that will give your masonry wall a fresh look. To learn more call the technicians at Lords Chimney today!
What is parging?
Parging can be used on almost any indoor or outdoor structure made of concrete, brick, or stone. The mix contains water, lime, and a blend of cement and can be made at your home. However, it is important that every ingredient is measured properly, so if you prefer you can buy a pack at the hardware store and just add water. It is also important to make sure that you are adding just the right amount of water. Mix with too much water can crack, but mix that is short on water may not stick.
Parging is the trick to cover anything that you may not want people to see such as cracks, holes, or water damage, all without costing a fortune. Parging is also sometimes used for sealing off small air leaks, which can overtime improve your electric bill. If you are buying a property you should make sure that none of these errors have been previously covered by parging without being properly fixed. This could cost you more money later if something were to go wrong.
How do you apply parging?
You can apply parging on your own, however it is always recommended that you have a professional do your chimney work. You will need a masonry trowel to apply the mix so you can be sure to get thin layers and reduce the chance of it being too heavy. Also, make sure the walls you are coating are wet so that the mix sticks properly. Parging can be applied to have a smooth look, or a textured look. To get the smooth look keep your trowel wet and apply a second coat after the first has time to dry completely. If you would like, parging can be painted to match other walls.
Many serious chimney-related problems arise due to negligence. Give your chimney the care it deserves.
A fireplace and chimney are creature comforts for many homeowners. Unfortunately, not every homeowner takes chimney maintenance as seriously as they should. Your chimney requires special care and attention to ensure it remains clear of debris and functions properly. Without an annual inspection, your fireplace and/or chimney can quickly become dangerous—even deadly.
Is a little creosote buildup really that bad?
In short, yes. According to the NFPA, the second leading cause of house fires is heating equipment; fireplaces, chimneys and wood stoves cause two-thirds of those house fires. Most of the afore-mentioned fires are the result of creosote. Sadly, most are preventable with regular inspections and maintenance.
If allowed to accumulate in large enough quantities, creosote can severely limit the flow of deadly combustion gases when you’re burning wood. One of these gases—carbon monoxide (CO)—is responsible for killing more than 200 people each year and sends more than 10,000 to hospital emergency rooms for treatment.
You can prevent your home and everyone in it from being included in these statistics by simply scheduling routine chimney inspections and sweepings to catch dangerous creosote before it has the opportunity to catch you.
So what if my bricks are spalling and the mortar is missing!
The main purpose of a chimney is to vent the products of combustion from your home. That function is crucial. A well-structured chimney and flue are designed to offer protection to your family and home from these deadly combustion byproducts.
It’s not uncommon for a masonry chimney to be in need of repair. If left uncorrected, a few minor issues can quickly become huge problems in no time at all. Broken or spalled bricks and deteriorated mortar joints are definite signs that your chimney may need repair, as they create several hazards—improper venting of combustion gases and potential structural collapse. Both hazards could prove to be fatal.
What harm is a little water going to do?
Failing to waterproof your chimney could lead to a multitude of problems. By waterproofing your chimney, you enable it to repel up to 99.9% of the water that would otherwise penetrate the brick and/or other materials. Waterproofing is a true preventative measure that can add years to your chimney’s life.
Because it’s not a requirement, many homeowners deprioritize it; this is a big mistake! There are many issues that can develop as a result of water being on and getting in to your chimney, and, as such, swift and immediate action should be taken to ensure that you’re not faced with unnecessary and avoidable repairs bills.
Unless you’re just looking for a reason to get rid of your chimney, there really is no excuse for neglecting it. It’s time to have an experienced technician evaluate the condition of your fireplace and chimney, get them repaired if necessary, and have your chimney coated with a waterproofing product. If you live in the greater Houston area and are looking for a pleasant service experience and the knowledge that your job was done correctly, give Lords Chimney a call at 281-497-4000, or click here to request an appointment online! We look forward to showing you a level of professionalism and quality that you haven’t seen in a service provider!
A deadly toxic gas that can enter your home if you have venting problems with your chimney or other heating unit, carbon monoxide is responsible for killing over 400 Americans by unintentional poisoning annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), carbon monoxide poisoning also sends over 20,000 people to the emergency room, and more than 4,000 people end up having to be hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Known as the “silent killer” (you cannot see or smell it), carbon monoxide makes it very important to have your chimney inspected annually to ensure your chimney system is venting properly.
If you live in the greater Houston area and are looking for a pleasant service experience and the knowledge that your job was done correctly, give Lords Chimney a call at 281-497-4000.
Our Chimney Safety Institute of America-certified technicians, who are experienced with solving carbon monoxide issues, would like to tell you more about this toxic gas that can silently enter your home and cause serious health damage:
What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, weakness, chest pain, and confusion are all symptoms of low-level carbon monoxide poisoning. Since these symptoms are so similar to the flu or the common cold, carbon monoxide poisoning can be difficult to diagnose. If you persist in having these symptoms, ask your doctor for a carbon monoxide level blood test. High-level symptoms include organ damage, loss of consciousness and death.
How does carbon monoxide poisoning work?
For some reason, your red blood cells would rather pick up carbon monoxide than oxygen. If there is a lot of carbon monoxide in the air, your body may replace all of the oxygen in your blood with carbon monoxide, blocking oxygen from entering your body, causing tissue damage and resulting, possibly, in death. Tissues can also be destroyed by carbon monoxide teaming up with the proteins in tissues.
How do I prevent carbon monoxide leaks from my chimney?
Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected by a reputable chimney company like Lords Chimney every year. If you are purchasing a gas fireplace, be sure it carries the seal of a national testing group, such as the CSA Group. If your heat ever goes out, never use a portable flameless chemical heater indoors. Although they do not have a flame, they do burn gas and can cause carbon monoxide to build up inside your house. Most importantly, install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home, and check and/or replace the batteries when you reset your clocks in the spring and fall.
How do I vent my gas appliances properly?
Firstly, never burn anything in a fireplace that is not vented. Secondly, never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or anything else, which could cause carbon monoxide to build up more quickly. Thirdly, your indoor vent pipes should go up slightly as they go towards the outside. This helps prevent toxic gases from leaking if the joints or pipes are not fitted properly.
If you have any more questions about carbon monoxide, contact us today. Our experienced staff can answer whatever else you need to know about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.