The chimney liner of a fireplace is one of the most critical components of the operating system. According to the CSIA, problems in your chimney’s flue can present serious risks to your home and family, as it is no longer able to perform its primary function: to safely contain and vent the products of combustion to the outside of your home.
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That work all has some common ground, though: We’re caring for venting systems to help our clients enjoy safer and more efficient venting, better appliance performance and cleaner air.
Your Chimney isn’t the Only System Affecting Your Air Quality
We talk a lot about the negative effects of deferred maintenance on a chimney system, because it’s important to know what your chimney needs to function at its highest levels of efficiency and safety. A chimney that isn’t regularly swept and regularly inspected can result in improper venting, an increased chance of a fire hazard, even toxic carbon monoxide leaking into your living area.
Like your fireplace or stove, your dryer is a heating appliance. And like your chimney, your dryer vent system is working to vent the dangerous byproducts coming from that appliance.
Over time, your chimney develops creosote deposits that can hinder its ability to vent properly. In your dryer vents, lint creates a similar potential for blockage.
Without regular dryer vent cleaning, lint can build up in your vents and begin to constrict the airflow, allowing heat to build up to dangerous levels, and creating the potential for a carbon monoxide leak. Since carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, it can be an invisible cause of illness — even death. (Which is why we also stress the importance of having a properly functioning carbon monoxide detector installed in your home.)
Lords Chimney technicians use state-of-the-art tools to properly clean your dryer vents and ensure complete and thorough results — we use video cameras to make sure those vents are cleared of lint, and gauges to check for proper air flow. And proper airflow means that dangerous byproducts like carbon monoxide are moving through the vent and out of your home, not into your living space.
If you have any concerns about the air quality in your home — related to your chimney or dryer vents — Lords Chimney can help. Give us a call to make an appointment with our CSIA-certified technicians!
Before we talk about firebox replacement , let’s get into what a firebox is. When you stack up your wood and build your fire in your fireplace, the area that’s holding that fire — fittingly, shaped a lot like a box — is what we refer to as the firebox.
Whether you have a masonry or factory-built fireplace, that firebox was made with materials that were designed to hold up to years of high heat (and since the firebox really does bear the brunt of the heat of your fire, they need to be built that way). Masonry fireboxes are constructed out of firebrick, and those firebricks are made with a refractory material that’s highly resilient when exposed to extreme temperatures. Factory-built or prefabricated fireplaces are largely built out of metal, but the firebox itself is bolstered by refractory panels on the bottom and sides — which also offer that durability and strength when faced with the high temperatures of repeated fires.
Why Would I Need To Replace A Firebox?
As strong as fireboxes are designed to be, over time, it’s not unusual for damage to occur. The type of damage will differ, depending on your individual use, circumstances, the firebox’s construction and other factors, but we see a few common problems.
Sometimes masonry fireboxes weren’t built correctly (with older ones, it’s not uncommon to see non-refractory mortar that just isn’t equipped to last under that abuse). Sometimes leaky chimneys allow water to get into the firebox, and as moisture combines with creosote, acids start to wear at the masonry — particularly the joints. If the damage is serious, you may notice it as you go to build a fire. But more likely, it’ll take professional eyes to see a problem in your firebox — and firebox problems can quickly become fire hazards, so that underlines why annual chimney inspections are so important.
Most often, firebox refractory panels just begin to wear and abrade, and cracks start to develop either in the panel itself or around the joints between panels. A good rule of thumb is generally to seek repairs or replacement when cracks reach the thickness of a nickel.
The repair approach will depend, too, on the individual circumstances of the firebox and its damage, and Lords Chimney technicians will fully inspect yours to recommend the best course of action. Sometimes refractory panels can be replaced to repair a factory-built firebox. Sometimes the firebox has reached the end of its service life, and the unit needs to be replaced. We may be able to repair damaged mortar joints in a masonry firebox, or it may need to be rebuilt. But rest assured, when you have Lords Chimney come out to take care of your firebox problem, your fireplace will get the attention it needs, and you’ll get back the heating appliance you love, returned to the levels of performance and safety you expect.
If you have any questions about fireboxes — or your firebox, specifically — we’re always here to help. Just give Lords Chimney a call!
Everything You Need to Know About Creosote
What is Creosote?
Creosote is a chemical byproduct that is produced after the distillation of tar. So when wood is burned, creosote is produced. It is known for its preservative properties and for being anti-septic. There are basically two types of creosote; the wood-tar, and the coal-tar. The wood-tar creosote, being less toxic, is commonly used in meat preservation, wood treatment and for medicinal purposes. When used medicinally, it is commonly utilized as an astringent, anesthetic, expectorant, laxative and anti-septic. The coal-tar creosote is more commonly used in wood preservation because of its toxic properties.
Creosote in Chimney
There are several stages that the creosote in your chimney that you may experience. First is its’ soot: a flaky form that is easy to remove leaving the flue walls unobstructed. Second: the stage where it leaves brittle and hard deposits that are a bit more difficult to remove. The third is the glazed stage where it becomes dangerous and much more difficult to remove. Once you notice the dense, dark and shiny tar-like appearance, then this would indicate that the creosote has reached its glazed stage. There will always be some level of creosote in your chimney – as it is a natural byproduct of burning, but it doesn’t need to be left to accumulate.
The longer creosote is ignored…the greater the possible danger. Creosote is highly flammable and is a leading cause of chimney fires. You may see products, such as a log that is supposed to remove creosote while burning. Not only is this difficult to gauge in its effectiveness, it may also cause chunks of creosote to fall down your flue and get stuck along the way. Because of the fire risk, you should leave creosote removal to a professional.
To avoid higher risk for a catastrophe, don’t wait for your chimney to reach a disastrous level of creosote build-up. It is best to schedule regular chimney inspections and sweeping on an annual basis. This way you know you are not letting the buildup become a hazard. This also prolongs your chimney’s lifespan.
We hope that this has been helpful and sufficient in answering your questions about creosote. So now you are fully equipped with the knowledge to better protect and improve your home. If you have a chimney, make sure to have it checked regularly and make it a habit to schedule a regular inspection and sweeping by a chimney professional.
Knowing What is Inside of Your Chimney
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
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.