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Lords Chimney - Chimney Sweep and Fireplace Vent Service
Lords Chimney - Chimney Sweep and Fireplace Vent Service

Our Company Blog

Damper Stops

Gas fireplaces make a beautiful addition to any home and are an increasingly sought after feature for homebuyers. Valued for their beauty, functionality, and ease of use, more and more homeowners are converting their existing open hearth fireplaces to gas. However, what many may not realize is that their new gas fireplace is missing a required component – the damper stop.

Although many homeowners may not know what a damper stop is, they are a necessary part of a gas fireplace. Unfortunately, many homes with gas fireplaces – especially those that were not professionally installed – may be missing this important piece.

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What is a damper stop?

A damper stop is a piece of metal designed to ensure that the flue of a gas fireplace always remains partially open. With a traditional hearth fireplace, the damper  is opened or closed when the fireplace is in use.

While gas fireplaces also need the flue to be open while in use, there is often no mechanism to close it; instead, the damper is simply left partially or fully open when the gas insert is installed. However, leaving the damper open at installation does not ensure that the damper will stay open forever. Strong winds, house settling, or other damage to the flue or damper can cause the damper to close.

Because of this, damper stops were designed to be installed as a way to keep the damper permanently open. Although they are required, some homes with gas fireplaces – especially those that were self-installed by previous homeowners or untrained installers – may not have them.

Dangers of a missing damper stop

A damper stop may seem like an insignificant piece of the gas fireplace. However, it is a specially designed safety precaution that can help protect your family, namely against carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas that is often called the “silent killer” because it is so difficult to detect. When the damper is open, carbon monoxide is able to safely travel up the chimney and out of your home. However, if the damper is closed this deadly gas can back up into your room, affecting the health and safety of you, your family, and your friends.

How to identify a damper stop

With a traditional hearth fireplace, it is easy to tell if the damper is open or closed; if smoke back flows into a room when the fireplace is in use, the damper is closed. Gas fireplaces, however, do not produce smoke, making it much more difficult to tell if the damper is open or closed.

Missing damper stops are most frequently identified during home inspections; however, they can be easily missed, leading homeowners to believe that there is nothing wrong with their gas insert or fireplace.

To make sure that your gas fireplace has a damper stop that is correctly installed, contact Lord’s Chimney to schedule a chimney inspection. Our trained chimney sweeps will be able to inspect your chimney and fireplace to determine whether or not your gas fireplace has a damper stop; if it is missing, one can be installed. To make sure your chimney is up to current safety standards, contact us today!

We Fix Fireplaces!

Chimney sweepings and inspections are an important part of chimney maintenance. However, they are just one of the many services we can offer our customers!

Many of our customers are surprised to find that, after discovering an issue during an inspection, we can repair the damage we discovered. We can offer our customers much more than just cleanings. Our wide range of chimney, masonry, and vent services allows us to better serve our customers and meet all of their chimney and fireplace needs.

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Fireplace rebuilding and restoration

If your fireplace or chimney is worn down after years of use, we can help restore it to its former glory. Our fireplace restoration services can fix every part of your chimney, from the chimney cap at the top all the way to the firebox at the bottom.

We offer a wide variety of masonry services including tuckpointing, crown rebuilding and repair, and firebox rebuilding and repair. Our highly skilled masons will get the job done with high levels of service and craftsmanship, creating a repair that will last for years to come.

Prefabricated fireplaces and chimneys

In addition to our range of repairs for masonry chimneys, we also repair prefabricated chimneys and fireplaces. Our staff can help ensure that your prefabricated fireplace maintains Underwriter’s Laboratory tested parts so that it can maintain its UL safety listing.

Animal entry

When animals find a way into a chimney, it can be extremely frustrating for the homeowners and potentially deadly for the animals themselves. At Lord’s Chimney, we are experts at safely removing animals along with their nesting materials. We can also prevent the animals from coming back by repairing or replacing a faulty chimney cap, which is most often the site of animal entry.

Gas fireplaces and inserts

For homeowners looking to make the transition from wood to gas as their fuel source, we sell and install a wide variety of high quality gas inserts and logs. Gas fireplaces offer homeowners the look and feel of a wood burning fire with the added convenience of being able to start a fire with the push of a button.

Dryer services

In addition to our chimney services, we can also clean and install dryer vents. Even if you regularly clean your lint trap, lint can still accumulate in your dryer vents and hoses over time. This lint is extremely flammable and can be accidentally ignited by the heat from your dryer. Clogged dryer vents cause thousands of house fires each year, leading to millions of dollars in property damage.

Having your dryer vents cleaned is the best way to prevent these kinds of house fires from starting. Clean dryer vents can also help your dryer run more efficiently, wasting less energy and resulting in dryer clothes after each load. In addition to cleaning dryer vents, we are also experts at dryer vent installation and rerouting.

We can do it all!

At Lord’s Chimney, we have been proudly providing the greater Houston area with chimney, fireplace, masonry, and vent services for the past decade. If you are experiencing chimney issues, rest assured that the same company you trust to clean your chimney can also repair it. Contact us today and let us tell you all the ways we can fix your fireplace!

Gas Appliance Barrier Screens

Direct vent gas fireplaces have grown in popularity in recent years. With more realistic looking flames, a multitude of style options, and incredible ease of use, gas fireplaces allow families to enjoy the ambiance and warmth of a fire without the hassle and work associated with wood.

While gas fireplaces are more convenient and easy to use, they still have safety risks associated with them. A primary concern with gas fireplaces – especially in families with young children or pets – is the risk of burns associated with the hot glass fronts of the fireplace units.

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New fireplace safety standards

Beginning on January 1, 2015, all newly manufactured gas fireplaces and stoves with glass fronts will be required to include an installed protective barrier. This will apply to all appliances that have a glass surface temperature of 172 degrees or higher when in use.

“While gas fireplaces, stoves and inserts are a great asset to any home, the glass can become very hot during operation and stay hot long afterwards, creating a potential burn hazard,” said Hearth, Patio, and Barbeque Association president Jack Goldman. “In the past several years, there have been reports of burns involving young children and others who may not been aware of the potential risk of touching the hot glass on gas fireplaces, inserts and stoves. While we believe these incidents are few, even one is too many. We believe the new safety standard will provide greater protection to young children and others with special needs.”

This new standard was originally approved in 2012 by the American National Standards Institute. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission worked with the fireplace and hearth industry to implement the standard in an effort to protect families from accidental burns. The standard will apply to all units manufactured after January 1, 2015. Retailers may continue to sell units manufactured before this date that do not meet the new safety standards.

Safety tips for families

If you have an existing gas appliance, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself and your family from accidental burns. These common sense safety tips can help keep everyone in your home safe.

  • Don’t leave children or pets unattended in front of a fireplace that is in use or has been turned off
  • Teach children about fireplace safety and to never touch the glass of the fireplace
  • Keep the remote control of the fireplace out of reach to prevent it from being accidentally turned on
  • Install a switch lock to prevent children from turning on any gas appliances

Additional safety products

There are a number of safety products available to homeowners who already own gas appliances. Protective barriers or screens are the easiest and most common safety precaution. Safety screens come in a variety of styles and can be attached directly to the front of the fireplace or left as freestanding screens. Likewise, baby gates or barriers can be used to keep children and pets away from the fireplace when it is in use.

When installing aftermarket screens directly to the front of your hearth, please be aware that they may change the functionality of your fireplace. Check with a fireplace professional before installing something directly to the fireplace.

If you have questions about making your gas appliance safer, contact Lord’s Chimney today. Our expert staff is highly trained and ready to make sure you can enjoy your gas fireplace while keeping your family safe.

Proper Ash Removal

A roaring fire can be a welcome sight during the cold months of winter. To keep their fireplaces running properly, homeowners know to have their chimneys swept and inspected each year. However, few pay much attention to what they do with the byproducts of their wood burning fires – the ashes.

Regular ash disposal can improve the efficiency of your fireplace, and properly disposing of ashes can prevent accidental fires. Rather than seeing the measures needed to properly remove ashes as an inconvenience, homeowners should instead see it as taking steps to ensure their family’s safety.

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How can ashes be dangerous?

While ashes themselves pose little to no threat to you or your family’s safety, it’s what they can keep hidden that are the real danger. Small coals and embers can lay dormant when surrounded by ash, only to ignite later on. According to forestry officials, “Wood ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days.” Because of this, all ashes should be treated with caution, especially those from recently extinguished fires.

Improper ash removal methods

Unfortunately, many of the most common methods of ash removal are also the most unsafe. Ashes should never be mixed with garbage or trash; this even includes putting cold ashes into regular trash cans or dumpsters. Likewise, ashes should never be transported in cardboard boxes, paper bags, or other combustible containers. Lastly, vacuums should not be used to clean up ashes unless they have a HEPA filter. Without an appropriate filter to prevent dust particles from becoming airborne, even shop vacuums may leave carpets, walls, and other furnishings coated with a fine layer of dust.

Proper ash removal

The first and most important step in ash removal is ensuring that there are no remaining hot coals or embers in the ashes. This can often be achieved by letting a fire extinguish naturally overnight and stirring the ashes the next morning to ensure there are no remaining hot spots or pockets of heat. Ashes can then be transferred into a specially designed metal ash container that has a tight fitting lid. Ash containers should never be stored indoors, in garages or sheds, or near combustible materials in case there any remaining coals or embers.

Alternative uses of ashes

After using your wood burning fireplace all winter long, you may find yourself with a surplus of ashes. Luckily, there are several alternative ways that ashes can be used around the home. Two of the most popular uses for ashes are in the garden: as a fertilizer or as a bug repellant.

As a fertilizer, small amounts of ash can be used on garden plots or in compost piles. Ash “improves root health and strengthens the very cellular structure of plants, helping them resist all kinds of stresses,” says Julia Gaskin. Likewise, when sprinkled around the edges of a garden plot or flower bed ashes can serve as a natural repellent for slugs and snails.

Lastly, ashes can be sprinkled on icy driveways or sidewalks as an alternative to salt or gravel to prevent slipping. However, homeowners and their guests should take special care to wipe the soles of their shoes off after walking on an ashy path. If not, you may accidentally track dirty footprints throughout the house!

Properly removing and disposing of ashes can protect your family against accidental accidents or fires, and ashes can also have a surprising number of uses around the home. If you have questions about ash disposal or how to help your wood burning fireplace burn more efficiently, contact Lord’s Chimney today!

How Winter Weather Affects Your Chimney

During the cold winter months, many families use their fireplaces as a gathering place, sitting together and enjoying the warm flames. But even as your fireplace is keeping you warm inside, the cold temperatures and winter weather could be damaging your chimney outside.

Winter weather conditions are notorious for destroying chimneys and causing existing damage to deteriorate even faster. Snow, ice, and freezing rain can wreak havoc on a chimney system, even one that is in seemingly good condition. Because of this, it is extremely important get a chimney sweep and inspection before the weather gets any colder. This ensures that your fireplace and chimney are safe to use and have not been damaged during the past year.

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Water damage

The main way that chimneys are damaged during the winter months is due to water damage. If water is able to enter a chimney structure, it can cause a multitude of issues including rusting pieces of the flue to damaging the masonry. Pinpointing how water is entering a chimney can often be difficult as there are many different places that can cause leaks. The trained technicians at Lord’s Chimney are leak resolution experts who can find and fix the water entry before it causes further damage.
Below are three of the most common causes of water entry in a chimney system:

Damaged chimney cap: Chimney caps cover the top of the chimney itself, keeping the water from rain, sleet, and snow from getting into a chimney. Improperly installed, ill-fitting chimney caps, or damaged chimney caps can allow water to enter the fireplace system. Damage to the chimney cap is often difficult to spot because they cannot be seen from the street.

Leaky flashing: Flashing is the metal band that connects the chimney to the roof structure. Nail holes, loose caulking, poor materials, or general wear and tear can all cause flashing to lose its waterproof seal. Damaged flashing can cause damage to both the chimney and the roof, which is why it is vital that it is properly installed and maintained.

Masonry damage: Although bricks are made to be porous, absorbing too much water can be detrimental. During the freeze/thaw cycle, water in the brick expands as it freezes, causing additional cracks and damage. As it thaws, this creates more space for additional water entry and the cycle continues, eventually causing the brick to break apart and crumble.

Preventing chimney damage

The best way to prevent damage to your chimney during the winter months is through preventative maintenance. An annual sweep and inspection allows any issues to be spotted and resolved before they become major problems. This can save both time and money as well as preserve the safety and structure of your safety.

Lord’s chimney can also apply a special waterproofing to bricks and mortar. The ChimneySaver sealant retains the porous quality of the bricks, letting toxic gasses pass through without letting moisture in. ChimneySaver also allows trapped moisture to evaporate, preventing deterioration, freeze/thaw damage, and the need for expensive masonry reconstruction.

If you have questions about the health of your chimney system, need to schedule an annual sweep and inspection, or would like more information on ChimneySaver waterproofing, contact Lord’s Chimney today!