Chimney Blog February 2017

Enjoy your Fireplace Safely

Posted On: February 15, 2017

Whether you’re going over the river and through the woods or just staying at home this holiday season, you want that fireplace stoked up and ready for use. Nothing warms the bones better after a night of sledding or ice skating than a glass of hot chocolate and a cozy fire. We’d like to pass along some tips that will help you enjoy that fire.

First off, don’t use your fireplace for longer than about five hours. It gets hot and it really isn’t designed to heat your home. If you have a glass front, keep it open while the fire is going, but always keep the spark screen in front of it. When you keep the glass doors open it allows the air to be drawn up into the chimney and helps to cool it.

Before you make a fire, always light a match and put it over the log holder. Blow out the flame. It should start to grow up in the direction of the chimney, and out. If it doesn’t, you have a blockage or the damper is closed. Either way, making a fire will cause you a problem. Check the damper and if it was closed, open it and try again. If it still doesn’t work – no fire for you until you get a professional in.

Try to get a non-flammable rug to place in front of the fireplace so if sparks to get out they will land somewhere safe. Whatever you do, always use the fireplace tools to move your burning logs around. The tools are there for more than decoration. When you decide to remove the ashes, remember that coals can remain hot for several days. When you decide to clean the ashes, don’t use a vacuum cleaner and scoop the ash into a metal container in case there are still some hot embers. Clean that firebox once a week during the season, but leave a thin layer of ash, about an inch, for insulation and to help the fire heat faster. To keep your fireplace looking grand, if you have glass doors that have soot buildup, mix a cup of vinegar with a gallon of water, spray it on and wipe it with newspaper.

To keep your brass fireplace utensils shiny and looking their best, spruce them up with a toothbrush and some Worcestershire sauce. Finally, we get to the hearth. If you have a slate hearth, wash it, dry it and coat it with lemon oil for a lovely shine. If it’s brick, your local fireplace shop should have a brick cleaner that will work just fine.

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Do I Need A Chimney Liner

Posted On: February 13, 2017
Liner Replacement

Do I Need a Chimney Liner?

In a word, yes. Of course you need a chimney liner. If you had to ask that question, a little lesson is in order. If your neighborhood chimney sweep flew up the flue and came down declaring you needed a new liner, you want to make an informed decision. To make that informed decision you need information. You can hardly be expected to decide if you need something if you don’t know what purpose the something serves.

A chimney liner protects the interior of your chimney from corrosion, ensures that the smoke and fumes from your heating systems exits your home unrestricted. They also serve to reduce the temperature of the chimney while it’s being used. The chimney sleeve runs from the top of your furnace to the bottom and it is not only important that it is intact, but that it's the correct material for the fuel you are burning, and that it is the right size for your chimney. The chimney must be warm to create the updraft needed for the smoke to rise through it. The liner keeps the exterior of the chimney cooler, but helps to warm the interior. If the liner is too small or too large, it won’t create sufficient updraft and smoke or fumes could enter your home.

There are many reasons you may need a new liner aside from age. Liners can be damaged by lightning strikes, fireplace fires, or when your foundation settles. If you bought an older home, it may have settled by the time you purchased it, but you have no way of knowing how well the prior owners had maintained it, unless you asked. Without this knowledge, you could very well need a new liner. If the liner is damaged, water and flue gases can reach the mortar joints. They will deteriorate over time and will have to be replaced. You also increase your risk of a chimney fire.

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