Chimney Blog January 2018

Does Your Fireplace And It's Chimney Leave Your Home Cold and Damp?

Posted On: January 29, 2018

That Can Be Fixed!

A fireplace is a joyous addition to your home. It brings warmth and a cozy ambiance, and can even help save on your heating bills. It has few parts and is simple to maintain, but if something goes wrong, you should address it directly. Aside from the danger of fire, a fireplace that has components that are dirty, broken or in poor working condition, can cause cold and dampness to enter your home.

Your fireplace is composed of a firebox, where the firewood is burned, a chimney, where the flue is located, and the damper which controls the amount of outside air that can get into your home. The damper is contained in the flue, which is simply a chute for the smoke to escape.

When your fireplace is working properly, you start the fire and the smoke goes up the flue and out of your home. But if something isn’t working properly, cold air can enter your home and bring with it the dampness from outside.

If you start your fire and the smoke comes in your home, first check to see that the damper is fully open. Many people think that if they partially close the damper, it will heat the house better, but that isn’t true. The damper must be fully open for the fireplace to work properly.

If you feel cold air or damp air coming from your fireplace when you don’t have a fire going, it could be that you forgot to close the damper after the last use. The damper is a flap that sits inside the flue. Its purpose is to prevent cold air from entering your home and to control the intensity of the fire in your fireplace by limiting the amount of oxygen that gets to your fire.

If the chimney breast is damp, you could have other issues. There could be a crack or split in your chimney stack mortar that is allowing moisture to get into your home. You could have a chimney pot that is blocked. If the chimney pot gets blocked, it will create condensation that will roll down the chimney stack. You may notice that the base of the chimney breast is damp. If this is the case, the pot needs to be unblocked, or, to prevent this from happening in the future, you may want to install a ventilated cap.

Either way, whatever the problem, a chimney professional can handle the problem and return your fireplace to good working order. 

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How to Prevent Snow and Ice From Damaging Your Chimney

Posted On: January 22, 2018

Winter has arrived and with it comes the tasks that make homeowners cheer when Spring finally comes. Aside from weatherizing your home, you have snow removal and salt that has to get spread. But there is a task that is terribly important and many homeowners rarely think about it. That task is protecting your chimney.

Right now, you’re probably wondering what we’re talking about. How can you protect your chimney and why should you even have to? It’s up there and really there isn’t much you can do about it. Well, that’s actually not true.

Snow and Ice

When you let snow build up on your roof, it eventually can block the chimney and the vents. If this happens, you may have a huge problem on your hands. Blocked vents can cause carbon monoxide to seep into your home and it is colorless and odorless. It is a silent killer.

If your chimney is blocked, and you light your fireplace, you could end up with not only a carbon monoxide problem but you could possibly cause a fire. Snow should not be allowed to accumulate on your roof to any depth.

One more problem you could have is the damage that can be done when the snow melts. This is not as big an issue if your chimney is in the center of your house, but if it is on the low side of your house you could end up with leaks in your home if there are any cracks in the mortar or the flashing is deteriorated.

What Do I Do?

If you have a pitched roof you should use a snow rake to get the snow from your roof. Keep in mind, however, that this is a labor-intensive job and if you don’t know what you’re doing you could end up damaging your roof which will cause you more problems. It’s better to get a professional to take care of any mounds of snow you may have.

To protect your chimney from potential leaks from runoff, you should install a chimney cricket. This is a plywood piece, covered with roofing material, specifically designed for your roof, that sits in front of your chimney and diverts the water as it rolls down.

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Collapsed Chimney Liner Blamed For Carbon Monoxide Incident

Posted On: January 09, 2018

Serious harm or even death can result from carbon monoxide poisoning. To make sure this does not happen, have your chimney and fireplace serviced. Getting your boiler flue cleaned annually can help avoid accidents related to carbon monoxide. Also, periodically check to see if your carbon monoxide detector is working, as it only takes a few seconds. It can help save lives and avoid tragic stories, like this one from New Jersey where a 13-year-old girl died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Initially, authorities believed the accident was due to a space heater that the family was using, but after an investigation of the incident another conclusion was determined. The City Administration wrote is a statement that "a clay liner within the chimney at the multi-family dwelling collapsed. This obstructed the flow of carbon monoxide exhaust from building, and caused high levels of carbon monoxide to be released into the apartment."

In fact, the carbon monoxide levels were so high that the 27 police officers who came to the building to help had to be treated for exposure to carbon monoxide. Three people from the apartment building remain in critical condition. 

Sadly, this sort of tragic incident could have been avoided it the building underwent routine chimney sweeps and inspections. The collapsing liner could have been spotted and rebuilt before any issue with the carbon monoxide surfaced. And to make matters worse, the carbon monoxide detector was not operating properly at the time of the incident. The owner of the building believes the residents had removed the batteries, but periodically checking the instrument could have avoided this instance entirely. 

"For a $50 detector, a life could have been saved," one officer said. Don't be careless with the carbon monoxide detector at your home and remember to periodically check it.

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