Frequently Asked Questions
Experience and education is the cornerstone of diagnosis and remedy. Certified companies must pass an industry specific test that will qualify their expertise. Warrantees can be void if not properly installed. Certified companies give piece of mind. National guidelines and Fire Protection agency guidelines make up a good portion of the testing.
If you are using the chimney to vent a fireplace, wood, coal or pellet stove, gas or oil appliance, the flue should be inspected and cleaned once a year. A sudden rise in temperatures in the flue associated with a chimney fire is often the main cause of tiles cracking. Burning wood gives off smoke that passes through the venting system then cools and solidifies causing creosote. A common problem is creosote, a chemical substance formed from the burning of wood, which builds up inside the chimney. It is a potential fire hazard and the primary fuel in most chimney fires. A chimney fire can create deadly gases, and if it gets hot enough, the fire can spread. Creosote and soot reduce the draft and diminish the efficiency of the system. Annual chimney inspection by a CSIA chimney sweep is a modest investment that can reduce the danger of chimney fires or carbon monoxide poisoning. As a loose guideline you should have the chimney swept after each cord of wood used. An inspection should be done prior to buying a home.
All of our chimney sweeps come with a 21-point inspection, which will help identify any problems or potential concerns with your system. A chimney vacuum is used to make sure all particles and dust stay contained and controlled. Chimney sweeping is done with different types of brushes. A manual cleaning, with special equipment, may be needed to remove creosote buildup. Our equipment is specifically designed for the type of chimney we are servicing whether it is a large masonry fireplace, furnace flue or metal factory built chimney system. A camera may be used to get better visual on a potential concern. An inspection includes but may not be limited to the firebox, cap, crown, liner, damper, windows, screens, brick, mortar joints, and more. Disclosure of the findings will be given on the inspection report. If further work is needed on the chimney we will give you the details and approximate cost.
A chimney cap is a device that attaches to the top of a chimney. Its purpose is to protect the inside of the chimney from the elements. Most chimney caps also have spark arrestor screens designed to contain sparks and cinders, and to keep animals out. Multi-flue chimney caps are designed to protect the inside of the chimney and the mortar crown area on top of the chimney as well. It keeps rain, snow, and leaves out. It protects against animal nests and natural debris falling in the opening.
A fireplace damper, usually located in the throat of a masonry chimney just above the firebox, is a device that is meant to seal your fireplace shut when it is not in use. Why do most fireplace dampers leak? Most fireplace dampers form a metal to metal seal which even when new allows air to leak through. Over time, as the metal plates warp due to the effects of heat and moisture, the seal worsens and more and more warm air escapes up the chimney even when the damper is closed.
These dampers seal with a silicone rubber gasket. When you close these dampers warm air is sealed in and cold air is sealed out. This tight-sealing gasket means these dampers will reduce unwanted heat loss by 90%. And, unlike replacement throat dampers, these dampers have a lifetime warranty. They are installed on the top of the chimney. These dampers can save you hundreds of dollars a year on energy.
Have it inspected by a qualified company. It may need to be replaced. A chase cover sometimes referred to as a chase top or flashing, is a metal covering designed to keep things like rain, snow, and animals from entering a home via the chimney chase (or opening). Designed to fit around your round metal chimney, the chase covers the entire top of your chimney. Used frequently to cover chimney chase surrounds, it fits over the top of the chimney.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 211 requires that chimney liners be replaced if they are cracked, broken, or missing. Cracked clay liner tiles and the deterioration of mortar joints between liner tiles can lead to the leakage of flue gasses into the interior of the house. Those flue gasses contain carbon monoxide, a deadly, odorless, colorless gas. Cracks in your chimney liner can also cause dangerous heat transfer to combustible material surrounding your chimney. Both situations can compromise the health and safety of your family.
The most economical and popular option is to replace the original clay liner with a stainless steel relining pipe. This can be either a rigid or flexible piece of stainless steel pipe that is insulated and inserted into your chimney. Since there may be several difficult and complex steps to this process, it should always be done by a qualified chimney professional.
When upgrading an older gas furnace to a new ultra-high efficiency model that uses direct venting (No Chimney) it is important to remember to install an aluminum chimney liner in the existing masonry chimney if a water heater is going to be left venting into the chimney. Today's high efficiency gas furnaces can be 25% more efficient then the furnaces of just 20 years ago. Much of that added efficiency is achieved by keeping the heat in the furnace and not allowing it to escape up the chimney. This reduces the flue gas temperature, requiring a smaller flue to create proper draft. Existing masonry chimneys are most often too large to create the proper draft required for today's high efficient gas furnaces and water heaters.
This is a picture of a clay chimney flue used to vent a natural gas furnace. Notice the severe deterioration of the clay lining. This is caused because the flue temperatures leaving the furnace are not hot enough to keep the large masonry flue temperature above its dew point. Hot exhaust gases venting into the chimney are cooled inside the chimney. The exhaust gases then turn into a liquid when it passes by the surface of the chimney walls. This can cause extensive damage if the flue is not sized correctly.
Water destroys masonry. To avoid these issues the crown should have an overhang on all sides for water run off. Many chimneys built today, do not overhang the chimney on all sides (these are called washes). This causes failure of brick and mortar on the chimney, and can also lead to water staining in the living quarters.