Frequently asked questions
Why do chimneys need to be regularly inspected and cleaning?
When wood burns, it creates a substance called creosote, which builds up on the walls of the chimney over time. Because creosote is flammable, it must be removed to avoid a chimney fire.
Another major cause of chimney deterioration is rainwater penetration damage.
Regular inspections by certified professionals are important for your chimney. It’s the same as how you need regular physical examinations by a physician or regular visits to a dentist. It is crucial to catch potentially hazardous conditions as early as possible!
The National Fire Protection Association recommends an annual inspection as well as cleaning when necessary.
As CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, we can give you sound advice concerning chimney servicing, usage, and repair.
What causes creosote buildup?
The degree and severity of creosote vary. It can be a non-removable tar-like substance or a fine powder.
Creosote is created due to the incomplete combustion of firewood, which is caused by low-fire temperatures. Apart from intentionally burning wood at low heat, the reasons for low-fire temperatures include burning unseasoned, soft, or wet firewood. Another cause is if you close the combustion air supply to the fireplace before the wood is consumed
What are unseasoned, wet, and soft firewood?
Unseasoned firewood is the result when the natural moisture in the log did not evaporate. For this process to happen, the log has to be split into halves or quarters and allowed to sit for 6 months to a year.
Wet firewood is wood that was stored outside. The wood has absorbed moisture from outside elements such as rain, snowfall, and humidity. The ideal moisture content for firewood is between 15% and 25%.
Softwood is used to describe certain wood types that are less dense than other kinds of firewood.
How can I tell if the firewood is properly seasoned?
The following are some few, easy-to-detect characteristics of properly seasoned firewood:
•The wood appears discolored or gray
•The wood has natural cracks coming from the center to the outside of the log
•The wood does not have a freshly cut look
What kind of wood is good to burn?
Oak, ash, cherry, hackberry, mulberry, and other types of hardwoods are good to burn in your fireplace. All kinds of wood have the same Btu potential per pound.
Hardwoods are denser than softwoods. This means that hardwoods have less airspace in between the wood cells. Therefore, there is more wood to burn in a piece of hardwood than in a piece of softwood.
The rule of thumb is that a tree is considered a hardwood if it produces a fruit or a berry. Remember that you must never burn driftwood in a wood-burning stove or a fireplace. Driftwood has a high salt content, and this may cause corrosion or damage to your system.
Are the logs I see for sale at the supermarkets, convenience stores, and hardware stores good to burn?
Logs such as Duraflame can be burned in a fireplace because they have been confirmed to burn cleaner than regular firewood. These logs are usually made from compressed sawdust, paraffin wax, and copper sulfate.
Although these logs burn cleaner, some fireplace users do not like the odor that the wax creates. Note that you must never burn more than one of these logs at a time in a fireplace. Additionally, never burn these logs in a wood-burning stove.
Is my chimney clogged if it smokes into my home?
Generally speaking, no. The following are some of the most common causes for smoke backing up into the home:
The damper is not locked in the fully open position
The house has a negative pressure problem
The walls of the chimney are cold, which stops the smoke from rising properly
The wood is unseasoned, wet, or soft and cannot create enough heat to make the smoke rise properly into the chimney
How can I keep this from happening?
Before starting the fire, make sure the damper is locked open. Moreover, ensure that you are using seasoned firewood.
If the chimney walls are cold, set light to a piece of loosely rolled newspaper and put it close to the damper. This will push heat into the chimney and create the proper draft.
Before you add big logs, start your fire with kindling. Kindling are small pieces of wood and twigs.
Let CSIA-certified chimney sweep perform an annual inspection on your chimney!
Is there anything else I can do to burn wood more safely?
Yes. Burning wood is more than just throwing anything into your fireplace and striking a match.
1.Many common household items can create toxic fumes when burned. Never burn trash or garbage, treated lumber, painted lumber, construction scraps, your Christmas tree, or large amounts of paper in your fireplace. Burning only wood in your fireplace is always best. For more information on the proper wood burning methods, we encourage you to visit your local library.
2.Make sure you always wear protective gloves when you are around your fireplace. Never place anything on the hearth area as it may catch fire from radiated heat.
3.When you remove the ashes from your fireplace, store them inside a metal container. Place the container outside your home, on a non-combustible surface such as metal or concrete and away from a combustible wall. Ashes can remain hot and cause a fire even when several days have passed after you removed them.
What does a chimney cleaning consist of?
As CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, we follow a six-step cleaning process in which we clean the entire system from the fireplace up including the smoke chamber, smoke shelf, firebox, and flue. Then, we check the entire system for any visible problems.
Occasionally, we use our Chim-Scan Video Interior Evaluation System to assess the interior of the system.
Do you clean out ashpits?
No. Cleaning the ashpits is considered as a maintenance responsibility of the homeowner.
Will cleaning my chimney get dust all over my house?
Absolutely not! Our team uses a professional, heavy-duty vacuum system that is specifically designed for dust control. We assure you that there will be no dust. You have our personal guarantee that we will not leave a mess in your home.
How often do I need to have my chimney cleaned?
You should have your chimney checked after 1/2 cord (a rick) to 1 cord of wood has been burned in your system. A cord of wood is 4' high x 8' wide x 2' deep. A rick of wood is half that amount.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys should be inspected annually and cleaned when necessary.
How long does it take to sweep a chimney?
Depending on the chimney type and construction of the system, a typical sweeping may take from 40 minutes to an hour.
Can repairs be completed at the time of sweeping?
It depends on the type of repair you need as well as our schedule.
What is the difference between a factory-built fireplace and a masonry fireplace?
Factory-built fireplaces are made in a factory and set up on-site from UL-listed components. On the other hand, a masonry chimney is built on-site by brick masons.
A factory-built chimney has a metal flue pipe system that enables it to vent smoke out of the house. It is usually enclosed in a wooden chase covered by a metal cap, which prevents water, and provided with a termination cap on top.
All factory-built fireplaces are UL-listed. They are smaller than masonry chimneys, and some have blowers built in.
A masonry chimney is created on-site using mortar, brick, and clay flue tiles for liners. This type is more costly to build and maintain.
Most masonry chimneys do not have chimney caps installed. This means water, leaves, and animals can get inside the structure and, sometimes, inside your home.
If a factory-built fireplace is damaged, it can be removed and replaced with a new unit. Replacing it would cost less than replacing a masonry system.
However, factory-built fireplaces are not any safer than masonry fireplaces. The two are simply different. Both types of fireplaces can be a source of warmth and can be enjoyed by you and your family.
When is the best time to reline an oil-fired appliance chimney?
The best time to clean an oil chimney is after the heating season, which is during springtime. During winter, your oil furnace is subjected to long running cycles. This makes your furnace produce oil soot that may stick to the sides of the chimney.
If the metal chimney is directly above the appliance, the soot deposits will fall to the base of a masonry chimney or directly on the top of the oil furnace. This will restrict the flow of flue gases, which consist mainly of nitrogen, water vapor, and carbon monoxide.
Combustion also produces carbon monoxide, which is a dangerous gas when not vented properly. When the chimney base is not properly cleaned, the carbon monoxide will just flow back into the house instead of going up the chimney.
Many homeowners have a big misconception that the oil service company takes care of their chimneys. The oil burner company may brush out the connector pipes or shovel out the base of a brick chimney, but they will not clean the chimney.
Several oil furnace service men tell homeowners that their chimneys are in good condition without even inspecting the entire chimney. A chimney inspection includes going to the roof and checking the interior as well as the exterior masonry (if applicable), chimney cap, flashing, etc.
According to the National Fire Protection Assoc. 211 codes, chimneys should be inspected annually and cleaned when needed. An oil service man services a furnace annually, and the same should be done to a chimney system.
Furthermore, numerous homeowners are not aware that the chimney’s interior will decay and break down when not maintained. This is similar to how neglecting your teeth and not having them checked once a year may result in cavities. It is also like failing to change your car’s motor oil after every 50,000 miles, which may cause something in the motor to break.
As stated earlier, soot is the incomplete product of combustion. Soot contains carbon and sulfur. When mixed with rain water (because of a missing rain cap) or moisture from the flue gases, sulfur is absorbed into the flue tile. This will start a deteriorating process called spalling or flaking.
Like tartar on teeth, soot deposits can be removed with annual brushing. Brushing can also keep the deterioration process to a minimum.
The interior lining in metal chimneys is made from stainless steel, which will not rust but will corrode from the sulfuric acid reaction of the oil soot. The corrosion makes tiny pinholes that will ruin the liner’s integrity. The liner will not be able to hold the combustion’s by-products.
If a masonry chimney’s clay lining flakes or a metal chimney’s interior corrodes, heat and flue gases will not be contained. This creates a fire and health hazard.
Let one of our CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep™ perform an annual inspection and cleaning. Our chimney sweep will find all of the problems and recommend corrective actions.
When our sweep arrives at your home, he will set up his equipment such as the vacuum. Then, he will remove and check the connector pipes, which are the pipes from the oil furnace to the chimney. Trust that he will be careful not to spill soot into your home.
Our sweep will clean and close off the chimney connector so that no soot will enter your home when the chimney has been swept.
He will inspect the exterior, sweep the chimney, and inspect that interior for deterioration and soundness. After he completes the exterior work, he will return inside and remove the soot that was brushed down the chimney. The connect pipes will be reinstalled. Lastly, he will restart the furnace and check for proper chimney draft.