A chimney becomes the elemental source of comfort with the advent of winter. It is natural to use them frequently in a week to fight away spine-chilling cold. But every appliance that we use demands maintenance, so does the open hearth fireplace, insert and the chimney. Repeated use of chimneys, without cleaning out the combustion by-products will not reduce the efficiency of your heating system but also endanger your life.
How an Unclean Chimney Can Become Life Threatening
- The Damaging Resultants
When you use fuel to burn and ease your cold with heat energy, a lot of factors also get produced which aren’t exactly useful. Whether you burn coal, oil, wood or gas, every type raises up certain by-products, formed as a result of incomplete combustion. Such corrosive gases and creosote degrade the quality of a chimney and make it vulnerable to inefficient burning. Here, to protect the mortar joints from acidic gases and creosote, a flue liner is installed. You may wonder why you need to clean the chimney liner. The reason is, now the creosote will deposit on the liner itself.
- Defining Creosote
As rigid liners are prone to splits and cracks themselves. Flue gases rich in carbon rise up and condense on meeting the relatively cold temperature of the liner. The initial stage of deposition is soot, which is easy to take care of. On further decomposition and condensation, a flaky layer is formed that begins to hinder in the required amount of draft. The process further extends to a drippy black colored tar. Continuous build-up ends up in the highly flammable and stubborn layer of creosote. At times besides chemicals, even superior tools fail to cleanse away creosote.
- The Hazards
It is apparent, something which can cause a fire doesn’t need to stay and be a part of your home. Moreover, insufficient draft means the fuel deficiency and continuation of the harmful cycle. When inhaled in large concentrations, creosote may cause neurological disturbances and spread stench. This odor will become more irritating with increase of moisture in summer and monsoon.
Thus, it is oftentimes advised to buy wood logs with low moisture content, to be used as fuel. Well-seasoned wood is another option. Maple, Hickory and Oak are some variants of hardwood. Being high in density these species burn for a longer duration thus reducing fuel consumption. Though their byproducts formed are not that harmful, you need to clean flue liners of chimneys utilizing oil for two to three years periodically.
Broadly, cleaning after around sixty fires will do, but many prefer to use chimneys in extreme cold for even seven times a week. For such rigorous usage it is definitely beneficial to get your chimney wiped at least twice a year.