To Clean or Not to Clean Chimney Liner – No More a Question

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.

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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.

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Neglecting Chimney Cleaning Can Cost You More Money

Maintenance is expensive. Besides, how are you supposed to know, when the interior of the chimney needs cleansing? When the exact condition of a flue liner gets missed by your eyes and bending your neck to the required extent is too much to be done; then a stinking smell right from the fireplace will inarguably indicate the presence of creosote. Accumulation of combustion by-products is directly linked to the type of fuel you use and the efficiency of your heating system. Undoubtedly in case of a fireplace or woodstove, they will be frequently utilized in winters.

There isn’t any established rule for inspecting a chimney and accordingly performing the thorough cleaning. Generally, after a minimum count of 55 fires you should look towards getting the flue liner cleaned.

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How is Creosote a Threat?

Creosote is formed when wood as the energy supplier is burned inefficiently. The smoke consists of tar and creosote, formed while the resins and oil in wood logs gets improperly burned. These volatile substances condense on the flue liner and over time get deposited into a thick black layer. Both tar and creosote are highly flammable and hence perilous to the safety of your family.

What Can Be Done?

  • When the wood burns at a low temperature and the moisture in wood blocks are high, inevitably more amount of creosote will be produced. Thus, it is wise not to buy wood with high moisture content.
  • Availing wood can be costly for you. In case, the idea of utilizing old pieces of wood seems to be an attempt worth saving money, avoid timber which are painted or treated with chemicals.
  • The room where you make use of the fireplace should be properly ventilated. Keep putting timber at regular intervals. Above all make sure you save some budget to get your chimney cleaned on a yearly basis.

What Can Negligence Lead to?

  • Soot from oil and gas be easily brushed away. Even creosote build-up in forms of flakes can be removed.
  • Don’t delay in emptying away this initial stage of creosote as the flakes will hinder the entry of air from outside, required for combustion and ultimately lead to inadequate draft.
  • A poor draft in turn causes inadequate burning of wood, trigger the dangerous cycle of creosote formation.
  • When the matter is left unattended, creosote gets intensified and its combustibility increases rapidly.
  • Oftentimes it becomes impossible to get rid of such stubborn creosote and the flue liner is required to be replaced.
  • Your life and that of the ones you love are a lot more valuable than few bucks of cleaning a chimney yearly. If situation has already aggravated, then do consider investing in a new flue liner.

You can clean a flue liner all by yourself. But hiring chimney cleaning professionals is beneficial as they bring along experiences. With the high-performance vacuum and brush, they will clean the flue liner, the smoke chamber and firebox, in keeping with the standards established by Canadian government.

Creosote Can Be a Headache – What is the Solution

If you have a fireplace which burns utilizing wood as the energy resource, then creosote is bound to build-up inside the flue liner of the chimney. The fact that you are facing some creosote trouble is evident from the search you made just now. But why is creosote even a concern?

Can Creosote Be Really Troublesome?

You need to be cautious against unnecessary creosote accumulation, because:

  • It is highly combustible. The pace of creosote gathering inside the chimney can reach heights, if your concerned burning appliance is not functioning properly.
  • It can also reduce the worth of your fireplace and stove.
  • If inhaled in large concentrations, creosote can cause neurological disturbances. Just in case your nose gets irked by some stench, then it is probably because of creosote deposition.

A headache it is, indeed. The need to sweep chimney at proper intervals is greatly realized when you face one or more of these troubles.

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Chimney Cleaning Process

Purpose of Cleaning a Chimney:

Home owners are primarily advised to get their chimney inspected and cleaned every year; specially, because the government is heedful to the safety of the people and urges them to maintain chimneys as per the established standards.

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After Cleaning a Dirty Chimney

1. To clean a chimney, the process may fall a bit heavy on your pockets. But is there anything more crucial than your safety? Most individuals, who use furnaces, stoves, fireplaces and other heating systems on a regular basis, prefer to get their chimneys inspected and maintained every year.

2. Oftentimes your reluctance to invest in cleaning the chimney may result in poor performance of the heating appliance. Avoidance of maintaining the chimney will not only cost you additional charges but even amount to loss of property.

3. Broadly, you should clean a chimney after 50 or 60 fires. But if you have not used it for some pretty long time, then it is always better to clean the unwanted presence of nests, animals and debris first than start using the chimney directly.

4. You may revamp your home by counting in another heating machine. The venting system of the newly installed one may be connected to that of the existing furnace or stove. Here probability of wiping out remnants from the connected interfaces becomes indispensable, to ensure flawless performance as a whole.

5. Undesirable entities from chimneys can be removed in superior manner by professionals. With their brush and flexible rods, they can reach even the most difficult area of flat smoke-shelf. Only after they perform a thorough inspection of the chimney to cite possible problems, they initiate the sweeping process.

While chimney cleaning experts use their competence to get rid of creosote, you can also make some effort from your side. The varieties of wood, which you make use of for fuelling your heating appliance also plays a vital role in determining the amount of creosote formed. Pine wood can lead to speedy assemblage of creosote and should be avoided. A small step can make a big difference.

Various Chimney Liners – Why You Need to Keep Them Healthy

Majority of us do not feel the necessity to know the constituent parts of the apparatuses we commonly use. But in practical terms, it is actually sensible to keep track of the vital framework, just in case it gives trouble or demands care. A liner is one functional unit of a customarily built chimney. The fundamental responsibilities of a chimney liner are to vent the combustion gases out of the chimney and protect the masonry constructed chimney walls from degrading combustion byproducts.

Indifferent to its utility, many homes built in first half of the nineteenth century lacked the presence of a liner. Even now, in the homes having a liner, people neglect the need to sanitize or repair a liner when required. The urgency to clean a chimney liner can be dallied in case your fireplace is backed by gas or oil, but if the energy source is wood or coal then yearly cleaning of liner is mandatory.

To apprehend the functionality of a chimney liner, it is better to recognize its availability and the disparity among them. Liners are broadly of three types.

   Liner Composed of Clay Tiles

Chimney Liner

  • Clay tiles used for building flue liner are comparatively inexpensive and capable of lasting for about 50 years.
  • Moreover, the tiles are resistant to high temperature and the corrosive by-products produced during the combustion of fuels.
  • But installing and repairing clay tiles are extremely tedious processes.
  • The clay tiles need to be cut inch-perfect to fit within the realm of the flue and for replacing the damaged clay tiles, the old ones need to be chipped-off and broken from the accessible open-top.                                                            

Tubular Metallic Liners

Metallic Chimney Liner

  • Flue liners made of metal are induced in chimneys which are straight and not crooked or bent.
  • With the threat of getting tarnished, you need to pick the right alloy. Stainless steel liner with perfect round tubular shape is resistant to water and creosote.
  • Compared to traditional liners, it is easier to install and cheaper.
  • If desired you can mount insulation around metal chimney liner for lower consumption of fuel and reduced downdraft of cold air, when your fireplace is inactive.

 Cast-in-place Liner in the Form of Flue

  • To fix a poorly shaped chimney, liner is placed within the flue-space.
  • It aids in providing strength. Just like clay tiles it is resilient to the abundance of heat generated as the fuel burns.
  • The liner cast has insulation property for which there will be less consumption of fuel and formation of creosotes.
  • Though less troublesome than clay tiles, even this construction is bothersome. Mortar mix is applied around an inflated bladder or round vibrating bell, where either one is pulled-out, keeping the mortar intact.You can opt for any variant of chimney liner as suggested by chimney professionals or based on your individual conception of necessity and budget. Irrespective of the type it is important to clean chimney liner so that it continues to protect the chimney from hazardous consequences.

   Why You Need to Keep Liners in Good Health

  • Drafting of flue hot gases and outside ambient air takes place within the flue liner. A well-conditioned liner will improve draft and allow better combustion of fuels.
  • It contains all the combustion by-products and vents them up and out through the flue opening.
  • It is a protective lining between the masonry built chimney materials and erosive flue gases, soot, water and creosote.
  • Unmaintained liners will allow the passage of these by-products to the bricks and mortar mix.
  • Acidic flue gases, creosote and water will damage the basic building composition of chimney walls. They become susceptible to fire when they making them split and wear away.You can clean and get rid of liner disposables yourself. But chimney cleaner personnel are trained to take care of challenging situations with appropriate tools. Moreover, if required they will suggest the required repairing as per modern safety standards. Another related instance to be noted is that while hardwood produces less heat, softwood creates more creosote. By choosing right fuel you can right away check the production of harmful combustion end-products.

Why Stainless Steel Chimney Liners Are the Best

You wonder why install a chimney liner, when you already own a natural-looking and masonry-built traditional fireplace. Open-hearth fireplaces made of stones and bricks, provide easy and unpretentious impression. However, they are subjective to many frightful hazards, which should be taken care of in appropriate time. The flue of a chimney becomes vulnerable to the heavy weight of stones or bricks and as a result the entire structure becomes unstable.

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Chimney liners are installed inside a chimney to protect it from disastrous crackling and to protect your home from severe fire accidents. Chimney liners are available in the market made of wide-ranging materials like clay, cement, aluminium and stainless steel. Stainless steel liner is a round and elongated tubular pipe running down the flue of the chimney. It possesses all the necessary strengthening essentials.

 Protection against Creosote

  • The flue of a traditional fireplace is bare to combustion fluid, as no liner is fitted within to protect it.
  • The fluid known as creosote, easily mixes with the binder material at the mortar joints and disrupts the integrity of the components.
  • If the saturation level of the creosote reaches an excessive level, the chimney may itself catch fire.
  • Installing a stainless steel chimney liner will protect the flue against such unsafe creosote deposit.

 Balancing the Heat Transfer

  • Without liners, apart from combustion fluid the chimneys are also defenceless against rapid heat transfer.
  • The excessive heat can easily pass through chimney walls and reach to combustible components.
  • A stainless steel liner with proper insulation will control the movement of draft and assure a stable flow of heat and proper combustions of fuels.

Free of Cracks and Splits

  • Many houses have chimney made of clay tiles. They are inexpensive and fit quite well inside open fireplaces.
  • But clay tiles are ceramic products, which are inefficient in absorbing and distributing heat in a balanced manner.
  • This imbalance in heat transfer will eventually crumble down the clay liner as the tiles will begin to crack and split.
  • Stainless steel liners allow combustion products to flawlessly vent out through the flue. It also regulates proper draft, thus assuring no stance of any damage caused due to undesirable cracks and slits.

Made of stainless steel, the chimney liners become free of corrosion. This reduces the requirement of frequent repair and cleaning and the stainless steel liners go completely easy on your maintenance budget. The thought of deposition of combustion fuels on the liner may bother you. But stainless steel liners are round, long, tubular and metallic which makes them easier to clean for prolonged usage.

Are You about to Install a Chimney Cap? Here are the Pros and Cons

Chimney cap is a covering for the top of your chimney, which mostly includes a wire mesh. Installing a chimney cap makes great sense, when you go on to look at its benefits. There are though, numerous issues to having a chimney cap installed. But like every other thing, even a Chimney cap comes with its own drawbacks.

Let us take a look at the PROS of having a chimney cap:-

  • The Chimney Cap prevents water from entering into the chimney. Moisture can enter the flue every time it rains, in the absence of a chimney cap. This causes water to get inside the house or attic through the brickwork. Moisture can bring heavy damage to the ceilings and wall of the house.
  • Chimney caps can stop all downdrafts from entering into the house. They will lead to your room being filled with smoke. Mainly if the area is windy, the chimney cap can prove to be really beneficial in helping make the homes more energy efficient. Cold blasts can be prevented by means of a chimney cap.
  • Wire mesh on any chimney cap also proves to be chimney deflectors, and can be extremely important in dry areas.
  • When mesh netting is installed with a cap, animals can be easily prevented from entering the chimney. Birds are drawn to this warmth provided by the chimney. In fact birds even start building nests in uncapped chimneys. This will lead to serious obstruction issues. Uncovered chimneys which have snakes, squirrels and raccoons can otherwise get trapped in these chimneys, creating an awful ruckus. The corpse of such an animal can even carry numerous viruses, if trapped inside, which can prove to be detrimental to one’s health.

Now, let us take a count the CONS of having a chimney cap installed in your home:-

  • Openings in chimney caps are sometimes very small, leading to the opening being clogged in creosote (the buildup caused by wood smoke), and not only clogs the flue lining but also the mesh. If the screen is obstructed, the oxygen required for the fire is cut off making the fire difficult to light and it won’t just burn properly.
  • Soot can even jam the mesh in the chimney cap.
  • When paper is burned in the fireplace, ash might accumulate and get trapped in the cap.
  • After high winds, leaves and debris can even stifle the chimney.
  • If you are burning paper in the fireplace, it could lead to accumulation of ash which can get trapped in the net causing blockage.
  • At times of heavy winter storms, snow and ice can build up around this mesh preventing air from flowing satisfactorily.
  • Roof and chimney discoloration in the surrounding brick and stucco could also change colors in case there is an accumulation of soot and creosote.

The professional cleaning ceremony by licensed, certified chimney sweeps can help you sort out all issues in regards to chimney cleaning. Fix a certain time for annual inspections and get the chimneys cleaned frequently so that they function properly.

Essential Steps to Hire the Right Chimney Sweep

For a search on Google, “Things to know, when hiring a Chimney Sweep”, the Search Engine will generate uncountable references. However, the Search Engine cannot always filter you the right kind of references or the correct company for your need. To do this, you will need to have a proper lookout of the company and various services they offer, followed by a proper judge of what the firm actually has to offer. The process entails careful consideration of facts, and a proper research on the company, before you hand over the project to anyone.

Proof of Certification

A certification through a training standard across the country is meant to build well qualified chimney janitor, who can provide you with a host of services. This is related to the proper use, repair, maintenance of the chimney, together with the fireplace, chimney, stove and appliances together with the venting systems. A written proof of certification for the individual company will help you perform the work at your home at your convenience. Many a times, firms only have certification for their owners and the workers in the field are not certified. Check for this too.

National Board Membership

The chimney sweep you hire must be a member of the National Certification Board. Though the membership isn’t an official certification, the members imbibe a certain level of dedication and professionalism from any chimney technician. Members of the National Board are always updated on the cutting edge technologies for masonry repair and sweeping.

Verifiable References

Get names and phone numbers of the most potent firms in the area. Next, contact them with a courteous and quick enquiry about the satisfaction level with the contractor which you are looking to achieve. The reference if generated from the neighborhood town or general area will of course prove to be better. In case the contractor refuses to do so, switch to another sweep.

Insurance Coverage Terms

Ask the company for full insurance coverage, against any damage that may occur to your home or to any worker who enters your home. Full insurance must be guaranteed for all these people, and the policy must be specific in their terms. It is very unlikely for you to worry about insurance, and if the contractor does not have coverage or gets injured and damaged the job the liability in this case, will be completely yours.

Identity and Uniform

Ask anyone who identifies themselves as a contractor for proper identification. Reputable companies provide ID badges for all their employees and they will have marked vehicles and uniforms for all their jobs. Strangers arriving at your door, looking to solicit for your company necessarily need to be avoided.

Professional Attitude

The company you choose must be courteous and value your needs. They should be able to answer almost any question you ask them about chimneys and address all your concerns. They must be dressed presentably; preferably in a company marked uniform. Above all, there must be proper clean up at your home after the job is done.

A chimney sweep is meant not only to clean your home, but also leave the surrounding in the best of situations after the job is done. Do not accept a littered surrounding post cleaning. Ensure that the chimney sweep leaves your home professionally sanitized.