"For Safety's Sake Since 1984"
In our 30+ years of experience, we have seen several of the same questions come up with our different clients. Below, we have compiled a list of FAQs for you. It is possible that you can find the answer to your particular question before calling to set an appointment!
Do I Even Need To Sweep My Chimney? It Was A Warm Winter And I Hardly Used The Fireplace...
During warm winters, people are more likely to burn lower-temperature fires. As a result, this causes heavier creosote build-up than they would normally assume. Statistically, there are more chimney fires after a warm winter than after a cold winter. If you don't feel that you've burned a lot of wood for the last couple of years, we suggest you check your wood pile. Have you received a cord of wood and then gone four years without sweeping? If your wood pile is now half gone, it's time to sweep the chimney.
I Don’t Have A Fireplace And All Of My Other Flues Are Maintained By My Heating Company...
Gas, oil, and propane chimneys must be swept too. Most heating companies won't sweep the chimneys when they do a service call. They only sweep the furnaces and they are not
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trained, professional chimney sweepers. There have been instances when heating company technicians tell the homeowner the chimney for their oil or gas heat never needs sweeping, which can result in homeowners later being treated for carbon monoxide poisoning due to a blocked flue. Oil, natural gas, and propane chimneys should be swept at least every two years. We also recommend they be sweeped every year if the home is older and the furnace is more than 20 years old.
What Special Consideration Do I Need To Give My Coal Stove If That's All I Use?
Coal stoves give off carbon monoxide. Despite the popular misconception that coal stoves burn cleanly enough to avoid sweeping for 3 or more years, the opposite is true. Burning coal creates what is known as fly ash instead of creosote soot. As fly ash is allowed to build up, it can absorb moisture due to humidity or rain seeping into the flue. This has the potential to create three very serious problems:
1) The fly ash can form a cement-like substance. Instead of simply sweeping away powder, this substance would need to be chiseled away (Ro-kleen) as if it were cement. This is a very expensive process and could result in damaged flue tiles.
2) Fly ash also contains sulfuric acid. When that acid is combined with moisture, it eats away at the inside of the stove, the pipes, and the flue or lining. By sweeping your coal flue each year, you are prolonging the life of the stove and your chimney. It's also far less expensive than trying to break away the "cement" of wet fly ash.
3) When a coal stove becomes blocked, it creates the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Coal stoves should be swept immediately after the burning season has ended. In addition, the pipes to the stove should remain taken apart until the new burning season arrives. This helps to eliminate moisture build-up and corrosion during humid summer months and can prolong the life of the stove pipes. The result is you getting more years of service out of them and ultimately saving you money.
We Only Burn Clean Burning Pre-Fab Logs, So We Don’t Need To Have Our Chimney Swept...
Pre-fabricated burning logs (Duraflame™ or Mountain Logs™ for example) are just as much of a potential fire hazard as regular wood if the chimney is not swept regularly. While pre-fab logs do tend to burn cleanly, they still produce a wax-like substance that sticks to everything inside your chimney. This buildup coats your every part of your stove and chimney. So if you are burning only these logs, don't assume they burn so clean that you'll never need to have your chimney swept. We recommend you sweep your chimney every year, no matter how many of these logs you burn during the season.
I Have A Stainless Steel Chimney Lining So I Don’t Need To Have My Chimney Swept Anymore...
Even if you have your chimney relined with stainless steel or aluminum, the chimney still needs to be swept! Many homeowners feel that once they have their chimney relined with stainless steel or aluminum liners, they no longer have to worry about sweeping their chimney. The fact is, these products change nothing about your burning practices. It is possible your oil or gas furnace will run more efficiently, but the chimney still needs sweeping. If you don't sweep your chimney, and this is documented by a professional chimney sweeping expert, the manufacturer of the lining can choose to no longer honor the warranty. Proper maintenance is required if you hope to protect your $500-$3000 investment.
Do I Really Require A Chimney Cap?
Every chimney needs a chimney cap! Some people don't want chimney caps on top of their flues because they don't like the way they look, but having a cap could save your life one day. Chimney caps don't just prevent rain and snow from getting in. Most importantly, if you should ever have a chimney fire, the spark-arresting screen contains the sparks and burning embers inside the flue. It prevents embers from ending up on your roof causing the fire to spread to other parts of your home.
Moisture in the flue can result in serious deterioration problems when mixed with certain types of soot residue. Not to mention freeze/thaw damage that occurs during the winter months. The single most important reason to have a chimney cap with screening is that it keeps birds and other animals from making nests inside your flue. When you burn, the heat from your fire is intended to go up the flue. This is unfortunately inviting to many animals and birds. It gives them an ideal, warm place to build a nest in a small, enclosed area. Squirrels have been known to build nests as deep as four feet in under twenty four hours. They are also territorial, meaning if you remove a nest, they will just come back and build a new nest as soon as it feels safe - sometimes within hours of removing the old nest. These blockages in your chimney can prevent gases from escaping. What happens then is those gases back up into your home, causing soot and smoke damage and possibly even danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Chimney caps have several other important uses. They help prevent leaves, twigs, and seeds from falling into the flue which also cause blockages and chimney fires. If properly sized and installed by a professional chimney sweeper, chimney caps will not change the draft on your chimney. Customers may also notice that chimney caps purchased from a professional chimney sweeper can cost more than those you might purchase from your local hardware or home improvement store. This is because the quality and manufacturing of these are done to a higher standard than typical retail caps. They also generally have better manufacturer and installation warranties when you purchase them. You’re not just buying a better quality cap, you're also ensuring a professional installation that comes with a warranty.
I Think I’m Having Draft Problems With My Chimney...
Drafting problems can result from several things. Blocked or dirty chimneys that are not maintained regularly, wrong chimney cap, faulty dampers, or location of where the house sits on its property. All of these could be factors.
What Am I Supposed To Do? Move My House?!
Absolutely not, but we can suggest a downdraft-preventing cap or draft inducer. One such cap is known as a downdraft preventer called a Vacu-stak™. This cap was created to help people who live on hills or in deep valleys, who have downdrafting problems that are worse than typically experienced. The special design of the cap prevents the down draft, thus making the chimney more efficient and usable.
I Thought I Saw What Looked Like A Tree Growing Out Of Someone’s Chimney? What Was That About?
It's not unusual for people to discover little tree-like branches growing out of the top of their chimney. Seeds from trees either fall in or are carried by birds and end up deposited in the chimney. Once the seeds become embedded in soot in the lining of the flue, they mix with moisture from rain or snow and a tree can literally begin to grow. This can cause blockages and even result in major damage or deterioration.
What If I Have Multiple Flues? Is There A Cap For That?
Multi-flue caps are specifically designed for chimneys with more than one flue. These specialty caps cover all of the flues rather than using two or more single caps. These can be more pleasing to the eye and less expensive than using several single caps.