As promised, we present: Chimney Sweeps Q&A, Part 2 provided by the experts at Chimney Sweeps of America in Denver. Here we answer some common questions that we have heard from our customers about chimney care and maintenance. If you missed it, be sure to check out the first part of this Q&A for even more answers to common questions.
Can a Chimney Sweep Improve my Home’s Safety?
Absolutely. House fires or carbon monoxide poisoning can be devastating and even deadly, and the number one way to avoid both of those events is by keeping your chimney maintained properly. Attention from expert chimney sweeps not only lowers the chances of a tragedy happening by cleaning out the flammable material and blockages that can cause it, but also helps to reduce the risk of future problems by careful inspection of the chimney’s components to detect potential problems early.
Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning really a Big Deal?
You should be concerned about carbon monoxide poisoning, as many people die each year as a result of this dangerous gas. Anytime you burn anything, one of the byproducts is carbon monoxide. If the chimney is properly venting the gas outside of your home, you have nothing to worry about! However, undetected blockages or defects can cause the gas to start accumulating in your home, and it may eventually reach dangerous levels.
The gas is virtually impossible to detect as it has no color or smell, so it’s a good idea to have carbon monoxide detectors in your home to warn you. But don’t rely solely on the detectors. Also, as a great preventative measure, have a professional thoroughly inspect your chimney for blockages or other problems. If you or a family member is beginning to experience headaches, nausea, and fatigue, everyone should go outside immediately as this could be an indication of the beginning stages of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Is a Chimney Liner Necessary?
Virtually all modern chimneys are built with some type of liner that helps ensure that all sparks, heat, and gases travel up the chimney and exit the home. Older structures should be inspected to ensure that they have chimney liners and or that the existing liner is still in good shape. Often clay tile liners (which is a popular liner material in older chimneys) can begin to crack and break over time and heat exposure and fail to perform their function correctly.
Is a Chimney Cap Necessary?
Chimney caps are extremely useful in passively maintaining your chimney and making it safer. They prevent lots of rainwater from getting down inside the chimney and wreaking havoc. Plus, utilizing the mesh screens, they prevent small animals and birds from getting down inside the chimney and building their nests. These nests and the animals themselves can cause severe blockages that can lead to serious issues. They also help to keep out any tree waste or other debris that could cause blockages.
Can Fireplace Inserts be Repaired or Replaced?
Yes, they can, and they should be. Fireplace inserts in modern homes are built to last an average of 20 to 30 years. If you start to notice gaps or cracks in the firebox wall, you should immediately have the system inspected and fireplace repaired if needed. New inserts require a great deal of remodeling and carpentry work, but a professional should be able to replace the insert quickly and efficiently if it is determined that one is needed.
Why does my Chimney Stink, even when I’m Not Using it?
The smell that comes from your chimney radiates from a buildup of creosote. Creosote is one of those inevitable and unwelcome byproducts of burning. It is smelly, unfortunately very flammable, and can build up to dangerous levels inside your chimney when not properly cleaned and maintained. Humidity and heat tend to augment the smell, which is why you may notice it more in summer. Of course, the best method of fixing this problem is to clean the chimney, but if there is still some residual odor afterward, you can try using kitty litter or baking soda to freshen things up a bit more.
What if I See Water Leaking Around My Fireplace or Staining the Ceiling?
Water is a nightmare for your chimney. It can creep in and cause corrosion and cracking, making the state of your chimney unsafe. At the first sign of water damage, call the experts to remedy the issue as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that the cost of an inspection is far less than the cost of repairs due to extensive water damage.
Why is Smoke Entering my Home?
There are several potential causes for a fireplace to spit smoke back into the room. Obviously, your chimney is not venting properly, and there are a few things that could cause that. The liner may be damaged, or an improperly fitted chimney liner was installed, a closed or malfunctioning damper may be to blame, or your home may simply be buttoned up too tight. With modern advances in energy efficiency, some homes are so airtight that fresh air can’t enter freely and keep the chimney venting out the top properly. If cracking a window stops the smoke then you can assume this is the issue.
What is That Whitish Stuff on the Outside of My Chimney?
If you ever notice a whitish discoloration on the outside of your chimney, you should call the professionals immediately. This substance is called efflorescence and is caused by gases leaking through a damaged chimney liner and leaving salt deposits on the outside of the masonry. This is an indication of serious issues with the liner and probably water damage as well.
We hope that this overview, Chimney Sweeps Q&A, Part 2 has been helpful to you! Fireplaces are a great addition to any home, adding warmth and atmosphere, being delightful. However, they can also be extremely dangerous if not properly cared for. That’s why the experts here at Chimney Sweeps of America in Denver are here to help. We understand the ins and outs of chimney safety and maintenance so that you don’t have to, and yet can still enjoy a cheery blaze crackling away inside your home.