Is Your Chimney Ready for Santa?
Keeping your Chimneys Safe and Clean
By: Tom Asciolla, Apex Air Duct, Dryer Vent & Chimney Cleaning
You want to get the most use out of your fireplace for the chilly winter months and make sure your chimney and fireplace are safe and not a fire hazard to your home. There are many steps you can take to ensure your chimney and fireplace are operating efficiently. However, it is imperative that you have a chimney technician inspect and sweep your chimney at least once a year.
How to Prevent a Chimney Fire & Minimize Creosote Buildup
Never burn artificial logs
Artificial logs are especially harmful to your chimney system because they contain wax, saw dust and other materials that are not good for the overall health of your chimney. When artificial logs are burned, they tend to build up more byproducts and can increase the risk of a chimney fire if not regularly inspected and properly maintained.
Build hot, clean burning fires
The hotter the fire, the less smoke there will be. Creosote is a byproduct of smoke, therefore, the more smoke, the more creosote buildup. Burning dry wood helps the fire burn clean, producing less smoke. The less moisture that is present in the wood, the faster combustion takes place, the faster the combustion time, the less smoke that fills the chimney system. The goal is to burn hot, clean fires as they are better for the integrity of the chimney system and more enjoyable.
Make sure the fire gets enough oxygen
A fire with an adequate amount of oxygen also means less smoke. Many homes today are built very tight, meaning less outdoor fresh air supply is available. This prevents many fireplaces from having the right amount of fresh oxygen, which helps control the burning process of combustion. Sometimes it is necessary to open a window when first lighting your fire to allow proper air flow.
Reduce condensation by warming up a cold flue
A fire-starting tip: light a piece of newspaper and insert it into the flue, this heats up the air and starts to flow upward, allowing your chimney to function as it should to develop draft.
Schedule an annual chimney cleaning and inspection
It is recommended to have your fireplace chimney system inspected every year or after burning a full cord of firewood. The Chimney Safety Institute of America, CSIA, has information that is both informative and helpful, please visit www.CSIA.org for more information and safety tips.
Removing Creosote Buildup
The most effective way to clean and remove stage 2 creosote from your chimney is with a powerful drill that has metal rods called a rotary loop.
The goal of every chimney sweeping is to stop creosote buildup from reaching Stage 3. Stage 3 creosote is a sticky, highly concentrated fuel. This will need a special cleaning with special products. Apex uses a product called PCR, which is a revolutionary product designed to completely remove 3rd degree glazed creosote from flue tiles or stainless-steel chimney liners.
When PCR is applied, it dissolves the creosote and absorbs it. As it absorbs the creosote and dries, it loses its adhesive properties and falls off the sides of the flue tiles. So, any remaining PCR can be easily removed by chimney sweeping. PCR can be applied by brush in areas that are easily accessible or with a specially designed tool that can be pulled up through the chimney by a winch. To remove glazed creosote in smoke chambers, PCR can be applied with Saver Systems’ Smoke Chamber Sprayer. PCR should be used where glazed creosote is present to eliminate the dangers of chimney fires.
There are other products on the market to help prevent creosote from building up, ACS improves safety and efficiency in wood or coal burning stoves, furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, and pellet stoves. Therefore, daily use during the heating season will improve heat transfer through the appliance because 1/32” of carbon insulates the same as 2” of asbestos. ACS attacks dangerous creosote and soot, helps prevent chimney fires, and makes the chimney easier to clean. It is safe for use with catalytic combustors.
Benefits of ACS
- Attacks Dangerous Creosote and Soot
- Helps Prevent Chimney Fires
- Reduces Creosote Odors and Pollution
- Chimneys Clean Easier and More Completely
- Reduces Corrosion in Metal and Masonry Chimneys
- Non-Toxic and Easy to Use
This product is easy to use by just applying while burning the fire. It acts like an absorber, breaking down creosote and separating from the walls of the chimney flue. In this condition, it is easily removed by chimney sweeping. We clean all fireplaces to expose the side walls of the flue; this makes it easier to use a camera to locate any loose or missing mortar joints. The camera needs to be of high quality to be able to see all sides of the flue and capable of photographing and uncovering the weak areas.
Water Penetration into your Chimney System
Water is a major culprit in deterioration of all style chimneys. It can corrode brick and rust metal. Chimney caps and crown mortars are two great preventers of water entering the system from above. Masonry chimney should be waterproofed using a quality product that repels water but allows the interior to breathe. This allows for the removal of moisture and prevents freezing and thawing that cracks and corrodes brick and stone. On factory-built fireplaces, the chase cover is a crucial part of preventing water penetration. This is the metal cover at the top of your chimney, it should be checked with every chimney cleaning and inspection, especially in New Jersey & Pennsylvania with the different changes in seasons.
(Do Not) Do it Yourself Chimney Sweeping
There are many products sold on the market that an average homeowner can use, and most likely do an ok job at it, but then what? Does the average homeowner know what to look for in a chimney flue? The answer is no and this is a project that should be left to a Certified Chimney Professional.
The overall safety and function of your fireplace and chimney is what we specialize in. We have been doing this for over 30 years and we have the training, tools and knowledge to know what to look for, how to solve it and what is the overall best solution to any issues that might arise. To have a better understanding of the chimneys, fireplaces, and the types of services available please visit The Chimney Safety Institute of America (link), under homeowner resources for more information and options.
- Have your fireplace inspected once a year
- Have your chimney cleaned after each cord of wood burned
- Use only hard seasoned wood
- Burn hot fires and limit the amount of smoke
- Keep items away from the front of your fireplace
- Inspect the outside chimney chase periodically
About the Author
Tom Asciolla is the owner of Apex Air Duct, Dryer Vent & Chimney Cleaning. He can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Apex Air Duct, Dryer Vent & Chimney Cleaning online at: https://dryerventcleaningnewjersey.com/