The Irish Sweep is still accepting calls to answer questions and schedule any service needs. However, no on-site visits are currently being conducted pursuant to the government's stay in place order. Please feel free to contact us at 510.521.4088 to get answers to your questions or schedule a future appointment.
April showers bring May flowers, right? Well, they can also bring leaky chimneys! If you don’t have a chimney cap, you’re in for a wet time. You’ll start seeing symptoms of leaks during spring and summer, and even chimneys that’ve never had problems before can leak.
YOUR CHIMNEY WITHOUT A CHIMNEY CAP
Chimneys are complex structures and are always exposed to the weather. They aren’t designed to go without chimney caps, but not everyone knows this. Because chimneys are always exposed, rain water, leaves, feathers, and all sorts of things can fall into them and build up or cause damage.
The entrance of rain into your chimney may not sound very dramatic to you. But when the masonry and other components in your chimney degrade and lose stability, or lose fire proofness, it becomes dramatic. Wetness can cause spalling and crumbling brickwork, and things like leaves that fall into your chimney are a fire hazard.
WHY GET A CHIMNEY CAP?
The top reason is to prevent damage to your home. To prevent water coming in, part of a chimney cap acts like an umbrella, and a screen section prevents the debris from falling in or sparks from floating out.
Don’t worry about a chimney cap affecting your draft. If your chimney cap has sufficient clearance and you keep it clean, it will either not affect your chimney draft or improve it. When wind blows, the convex shape of the cap creates a slight vacuum at the top of the flue so your chimney should draw better with the cap in place. Some chimney caps are even specifically designed to improve chimney draft!
IF YOU SEE WATER COMING IN, IT COULD ALSO BE DUE TO: FLASHING
If your chimney flashing starts to wear down, water can get in. Flashing is a tight strip inside your chimney that seals the seam between your roof and chimney to prevent water coming in. If the flashing is damaged or loses its seal due to age or wear and tear, water will get through the gaps. This can in turn water damage to the roof, chimney, ceilings and walls. Metal flashings are preferred over mastic flashings.
INCORRECT CHIMNEY CAP
Water can get in if the chimney cap doesn’t fit well. Without a chimney cap that fits, the fireplace and flue are completely exposed to water from the rain. An ill-fitting cap is barely better than no cap at all.
Because your chimney is directly exposed to rain, the masonry components will deteriorate over time. Water can cause bricks to spall and crack (letting in water), in addition to making your chimney look unkempt.
You may know your chimney is leaking because you see visible water in the flue or fireplace. But because of the complexity and size of many chimney systems, leaks can easily go undetected for a while. You might not even know there’s water damage until significant damage has already been done.
To prevent chimney leaks, it’s best if you call in a professional for annual chimney sweepings and inspections. We’ll be able to detect any damage so that you can get it fixed before the chimney starts to leak!
There’s nothing like gathering around a fireplace for warmth and ambience. However, many people are aware that fireplaces are not the most environmentally friendly way to heat your home. The amount of smoke produced by fireplaces and the inefficiency of their heating performance can be a concern. However, with these 4 innovate techniques, you can make your fire more environmentally friendly while preserving the charm of sitting around the fireplace.
Choose A Wood Burning Fireplace Insert
A wood burning fireplace insert takes the benefits of a wood burning stove and fits into the layout and structure of your traditional fireplace. Wood burning fireplace inserts are enclosed and boost the efficiency of a fireplace to 65-80% (versus 5-10% for an open fireplace).
Wood burning fireplace inserts can heat a room for 3 times longer and burns wood slower and hotter. They also keep the fireplace sealed when not in use, keeping your home warmer, more insulated and more environmentally friendly at all times.
Convert to a Gas Log Fireplace
A traditional fireplace can also be converted to a gas log burner for a cleaner and more environmentally friendly heating source. Gas is a slightly more expensive fuel source than wood (if you get firewood free) but it reduces the costs of fireplace maintenance. On the other hand, quality firewood can also be costly, so gas can sometimes be the more cost efficient option.
Gas logs can look and feel just like a real fireplace without the smoke, ash and chimney buildup. Because a gas log fire produces no smoke and provides more efficient heating, it’s a cleaner and more eco-friendly option when compared to an open fireplace.
Keep Your Fireplace Efficient
No matter what type of fireplace you have, keeping it efficient will make it more environmentally friendly. Regular chimney servicing clears build up and boosts efficiency, allowing wood to burn more effectively. A chimney sweep clears creosote and ash buildup from the chimney interior to improve ventilation, achieving a more complete wood burn. This helps to make your fireplace more environmentally friendly, while also reducing the risk of chimney fires.
Use Quality Wood
Wood that doesn’t burn effectively means a less eco-friendly fire and more fireplace buildup. You should never burn trash, wood with glue or paint, driftwood or moldy wood as these can release chemicals into the air. Instead, always choose hardwoods to burn on your fireplace, as these burn longer, cleaner and hotter than softwoods. Hardwoods burn more efficiently, providing more heat for longer for the same amount of carbon released. Always choose hardwoods to burn on your fire, and make sure every piece of wood burns hot.
Choosing to convert your traditional fireplace to a more environmentally friendly option means you can retain all the charm and ambience of your traditional fireplace while greatly improving the efficiency. While traditional fireplaces have a bad environmental track record, these modifications can help you enjoy a home heating luxury. Talk to your local chimney service and fireplace professional about the options for making your fireplace more environmentally friendly today.
Is your fireplace style looking tired, outdated, or even damaged? You might consider restoring your fireplace to make it more attractive and more useable. Here are five outstanding fireplace restoration ideas from the economical to the indulgent!