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.
Those who have wood burning fireplaces or stoves know the advantages to a wood burning fire. They are beautiful, warm, and give you a sense of calm. However, with wood burning fires, the buildup of creosote occurs. This goes through some tips to reducing creosote.
WHAT IS CREOSOTE?
When wood is burned, creosote builds up from the transformation. This builds up along the lining of the stove or chimney and becomes a hidden issue for the home. Just like the ash from the bottom of a fireplace needs to be cleaned up regularly. Creosote should be removed occasionally for the safety of the home and those living there. This is why annual chimney inspections are recommended.
These are some recommendations for reducing creosote buildup:
USE THE RIGHT WOOD
Wood that has less moisture and/or seasoned is the best wood to use. When the wood is in such a state, the fire will burn hotter and create less creosote. If the wood has a lot of moisture, it will still burn but at a lower degree. This leads to more smoke and creosote.
KEEP THE FIRE HOT
When a fire struggles to find its fuel (oxygen), it has a hard time getting hot enough to burn all the materials. By having a fire that is low in temperature, creosote buildup is higher.
DON’T LET IT DIE ON ITS OWN
It is common for fires to just be allowed to burn out. By having them die down, the fires are at a low temperature for a long period of time. This causes more creosote and a higher safety issue.
Creosote is a safety issue. Low temperatures and moisture increase creosote production. Therefore, use the right wood that is very dry and avoid having fires at low temperature. If you have questions or need a clean up, talk to our experts at The Irish Sweep.
The winter rains can cause a lot of damage and destruction. While your fireplace can keep you warm, it is also subject to harm during the cold season. An annual chimney inspection may uncover hidden water damage from these rains or obvious masonry repairs maybe noticeable. The summertime is an ideal time to make such fixes while the weather is good.
When we have a winter like the one we had with record rainfall, a chimney inspection is even more critical than ever. Add to this is the recent earthquakes. These combine to create a combination of scenarios where cracks may lead or have lead to water damage. Along with this, long winters also lead to higher use of chimneys which cause higher levels o buildup of creosote. This is your fireplaces enemy and can lead to safety hazards and corrosion.
Thus, the first thing you should do after a winter with high rain and cold spells is to schedule a chimney inspection before a new winter. This is a lot easier to do over the summer so you don’t have to try to schedule it in the middle of a cold spell. In addition, if repairs are needed, the rain won’t slow down the repair service.
As we discussed, a harsh winter makes chimney inspections even more important to identify chimney damage. Just like with most repairs, time can make the condition worse. Thus, it is imperative that you start repairs as soon as possible.
Since we are approaching Fall, the timing for repairs has become even more critical. It is a huge safety risk to have a damaged chimney or fireplace. Should you start a fire and your chimney is damaged, it could lead to even bigger problems like water seeping into parts of your home from winter rain or even a fire getting ignited.
One are where damage may exist is the masonry. Most of the time, this can solved by replacing damaged masonry. It is critical to use the proper materials to fix it or you could damage the underlying integrity of the chimney.
Some other areas that may need repairs are the flue, liner, firebox, or smoke chamber. Each of these poses its own hazards. Inspections can identify any harm so you can get it remedied quickly.
Call The Irish Sweep if you are uncertain of the damage or have chimney repairs you need done before the next set of winter storms.
Homes that have chimneys and/or fireplaces are ones with parts that may seem simple but with parts that are unfamiliar. Most only know of these two and maybe the flue and/or damper. However, there are other areas of your chimney that are even more important like the fireplace insert, liner, or even smoke chamber. These are the areas that handle the smoke created by your fires.
As with anything with fire, there is always a danger. Having proper lining and airflow are critical to your safety. If there is buildup, it provide fuel for a potential fire. When the key areas are damaged, parging is required.
THE SMOKE CHAMBER
For instance, this space is shaped like an inverted funnel to direct air up into the flue. It also features a wall that is straight up, and one that is at an angle and a shelf called a “smoke shelf” which prevents the smoke from falling back into the fireplace. The smoke chamber walls should be parged
A chimney is generally angled towards a flue to ensure maximum airflow. The surrounding area is then covered in a protective layer to have a smooth coat. This is called parging. By creating this smooth area that goes towards the flue, it creates the ideal flow of air through the chimney system. In addition, it allows the surrounding area to be protected and keep temperatures manageable to protect against a fire hazard.
An annual chimney inspection particularly one using a camera allows a full scale analysis of your fireplace and chimney system to ensure the coating is still there and any other damage that may exist within the area. This is a preventive mechanism to protect against fire hazards and other concerns.
The camera inspections could uncover several things. For instance, if the chimney has cracks or water damage, it would show. If the parging is damaged or non-existent, the camera inspection would show the need to reapply.
At The Irish Sweep, we strongly recommend annual inspections to ensure yours and your family’s safety. If you have questions or have doubts, contact us today.