Blog

Wood burning in fireplaces, though very comforting, have adverse effects on the environment. (Mathew Sumner/San Mateo County Times)FLUE:  Most people say to me, “Will you close the flue once you complete the cleaning process?”  What they are really asking me to do is to close the damper.

So what is the definition of the word flue?  The chimney Safety Institute of America defines this word as, “The passage in a chimney for conveying flue gases to the outside atmosphere.”

And Webster’s Dictionary defines this word as, “A channel or pipe in a chimney for carrying flame and smoke to the outer air.”

The inside of your chimney may contain one or more flues.  It depends upon the number of fireplaces or gas appliances are in the home.

artificial log, berkeley, lafayette, orinda, walnut creek, danville, alamo, chimney clean, chimney

The commitment to purchase a gas fireplace insert is expensive.  Mind you, you will receive true heat value for years to come once you make that monetary investment.  But some people feel they cannot bare that expense and want an alternative choice and many folks would like just to install a set of artificial gas logs.

The manufacturers of artificial gas log sets state clearly in their installation directions that a chimney must be suitable for wood burning.

In order for us to determine if your fireplace and chimney are safe for this use, we must clean and inspect the interior surfaces of your chimney with our remote vision system (a chimney camera).  With this tool, we can check the condition of the clay liners and their related mortar joints.  If the clay liners in the chimney are fractured or damaged in some way and if the mortar joints are missing or deteriorated the chimney is not suitable for wood burning and in turn not safe for use with a set of artificial gas logs.

If we discover any of these defects our typical recommendations are to line the chimney with stainless steel or recommend the installation of a gas burning or wood burning fireplace insert.

The codes, standards and installation directions clearly state that anytime there is a change in the fuel source in a fireplace and chimney, the chimney must be cleaned prior to the installation of any new product.

creasote, soot, tar, oil, deposits inside chimney

The Chimney Safety Institute of America defines this word as, “Chimney and stovepipe deposits originating as condensed wood smoke, including tars, oils.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines it as, “A dark brown or black flammable tar deposited from especially wood smoke on the walls of a chimney.”

In my experience, I find most people do not realize that creosote is the by-product of anything that is burned in a fireplace or wood-burning stove or insert.  This material is flammable and is the major reason to have a chimney cleaned.

In most cases, it is impossible to remove all the creosote in a chimney.  Creosote can be stone hard and burns into the surfaces of a flue.  But creosote is amazing because it oxidizes and changes chemical composition so that hard, burned on material will become cleanable in some amount of time.

Wood burning in fireplaces, though very comforting, have adverse effects on the environment. (Mathew Sumner/San Mateo County Times)DAMPER:  The Chimney Safety Institute defines this word as, “A valve, usually a moveable or retractable plate for controlling the flow of air or smoke.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines it as, “ A valve or plate (as in the flue of a furnace) for regulating the draft.”

Many fireplaces have a damper blade located at the top of the firebox that is opened when a fire is to be lighted or closed once a fire has been suppressed.  During the colder months of the year it is ideal to close the damper when the fireplace is not in use, as that closed damper will help to keep the cold air outside the home while helping to keep the warm air in the home.  This saves money for the homeowner and prevents the warm, heater air from rising up the chimney and out of the home.

Not all but most dampers operate like a drawer.  When the damper handle is pushed in towards the back-wall of the firebox the damper is closed and when the damper handle is pulled forward (like an open drawer) the damper is open.

Most top-sealing dampers open by pulling down on the handle and releasing it from the bracket that has secured it to the sidewall of the firebox.  To close a top-sealing damper, pull down on the handle and lock the cable in the bracket.

*”Very few people realize the danger of clothes dryer fires. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an estimated annual 15,500 fires, 10 deaths and 10 injuries due to clothes dryer fires. Several hundred people a year are also subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning from improper dryer vent setups. The financial costs come to nearly $100,000,000 per year. In some cases faulty appliances are to blame, but many fires can be prevented with proper dryer venting.”  If you notice that your clothes require a much longer drying time, maintenance of the dryer exhaust system is imperative.yelp.com-l-495x371

Dryer fires occur when the lint accumulation and reduced airflow feed on each other to provide the condition that ignites a fire.  Most people don’t realize lint is highly combustible.

Once upon a time, dryers were always located in the basement of a home but today people have realized their ability to install a dryer closer to the dirty clothes source which is in the bedroom area of the home.  Often that remodel will put the dry between interior walls of the home instead of directly venting through an exterior wall and the venting material is installed in longer runs which means the dryer has to work harder to push the products of combustion farther.  The end results in a greater accumulation of lint, that highly combustible material.

It is important the lint is removed from the lint trap after every load that is dried.  Even with that good behavior lint can still wander into your appliance.  In our experience, lint screens located near the back of the dryer have less internal build up of lint than those with screens near the front door of the dryer.  We do our best to clean as much of that as possible but sometimes it is necessary to call upon the assistance of a dryer repair company that is qualified to disassemble the dryer and access the interior surfaces that collect lint.

If you are undertaking a remodeling project of this nature, try to make the exhaust run as short as possible, straighter is always better and avoid the use of too many elbows which restrict the flow.

Use only 26 gauge venting material and avoid flexible connectors that are constructed of flammable material.  Unfortunately, we see these flammable products sold in every local hardware store.

When pushing the dryer into position take care not to push the appliance so far back that it crushes the venting material.  If it is time to purchase a new dryer, measure the existing space and be certain not to purchase an appliance that is too deep and will compromise the vent connector.  If you notice a lot of “dust bunnies” in your laundry room, it could be because the venting connector has been crushed or has holes.

The dryer duct needs to vent to the outside atmosphere and not into an attic or crawlspace under the house.

Never use screws to put the venting material together.

For safety, never let your dryer run while you are asleep or out of the house and remember to read the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the safe use of their product and install as directed.

Need an appliance specialist?  We have a great referral for you whom we trust with our very own appliances:  Todd Anderson, Anderson Repair Services, 510-301-0223

*The source for this information is from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The Irish Sweep is one of the most trusted Chimney Cleaning Company that cleans, inspects and repairs fireplaces and chimneys, sells and installs gas inserts. We also provide Dryer Vent Cleaning Service and the best team for different areas such as: Alameda Chimney Cleaner, Berkeley Chimney Cleaner, and Orinda Chimney Cleaner. Find the chimney cleaning services near you from The Irish Sweep known for the best Chimney Cleaning and Dryer Vent Cleaning service provider across USA. We have a large pool of chimney sweeps who provide the best service near you and always ready to help. Contact us today for chimney cleaning services around you.