Why is it important to clean and maintain your chimney every year?
It is great to have a fireplace which you can light up when it is cold outside. You can relax for hours enjoying the natural warmth and looking at the burning wood. This idyllic picture can be easily ruined, however. All sorts of issues can occur. These range from bad smell to the release of harmful gas and from cracking of the flue to the collapsing of the entire chimney. The good news is that these serious problems can be avoided. For effective prevention, proper cleaning and maintenance are required. When the structure is properly cared for, the risk of damage and a serious accident is reduced to the very possible minimum.
It is a fact that it is not easy to provide chimney cleaning and maintenance. This is because the structure is specific and the access to its components is difficult. Proper techniques and tools have to be used so that the job is done effectively. Despite all of these difficulties, the provision of care is crucial for the safety of the property and of the people living on it. When the structure is maintained in good condition and operated optimally, you will have complete peace of mind about the health, safety and well being of your loved ones. You will be able to preserve valuable assets as well. Consider the major benefits of regular cleaning and maintenance.
Lower fire risk
When wood burns, it produces heat and a set of byproducts. The two main products are tar and carbon powder, which is popularly known as soot. These have light particles which are released up the chimney as the wood burns. The two types of particles get mixed and form a substance called creosote. Some of the creosote goes out of the chimney, but a large portion of it gets built up on the walls of the flue. As you keep using the fireplace, more creosote gets accumulated and the layer becomes ever thicker.
The major problem with creosote is that it is highly inflammable. Its accumulation on the flue walls increases the risk of house fire considerable. In fact, thousands of house fires are caused by creosote build-ups in chimneys every year. Fire is one of the most serious perils which can affect a home. It poses extreme danger to people and property. Another problem with fire starting due to the combustion of creosote is that this substance is toxic and can cause serious irritation to the skin and eyes and possibly mental confusion.
With proper chimney cleaning and maintenance, the risk of fire can be reduced to the lowest possible minimum. As a result, lives can be saved and property can be preserved. These are important enough reasons for taking the required measures. You will enjoy the fireplace even more when you know that everyone around is safe.
Long exposure to creosote may have adverse impact health. When you use your fireplace and the chimney has a great amount of this substance inside, you and the people around can experience skin and eye irritation. People with more sensitive skin may experience redness and possibly blistering and peeling. Even though such health problems can occur fairly rarely given the fact that people in the household are not in direct contact with creosote, you must never leave things to chance. When you maintain and clean the chimney properly, you will never have to worry about this sort of risk.
More serious health issues can occur in case the chimney gets blocked as a result of improper care or an accident. In case of blockage, the fumes from the combustion process cannot be released and build up inside the flue. The fumes are drawn inside the closed room and can be quite dangerous to people. Carbon monoxide is undoubtedly the most hazardous among the different gases which are released inside the house in case of chimney blockage. It causes a variety of symptoms including headache, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, shortness of breath and confusion. Carbon monoxide poisoning constitutes serious health emergency and medical assistance must be sought right away.
When the chimney is perfectly cleaned and maintained in good structural condition, the risk of fumes getting into the room and causing poisoning is immensely reduced. It makes sense to take every effort for achieving safety. By taking all required measures to protect your family, you will have complete peace of mind that everyone will have fun around the fireplace safely.
Damage and Accident Prevention
Despite the common misconception, the chimney is not just a duct which takes the fumes from the burning wood outside. It is a complex structure with many elements. That is why various kinds of issues can occur when it is not maintained in good condition. One of the biggest culprits is moisture. It can easily creep inside and cause damage when there is not a proper cap in place or the existing cap does not function properly. Moisture can cause cracking of the crown and of the flue lining. When the lining is damaged, the risk of house fire grows higher. The mortar and bricks can also get seriously damaged by moisture. In such cases, there is a great risk of the entire structure collapsing.
All of these threats to the property and to the people inside can be avoided with regular and effective chimney cleaning and maintenance. You can save a great deal of money on repairs and on the replacement of severely damaged components. Just imagine the consequences of a chimney collapsing. The cleaning and the restoration can be extremely expensive, especially if other structures of the house are affected and this is often the case. It is necessary to provide proper care timely so that you protect your family, assets and income.
Given the great threat which chimney problems can pose to people and property, it is crucial to make the cleaning and maintenance of this structure top priority. These tasks have to be performed with the use of effective techniques and tools and under a strict schedule. When the chimney is clean and in good condition, life is good.
What can you do to prevent accumulation of Creosote?
Tens of thousands of house fires every year beginning from the chimney. This happens because the creosote deposits inside the flue are highly inflammable. When they get in contact with the condensed hot air, combustion occurs. In order to protect your property and your family, you need to take effective measures for preventing creosote accumulation. Make sure that you adopt all necessary ones.
When wood burns, it produces a variety of byproducts including small tar and hard carbon particles. Since the temperature inside the chimney flue is lower, condensation occurs and these particles get deposited to form creosote. Given this, an effective way to reduce the accumulation of these particles is to increase the temperature of the chimney. This can be done with proper insulation of the structure. The investment will be totally worth it.
You should also check whether the chimney is properly sized for your fireplace. When it is too big, drafts can appear inside it and cool the flue surface even further for even faster creosote accumulation. In this case, the problem can be resolved with the installation of appropriate lining which will shrink the passage for the warm air sufficiently, but not too much. Typically, steel lining is used for the purpose.
High Air Supply
When there is sufficient air supply in the fireplace and inside the chimney, the particles which form creosote are more easily expelled into the outdoor environment. In order for you to maintain the supply of air high, you need to open the damper widely and avoid the closing of fireplace glass doors, if you have any. You should avoid burning very large fires. These are simple steps, but they can be extremely helpful.
The right wood
It is essential for you to burn only seasoned wood in your fireplace. This is wood which has been left to dry for at least six months and preferably for over a year. It has extremely low moisture content so it burns more easily and with fewer byproducts. You should avoid burning freshly cut wood. Similarly, you should refrain from the use of logs with artificial packaging. These simple steps will help to keep creosote deposits minimal.
All of the measures described above will help to reduce the rate at which creosote gets accumulated and the amount of the deposits. However, they cannot work to eliminate this problem completely. That is why regular chimney cleaning is required. This will help to reduce the risk of chimney fire to the very possible minimum.
The most important thing of all is for a strict chimney cleaning schedule to be followed. In this way, the accumulation of creosote will never be large enough to cause the serious threat. The optimal cleaning frequency will depend on the condition and structure of the chimney system and on how often you use the fireplace.
When you take all of the appropriate measures for preventing creosote build-up, you will be able to use the fireplace as often as you want. You will have complete peace of mind that you and everyone around will enjoy the great warmth and perfect safety as well.
How accumulation of Creosote in your chimney can cause a house fire?
Over 24,000 house fires starting from the chimney occur every year in the United States alone. In some cases, only the chimney is affected, but in others, the entire house is destroyed. The main cause of such fires is the buildup of creosote in the flue. It poses an extremely serious threat which must not be ignored. Effective prevention is possible.
How a Fire Can Start
Creosote is a fine powder which contains tar particles and soot particles. It is a byproduct of wood burning. Under certain conditions, it builds up in the flue lining of the chimney. It can take several different forms. It can appear as sticky black tar. It can have a gray powdery appearance. It can also be hard and shiny. The latter so-called glazed form is the most combustible at all.
As the deposit of creosote builds up, it makes the passage for the hot air coming out of the fireplace smaller. When the hot air, which is under higher pressure, gets into contact with the deposit, combustion occurs and a fire starts. Often, the fire begins with a loud popping or cracking sound. It can be heard inside the house and by people in the neighborhood. In such situations, it is crucial for everyone on the property to leave immediately and for the fire brigade to be called. This is because in minutes, the room can get filled with dense smoke which is extremely dangerous for people and pets. The fire can easily crack the flue and the entire chimney open and spread to the other structures of the building.
In some cases, small fires can burn occasionally in the chimney without the people inside paying much attention to them. They usually make little smoke and produce unpleasant odor which is not particularly strong. Such fires can cause considerable damage to the chimney.
Creosote accumulation Risk Factors
When wood burns, it produces fine tar and carbon powder particles which are carried up the chimney by the hot air. Since the flue lining is much cooler than this air, condensation occurs and the particles get accumulated on the walls. This is how the creosote deposits get formed.
There are some conditions which stimulate the building up of this combustible compound. When the chimney’s temperature is very low, creosote gets accumulated more quickly. This can also happen if the air supply to the chimney is restricted because of poor ventilation of the structure. The use of unseasoned wood is also a major risk factor. The accumulation of creosote can be speeded by too big flue serving a smaller fireplace. In such cases, a draft is created and the flue surface becomes much cooler.
The best course of action is to eliminate any factors which stimulate the building up of creosote. In this way, the process will become much slower and the risk of fire will be reduced. The most important thing, however, is to have the chimney cleaned fully on a regular basis. This will help to lower the risk to the very possible minimum.
Do not let creosote build up in your chimney. Take action to prevent house fire now.