How does your chimney stack up?

How does your chimney stack up?

Your chimney is an important part of your heating system, whether you’re burning coal, natural gas, oil, wood or another fuel to heat your home or business.

A chimney can be used for not just a fireplace but for a boiler, a furnace, a water heater, an incinerator and more.

That’s why you want to maintain it properly and have it checked periodically for safety and structural reasons.

Both the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fire Protection Association recommend that chimneys and vents be inspected annually. As the National Fire Protection Association notes: Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths.

Maintenance also is a smart way to get maximum efficiency from heating systems, hot water systems and other major appliances. Two more reasons maintenance makes common sense: It uncovers small problems before they become big problems and it extends the life of your chimney.

The chimney is much more than a simple structure on or near your roof. It includes a flue and a flue liner to channel smoke and hot toxic gases away from your building, letting you stay warm without unpleasant side effects.

>Chimney clogs
A chimney is vulnerable to clogging, which makes it not only inefficient but also potentially lethal.

Birds build nests inside chimneys during the warm weather; rodents move into them in cold weather. Sometimes the animals leave; sometimes they die inside. Trees drop debris in chimneys, bricks fall into them, and snow can clog them, too. (Part of our job includes removing the obstructions, dead or alive!)

For wood-burning fireplaces, the most common problem is creosote, a dark tar that accumulates on the chimney’s walls. Creosote buildup, a byproduct of the fire, can block the airflow and even catch on fire.

Chimneys burning natural gas, on the other hand, get much less creosote; natural gas burns far more “cleanly.”

Still, you want to know if your chimney is in good shape.

Bricks obviously need to be checked. Bricks “spall,” crumbling or losing pieces or even falling out of place.

New York weather certainly takes a toll, creating corrosion that can loosen fittings. An inspection can find loose chimney caps, disconnected flashing and other problems in the interior or exterior masonry.

Blue good, yellow bad
Clogged chimneys can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which can quickly overcome a person. That’s because carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that can poison and even kill people.

While you can’t see, smell or taste this gas, you can protect yourself by looking for other clues such as loose masonry, loose chimney connections, soot buildup or rust or streaking water on the chimney.

With a fire or a gas burner you want the flame to burn blue – the color of ideal combustion. A yellow or red flame indicates a shortage of combustion because the burner isn’t getting enough air – and you are wasting fuel.

To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, install detector alarms in your home, open dampers before using the fireplace, and have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary.

We clean and maintain chimneys in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.

A chimney is an architectural ventilation structure made of masonry, clay or metal that isolates hot toxic exhaust gasesor smoke produced by a boiler, stove, furnace, incinerator or fireplace from human living areas. Chimneys are typically vertical, or as near as possible to vertical, to ensure that the gases flow smoothly, drawing air into the combustion in what is known as the stack, or chimney effect. The space inside a chimney is called the flue.

A flue liner is a secondary barrier in a chimney that protects the masonry from the acidic products of combustion, helps prevent flue gas from entering the house, and reduces the size of an oversized flue. Since the 1950s, building codes in many locations require newly built chimneys to have a flue liner. Chimneys built without a liner can usually have a liner added, but the type of liner needs to match the type of appliance it services. Flue liners may be clay or concrete tile, metal, or poured in place concrete