The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that chimneys and fireplaces should be cleaned and inspected annually to prevent fires and other safety hazards. We’ve developed an annual maintenance program to make sure our customers remember to schedule this important safety check of their homes. There is no better time than the present to ensure the safety of your home! Contact us for details and to schedule your maintenance today!
2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. Blog: Archive for March, 2012
Why St. Croix County Residents Should Inspect or Replace a Flue Liner When Upgrading a Heating SystemWednesday, March 28th, 2012
Despite how they look, most chimneys in St. Croix County can not of handle all forms of exhaust. In fact, when you get your chimney serviced, it is vital to perform chimney flue liner cleaning, and if the chimney flue does not look capable of handling a few more winters, replace it. Here are some details on why this is so important and how you can ensure your family and home are safe with your current chimney.
Condensation and Flue Gasses
If your chimney liner is older and has not been updated in some time, then it is likely not optimized for high efficiency gas boiler or furnaces. Chimneys are designed to do one thing – vent flue gasses. However, since heating systems have become so much more efficient in recent years, they now release flue gasses at much lower temperatures as more heat is extracted from the exhaust.
The result is that gasses being released into your chimney or exhaust pipes are often just barely over the dew point, meaning they will cool in the chimney and condense into liquid – often containing dangerous, corrosive acids that can eat through the flue liner and start to leak through the external structure.
In a single hour of operation, a 150,000 BTU furnace can produce over a gallon of liquid lined with various acids that can eat right through your flue liner and cause damage to your house and present health problems to your family.
Proper Inspection and Upgrade
Not only can an increase in efficiency cause problems, but changing the type of exhaust can as well. Switching from gas to oil for example results in different exhaust and can create a problem with older flue liners.
For all of these reasons it is very important to have your current flue liner inspected for damage and to make sure it is sufficient for a new heating system. If it is not, it should be replaced immediately to ensure it will be enough to handle the gasses being released during combustion. Please call 2nd Generation Chimneys with any questions.
Why Most Prefabricated Fireplaces in Cambridge Cannot be Installed Using the Existing Chimney SystemThursday, March 22nd, 2012
If you are looking to add a charming touch to your home, or just supplement your current heating system, you may be considering installing a fireplace. Since building a new fireplace is often costly and requires a lot of masonry work, many people are opting for prefabricated fireplaces instead.
Prefab fireplace units are nice, because they are convenient, they look charming and they work well. However, some people assume that because they already have a chimney in their home from a previous system, adding a prefab system will be easier and not require a new chimney. Generally, though, this is not true.
Most prefabricated fireplaces are sold as a unit along with an accompanying chimney, and they often will now work with another chimney system. There are a few reasons for this, such as:
- Rigorous fireplace inspections and testing is a must for each home to ensure that they are safe to use. This testing is done along with the included chimney, so both are rated as safe together. The fireplace is not necessarily tested to be safe with any other configuration.
- The specifications for air space and insulation in a fireplace are exacting, because of the volatile nature of the combustion process. Because a prefabricated fireplace and chimney are engineered to work together, you can be sure they meet the proper specifications.
- The chimney and fireplace have been designed to work together for maximum efficiency, so any other setup could affect the performance of your fireplace and therefore the warmth of your house.
- Because of the necessary clearance measurements mentioned above, wood is kept a certain specified distance away from the chimney. If a prefabricated fireplace is used with a different chimney, this clearance may be too short, which can cause chimney fires or other unsafe conditions.
Even with all this in mind, a prefabricated fireplace may still be the best option for you. It is just important to know up front that trying to save money be using an existing chimney system will not work and you are better off purchasing the whole bundle as sold. If you have any questions about your fireplace please call 2nd Generation Chimneys.
Most energy experts agree that masonry heaters are one of the most efficient, durable, and easy to use fireplace or wood stove systems you can have in. If you are considering building a masonry heater in your Mendota Heights home, you should understand how they work so that you are familiar with their benefits.
Masonry heaters are distinguished by their structure, design, and ability to burn wood or pellet fuel efficiently. Masonry heaters are also referred to as Russian or Siberian fireplaces, and they look similar to brick ovens because of the masonry structure that is built around the firebox or stove insert. Inside the masonry, a complex and carefully designed system of smoke channels distribute the heat throughout the home over a longer period of time, which means it does not need to be loaded often like traditional fireplaces.
Because Russian fireplaces can also withstand extreme temperatures, they only need to be re-loaded once or twice a day. Once the load is burned, the heat is stored in what is known as the “masonry thermal mass,” which provides you with one of the most efficient radiant heating systems available. Masonry heaters are also ideal during the times you only need a small amount of heat because you can burn a smaller load to meet your heating needs.
If you have an existing fireplace, you have the option of modifying your fireplace or stove with a custom-built masonry fireplace installation. However, any type of masonry heater should be installed by an experienced professional. Installing the masonry heater incorrectly can create fire hazards and will be less efficient. In addition, you will need to know how to properly stack and burn the wood (unless you are using a pellet stove) so that the wood burns rapidly enough to provide clean fuel. When you burn wood or fuel too slowly, it can produce tars and other combustion pollutants. If you aren’t sure what the “critical burn rate” is for your wood or pellet-burning appliance, you will need to know this before installing a custom masonry heater.
You can always call 2nd Generation Chimneys if you aren’t sure whether a masonry heater is right for your Mendota Heights home. We’re always glad to answer questions and offer our expert advice.
Your chimney in Plymouth may seem like a simple component of your house, but it needs a lot of maintenance and even with regular checkups, you might find yourself in need of one of these common chimney repairs.
Cracking or Falling Bricks
During the colder winter months, your chimney absorbs water and then freezes, holding that water inside, causing the mortar and bricks to expand. The water then thaws and the bricks are weakened. Enough cycles like this and the bricks will start to crumble and fall out of the chimney. To stop this from happening, a contractor will place water sealant on the bricks in your chimney to keep them from succumbing to water damage. If properly done, this stops 99% of all moisture from entering your chimney.
The crown on your chimney can be insufficient or not sealed properly, resulting in water coming through onto your fireplace or mantel or leakage in the firebox. If you notice any moisture inside your home, either along the chimney structure itself or on the firebox or mantel, it is most likely an issue with the crown.
When the roof is done on your home, flashing is placed around the chimney to seal the joints between masonry and shingles. This keeps any water from getting between the two and leaking into your home. If you notice water on your ceiling or on any walls adjoining the chimney, this may be the problem and can be fixed relatively easily by a roofer.
Even with the right flue lining installed, damage can occur over time from regular use. The flue liner can crack or break or it can become blocked by creosote or other debris over time, especially if you don’t have a chimney cap to block things from entering on top of your house. Regular flue liner cleaning should take care of these problems.
If you are concerned about your chimney or the chimney liner, make sure to call 2nd Generation Chimneys to inspect it for these or other possible problems. Most chimneys will have small, easily repaired problems over their lifespan – no need to let them get any bigger.