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What causes them? Rainwater that gets in your chimney mixes with the ash in the flue, to form corrosive lye. This eats away at the mortar and at the metal of the damper, shortening the useful life of both. Maybe you’ve noticed your damper is rusty or hard to open or you’ve found puddles in your fireplace. Both are signs that you need a cap. If the damper pins or casing rust out, it can cost anywhere from $300 to $600 to have the old casing ripped out and a new one installed. On heatilator type fireplaces the dampers are virtually impossible to replace. And, of course, if the mortar in a masonry chimney goes, the cost of repair or replacement is quite high.
As for those birds, squirrels, and raccoons – all of them consider chimneys the ideal place to safely raise a family…or enter a house easily. When they nest, they bring fleas, ticks and other messes with them. If they enter a house, they often panic – wrecking furnishings as they try to escape. Some smart raccoons, of course, find the chimney theperfect “gateway” to thekitchen, tracking sooty pawprints all over everything as they trek back and forth to the pantry. Cute? Maybe. Destructive? Definitely.
Chimney caps or covers are made in various styles with different materials – ranging from heavy pieces of slate placed on “columns” at the flue top, to painted metal or aluminum caps that attach to the chimney liner. What you should look for in a chimney cap is one that will keep out rain and animals, but that can be easily removed for chimney inspection and maintenance.
Don’t wait until the raccoons nest in your chimney this Spring. Or until your rusty damper falls off in your hand. Ask your chimney sweep to show you the caps he or she has to offer. You can usually save money if you get one at the same time your chimney is swept or inspected.]]>
Any of the following symptoms could point to a problem with the venting system:
|– damp patches on interior/exterior walls||- peeling wallpaper||- flaking plaster|
|– blistering paint||- ceiling stains||- mold|
|– white stains on chimney masonry||- deteriorated bricks||- eroded mortar joints|
The problems lie with the modern higher efficiency appliances. These appliances gain their higher efficiency by extracting the heat that used to be sent up the chimney and delivering it to your home instead. No one wants to waste heat up the chimney, but a certain amount of heat is necessary in order to provide the draft that makes the venting system work, and to keep the chimney walls warm enough to prevent condensation of the flue gases. If the flue temperature becomes too low, as is often the case with modern appliances, two separate but interrelated problems- incomplete combustion and water condensation- can occur.
INTERNAL COMBUSTION: The chimney is responsible not only for simply letting the combustion byproducts passively escape up the flue, but it also generates draft that actively pulls combustion air into the appliance. In fact, burning one cubic foot of natural gas requires 10 cubic feet of air to provide enough oxygen for complete combustion. If the chimney is too cool to create adequate draft, thereby not providing enough combustion air, not only does efficiency suffer, but the appliance can produce carbon monoxide, and this carbon monoxide is less likely to be safely exhausted from a chimney with a weak draft signal.
CONDENSATION: The second and most obvious problem from cool chimney temperatures is the condensation of water vapor inside your chimney. As odd as it may seem, the combustion of any hydrocarbon-and gas is a hydrocarbon-results mainly in carbon dioxide and water vapor. In fact the average furnace puts about 1 1/2 gallons of water into your chimney every hour! The high stack temperatures of the older inefficient furnaces kept this moisture from condensing inside the chimney, and it was often visible as steam escaping from the chimney top. Because the newer high efficiency furnaces now steal this extra heat from the chimney, all this water now often condenses inside the cooler flue.
The problem becomes even more complicated however because this water is also usually highly acidic and corrosive. The air used for combustion is generally contaminated with not only normal air pollution, but often with household cleaning products, especially chlorine from bleach. If the chimney was previously used to vent coal or oil there are most likely also sulfur deposits left inside too.So now not only do you have a gallon or more of water an hour in your chimney, you now have a gallon or more of dilute hydrochloric or sulfuric acid eating away at the mortar and brick of your chimney from the inside!
The situation is aggravated by cold exterior chimneys and long runs of connector pipe between the furnace and the chimney. Although your chimney may be suffering from an improper heating/venting match without producing any visible symptoms, sometimes the excess moisture produced causes visible results.
SOLUTION: The first step is to have the chimney/venting system evaluated by a competent E and M Maintenance chimney sweep ,someone who understands the relationships between furnace and chimney type. A qualified sweep can offer advice and recommend measures to make your entire system function safely and efficiently.
If a problem is found, the solutions often involve installing a correctly sized, insulated liner, and/or reworking the connector pipe between furnace and chimney. These upgrades are designed to resize the flue for better draft, minimize the condensation, and contain the acidic byproducts within the liner to protect the surrounding masonry. (See the area on liners for more information)
A few dollars spent on corrective measures could save thousands in expensive chimney repair down the road, and will help protect your home and family.]]>
E and M Maintenance will revitalize your chimney with a UL listed liner composed of a special alloy of stainless steel developed specifically to resist corrosive furnace flue acids. This liner acts as a barrier between the flue gases and the defects in your chimney walls. Not only will it add to the safety of your home and family, it will also increase the value of your home. And, your furnace will run more efficiently.
Our patented “compressed interlock” construction is unsurpassed in flexibility and protection. This high quality, innovative product comes with a 20 year warranty. E and M Maintenance can reline virtually any configuration you may have – from single straight flues to multiple flues and flues with bends and size changes.]]>
Chimney sweeps install, clean and maintain these systems, evaluate their performance, prescribe changes to improve their performance, and educate the consumer about their safe and efficient operation. The basic task of a chimney sweep is to clean chimneys. Cleaning means removing the hazard of accumulated and highly combustible creosote produced by burning wood and wood products.
It means eliminating the build-up of soot in coal- and oil-fired systems, it means getting rid of bird and animal nests, leaves and other debris that may create a hazard by blocking the flow of emissions from a home heating appliance. In doing their primary job, sweeps also function as on-the-job fire prevention specialists. They are constantly on the lookout for unsafe conditions that can cause home fires or threaten residents with dangerous or unhealthy indoor air quality.
E and M Maintenance sweeping service is second to none. We use drop cloths and vacuum cleaners where needed because we pride ourselves as being clean and professional. Our policy is to never leave any mess for you to clean up. Contact E and M Maintenance today to schedule an appointment to have your chimney cleaned.]]>
The root cause of most of these losses is that most U.S. homeowners are unaware that chimneys are an integral part of a home heating system and that they require regular evaluation and maintenance. In a great many European countries – including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Germany – chirnney-fire damage statistics have been reduced to negligible numbers because national coalitions of government, insurance companies, fire and building officials, and chimney sweeps have developed tough regulations mandating regularly scheduled chimney inspections and cleaning.
The citizens of those countries understand the hazards of unmaintained chimneys, and their chimney sweeps are regular members of their home safety team.
Most homeowners in the U.S. and Canada, however, seem to have little working knowledge of chimney and venting systems. This situation is complicated by the fact that faults, damage and problems rarely visible to the casual observer. In fact, people who will quickly replace a faulty automobile exhaust system because of the hazard it presents will allow their home’s exhaust system the chimney or vent – to go unchecked and unmaintained for years. The threat of chimney fires and unsafe indoor air quality conditions can be greatly reduced, perhaps even eliminated, if homeowners only understood that chimneys are active home operation systems which require regular maintenance.]]>
Creosote deposits are highly flammable and are an open invitation for a chimney fire. When creosote is allowed to accumulate, it can eventually block the flue opening. For your family’s safety, you need to have your chimney inspected before lighting your first fire of the season, the same way you would inspect the brakes on your car before taking the family vacation through the mountains. National Fire Protection Code 211 requires that all chimney systems be inspected annually. Don’t wait for the next heating season – take care of this important precaution now.
Be sure your heating unit is working properly by regularly checking the flue on the venting system of your furnace or boiler. First, operate the equipment for at least five minutes until the flue pipe is hot. Second, hold a lighted match to the edge of the draft hood and slowly move it across the opening. The flue is clear if the flame is blown downward or extinguished. If this is not the result, try the test again. If you get the same result, turn the furnace off and contact us immediately.
Remember your chimney when making a safety check of your home’s heating and water heating systems. If your chimney is blocked by debirs and/or dirt, the products of combustion cannot be vented and may back up into your home.
Every year, check your chimneys and vents for blockages and clean them every three to five years. If you have a metal chimney, check to see if its corroded or rusty.
E and M Maintenance can perform yearly inspections, clean your chimney and if necessary, perform any installations or repairs.]]>
We are the finest chimney specialists in the tri-state area, specializing in damper repair and replacement, chimney relining, chimney rebuilding and repair, chimney sweeping, chimney cap installations, chimney certifications, gas violation corrections and masonry repairs.
Our courteous service begins with our cordial and knowledgeable office staff and extends to each and every one of our hard working field employees. For your peace of mind, E and M Maintenance, Inc. is fully insured including property damage, liability and workmen’s compensation. We are also an active member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild and the NFPA.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, feel free to contact us by phone at 800-272-0077, viae-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.]]>
Project: Brick or Stone Fireplace (Gas) – Repair
“They were responsive and honest, and the price was good too.
They did exactly what they promised and cleaned up beautifully
afterward. I would definitely recommend them!”
Project: Chimney or Fireplace – Clean and Inspect
“Eric correctly diagnosed the problem associated with my crumbling chimney and quoted an excellent price for the repair. He showed up on time and did the work that he said he would do at the price quoted. He actually did more than he quoted on,
namely replacing the exhaust duct for the hot water heater from a 3″ to 4″ with no charge to satisfy the building code. I was
very impressed with the skill of Eric and his crew and the responsiveness of his office. I would use them again and I highly recommend them.”