Total Chimney Care's Blog

Your Oil Flue Needs to be Cleaned, too!

Oil furnaces work hard all winter long, running cycles to keep your home warm and comfortable. As the oil burns to heat your home, it creates soot and other byproducts that build up within your chimney. Your oil flue needs to be cleaned and inspected at least once per year.

The Importance of Oil Flue Cleaning and Inspection

As your oil furnace burns, it pumps combustion byproducts into the furnace flue. This includes soot, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapor. When an oil flue isn’t cleaned regularly, the soot can fall down to the bottom of a masonry chimney or back onto the heating unit. The buildup of soot can prevent the other combustion byproducts from safely leaving your home. That leaves you and your family in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

On top of the health danger, a dirty oil flue can compromise the efficiency of your heating system. A dirty flue system does not allow your heating unit to work efficiently. That can lead to higher home heating bills and the premature breakdown of your oil furnace.

Additionally, oil furnace flues can break down quickly, as the soot mixes with moisture to create a corrosive concoction. It is important not only to have the flue system swept, but to also have it inspected at least once per year due to rapid breakdown. Your flue inspection will evaluate the health of your oil flue to make sure that the system is safely removing the byproducts of your oil furnace.

The Oil Flue Sweeping Process

You might see your oil technician remove debris from the base of the chimney and dust furnace pipes, but that is not the adequate sweeping process recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. That’s why it is crucial that you schedule a cleaning and inspection with a CSIA-certified chimney sweep.

During your oil flue cleaning and inspection, a sweep trained in oil flue cleaning and inspection will seal any areas that may allow soot from the flue to enter your home. The sweep will then remove and clean the pipe that connects the oil furnace to the chimney flue. The technician will replace the pipe then conduct a thorough visual inspection of the chimney system. The technician will sweep the entire chimney flue if needed. Any loosened soot deposits will be removed, and the entire chimney system will be inspected to make sure that it is safe for use. Once the sweeping and inspection are completed, your technician will restart your oil furnace.

Call Total Chimney Care to Schedule an Appointment Today!

If you are overdue for an oil flue cleaning and inspection, call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! Our CSIA-certified technicians can check the system to ensure that it is in good repair.

By Steve Sobczak on January 23rd, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Repair Your Chimney Before Fall

Warm summer nights probably don’t have you thinking of crackling fall fires, but taking the time to think about your chimney now can save you from delaying your first fall fire because your chimney has not been swept or is in disrepair. In fact, summer can be the best time for chimney services: You can have your chimney repairs completed before fall, and you won’t have to worry about trying to schedule inspections or repairs during the busy fall chimney sweeping season.

Masonry repairs are best completed in warm weather.Chimney Repairs Before Fall & Winter - New Haven-Fairfield CT - Total Chimney Care

If you know your chimney is in need of masonry repairs, whether it is rebuilding a deteriorated chimney crown or tuckpointing crumbling mortar, it is best to have those repairs completed before fall’s cool weather sets in. Warm weather allows masonry materials to cure properly. If the temperature drops too far, or if rainy weather sets in for the fall, you might have to delay necessary chimney repairs and risk delaying your enjoyment of your fireplace this winter.

Scheduling repairs now can prevent further damage.

Many chimney repairs can spiral into larger problems if they go unchecked. If you notice cracks in your chimney’s masonry or if your chimney cap, crown or chase cover have been damaged, that can allow water to pour into your chimney or seep into your chimney’s masonry during heavy summer rainstorms. Addressing needed chimney repairs this summer can prevent further chimney damage.

Summer maintenance can prepare your chimney for fall.

Chimneys require all sorts of regular upkeep to keep them operating effectively and safely. Summer is a great time to undertake chimney maintenance issues so your chimney and your fireplace are ready for the fall. Summer is the perfect time to have your chimney cap repaired or replaced to keep out rain, to install a top-sealing damper to keep out winter drafts and moisture or to have a waterproofing treatment applied to protect your chimney’s masonry from water damage.

A summer inspects prevents surprises.

While annual chimney sweepings and inspections are part of many people’s fall traditions, having a summer inspection has one major advantage. A summer inspection protects you from being surprised with a needed repair when you are ready to light your first fall fire. If your inspection turns up the need for a chimney repair, fireplace repair or a regular maintenance service, you still have plenty of time to undertake that repair before fall’s chill has you ready to light a fire!

If you have noticed the need for a chimney repair, or if you haven’t had your chimney inspection since last fall, call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! We can handle any necessary chimney repairs, perform preventative maintenance services like waterproofing or inspect your chimney to ensure it is clean and in good repair for the coming fall.

By Steve Sobczak on June 30th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Understanding how your chimney works

One of the most common complaints from fireplace owners is improper chimney drafting, or smoke entering the house from the fireplace rather than exiting through the chimney. The proper working of your chimney relies on the principles of physics. While it may sound complicated, understanding how your chimney works is really quite simple.

The physics of your chimneyUnderstanding the Machanics of your chimney - New Haven - Fairfield CT - Total Chimney Care

To understand how your chimney works, you first must understand that the air in your house is constantly moving. Warm air rises to the top of your home and attempts to force its way out of any cracks or crevices — including attic vents, light fixtures and cracks — it can find to reach the outside. At the lower levels of your house, cold air is attempting to get in to replace the warm air that’s exiting from the upper levels of your house. Somewhere in the middle, there’s the neutral pressure plane, the breaking point at which the air above is positive air trying to exit to the home and the air below is negative and trying to draw more air in.

Your chimney is part of your home’s circulatory system. When it’s full of warm air, as it is when there’s a fire in your fireplace, warm air rushes up the chimney while cool air is pulled into the fireplace. Any disruption in this system can interfere with your chimney’s ability to draft properly.

External disruptions to your chimney’s function

Believe it or not, any vented appliance in your home can affect the way your chimney is drafting. Appliances that draw air out of the house, including bathroom fans, kitchen hoods, clothes dryers and central vacuums, create negative pressure in the area of the fireplace. When there’s negative air pressure near the fireplace, that can prevent air from being draw into the fire and forced up the chimney, causing smoke to draft backward into your home.

Wind loading, when the wind outside is strong enough to put pressure on a portion of the house, also can disrupt your chimney’s draft. If the wrong portion of your house is pressurized by the wind, that can cause smoke to draft back into your home.

Internal disruptions to your chimney draft

One of the biggest culprits of a bad chimney draft is an improperly sized chimney. A chimney that is too tall or too short, too wide or too narrow can interfere with drafting and cause smoke to flow back into your home. Closed or jammed dampers can interfere with the chimney’s draft. Creosote can block your chimney, and your chimney flue or chimney cap can be plugged with debris that prevents your chimney from drafting properly and causes smoke to enter your home.

If you’re having problems with your chimney’s draft and suffering from an influx of smoke into your home from your fireplace, call the chimney experts at Total Chimney Care. We’ll inspect your fireplace and chimney, and help you identify and rectify the problem.

What The Cold Is Doing To Your Chimney

What the Cold is Doing to Your Chimney - New Haven Fairfield CT - Total Chimney CareWhen winter strikes its ugly head, it’s easy to see what winter is doing to your car, your lawn and even your mood, but have you ever stopped to wonder what the cold is doing to your chimney? Often ignored until it is too late, your chimney endures a lot of exposure during the winter and it is important to understand the potential damage your chimney has after winter has taken its toll. Here are some ways cold affects your chimney and how you can maintain your chimney even during the coldest weather.

Cold Weather Can Damage Your Chimney

If the cold weather can damage other components of your home imagine what it is doing to your chimney. In the cold winter, all the masonry, bricks, and flue will contract. As the warm weather begins again, and each material will expand at slightly different rates and cause the bricks and mortar to crack, break and crumble. This is the same effect as we see increased potholes on the roads after the snow melts away. Any crack in your chimney in the inside or outside is not a good sign and can cause water leaking and water damage and continuing to use a fire in the fireplace with a cracked flue liner only causes more deterioration in the chimney mortar. If not addressed, your chimney will become unusable and can even shift or collapse and this can result in expensive repairs.

Cold Air Can Affect Your Fireplace Or Woodstove

If you heat your home with a fireplace or other wood-burning appliance then the cold air could be doing damage you don’t realize. When cold air is pushed down your chimney, it battles with the hot air attempting to go up the chimney when you light your fire. The result is often that it’s difficult for you to light fires in your home, and it may even cause your fires to not burn hot enough. This is what’s known as the stack effect, when the cold air pushing down towards your chimney, causing a backdraft []. This not only makes it difficult to light fires but can also result in unpleasant odors when you light your fire. You want to do everything you can to avoid drafts and prevent cold air from pushing down your chimney.

How You Can Protect Your Chimney

There are several things homeowners can do to protect their chimneys from cold air and other elements of harsh winter weather. For starters, make sure your damper is completely shut when your chimney and fireplace are not in use. This will prohibit cold air from plunging into your chimney. If you’d like to further guarantee that your chimney is protected you may want to consider investing in a top-sealing damper, which will seal the chimney from the top, instead of at the throat. Chimney caps are also available that will cover the chimney and seal it shut when it’s not in use. Additional benefits to these products include:

Moisture will not enter your chimney

Debris like leaves and sticks will not enter your chimney
Small animals and birds will not fall in your chimney

This winter, keep cold air where it belongs – outside your home. Invest in quality products and trust your chimney experts to keep your chimney clean, dry and warm. The chimney professionals at Total Chimney Care in New Haven and Fairfield [] are available to recommend products as well as inspect your chimney for any damage or leaks. Protect your chimney from cold air this season and don’t let winter get the best of your chimney.

By Steve Sobczak on March 12th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Are Cracks In My Chimney Liner That Big of a Deal?

Cracks in Chimney Liner info - Fairfield New Haven CT - Total Chimney CareAround this time of year, chimneys see pretty extensive use, especially when the home’s heating relies on a fireplace or wood stove. To help keep everything functioning smoothly and safely, the National Fire Protection Association has mandated annual chimney sweeps and inspections. For chimneys experiencing heavier use, more frequent attention could be of benefit. As a homeowner, you must be involved in the inspection process by asking questions and understanding the basics. Request a video scan as part of the inspection, and if the inspector does not mention the condition of the chimney liner, then ask. As it turns out, cracks and gaps in the chimney liner are quite serious!

The chimney serves a vital function for the home, which is to expel toxic fumes produced by the fire out of the home. In an ideal state, hot air filled with smoke and other poisons rises through the chimney safely away from the living space. To assist in the safe transfer of these fumes, every chimney should contain a chimney liner made of heat resistant metal or ceramic. This liner acts as a protective barrier, shielding the chimney and house from the hazardous smoke. When the liner is not sealed all the way up, it can start to cause some trouble.

Chimney Liner Crack - Fairfield New Haven CT - Total Chimney CareBecause smoke is a gas, it expands to fill its container. Therefore, when the smoke rises through the chimney and passes by a gapped seam in the liner, some of the smoke will spread out into that space. The first sign of trouble occurs when the smoke hits the interior of the chimney. Non-masonry chimneys are filled with combustibles, meaning a stray ember could actually ignite the chimney and lead to a devastating fire. Aside from this risk, the acidic nature of the chemicals in the smoke will start corroding whatever material it touches, masonry or not. Over time, this acidic deterioration degrades the strength of the individual materials and of the entire structure, which could lead to partial or complete collapse.

The other problem with smoke leaking into the chimney cavity behind the liner involves the smoke traveling back into the living space. Smoke contains a variety of harsh chemicals, including carcinogens like creosote and soot. Additionally, all types of smoke have the invisible toxin known as carbon monoxide. In high enough concentrations, carbon monoxide in a living space can cause loss of consciousness and even death in a matter of minutes. The movement of air back into the house can also reduce the strength of the draft and even reverse it with a large enough leak. This is made evident by smoke stains on the hearth and around the fireplace from smoke backing up into the house.

Fortunately, all of these problems are preventable by resurfacing or replacing a chimney liner with gaps. The only way for a chimney inspector to properly determine the state of the liner is with a video scan commonly known as Chim Scan. Regular inspections only reach as far as the eye can see from inside or from the roof, but a video scan reveals every imperfection. For a video scan inspection of your chimney and some serious peace of mind, contact the chimney experts at Total Chimney Care.

By Steve Sobczak on January 11th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment