Total Chimney Care's Blog

Don’t Forget Your Chimney’s Oil Flue This Fall

Most homeowners know the importance of having their fireplace chimneys and furnaces inspected, but many homeowners forget the cleaning and inspection of another vital chimney system: their oil flue. Just like fireplaces and furnaces, oil flues require regular cleaning and inspection to keep them running safely. Many homeowners with chimney flues assume that their annual furnace maintenance will include a cleaning of the chimney flue, but the reality is that it rarely does. While furnace technicians will often shovel out the base of the chimney and brush the furnace’s connector pipes, the furnace technician usually will not clean and inspect the chimney from top to bottom. A full oil flue cleaning and inspection requires the services of a certified chimney sweep.

Many homeowners with chimney flues assume that their annual furnace maintenance will include a cleaning of the chimney flue, but the reality is that it rarely does. While furnace technicians will often shovel out the base of the chimney and brush the furnace’s connector pipes, the furnace technician usually will not clean and inspect the chimney from top to bottom. A full oil flue cleaning and inspection requires the services of a certified chimney sweep.

The Importance of Oil Flue Cleaning

Just like the chimney flue that vents your fireplace, your oil furnace’s flue should be swept and inspected at least once a year, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America. That’s because the oil combustion within your furnace leads to a buildup of soot within the chimney flue. Over time that soot can build-up and prevent your oil furnace from running safely and effectively. A buildup of soot can lead to a buildup of carbon monoxide in your home, or to a chimney a fire. At the very least, the soot that builds up in your oil furnace flue is highly corrosive. It can cause the chimney flue liner to break down. Flakes from the liner can fall onto the furnace and cause it to malfunction, or the liner can break down to the point where it’s no longer safe. Signs your oil flue needs to be cleaned

Signs Your Oil Flue Needs Cleaned

One of the worst-case scenarios we see is neglected oil flues causing furnaces to malfunction in the middle of winter. This leaves homeowners to deal with emergency repairs to keep their homes warm. An oil flue cleaning can help to prevent mid-winter furnace breakdowns. Even if you have your oil flue cleaned, you should be on the lookout for these signs of a dirty flue:

  • Black smoke billowing from the combustion chamber
  • Excessive heat coming from the combustion chamber
  • Strange odors coming from the furnace
  • Burning through more fuel than usual

If you notice any signs that your furnace flue could be clogged — even if you had your flue cleaned for the fall — call to have your flue inspected and cleaned, if needed.

Call Now!

Don’t wait until you have a problem; schedule your oil flue cleaning today!

The biggest mistake you can make is to wait to have your oil flue cleaned and inspected after a clogged chimney causes a malfunction with your furnace, or worse, a chimney fire. To ensure your oil furnace is ready to safely heat your home this winter, call Total Chimney Care to schedule your oil flue cleaning today!

By Steve Sobczak on October 2nd, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Keeping Animals Out of Your Chimney

If your chimney isn’t protected, you could find it playing home to an animal. Whether they enter the chimney by accident or are tempted into building a nest by the warmth and shelter of the chimney, birds, bats, raccoons, and squirrels are common intruders in chimneys. Those intruders can cause some serious problems, which is why you should take measures to prevent animals in your chimney.

Keeping Animals Out is Important

Once inside your chimneys, animals can bring a host of problems. At the very least, you can’t use your fireplace if the chimney is blocked by a trapped animal or an animal nest. And having animals removed from your chimney by a professional can be expensive. Some of the other problems animals in chimneys can cause include:

  • Chimney damage. A trapped, frantic animal can damage your chimney with clawing and scratching. A nesting animal can damage the chimney as it enters and exits, and as it builds the nest.
  • Fire hazard. Animal nests are usually constructed of flammable materials. If you have a nest in your chimney that you’re not aware of and you light a fire, the nest could ignite and start a chimney fire.
  • Carbon monoxide hazard. If your chimney is blocked by an animal or an animal nest, gases generated by your fireplace, including carbon monoxide, can’t exit the chimney. That can cause the gases to build up to dangerous levels within your home.
  • Foul odors. If a trapped animal can’t escape the chimney, it can die and decay, filling your house with a horrible smell. Nesting animals can leave behind smells from droppings, rotting food or rotting nesting materials.
  • Diseases. Animals carry diseases. When they enter your chimney, they carry a risk of spreading those diseases to your family or your pets.

Prevent Animals From Entering Your Chimney

There are three primary ways to protect your chimney from animal intrusions:

  • Chimney caps. Chimney caps are perhaps the most common method for keeping animals out of your chimney. Chimney caps cover the chimney opening, and a proper chimney cap is surrounded by a metal cage to keep out animals and debris.
  • Top-sealing dampers. Top-sealing dampers close off your chimney entirely when the chimney isn’t in use, keeping out water, animals, and debris. When the chimney is in use and the damper is open, the damper opening should be enclosed with a wire cage to keep animals out.
  • Chimney sweepings and inspections. A chimney sweeping and inspection won’t keep animals out of your chimney, but a chimney sweep can spot a trapped animal or signs of an animal nest. A chimney sweep can clear away any signs of an animal nest or animal droppings, and he can help with any repairs needed due to damage caused by animals.

If your chimney isn’t protected from animal intrusions, call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! We can install a chimney cap or a top-sealing damper to keep animals out. If an animal does enter your chimney, we can clear out a nest, clear away droppings and debris left by the animal, and make sure that your chimney is safe for use.

By Steve Sobczak on August 3rd, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

Kerosene Heaters and Your Safety

Unlike in Japan, where kerosene heaters are often primary heating appliances, they are widely used for a quick burst of extra heat in American households. As a result, they are not generally thought of as things that pose a danger as long as they are kept away from curtains and bedding. That, however, is a mistake because kerosene heaters pose significant dangers even when properly distanced from flammables.

Kerosene Heater - New Haven CT - Total Chimney Care

Serious Dangers in Kerosene Heaters

Among those dangers are:

  • a high fuel to air ratio when ignited
  • strong fumes when filled
  • release of all combustibles into the room
  • health risks with inadequate ventilation
  • open flame
  • hot surfaces

Need we go on?

The use of kerosene heaters mandates the utmost caution when refilling, lighting, and operating them, regardless of where you live. They contain a flammable substance themselves, can ignite others, and require an open flame. Especially with children in the house, they need to be carefully placed and closely monitored.

You Might Ask Your Chimney Sweep

Obvious measures are called for by the dangers they present, but you could also ask your chimney sweep for advice and a quick check of your typical set-ups. Certified chimney sweeps are knowledgeable of clearances from flammables, among other things, so their input can be helpful. Still, a lot of things you can attend to regularly and by yourself, starting with providing a way out for carbon monoxide.

Windows should always be cracked when a kerosene heater is in use, unless the “heater” we are talking about comes with a flue that vents to the outdoors. There also needs to be proper ventilation when the heater is being refilled, and it needs to be kept well away from flammable household liquids. Some way of preventing children from coming too close to its hot surfaces is also called for, so maybe your chimney sweep will have some ideas about that too!

By Steve Sobczak on April 6th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment