This a tougher question than it sounds. The simple answer is: The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem. It takes into account the fact that even if you don’t use your Fireplace Cleaning & Sweeping much, animals may build nests in the flue or there may be other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that open masonry fireplaces should be swept at 1/8″ of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system. This is considered to be enough fuel buildup to cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading to the home. Factory-built fireplaces should be swept when any appreciable buildup occurs. The logic is that the deposit is quite acidic and can shorten the life of the fireplace. Fireplace Cleaning & Sweeping Plymouth MN
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The Importance of Routine Chimney Repairs and InspectionWater that enters the home can cause many problems from unsightly stains to unhealthy mold growth. Tracking the source of water entry should always be a process of elimination, beginning with the least expensive repair. When you are beginning to diagnose the problem, be looking for tell-tale signs of water entry, such as loose mortar joints, cracked brick, or a shifting foundation. All of these areas and more can allow water to enter into your home, making the diagnosis and correction of water problems very difficult. Any obvious cracks in the brick are a starting point for inspecting points of entry of water. You can check to see if cracks are your issue by waiting for the interior to dry completely and begin spraying your chimney with water from the foundation up, gradually moving to see if, at a certain height on the chimney, moisture begins to appear in the home once more. If you come to diagnose your problem at a particular height on the chimney, you should seal the cracks with a brick sealant, repair any loose mortar joints between the brick, and apply a water repellent to the entire chimney. Choosing the right water repellent is sometimes half the battle. Be sure that your water repellent will not trap vapors inside the brick, as this would only worsen your problem. Utilizing water repellents, like those manufactured by ChimneySavers, which form a semi permeable membrane over the brick is ideal. Such water repellents will allow vapors that naturally occur in small percentages in the brick to escape will still preventing new precipitation from entering the home. If the integrity of the brick seems sound, and the foundation seems to be proper, you may want to inspect your flashing. ChimneySavers has an interesting product called FlashSeal, a flexible flashing sealant with an easy brush-on application, specially formulated to seal your flashing and prevent water entry. This sealant forms a permanently flexible membrane such that it will not cause damage to the roof or the flashing as fluctuations in temperature cause the materials to expand and contract. Temperature changes between day and night and from season to season cause shingles, flashing, and even brick to expand and contract on a molecular level. Sealants must be flexible or else they will cause damage to the shifting particles of the roof. One gallon of FlashSeal covers approximately 28 sq. ft. Apply the product with a brush and only in temperatures above 45 degrees Fahrenheit. This product, FlashSeal, permanently adheres to most materials; metal flashing, asphalt shingles, brick, etc. This product is another option in the process of elimination to diagnose exactly where water is penetrating your home.
Chimney Repair - The 5 Most Common Chimney Issues and How to Fix ThemThere is nothing quite as comforting as a roaring fire on a cold winter day to warm your heart and your home. A fireplace is something your entire family can enjoy. But you need to make sure chimney repair and maintenance is done correctly in order to ensure your families safety. The Importance of Chimney Repair A chimney is designed to draw the smoke and gases produced by a fire up and safely out of your home. This is extremely important since some of these gases are dangerous. One of the most dangerous is carbon monoxide which in large enough doses can kill. A second important function of the chimney is to contain the excess heat from a fire until it can be vented to the outside air. Most of your home is combustible. If the chimney does not get this extremely hot air outside without leaks it can easily cause a fire in your home. This is why it is so important for you to make sure that any needed chimney repair is done correctly in order to keep you, your family and your home safe. Here are some important tips to ensure that your fireplace is working correctly and avoid some common chimney repair issues. Creosote Buildup Creosote is an oil that is produced when wood or other solids are set on fire. Over time the creosote can build up on the inside of your chimney. If there is too much buildup it can ignite and cause a fire in your chimney. Blockage Another common chimney repair issue is having a blockage in the flue of your chimney. This can be caused by debris from material dislodging in your chimney or even by animal nests. Blockages, even small ones affect the efficiency of your chimney in getting smoke, gases and heat out of your home. Cracks Or Holes In The Flue Some of the gases from a fire are quite corrosive and over time can damage your chimney flue and create the potential for blockages or even allow dangerous gases to seep into your home. Make sure that your flue gets an annual inspection to ensure that it is working correctly. Brickwork Problems Another problem is caused if the flue starts to leak and erode the masonry and brickwork around the exterior and require extensive chimney repair work. Too much of this can cause major structural damage which will make your chimney repair much more expensive. Chimney Cap and Chimney Crown The chimney cap and crown basically make up the roof of the chimney that surrounds the flue and keeps water and debris from getting into the chimney. If this is cracked or missing pieces it can allow water damage to the inside of the chimney and even damage the ability of the flue to channel gases and heat out of the home. This area also keeps animals, debris and weather out of your flue. Conclusion If you see any of these problems when you inspect your chimney, you need to see that any needed repair is made before the fireplace is used. While you may be able to fill small cracks, you should consult a professional for any larger issue. It is always recommended that you have your chimney cleaned, inspected and any needed chimney repair work done at least once a year to ensure its safe operation. To ensure the safety of your family make sure that you have carbon monoxide detectors in your home. These should be placed on each floor or at a minimum on the floor where your family sleeps. Check them regularly to make sure they are working properly to protect your family from even low levels of carbon monoxide. By taking care of any needed chimney repair as soon as you see it the costs for the repairs will be much less than if you let the problem get larger. Make sure that your chimney is inspected regularly and it will give you years of safe use.
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