Sometimes sharing is NOT a good thing

January 10, 2019 | Dangers!

If you live in a multi-family condo or apartment you may have a situation where several flue systems are sharing one common space. The concern when this happens is that all parties need to maintain their chimney system to help ensure the safety of everyone in that shared space. This is not always the case and typically the property management company does not have definitive guidelines for maintenance or unsafe systems. The example above is one common situation where four condos are sharing one chimney chase. The condo inspected had a system that was no longer safe for use and using the system could have led to fire and or carbon monoxide entry into the condo, or even adjacent condos. Currently, the only proactive prevention you can take is to make sure you have the appropriate amount of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home and always have multiple … Continued

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Improperly sized chimney caps

January 10, 2019 | A Day in the Life

Already in 2019, I have inspected three homes where a 8″ chimney cap was “installed” into a 10″ flue termination. The obvious is that the person installing these chimney caps knows exactly what is going to happen eventually, along with the water intrusion damage that will occur when it does happen. What isn’t obvious is that a chimney cap was incorrectly installed and even the active water intrusion can be hard to spot until it progresses. This drone image shows a 8″ cap that was at one point installed into the 10″ flue termination. As you can see, the end result is wind removing the chimney cap, sometimes turning it into a giant metal frisbee (huge liability issue). When you are having your chimney cap replaced ask for proof of measurement. This issue could not be seen from ground level (it was blocked by the shroud) and the client was … Continued

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Dryer Vent Safety

January 6, 2019 | Common Questions

It may not be one of the most exciting things to do (kinda like having your car worked on), but performing regular maintenance on your dryer venting system is essential for safety and also extends the life of your dryer. Consider this, a dryer vent is only four inches wide and even with 1/2″ of buildup around the inside of the vent, your dryer vent is now only flowing through a three inch opening. As the dryer vent becomes more and more restricted, it causes the dryer to work overtime and the additional buildup of lint can easily cause a dryer fire. The danger can be even greater if you are using gas dryer, you now add in the extra hazards of carbon monoxide and potential gas leaks. In summary, always be proactive about dryer maintenance and always make sure a professional is servicing your system such as a CSIA … Continued

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Radiant heat and the impact on combustibles

January 6, 2019 | Chimney Basics

So you may have heard me talk about clearances to combustibles once or twice before but here is a quick example of what the heat does to combustibles and how it can start a fire. As heat is absorbed by a combustible, in the form of radiant heat, it slowly breaks down the ignition temperature that is needed to ignite the combustible. the process is called pyrolysis which is the thermal decomposition of a material through elevated heat. Ignition temperature of wood can drop to as low as 300 degrees after long-term exposure to heat! One very key thing to also remember with ignition of the combustible is that it will ignite without any direct contact with flame. Here is a example in fast forward: 1. Initial break down of wood from heat As you can see, the Wood is not touching any flame throughout the timeframe. 2. Ignition temperature … Continued

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The dangerous flip

January 5, 2019 | A Day in the Life

As a chimney sweep, you see the good, bad, and dangerous when it comes to chimney work performed before a sale. One of my recent inspections uncovered the dangerous side. The home had recently been purchased from a flipper and the clients were interested in having the fireplace inspected for use this Winter. A home inspection had already been performed with no mention of any issues with the fireplace but here is what I found: Here is the initial overview of the fireplace. Now let’s have a look inside.. Dear lord! The flue system was being held up by a stack of bricks and was on the verge of collapse! Not only was the fireplace unsafe for use, it also was a safety hazard from the possibility of collapse. Now comes one of the worst parts of my job, giving the bad news to the clients. A repair this substantial … Continued

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Inspection of the day – Not a good idea!

January 4, 2019 | A Day in the Life

So this was a particularly scary inspection to say the least! The back story is that the client was having issues with water intrusion leaking onto the ceiling around the chimney. Let’s make this one interactive… Starting in the attic I see that getting to the chimney area is not going to be easy! After maneuvering around and crawling on the trusses/insulation, I make it to the chimney. The moisture meter and infrared imaging pick up active water intrusion below the flashing so that part was solved pretty quickly. Now for the scary part.. The chimney was supported by wood framing that had been impacted by the water intrusion and was beginning to come apart! Literally a ton of bricks in the attic that were barely supported from below. Definitely and tough fix and more importantly a life safety concern 🙁 Yet another reason to have your chimney inspected by … Continued

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The Don’t do it yourself project

December 29, 2018 | Dangers!

On a regular basis I see factory built fireplaces incorrectly installed and unsafe for use. Some are due to the professional installer but more often it is a do it yourself project gone wrong. The scary thing is that the installation, most times, had been completed for some time or from a prior homeowner but the chance of a chimney fire is extreme. Here is one example below from last week: Let’s start in the attic where the two inch minimum clearance to combustibles has been violated in several areas. Additionally, the fire stop was missing from this system and combustibles had dropped down onto the factory built fireplace. To make matters worse, the chimney chase cover was was also made of combustible materials and was allowing water intrusion into the home. In summary, if you are going to install a fireplace yourself, please follow the manufacturers instructions and please … Continued

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Fireplaces in vacation rentals – are they safe?

December 22, 2018 | Dangers!

Here is a scary answer, it depends on property owner. During one of my inspections today, I had what was supposed to be a sweep only of a fireplace at a vacation rental. To start, I refuse to ever do a sweep without an inspection, even if the homeowner insists that they only want a sweep of the system. Upon initial inspection, here is what the renter would see (and probably think it was safe). During my initial inspection I started noticing immediate red flags and started inspecting further. After ten minutes I had found that the flue liner was deteriorated, combustible debris was inside of the exterior metal surround, and the liner had disconnected towards the top of the system! Using a fireplace during a vacation can be a relaxing experience and create a wonderful ambiance during the holidays, but can also quickly become a serious safety issue. In … Continued

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Attic dangers

December 22, 2018 | Dangers!

When inspecting a chimney system it is key to inspect the attic where the flue passes through. It may be extremely difficult to access for some homes but can be the make or break for preventing a chimney fire. To show how common clearance issues occur, on just my second inspection today I found where the original firestop was damaged replaced with combustibles right next to the flue system (not to even mention the combustible debris left around from the prior work). Not much to see from afar. Combustibles everywhere! 🤦‍♂️ Definitely not a two inch air space clearance to combustibles here… I hope these blogs are informative and show the potential dangers that need to be inspected and addressed if found. Fire prevention through thorough inspections!

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Potential hazards of older homes

December 22, 2018 | A Day in the Life

I love working on older systems, partially due to working on several hundred growing up and living in a home built in 1926. Older homes have amazing character but can also come with some pretty substantial deferred maintenance. One unexpected hazard that comes up quite frequently is the potential for a partial chimney collapse due to deterioration. The picture below was the neighbors home but the the neighbors chimney system was a life safety concern for the clients living on both sides (falling bricks can kill). As you can see, no one should be standing below that chimney! To summarize, please have your history chimney system inspected by a professional and ask them to take a quick peek at the neighbors chimney systems just to be safe.

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