Chimney Care – Masonry Smoke Chambers

March 25, 2019 | Technically Speaking

Just above the visible area of your fireplace is a smoke chamber that aids in efficiently removing smoke from your home. While newer homes typically have smooth (parged) smoke chambers which are much more efficient, older fireplaces have a stair step pattern and are more likely to build up creosote. This informational video from HeatShield explains the differences and how they impact the performance of your fireplace and chimney system: If you need to have your smoke chamber parged, be sure to contact a CSIA Certified Chimney Professional to ensure proper repairs. Parging your smoke chamber is a simple fix and will not only produce a more efficient system, but will also bring your fireplace up to current IRC and NFPA211 standards.

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Ethanol Fireplaces

February 28, 2019 | Chimney Basics

What are Ethanol Fireplaces? Ethanol fireplaces are a ventless decorative fireplace that use bioethanol as the fuel source. Bioethanol is made from fermenting the sugar and starch components of organic matter so it is a eco-friendly. When using this style decorative fireplace, the UL listing of the product indicates that they are safe for use without a flue or chimney. Ethanol Pros and Cons Pros – When using most ethanol fireplaces, they do not produce soot or smoke so the system and your home remain clean after use. Ethanol fireplaces can be used in homes that were not originally designed with a fireplace. With the addition of an ethanol fireplace, you can have the ambiance but will not have to design a flue system. Also, the lack of venting system allows for unique designs such as the system below. Cons – While ethanol is considered a cleaner burn than typical … Continued

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Stages of Wood Combustion

February 19, 2019 | Technically Speaking

Stage 1: The Evaporation of Moisture Anyone who has ever tried to burn wet or unseasoned wood will find this stage very frustrating. During the moisture evaporation stage, instead of producing heat, heat is absorbed. Water trapped inside of the wood is turned into steam and removed from the wood. Once this process is complete, it leads to Stage 2. Stage 2: The Vaporization of Hydrocarbon Compounds Stage 2 we still are not into the heat producing phase (maybe a tiny bit) but we are close! At this point, we are over five hundred degrees and temperatures are on the rise. The chemical structure of the wood starts to break down and the process of pyrolysis begins. Pyrolysis “liberates organic gases and leaves carbon rich charcoal”. This process also creates a mixture of hydrocarbons in the form of liquid tar droplets and combustibles gases, and digging in is very complex. … Continued

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The importance of HEPA Filtration

January 22, 2019 | Technically Speaking

What Is HEPA Filtration? HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filtration is a standard used by a variety of different high-quality air filtration systems. Let’s take a look at the basics of HEPA now. How Does HEPA Filtration Work? True HEPA filters use a special type of mat that is built out of randomly-arranged fibers, usually made of fiberglass. Each individual fiber is extremely small, between 0.5 and 2.0 micrometers in width. As contaminants and pollutants are pushed through this filter, they are trapped between these fibers, and are unable to pass through. HEPA Filtration Standards HEPA standards specify that any given air filter must remove 99.97% of all particles that pass through it, having a size greater than or equal to 0.3 µm. In effect, this removes just about any common airborne particles, including mold, ash, mold spores, and pollen. What Are HEPA Filters Used For? ● Preventing the spread … Continued

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Advantages of Zinc coating

January 22, 2019 | Technically Speaking

Advantages of Zinc Coating For Chimneys   If you are replacing exterior components of your chimney system (especially in close proximity to the ocean) one of the best materials to use is zinc-coated steel. Using a zinc coated product for chimneys has several great advantages: Protection from rust and corrosion – Unprotected steel can corrode easily, particularly when exposed to temperature fluctuations and moisture. Untreated steel may become damaged and unserviceable within just 2 years. With a zinc coating, however, a protective barrier is made between the atmosphere and the steel material. This layer helps protect the structural properties of the steel base material, and ensure that it remains protected from corrosion and rust. Longer lifespan – Zinc-plated steel can easily last 30 years or longer without any major deterioration or significant corrosion, and remain functional for many more years. This longer lifespan makes zinc coatings a great investment, which … Continued

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Inspection of the day – gas fireplace troubles

January 20, 2019 | A Day in the Life

With the addition of my home inspection background, I have seen a few occasions where after closing the sellers take what they can out of a house and even swap out the appliances! During my chimney inspection today, the same situation occurred and the sellers even took the decorative logs from the fireplace 😢. My best recommendation on that end would be to hire a home inspector that is very thorough and also uses a program called recall check where the serial numbers are stored for the appliances in case of a future recall. It can help not only in the event of a recall, but also if someone tries to take and swap out appliances. Onto the inspection. Issue one: The home was in the process of being set up for liquid propane but the fireplace had not been converted from natural gas for use with propane. If the … Continued

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Gas starters in a factory built fireplace

January 10, 2019 | A Day in the Life

This is a interesting one that I always get pushback from both home owners and gas installers.. While gas starters may be allowed in masonry systems, they are not approved for factory built fireplaces and could lead to over firing of the system and insurance issues if a fire occurred. Factory built (pre fabricated) fireplaces are a UL listed appliances and only approved parts can be used in these systems. It may be a convenient way to start a fire but it is not worth the risk!

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What is a Chim-Scan?

January 3, 2019 | Common Questions

One of the best tools of the trade is the Chim-Scan flue inspection system. Countless times I have found hidden dangers that would not have been discovered without it. So how does it work? The Version of the Chim-Scan I use has two sets of cameras, one pointing up looking for blockages, and another (the lighthouse camera) that rotates 360 degrees giving a live action view of the inside of your flue system. Check it out: [wpvideo jwjoq9BY ] [wpvideo DMkqkLCe ] As you can see this is a essential tool for a chimney sweep and when dealing with a fire in a house, you do not ever want to take chances. This is one of the many investments that CSIA certified professionals make to help ensure a homeowners safety. Our inspections can be more expensive than some of the competition, but also much more detailed and comprehensive.

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Inspections with drones

December 31, 2018 | A Day in the Life

Drones can be a great way to inspect hard to reach chimney systems, especially the top crown area. Below are a few examples: Steep pitch roof with a very tall chimney. Three story house on the beach with water intrusion damage. Overhead view of the missing chase cover and active water intrusion area. A collapsing chimney system on a neighbors house next to the inspection (life safety hazard). The last drone image was a prior inspection with seven fireplaces on a tile roof! A few things to be mindful of when your inspector is using a drone: Does their liability insurance cover drone usage? If not, are they using a secondary company such as Verifly to cover liability while the drone is in use? Are they certified by the FAA? This is key training to know the rules, regulations, and safe flying conditions. In summary, drones can be a great … Continued

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Gas Basics – Why does it take so long for my pilot light to stay on?

December 29, 2018 | Technically Speaking

A common question I get when servicing gas systems is why do I have to hold down the pilot knob for so long for it to stay lit. The answer is while you are holding down the pilot button it is heating up a part called a thermocouple that actually creates small amounts of electricity once heated. The thermocouple creates a small amount of electricity that activates a safety magnet that holds open a valve that allows gas to continue to flow through the system. This is very important for safety because it shuts down the flow of gas in the event that the burner goes out and keeps gas from filling your house. From a repair standpoint, if you depress the pilot for an extended amount of time and the pilot light does not stay on, you might have a bad thermocouple! For safety, always have a NFI certified … Continued

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