Posts made in January 2011

Chimney Maintenance and Installation Tips

Chimneys are an important part of your home’s architecture. If you’re building a new home or renovating an existing house to install a wood burning fireplace this element needs some serious planning and design. That’s because the installation and maintenance of your chimney will make a big difference in the operation of your wood burning fireplace or wood stove.

Match The Chimney Size To The Hearth Appliance

In simple terms, your chimney flue should be the same size as the flue on your wood stove or fireplace insert. In the case of chimneys, bigger is not better – it only creates an imbalance of airflow. Flue gas will flow up and out faster in a small chimney, producing a healthier, cleaner system.

Keep It Tall

Your chimney should be an absolute minimum of 15 feet tall (from the floor to the exhaust point). Although this isn’t a problem in most homes, make sure your cottage or mobile home system meets this minimum requirement. Taller chimneys actually produce a better system that will allow for easier lighting of the fire and better exhaust. If your chimney is below this height it could potentially endanger the safety of your family and neighborhood.

Regular Maintenance Is Vital

Keeping your chimney clean is important not only for its operation but for your safety. Chimney fires are common and highly dangerous, mainly caused by creosote build-up. Having a certified technician inspect and clean your chimney at least once per year is essential. The minimal cost will allow you to enjoy cleaner fires that are easier to light and maintain. You can also rest assured that your chimney system is holding up well and stay on top of any necessary chimney repairs.

The services of a knowledgeable chimney technician are valuable. For design, installation and chimney maintenance, get a pro on your side and enjoy your hearth as you were meant to.

How Do You Stop Smoke From Crossing Over From One Fireplace Chimney To Another?

If you have two fireplaces with flues running up the same chimney structure, (like the picture) you are often a candidate for the problem of smoke crossover. Smoke crossover is when one chimney is breathing out smoke from the fire, and the other chimney is breathing in outside air to equalize the pressure in the home. The inhaling chimney flue is also sucking back in smoke from the other nearby chimney.

Many people assume closing the metal damper on the unused fireplace will stop this smoke crossover, but that is not the case. Dampers are not tight enough to stop this air draw. The smoky fireplace needs to be air sealed to stop the smoke. That is why a chimney balloon is needed in the unused fireplace to stop the air draw inward through the second flue.

You would measure your fireplace flue for a chimney balloon and then install that chimney balloon low and tight in the fireplace that is drawing smoke. Air sealing the smoky fireplace with the balloon forces the house to find another location (i.e. windows and doors and other envelope penetrations) to draw outside air in at where there is no smoke. This keeps the fire burning in the one fireplace and keeps the smoke outside where it belongs.

This troubleshooting article was submitted with permission by Chimney Balloon USA.

Benefits Of A Stainless Steel Chimney Liner

Chimney liners are a vital element in the operation of your fireplace or wood stove. And when the liner has deteriorated, cracked or aged beyond its limit you have a choice of materials for the replacement chimney liner. Clay tile is a traditional choice for the liner, although you can also choose cement or aluminum. Stainless steel chimney liners are a popular and durable choice that delivers various benefits.

Long Lasting

Because stainless steel is corrosion resistant you can expect this liner to last for years virtually problem free. And the complete seal applied to the liner keeps nasty emissions away from your masonry, allowing them to last longer and cutting down on required repairs.


A stainless steel chimney liner an affordable alternative to most traditional chimney liners. Easier to install than clay tile liners, the initial installation of stainless steel liners is less expensive. Also, chimney sweeps have an easier time cleaning this type of liner thanks to the round shape. No square corners to catch deposits of creosote makes for a faster, more effective clean. In the end, this should cost you less.

Sealed and Smooth

Aged clay tile chimney liners will crack and split, which allows noxious fumes to leak into your home. With a stainless steel liner you will effectively seal those cracks and drastically reduce the chance of them happening ever again.

Added Insulation

Insulation can be fitted around the stainless steel liner or stuffed between the liner and the chimney walls. This insulation cuts down on creosote build up by keeping the air hot all the way up the chimney. It also helps to reduce the cold air draft that could come down the chimney when the fireplace or wood stove is not in use.

Replacing your existing liner with a new stainless steel chimney liner is a wise choice, offering your home all of these benefits and not to mention, a whole lot more.

Chimney Caps Are Small Yet Powerful

One small feature on your chimney has a few very important jobs. Despite their size, chimney caps are an affordable addition with a powerful purpose. They keep out pests that are attracted to the warmth and cozy conditions in your chimney. They also help to keep harmful weather conditions from entering and causing premature deterioration of the liner and other elements.

You need a chimney cap to properly protect this essential parts of your home. Caps also add a distinctive architectural look on your home’s exterior, which prevents them from being an outright eyesore to your beautiful home. Like a cupola over a roof, caps finish off the chimney with flair.

Different Chimney Cap Materials

Chimney Sweep NH

There are a variety of designs and materials available for this chimney component. Most often you will see stainless steel chimney caps, along with cast iron and distinct aluminum. More decorative styles are made from copper and display the unique coloring of this specific type of medal.

Essential Designs

When shopping for a replacement chimney cap, be sure to choose one that has a built in screen to trap sparks inside the chimney. This type of cap is often referred to as a spark arrestor style. The mesh (which is generally made with spaces between 1/4″ and 1”) will protect your roof and any surrounding vegetation from damage due to the heated debris that can escape out your chimney.

It’s important to find out how many flues or clay liners your chimney currently has. This number will determine which chimney cap is suitable. There are products that fit one or two liners, as well as some that can adapt to multiple flues. Look for a chimney cap manufactured for use with a round clay liner if that’s what you need.

Essential to protect your chimney, as well as the area surrounding the chimney opening, a chimney cap should be in suitable condition to ensure proper usage. Your chimney sweep will likely inspect the cap during routine maintenance visits and advise you when it should be replaced with a brand new cap.

What Is A Chimney Sweep?

Not necessarily the singing and dancing workers of classic movies, a chimney sweep is also known as a chimney service technician. Hiring a skilled and experienced chimney sweep to handle your chimney maintenance is one of the best ways to keep your family and home safe from fire.

Chimney sweeps are trained to detect and remove creosote from your chimney. This dangerous build up of emissions sticks to the chimney walls and is the leading cause of chimney fires. It must be removed at least once a year. The sweep will also inspect your chimney system, looking over the condition and advising you on any repairs that need to be done.

Be sure to hire only certified and trained technicians. They need to have graduated from the Chimney Safety Institute of America, an organization that is dedicated to educating both the public and those in the industry on chimney safety. This professional chimney sweep will clean your chimney thoroughly using the proper techniques and the best equipment. They are also skilled in installations and general chimney maintenance.

Expect to pay a reasonable amount of money to have your chimney cleaned by a trained and experienced professional. This annual maintenance task is imperative to ensure a safe atmosphere in your home and to reduce the risk of fire due to creosote build up.

It’s a wise idea to have the same chimney sweep or chimney service company look at your system every year. This allows them to keep track of the wear and tear and accurately gauge the condition of the chimney both inside your home and out. Keep your family safe and enjoy worry free fireplace and stove operation with the trusted services of a professional chimney sweep.