The primary reason that Mountain-area homeowners have their chimneys swept each year is safety – none of us want to put our homes at increased risk as the result of a hostile chimney fire. Of course, it’s also important to remember that it saves you money to keep your hearth appliances well maintained and operating at maximum performance and efficiency!
Here are some fundamental ways to stay safe and save money at home this Spring:
1. If you don’t have a chimney cap, get one. Without a cap, rain and snow enter at the top of the chimney – not too much differently than having a hole in the top of your house. Moisture in the flue not only damages the interior liner (either eroding the mortar joints or causing rust on the steel components) but it washes some of the combustible soot and creosote down the side of the flue. Now that it’s warming up again, critters like a quiet place to have a litter away from predators. All of these conditions are going to cost you some serious money to get fixed, but simply having a properly sized cap will prevent this from happening.
2. If you have a chimney cap, make sure it’s not getting plugged. Modern chimney caps have a wire screen to act as a spark-arrestor. This is a valuable part of the chimney system, but also the first place that gets plugged with creosote. Check for these two signs; if you’re having difficulty getting a fire started when it used to be easy, it’s likely that your chimney cap is partially plugged. If the cap is blocking the airflow at the top of the chimney, the draft in the flue will be reduced. Restricted airflow means lower flue temperatures and increased creosote buildup – and it means poorer efficiency. A poorly operating hearth appliance means extra money spent on fuel and extra emissions entering the atmosphere.
3. Don’t forget your dryer vent. Much like their hearth appliance brethren, dryer vents rely on an unplugged venting system for good airflow. A common symptom of a dryer vent that needs to be serviced is clothes that take extra cycles to get completely dry – and that means spending extra money for each load of clothes. Obviously it’s costing you extra money if you have to run your dryer longer to dry the same clothes. A simple mistake many of our customers make is to assume that their dryer vent will get serviced when they have a new dryer installed. In fact, it’s rare for an appliance installation crew to remove the lint and debris from anywhere other than inside the room containing the dryer.
4. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas created by the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons – including cord wood, natural gas, pellet fuel and propane. Medical research has shown that long term exposure to levels of CO once thought to be ‘safe’ can cause serious health problems including memory loss and lung damage. The best way to prevent CO production is to have all heating units regularly serviced as part of an annual system of inspection and evaluation. The best way to detect CO after its production is with a CO Detector.
To receive a Free Copy of the CSIA Bulletin: The Facts About Chimney Fires: Causes and Cures and/or a chimney cap brochure, or for more information about heating with wood, gas or pellet products or for service on all makes and models, call us today at Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney – (303) 679-1601. Semper Fi!