Frequently Asked Chimney Questions
Do you have any chimney questions that need answering? Below are some of our most frequently asked questions. If you do not find what you are looking for below please call us at 970-234-3330 to get your questions answered.
Q: How often should I have my chimney or stove inspected?
A: Once a year. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 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.” Even if you don’t use your chimney regularly other forms of deterioration and weathering can occur. For example; weathering of metal or brick, animals building nests inside your cap or chimney, sealants used on your roof begin to fail, flashings and storm collars begin to leak, etc…
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) 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.”
Q: How often should I have my chimney swept?
A: For wood stoves and inserts usually between every 3-5 cords of wood that you burn. A cord is a stack of wood 4′ tall x 4′ wide x 8′ long. For pellet stoves and inserts you should have them cleaned and service every 2-3 tons of pellets, or if you use it as a primary source of heat – every year. There are roughly 40-50 bags of pellets per ton.
Q: I’ve heard that Pellet Stoves can’t have chimney fires, is this true?
A:Pellet stoves can cause chimney fires. While many believed this was true for many years time has shown that pellet stove and insert flues do become dirty enough to cause, and sustain, a chimney fire. Here in Grand Junction in 2014 we went out to inspect a fire that resulted from not having had their pellet stove flue cleaned in over 13 years. It lit the structure on fire and caused a lot of damage. To prevent a chimney fire please call us at 970-234-3330 to have your pellet stove cleaned and serviced today.
Q: My fireplace stinks. What can I do?
A: What you smell comes from the creosote deposits in the chimney, which are a natural resort of burning wood. In the summer, spring, and fall the smell is always worse. Due to air pressure in the house outside air is being drawn down the chimney and flowing past the creosote deposits bringing with it the smell of the creosote. In Masonary Fireplaces there are tight-sealing top dampers which can be installed to dramatically reduce airflow down the chimney, and thus hopefully the smell as well. Alternatively there are chimney deodorizing products which can help. Placing a box of baking soda or a tub of cat litter inside the fireplace or woodstove has also been shown to help.
Q: How often should I have my gas stove or fireplace inspected and cleaned?
A: Most gas stove and fireplace manufacturers recommend having a qualified technician out to service your stove annually. This is make sure that during the off-season your flue has not become blocked, that your wiring and controls are all still functioning as the should, and to refresh and replace the embers and clean the inside of your stove to keep it looking and running at an optimal level. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 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.” Even if you don’t use your chimney regularly other forms of deterioration and weathering can occur. For example; weathering of metal or brick, animals building nests inside your cap or chimney, sealants used on your roof begin to fail, flashings and storm collars begin to leak, etc…
Q: My gas stove or fireplace smells bad when I burn it and gives me a headache. What should I do?
A: The first answer to this question is to have your gas stove or fireplace inspected. There are several reasons this may be occuring. Your unit may actually be leaking gas, which would cause headaches and possibly nausea. Often the units become extremely dusty after sitting for a summer, or even for years, and require a thorough chimney cleaning using forced air to loosen up the dust and remove as much as possible from the space around the unit.
As the unit heats up the dust is ‘cooked off’. One of the byproducts of this process is Carbon Monoxide (CO). The dust ‘cooking off’ is normal with gas units that are used infrequently but some people are more sensitive than others. If your fireplace is ‘cooking off’ dust you may find a metallic taste in your mouth, or get light headed, have headaches that are tied to whenever the stove is lit and in use, or slight nausea. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please call us at 970-234-3330 today.
Q: What should I do if smoke is visibly pouring out of my gas stove or fireplace?
A: Call for a chimney inspection and chimney cleaning immediately. Smoke should not be pouring off of, out of, or from around your gas stove, fireplace, or insert and can be indicative of much larger problems.
Q: How often should I have my dryer vents cleaned out and inspected?
A: In commercial dryer applications it is recommended that they are professionally cleaned at least annually. In residential settings we also recommend having them cleaned, serviced, and inspected annually, or whenever any of the symptoms outlined here are present. This prevents the risk of a dryer vent fire proactively on a regular basis.
According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) in August 2012 there are over 2,900 clothes dryer fires each year. 84% of these fires were found in residential buildings with an average death toll of 5, with 100 injuries and over $35 million dollars in loss. These numbers are said to have increased in recent years.