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When you invest in a new heating appliance for your home, one thing to be very careful with are the recommended clearances to combustibles for that appliance. Installing the appliance or venting too close to surrounding walls, framing, flooring or other combustible materials can put your home and family at risk. Even if things seem fine initially when clearances aren’t met, major problems can occur down the road.. Why is this? Well, it is due to a process called pyrolysis.

What Is Pyrolysis?

crawl space inspectionPyrolysis is what occurs when combustible materials too close to a heating source or exhaust vent are chemically altered by the heat and flames of your fireplace. With time these combustible materials continue to change chemically, becoming more susceptible to combustion. In reality, pyrolysis is the slow baking of combustibles by which their ignition point is reduced. Most wood needs to reach around 400 degrees Fahrenheit before igniting, while wood that has experienced pyrolysis can ignite as low as 200 degrees Fahrenheit before spontaneously igniting. A spark is not needed and once a combustibles ignition point has been sufficiently reduced it can ignite from radiant heat only.

There are two common instances in which pyrolysis usually occurs.

  1. In a masonry chimney or fireplace, this occurs when the chimney’s clearances to combustibles were not met or when gaps, cracks, and other holes exist in the inner flue lining or chimney structure itself. Through these gaps, cracks, or holes the heat, as well as the byproducts of combustion are can enter areas of the chimney they are not supposed to go. Over time heat in these areas bakes surrounding combustibles. In the case where a chimney is improperly constructed even a chimney that appears to ‘meet clearances’ to the surrounding structure can overheat surrounding combustibles and cause problems.
  2. When you install any heating appliance, including stoves and inserts (wood, pellet, or gas), minimum specified clearances to combustibles must be met and proper clearances adhered to. If they are not strictly followed the pyrolysis, or baking, of nearby combustibles, can occur, ultimately resulting in an unexpected, and sudden structure fire.

Our Professional Team Is Ready To Serve You

Because of the dangers involved with appliances and chimneys that are incorrectly installed or constructed, the Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends you find CSIA Certified Professionals to inspect and clean your system on an annual basis. Fortunately for anyone in the Grand Junction or surrounding areas on the Western Slope and Moab, we here at The Chimney Doctor are more than qualified to help out!

We take your safety seriously and whenever you call us for an installation, repair, or in-depth inspection we promise we will do our best to give you only the facts so that you can make a wise decision for the safety and security of your family. If you are not sure where to start, give us a call and let us help you confidently navigate the chimney landscape in your home. We are happy to offer advice and guidance when it comes to choosing the right fit for your home.

Trust In Us For Regular Care

Once your system is properly installed, or repaired to meet or exceed minimum standards, your heating appliance or fireplace will be ready for confident and continued use. Annual inspections and routine sweepings will encourage a longer lifespan for your appliance and keep it running safely. With regular service, it will serve you efficiently season after season. There’s no better time to trust in our team. Experience the difference of hiring our CSIA & NFI Certified Professionals can make and get in touch today!