The National Fire Prevention Association 211 codes state the “Chimneys must be inspected and cleaned annually as necessary by a certified chimney sweep”. Most homeowners assume that their furnace company includes chimney cleaning as part of their maintenance process, but that is not true.
Chimney neglect will cause significant damage and endangers your family from carbon monoxide poisoning. Oil and gas furnaces and hot water heaters rely on the chimney for proper venting of exhaust. Although gas and oil appliances do not create creosote that wood-burning appliances do, they still produce soot. Soot is a highly corrosive substance that can damage chimneys and increase carbon monoxide levels in your home.
Furnace Flues can become blocked which allows a blowback of soot into your home and poisonous carbon monoxide to seep into your living space. If the furnace is in the basement, the levels can build up to dangerous high levels undetected. Scheduling an annual chimney sweep inspection and placing a carbon monoxide detector in the basement will save lives.
During the winter months, the furnace can not be cleaned without turning off the heat. During the winter, long running cycles produce soot and harmful substances that cling to the inside of the chimney. The accumulation of these substances restricts the escape of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and water vapor.
The furnace produces acidic condensate that will literally eat away at the flue lining in the chimney. If a clay liner begins to deteriorate, the broken bits can fall into the furnace damaging the operating mechanism. Chimney blockages will send the carbon monoxide straight into the basement, then the home living area.
The fumes are invisible, odorless, and tasteless. Carbon Monoxide can only be monitored by a detector designed for that purpose. A carbon monoxide detector is built into some brands of smoke detectors, and the battery should be changed twice a year when the clocks fall back and spring forward.
Fireplace flue cleaning and chimney sweeping refer to the same process. During the service, the technician generally uses a stiff-bristled brush or other chimney cleaning system to brush the inside of the flue to remove buildup from its walls.
Chimneys are havens for creatures and cause dangerous obstructions. Even if your chimney has a hood, creatures can access the funnel and flue. Smoky brown cockroaches are good flyers and can work their way down into the home where they like to live. They like flat roof areas and chimneys – this is how they enter structures. A chimney screen’s holes allow safe smoke ventilation, but nothing else can squeeze through it like fleas or cockroaches. One problem with screens is that pests can bite through them over time. To account for this issue, you could install both a chimney cap and a chimney screen with an annual chimney sweep inspection to ensure both layers of protection are intact.
If you have a chimney in New Jersey, chances are you’ll have Stink Bugs. The heat from buildings will escape from chimneys and vents and they will find their way in as they are attracted to warm areas in cold nights. Beetles and ants can crawl through the cracks of older fireplaces, especially if they’re built with brick. Wasps will nest in your chimney. Exterminating insects in the chimney by spraying will deter infestation. A more permanent solution is installing fine mesh screens, top sealing dampers, and by sealing cracks in your chimney’s exterior with mortar.
Raccoons, squirrels, birds, bats, and other larger pests can use the chimney itself as nesting spots. The chimney cap needs to be steel or copper lid with a mesh wire opening on its underside and installed at the mouth of your chimney. A professional Chimney sweep will remove the hood, replace it with a mesh wire cap, and remove the obstructions from the funnel and the flue.
Bees should not be exterminated; they should be preserved. Unlike wasps, bees are purely vegetarian in both the adult and larval stages. Bees gather nectar from flowers as a source of carbohydrates, as do many wasps. They fulfill their protein needs by collecting pollen. Most species of bees are valuable pollinators, and honeybees are an essential partner in the production of food crops for people.
More than 80% of U.S. food crops are pollinated by honeybees. In New Jersey, blueberries, cranberries, pumpkins, squash, strawberries, soybeans, cucumbers, peaches, and apples are among the many crops that benefit from honeybee pollination. Although wild insect pollinators such as wasps and other bee species help in native plant reproduction, only honeybees live in managed colonies of sufficient numbers for effective pollination of commercial crops. Only honeybees can be transported to large areas of blooming crops for pollination services. The past two decades have seen dramatic declines in the number of honeybees, due to the introduction of parasitic mites, diseases, and habitat loss. Visit NJBeekeepers.org to find out about bee-friendly plants you can cultivate. If a beehive sets up home in the top of your chimney you need a professional chimney sweep and a bee wrangler to remove the entire hive. The New Jersey Bee Association lists bee wranglers who can help.
A crucial component to the safe operation of your furnace is the proper configurations and size of the entire venting system. Homeowners often forget that when they purchase a new HVAC or furnace system, they need chimney sweep professionals to assess their new system. Manufacturers requirements specifically indicate the proper flue size for the safe operation of their system. If the flue size is incorrect excessive moisture and combustion gases will build up. Moisture is a huge enemy to your ventilation system.
If the system is being converted from oil to gas, building codes require a chimney sweep assessment, cleaning, and inspection prior to installing and operating the new system.
Spring, summer, autumn are great times to have your chimney sweep service. An annual inspection and cleaning by a CSIA- certified company will ensure the ventilation system is adequate and chimney is safe. Their assessment will also check gaskets and joints are intact.
In winter, the heat will have to be stopped for the chimney sweep to complete his inspection and service. Snow does not stop chimney sweeps. Before any sweeping is done, a visual inspection is performed to determine if the flue needs to be swept. Roof access is not needed to make this determination. Additionally, sweepings are generally performed from the base, making outside weather conditions irrelevant when it comes to running our brushes.