Common Chimney Problems

Loveleena Rajeev Nov 23, 2018
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One of the most common chimney problems is the development of creosote deposits on its walls. Here are some useful tips on repairing chimney problems.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, "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."
A chimney is a vertical structure meant as an escape (vent) for smoke and hot gases, released while cooking on a stove or from a fireplace or furnace. The hollow space inside it is called a flue.
It is usually built tall to spread the pollutants in the flue across a greater area, and help in drawing more air for combustion. For all those who have built it atop their roofs, it is important to ensure their safety and smooth functioning.

Types of Problems

1. Falling Debris

Bits of brick or mortar debris falling down the flue indicates a decay in its structure. The debris could be small pieces of brick, sand, tar, soot, or lumps of mortar. It can be easily fixed by patching or replacing old broken bricks, and re-tarring the flue.

2. Heated Openings

When the openings in the adjoining or above wall heat up, it is a sign of flue deterioration. One of the symptom is dull, black stains appearing on its opening caused due to condensed tar or acids in the flue, that are damaging to the brickwork of the structure.

3. Not Enough Fire

When fire is not drawn adequately, it is caused due to obstructed flue, or when the height of the chimney is insufficient in relation to the ridge of the roof. However, just increasing the height will not alone help to draw out enough fire, and it needs to be combined with clearing the flue obstruction.

4. Fumes in the Rooms

Fumes containing carbon monoxide (CO) are dangerous and capable of killing. Even lower levels of CO concentration can cause dizziness, mental confusion, severe headaches, nausea, and fainting. Many times, a leak in the vent will send fumes all over the house. This requires the immediate attention of a qualified technician.

5. Excessive Soot

When the flue is not of appropriate diameter for the fire or stove, or at times, when the fumes do not rise rapidly, it can create soot deposits. Soot deposits are particularly hazardous if the structure has deteriorated. Ensuring that the flue is of correct diameter will reduce collection of soot.

6. Too Much Fuel

Uninsulated flues require a lot of fuel to draw heat. When small, outlet fume pipes discharge into a large, uninsulated flue, they won't rise up. To accelerate their ascent, they consume more fuel. An insulated flue of the correct size will solve the issue of excess fuel consumption.

7. Dampness

A damp shaft will stain the ceiling and the opening, as well as walls around the fireplace. This could be caused due to a number of factors that trap moisture, mainly, porous clay bricks, unvented flue, rainwater, etc.
Most of the problems can be repaired using easy repair instructions; however, it is best to get a repair service company to look into it, as tar and soot deposits are a considerable fire risk. The chimney should be regularly cleaned and maintained for longevity.
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