Now that Phoenix weather is cooling down, you are ready to fire up your fireplaces. But wait, what about the Chimney? Here is some more information that will help you better understand how the chimney works with the rest of the fireplace and areas to keep an eye out for to insure safe operation.
First, there are primarily two different types of chimneys that are connected to a fireplace. The first type is called masonry chimney: it is a custom constructed unit made of brick, concrete blocks, and/or stone and is more of your traditional looking chimney and is primarily designed for wood burning fireplaces.
Example of Masonry Chimney
Masonry Chimney Area of Concern:
Second category, are chimneys Builders and remodelers can choose from a wide variety of chimneys constructed using metal and other prefabricated materials. These are for gas burning and some wood burning and tend to be more efficient than the masonry type.
Some popular types of factory-built chimneys are:
Double-wall, mass-insulated chimneys. Two layers of metal, generally stainless steel, with an insulated material between the layers of metal.
Air-cooled chimneys. Two or more layers of metal with air in between, constructed so that the air circulates between the layers. Eliminating the heat.
Air-insulated chimneys. Similar to the air-cooled design, except it is constructed for minimal movement of air between the layers, so the air acts as an insulator instead of drawing the heat away.
Example of Factory Built /Prefabricated Chimney
Metal Prefabricated Chmney Areas of Concern: Corrosion, rusting and open or loose joints could indicate that carbon monoxide gases are leaking in the attic. Also, metal chimneys passing through the attic must be isolated from the floor and roof framing . Metal chimneys must have a 2" clearance from combustibles. And an appropriate fitting should be a non-combustible material such as sheet metal.
Caution: This exposed portion of the metal flue pipe may become hot during fireplace use and special care taken to prevent burns--Meaning don't touch these exterior vents when you are operating your gas fireplace.
In order to use your fireplace/chimney properly it is important to know the materials and parts of a functioning chimney in your home. The most common part is the flue which is a vertical passageway in a masonry chimney where the inner wall of the flue is lined with insulated material and its purpose is for safety, ease of cleaning, and improved performance. Some types of liners are: terra-cotta, modular liners, stainless steel, and aluminum.
Another important part to a chimney is the spark arrestor or chimney cap, which is recommend and prevents any burning embers or sparks from escaping through the chimney. A chimney cap is an open-mesh screen unit placed securely over the top of the chimney stack. It's suggested that a chimney cap should be large enough to protect the chimney from animals and debris from entering, but small enough to allow a positive draft in the chimney. Note: Most factory-built chimneys incorporate a cap specifically designed to fit that brand of chimney.
Spark Arrestor/Chimney Cap & Animal in Chimney without a Spark Arrestor
Preventative Maintenance Tips:
- Inspect your chimney once each year by a chimney professional and clean if necessary.
- Clean out doors and base of flue of any soot and/or ash
- Visual check of flues for any creosote build up and mortar/brick cracking
- Look at the ceiling area next to the chimney for any leaks and/or stains which can come from water intrusion through the chimney e.g. peeling wallpaper, stains on the walls, and dampness
- Inspect the condition of your exterior chimney e.g. loose/missing bricks, chipped bricks/joints, cracks, and holes and repair before next using fireplace.
*The best time to get your chimney cleaned is before the first use of your fireplace.
For more information contact Arizona Chimney Sweep at: 602.439.3218 or http://www.aarizonachimneysweep.com
Blog by: Dale