Best chimney cleaning is a very necessary service to have completed, if you own a wood, coal, or pellet stove. The Chimney Institute of America recommends that after each cord of wood, or every year, which ever comes first, you should have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a chimney professional, meaning someone who holds the Chimney Sweep Certification from the Chimney Institute of America (CSIA). The CSIA, is the only nationally recognized certification program in the United States pertaining to chimney inspections and cleaning.
Even before we get out of our trucks, the chimney cleaning and inspection begins the moment our technicians drive up to your home in our professionally lettered vehicle. We will do a visual inspection of your exterior chimney chase, or brick structure. Our team from Apex does the best chimney cleaning and looks for items such as tree branches blocking the flow of air, vines growing up your sides of the chimney or rust marks of the chimney chase cover; if you have a chimney cap or not and the condition of it or any other debris that may impede the air flow, cause damage to the exterior or anything else that may hinder the performance of your chimney in any way.
Once we arrive at your door, you will be greeted by one of our certified chimney cleaning professionals in a uniform shirt, with the proper chimney cleaning tools necessary to complete the chimney cleaning and inspection. He will ask you a series of questions about your fireplace, such as: “Are you having any problems or concerns about your fireplace or chimney? Are you comfortable using it? They will also ask if you had any questions about the safety or proper usage of the fireplace system. Once we both determine that all your questions and concerns have been addressed, our tech will start his or her inspection of your fireplace and chimney system.
What is the first thing the technician is looking for?
The first thing the technician will do inside of your home is look at the fireplace and the materials surrounding it. They must make sure that the clearances to combustibles are within the proper distances and are made up of the proper material. For example, the hearth extension that is the stone or tile in front of your fireplace is 16 inches in depth and at least 8 inches on either side of your fireplace opening and made up of a non-combustible material. We find so many times homeowners get new floors and remove this material and replace it with either wood or carpet, which is against code and extremely dangerous. If a spark leaves your fire box, it will land on this material and can start a fire. We make sure this material is the proper material, sized correctly and in good working order. We make sure your fireplace mantle is at the proper height so that the bottom of the mantel will not overheat or catch on fire.
What happens if the fireplace mantle and surrounding materials are not up to code?
There are a couple of options if your fireplace fails inspection because of the material used or clearance issues. First, we could make our own recommendations on how to correct this or you can have your own contractor or designer suggest the changes needed. We would work with your contractor to ensure the proper dimensions and materials are being used and to assist in any way we can to help.
Next, the technician will look at the firebox. They look to see if you have fireplace doors and make sure they are the proper doors for your fireplace. It is helpful if you have the owner’s manual ready for our technicians to reference. We also make sure you have spark arrestor screens and they are functional; these are the screens that open and close that prevent sparks from leaving the firebox during your crackling fire.
What happens if the spark arrestor screens are damaged or not up to code?
Can I order a new one through Apex? Apex offers repairs on spark arrestor screens and will custom cut new ones to fit your fireplace if needed, no matter how old it is. We will check to see if your grate is too big, which can cause over stacking, consequently overheating your chimney system. Next, the interior of the firebox is inspected to see if the bricks or refractory panels are cracked or compromised in any way. Refractory panels function as protection of the walls of the firebox, deflecting heat away and into your living area. If there are cracks in the panels that you can fit a dime into, we recommend replacement of the refractory panels. Apex can custom cut our superior-crafted refractory panels to fit any factory built fireplace so you can enjoy the warmth of your fire while they are protecting the structures interior walls.
Once the firebox inspection is completed, we will see if the damper is in proper working order and the condition of it. Fireplaces come in two general types: masonry fireplaces and factory built (prefab) fireplaces. To figure out which you have will take only a moment of detective work on your part. A masonry fireplace has a firebox built of individual generally yellowish firebrick, a brick chimney above the roof, and if you look up past the damper you will see a roughly pyramid shaped affair also built of brick. A prefab fireplace generally has a firebox of cast refractory panels, and usually some metal is visible in the room all around the firebox. If you look up past the damper, you will see a round metal chimney. And above the roof is round metal chimney, sometimes surrounded by a simulated brick housing. Dampers are important to keep out the draft which is forced down the chimney and in case of a chimney fire, you can close it off to prevent the spread of the fire. It is important that the damper is always functional.
The technician then moves on to inspect the flue, which is the center part of the chimney. The flue is a pathway for the smoke and gases to escape up into the air. Flues are adjustable and are designed to release noxious gases to the atmosphere. They often have the disadvantageous effect of releasing useful household heat to the atmosphere when not properly set—the very opposite of why the fire was lit in the first place.
Fireplaces are one of the biggest energy wasters when the flue is not used properly. This occurs when the flue is left open too wide after the fire is started. Known as convection, warm air from the house is pulled up the chimney, while cold air from outside is pulled into the house wherever it can enter, including around leaking windows and doors. Ideally, the flue should be open all the way when the fire is first started, and then adjusted toward closure as the fire burns until it is open just enough to slowly pull smoke from the fire up the chimney. After the flue heats up from the fire, they are easier to move, but also hotter. Hands should be protected when operating the flue lever; and if a new log is added to the fire, the flue must be adjusted again to ensure that smoke does not billow out into the house.
In some countries, wood fire flues are often built into a heat preserving construction within which the flue gases circulate overheat retaining bricks before release to the atmosphere. The heat retaining bricks are covered in a decorative material such as brick, tiles, or stone. This flue gas circulation avoids the considerable heat loss to the chimney and outside air in conventional systems.
The heat from the flue gases is absorbed quickly by the bricks and then released slowly to the house rather than the chimney. In a well-insulated home, a single load fire burning for one and a half hours twice a day is enough to keep an entire home warm for a 24-hour period. In this way, less fuel is used, and noxious emissions are reduced. Sometimes, the flue incorporates a second combustion chamber where combustibles in the flue gas are burnt a second time, reducing soot, noxious emissions and increasing overall efficiency. Flues can become damaged over time; therefore, we always send a camera into the flue to inspect the condition. On masonry flues, cracks in the liner or gaps form in clay tiles when the mortar joints fail, this is something we need to find and repair. On factory-built fireplaces, the chimney and flue are one in the same. We look for separation of joints, rust, or any other defect in the flue system. Using the right camera, we scope the line and find even the smallest crack, joint or hole while we record and photograph the system.
Chimney cleaning, especially the flue is a huge part of our business. This especially important service allows us to properly maintain your system by removing the largest culprit of wood burning appliances, Creosote. A combination of soot and tar, this substance is called chimney creosote. A natural byproduct of burning coal and wood, this substance can be found clinging to the insides of most chimneys to some degree and needs to be cleaned. While in small quantities it is not a big deal, in larger quantities it can be dangerous. The substance is flammable and when it builds up in excess in a chimney, the heat from a fire can cause the creosote to ignite. The most important thing to know about a creosote fire is its potential to spread very quickly throughout the home, often without any warning.
Our best chimney cleaning process is safe for your home. We start by laying out protective tarps to protect your furniture and floors. We cover the face of the fireplace with a plastic sheet to prevent backdraft dust from escaping while we are sweeping the flue. The vacuum is a quality high suction model that will keep a negative pressure in your firebox and keep the dust from escaping. Once we have setup up all of our protective equipment, we turn on the vacuum and start our sweeping of the flue using only the best rotary tools in the industry. The new style tools makes it easier for us to complete the sweeping without going up onto the roof, as it is not necessary. The powerful rotary action along with our scrubbing head propels up the flue, scrubbing the walls of the fireplace flue as it moves up. As the debris is scraped off the walls for the flue it falls down into the firebox and get sucked into the vacuum. This continues until the entire length of the flue is scrubbed clean. To confirm the cleanliness of the flue, we will reinspect the flue after we clean it to make sure it is good to go.
Some fireplace chimneys need a 3rd degree creosote cleaning. This is a much more advanced process in which special equipment is used to apply cleaner.
Who needs this type of cleaning?
If the technician can see a glossy shine embedded into the walls of your chimney flue, similar to the photo, you need a stage 3 cleaning.
Why is this so important to do?
This type of buildup is flammable and will cause fire at some point. If this ever was to ignite it would burn up to 2000 degrees, hot enough to melt metal, and possibly spread to your home. This is a very serious condition.
To remove this type of buildup, we use Chimney Saver Products, these products are the best in the industry.
The PCR treatment allows us to apply a chemical to the flue that will absorb and extract the creosote off the lining of the flu. It dries as a crust like material that is easily swept away using our thorough sweeping method described above.
The winters in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are the most beautiful time to burn a hot fire, especially during the North East storms that come in with fury, and most of the time knock out power for a while. There is nothing like a back up heat source during this time. Please contact us today to ensure the integrity and safety of your fireplace and chimney. (732)-257-4590
For more information please visit our website: www.DryerVentCleaningNewJersey.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org