You may have heard that a woodburning fireplace needs to be cleaned every year. A homeowner in Howard County recently asked us if they need to have their gas burning fireplace cleaned. Gas fireplaces are considered much cleaner and safer than their woodburning ancestors, but they can develop issues over time. Many people don’t realize that gas fireplaces also experience buildup and need regular maintenance to work at their best. There are many reasons why gas chimneys must be cleaned every year. Read on to find out more:
Why a Gas Chimney Needs Yearly Cleaning
There are a wide variety of reasons why you should have your gas fireplace cleaned and maintained. Poorly maintained gas fireplaces can be dangerous. In some cases it may be legally required. Depending on where you live, your insurance, city, or county may require regular chimney inspections and cleaning. Skipping this can get you hit with fees or even affect your insurance status.
Ease of cleaning is one of the many reasons to choose gas fireplaces. However, over time some buildup will occur. It’s important that this buildup is safely cleared away on a regular schedule. This typically means once a year, depending on use. A good time to schedule a cleaning is at the end of summer or in the fall before the cold temperatures hit.
Why Chimney Sweeping Matters
What could happen if you don’t get regular cleaning and servicing? Here are three common scenarios:
- Scenario 1: A residue has built up in the chimney, often paired with a cloudy film inside the glass viewing doors.
- What’s the problem? The residue could ignite, starting a chimney fire. This is a potentially extremely dangerous situation that could cause permanent damage to your chimney or home.
- Scenario 2: You see damage to the doors, mortar, or crowns.
- What’s the problem? Chips, cracks, and poor seals could let moisture leak into the system, causing other problems.
- The problems continue: This might also allow toxic fumes to leak out of your gas fireplace and into the air you’re breathing. Carbon monoxide is the big concern here. It’s odorless and can sicken or even kill people.
- Scenario 3: Over the summer, a blockage developed in the chimney. This is often caused by birds building nests.
- What’s the problem? This scenario could trigger a cascade of problems including chimney fires and, through poor air flow, carbon monoxide could infiltrate your home.
When a technician performs a fireplace inspection and cleaning, he or she will start by looking at the exterior and interior of the unit. A major part of the inspection is checking that your chimney is operating correctly. This means looking for signs of both exterior and interior damage as well as making sure that the flue is clear.
If you haven’t used your fireplace in a while, some debris may be blocking the flue. This could include birds making nests, which often happens in the spring and isn’t noticed until temperatures drop in the fall. Another culprit is bad weather that blows debris and leaves inside.
The technician may also talk with you about any concerns or issues you’ve had. Next, he will check to make sure everything is operating correctly. If there’s a problem, it’s addressed. The next step will be a cleaning that removes residue from chimney, vents, and the glass panels.
Some inspections will include other, related services. For example, the technician may check that your carbon monoxide detectors are working correctly. If you want to replace your ceramic fireplace logs or have something else installed there, this is a good time.
The state of your chimney determines the health and safety of your home because chimneys vent the harmful air outside. If your chimney needs to be cleaned or repaired, you need to take steps to fix it. This is not the place for do-it-yourself projects. You should always hire a professional company like ours to do it for you to comply with your local building codes, your home owner’s insurance policy and more importantly, avoiding any kind of unwanted injuries to you or your loved ones. In any case, you need to be confident your home is safe for your loved ones, so you need to be able to choose the right chimney repair company that better suits your need. This can look like a daunting task but worry not. This article will help show you how to choose the right chimney repair company in the Howard County and Washington DC Metropolitan areas.
To choose the right chimney repair company, you need to do some homework.
- Edcuate yourself
Educate yourself about chimneys before your appointment. Having a basic understanding of chimney technology. This allows you to tell if the chimney expert is telling you the truth or just trying to sell you something. The more you understand the way your chimney works, the easier it is to see what needs to be done to keep it working.
- Do your research
Look for local companies that have about us pages like ours that give you a clear understanding of the what the company is all about.
- Find out what they have to offer
See what they offer and how they present their services. Do they provide information that helps you understand what they do, like blog posts or articles? Do they have the expertise you need?
- Read online reviews
Look at independent reviews of the company online. Ask your neighbors who they use and why they would use that company again.
- Ask questions
Contact the company and ask questions. What makes them different from other companies? How familiar are they with your local codes? Do they offer a free consultation and estimate?
- Make sure they meet industry standards
The best companies have high safety and quality standards. They also should be members of the leading chimney organization like the CSIA. This should be on their website along with any other certifications and associations.
- Ask about their training
Are the technicians regularly updating their training to keep up with industry changes? Do their technicians have certifications for fireplace repair in your jurisdiction? For example, let’s say that you live in Howard County, MD and you choose a company that also service Washington DC. Do they have technicians that are licensed in both states?
- Read their online reviews
Don’t make your decision for or against based on one negative review. Read all of the reviews and look for trends. If you see several reviews complaining about the same thing, then maybe that is their weakness. The same applies to strengths.
- Choose a company that focuses on long term solutions
Choose a company that recommends long term repairs over cheap temporary fixes. If you really should have a new chimney cap or liner, slapping some sealant on a crack is not going to fix the problem. A good chimney service will identify what needs to be done and tell you what it should cost. If you can’t afford the best option, they should be able to tell you the best options for your budget.
- Look for signs of personalized service
A chimney repair service should offer personalized service. This means that the team that comes to your home is backed up by management that supports their decisions in the field. You can trust what they say they will do because they are accountable to their home office. You should be able to contact that office with questions.
- Never choose a company that is overly focused on low prices
Look for companies that spend more time discussing the quality of their service than how their low prices. Companies that focus on offering the lowest prices tend to sacrifice quality.
A good chimney repair company will offer more than repairs. They should offer preventive maintenance as well as repairs. Since most chimney problems show up during the recommended yearly cleaning, it makes sense to look for a full-range chimney service company that can be trusted to partner with you in keeping your home maintained properly. That trusted partnership is the reason that choosing the right chimney services company is so important.
After reading our previous article, many homeowners find themselves choosing to install pellet stoves. There are many kinds of fireplace installations that you can choose for your home. A pellet stove is one of the most popular types in Howard County. People see pellet stoves as an economical and environmentally friendly way to heat their home. Now that you have decided to make this upgrade choosing the best pellet stove requires some thought. Here are some options that will help you know how to pick the right pellet stove.
Top Feed or Bottom Feed?
One of the first considerations is the way the pellet stove loads its fuel for burning. The two main types of loading are top feed and bottom feed. Both have lots of moving parts, and you need to keep an eye on maintenance. Many pellet stove owners appreciate a service contract that alleviates the hassle.
- Top Feed stoves are loaded by pouring the pellets into a hopper that uses a chute to drop the pellets into the stove. This keeps debris in the combustion chamber. Utilizing a premium grade of pellet with low ash content will lower the amount of ash and clinkers that will need to be cleaned.
- Bottom Feed stoves are slightly less efficient than top feed models, but they can use a standard grade of pellet made from a wider variety of materials producing more debris. The design pushes the ash and clinkers into the ash pan for cleaning.
When choosing a pellet stove, it is important to consider the purchase price and the cost of ongoing use. For example, A multi-fuel pellet stove tends to have a higher purchase price. However, they are less expensive to operate because you are not limited to a single type or grade of fuel. Since the various pellet types burn differently, a stove that can handle the variations gives you flexibility in the future.
Freestanding or Insert?
The location of your pellet stove and the way you plan to use it affect your choice of model. Keep the requirements for venting in mind when looking at options.
- Freestanding units will radiate heat from all sides. This makes the room they are in warm quickly. They are an excellent choice for large, open areas. You might be able to move the warm air into other parts of the house with a fan.
- Fireplace inserts can use the existing chimney as the venting system for the stove if it is allowed by local code. This usually means an approved chimney liner or vent is installed in the fireplace according to professional standards. An insert can also be placed into a wall or corner. Vents and fans can blow warm air into the room.
- Pellet-fueled furnaces and boilers can supplement or take the place of your conventional heating system.
Other Factors To Consider
Since different models of pellet stove put out different levels of heat, your specific requirements need to be discussed with the dealer/installer to make sure your expectations will be met.
- A general rule of thumb is to figure that every 100 square feet will take 2,500 BTU from your stove to heat, but your space could be different, and a professional will know the right option. A robust model that has to run on its lowest setting all the time will not be as efficient as a less-powerful model that can heat the same space.
- Lots of windows, cathedral ceilings, and poor insulation can make it hard to retain heat so a higher BTU-range stove can compensate.
- Try to see the model in use so you can assess the noise level from a fan, for instance, or the way it must be loaded and cleaned. Think through what using this stove will be like in your home.
- If seeing the flames is essential to you, choose a model that displays the fire inside with an attractive window. Ceramic logs add to the ambiance of this feature.
- Look for the EPA Certified stamp on your insert. This isn’t required, but it shows that the stove will burn more efficiently, have higher heat output, and less creosote buildup.
Upgrading your home with a pellet stove will increase your home’s value. If you have chosen the right stove, you will enjoy the warmth and coziness of a pellet stove in your home for years.
Want to know the basics of pellet stoves? Read this article.
A gas fireplace is a great appliance to have in your home, but it’s important to exercise caution when using gas appliances. As important as staying warm is, the last thing you want is to cause damage to your home by starting a fire improperly. To prevent this, keep reading to learn how to safely light a gas fireplace.
The first step to safely light a gas fireplace is removing the decorative cover on the front for easy access. After you’ve done this, you can turn the gas on using the shut-off valve. Once your gas is on, you’ll want to remove the fixed glass assembly as this can cause gas to build up in your fireplace and create a safety hazard. This is primarily a problem when you’re having a hard time lighting your pilot light.
The ignition process depends on what type of gas fireplace you have in your home. Most homeowners will have a red or black push button which simply allows them to ignite the pilot light once the gas is turned on. This is called a piezoelectric spark mechanism. If you don’t have one of these buttons on your gas fireplace, you’ll have to light the pilot light manually.
If you’re going to light your pilot light manually, you’ll want to consult the instructions included on the label on your furnace. These instructions will explain how to safely light your pilot light if you don’t have the means to automatically light it. In any case, you’ll want to turn the “Pilot,” “On” and “Off” switch to off and let your fireplace sit for a few minutes so the gas can dissipate into the air. You can then safely light your pilot light using a lighter designed for this purpose.
Here are some things to note when lighting a gas fireplace:
- If you can’t get it to light manually after multiple tries, chances are there’s a problem that requires some furniture services from a technician.
- Don’t manually light your furnace until you’ve turned the gas off
- Make sure you use a long lighter to keep your hands away from the pilot light
Cleaning and inspection
t’s common knowledge to homeowners that wood-burning fireplaces require regular cleaning and inspections. After all, leftover residue dramatically increases the potential for fire hazards. Many think that having a gas fireplace installed eliminates the need for having their chimneys cleaned every year. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that chimneys of all kinds should be cleaned every year. The truth is that getting your chimney sweep is every bit as important for gas fireplaces. Here you can learn why you should always keep your gas fireplace clean.
Areas like Vienna tends to get really cold during this time of the year, that is why it’s so important to understand how to safely light a gas fireplace. As long as you follow these tips and double check everything before you take any major steps, you’ll have no problem keeping your family safe and cozy all winter long.
if you are thinking about getting a gas fireplace for your home, click here to learn everything you need to know about gas fireplaces.
During a recent chimney repair in Vienna, VA, a homeowner asked, what is a chimney liner? That is one of the most frequent questions that we hear. Chimney liners are one of the least understood, yet most important aspect of any fireplace system. Selection can determine the safety and efficiency of your fireplace and is therefore not to be taken lightly. Likewise, regular maintenance and prompt repairs will keep your chimney running and keep your family safe. Below you will find everything that you need to know about chimney liners.
What is a Chimney Liner? How Does It Work?
The Chimney Safety Institute of America defines a chimney liner as a “conduit installed inside of a chimney, intended to contain the combustion products, direct them to the outside atmosphere, and protect the chimney walls from heat and corrosion.” If chimneys are unlined, heat will move through them quickly, increasing the risk of woodwork or other elements catching on fire. Liners also reduce the exposure of corrosive materials to masonry.
Types of Chimney Liners
What is a chimney liner? That is just one of many questions you should be asking yourself if you are a homeowner. Since chimney liners are as versatile as every other aspect of your fireplace, asking yourself which chimney liner suits me better? It´s completely understandable. Selection will depend largely on your budget and the current state of your chimney. A few common types of liners are highlighted below:
Clay tile liners once dominated chimneys. If your home is more than a few decades old, it probably features a clay liner. Clay holds certain advantages but is mainly prized for its durability. It can hold up to a variety of corrosive materials, and, once installed, is likely to last at least half a century. Unfortunately, while the materials for this type of liner can be relatively affordable, the actual installation process may prove time-consuming and costly. Replacement is even more difficult, especially if the chimney is crooked.
Like clay liners, cast-in-place liners tend to be quite durable and can last several decades. Fireplaces with cast-in-place liners often burn cleaner, thereby producing minimal creosote buildup. Installation may be easier for cast-in-place liners than for their clay counterparts, but the process still requires considerable effort — particularly for chimneys with any bends or curves.
In recent years, metal liners have overtaken clay and cast-in-place models in popularity. Metal liners are by far the most convenient and affordable to install. They’re also quite versatile and can work well in chimneys of numerous shapes and sizes. The downside? Metal liners are typically more prone to corrosion.
Common Chimney Liner Problems
While chimney liners tend to be durable, a variety of issues can strike after decades of use. Liners are especially likely to show wear and tear if they weren’t constructed correctly in the first place.
As mentioned earlier, chimney liners may suffer corrosion or creosote buildup over time due to lack of proper service. Old liners are also prone to cracks near their mortar joints. Mortar joint erosion can be particularly dangerous, as it might lead to the leaking of harmful gases (such as carbon monoxide) inside of the home.
Proper Liner Maintenance
While only repair can effectively address an improperly constructed liner, most of the issues outlined above can be prevented or at least delayed through appropriate liner and chimney maintenance. Annual cleanings are imperative for reducing the risk of harmful buildup. Regular inspections allow homeowners to catch small problems before they become dangerous — and more expensive to fix. Click here to learn about the 6 most common Signs that you need chimney repair.
Regular maintenance is vital for both your chimney liner and your entire fireplace system. The team at All Pro Chimney services can keep your fireplace and chimney in excellent shape. Contact us today to learn more about our maintenance and repair services.