The majority of homeowners with wood-burning stoves and/or fireplaces understand the need for an annual chimney cleaning and inspection. On the flipside, many homeowners don’t realize that their oil-fueled heating appliances—be it a furnace, boiler or even a hot water heater—also rely on a chimney for proper venting of the exhaust. Granted, oil-fueled appliances may not produce the soot that wood-burning appliances do; however, they still produce some highly corrosive substances that can do real damage to the inside of their respective chimneys. In many cases, these substances can wreak havoc on the chimney without producing any external symptoms until the problem has gotten so far out of hand that it becomes extremely dangerous and very expensive to repair. We implore you to avoid this type of thinking.
We use our oil-fired appliances throughout the winter, during which time it endures long running cycles. These long run times produce oil soot that may adhere to the inside of your chimney. The accumulation of soot can fall to the base of a masonry chimney, or directly into the top of the oil-fired appliance, thereby restricting the flow of flue gases. The combustion process produces numerous dangerous gases, one of which is carbon monoxide (CO), a tasteless, odorless, and poisonous gas. Carbon monoxide can then spill back into the house instead of going up the chimney if your appliances are not adequately vented and/or properly maintained, including an annual servicing (which includes an inspection and cleaning) by a certified chimney sweep.
In metal chimneys, the interior lining is constructed of stainless steel, which will not rust; however, a stainless liner can corrode. This corrosion causes small pinholes to form, which will ultimately ruin the structural integrity of the entire liner. When these pinholes form, the liner is unable to properly contain the by-products of combustion. In masonry chimneys, a clay tile flue liner can begin to flake and a stainless liner can corrode. The outcome in both situations is the same: both chimneys (metal and masonry) will be unable to contain the heat and flue gases, thereby creating potentially dangerous scenarios. If the heat is allowed to escape, it could lead to a potentially costly and deadly house fire; if the flue gases are able to escape, carbon monoxide poisoning becomes a real possibility.
A big misconception on the part of many homeowners is that the furnace service company takes care of the chimney maintenance as part of their process. The service company may shovel out the base of the chimney and/or brush out the connector pipes if you’re lucky, however, they won’t give the chimney a thorough cleaning. Most furnace technicians fail to mention anything about the chimney, leaving homeowners with a false sense of security, as they believe that everything is fine, which may or may not be the case. This misconception can have dire consequences for your home and your family; your chimney could suffer significant damage while your family could fall victim to CO poisoning.
An annual inspection and cleaning by a CSIA-certified chimney sweep can help find problems before they get out of hand, as they’ll be able to offer advice and recommend measures to make your entire system function more safely and efficiently. Gaskets could potentially wear out unbeknownst to you, thereby leading to poisonous and deadly carbon monoxide being released inside your home. A few dollars spent on corrective measures now could save thousands in expensive system repairs down the road.
Here at Northeastern Masonry & Chimney, we are known for our chimney repair and maintenance. We have been providing quality chimney and fireplace services to the Capital District and surrounding areas for over 35 years. We strive to provide the most reliable and professional chimney and fireplace services to our neighbors in the Capital District area, the Hudson Valley region, Northern and Central New York and Western Massachusetts. Just call or request an appointment with one of our CSIA-certified sweeps today. We look forward to the opportunity to assist you.