Glossary & FAQs
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A: Chimney caps are essential for keeping animals, water, snow, and debris from entering your chimney.
A: The National Fire Protection Association says, “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.” Even if you don’t use your chimney often, an annual inspection is a good idea to check for other types of chimney deterioration and possible debris or animal nests inside the chimney.
A: If you have a new home and are unsure about the fireplace, call Blue Sky! We will perform a Level II Inspection of the inside of the chimney as well as clean the fireplace. Following the inspection, we will provide a full inspection report to ensure the fireplace is safe to use.
A: If you haven’t used your fireplace it probably doesn’t need to be cleaned, but you should still have it checked for any weather damage to the chimney stack or any hidden defects that could make it unsafe. Broken and eroded brickwork, a missing weather cap, hidden water leaks, bird and rodent intrusion, hidden blockages are all safety hazards that should be checked.
A: That smell is due to creosote deposits in the chimney. The odor is more prevalent in the summer when the humidity is high and the air conditioner is turned on. Scheduling a chimney cleaning in early spring may help diminish the smell.
A: If you use proper fuel sources (well-seasoned wood) and maintain proper ventilation throughout your chimney, you shouldn’t be concerned about carbon monoxide poisoning. While the gas is dangerous, a healthy fire does not release enough of the gas to make it deadly. A good rule of thumb for preventing CO poisoning is to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home, and to always make sure you are using your damper when having a fire.
A: If you think an animal has nested in your chimney, your first step is to call a reputable wildlife removal service and have an inspection done. Squirrels, opossums, rats, raccoons, and chimney swifts are common animals found nesting in chimneys. Squirrels, opossums, rats, and raccoons can easily be removed, but it is actually illegal to move a nesting chimney swift.
A: A chimney swift is a small, migratory bird native to the eastern half of the United States and South America. Chimney Swifts are protected by the federal government under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and cannot be removed from any nesting spot. If you think a chimney swift is nesting in your chimney, call a wildlife removal service to confirm your suspicions, but if you indeed do have a family of swifts in your chimney, you will have to wait until the babies leave in order to do anything about it. There are preventative measures you can take though. Having a weather cap installed before nesting season begins in May can help prevent animals, water, snow, and debris from entering your chimney.
A: Creosote occurs when smoke from an open flame travels up your chimney and mixes with cold air and water. The substance then solidifies to the chimney liner or bricks and over time will build up and become dangerous. While creosote is a natural byproduct of burning wood, it is extremely flammable and can catch fire if you let it build up too much. A surefire way to prevent a chimney fire (or even worse, a house fire) is to have your chimney cleaned frequently.
A: Only well-seasoned wood. That is wood that has been properly dried for six months or more. Wood that was dried thoroughly should be light in weight and darker in color than green wood.
A: The white discoloration found on some chimneys is known as efflorescence. Efflorescence forms when a chimney has cracks or is not properly sealed and allows moisture to seep into the bricks. That moisture then causes salts within the bricks to come out resulting in that white color.
A: Not at all! Blue Sky will clean and inspect your chimney and fireplace with our no-dust, no-mess guarantee!
Chimney Weather Cap—This keeps birds and rodents out. It keeps rain and condensation from going down the chimney. It stops sparks and combustible material from becoming air-borne.
Chimney Crown—This is the cement slab on top of the chimney. It acts as a “roof” for the chimney and protects the bricks from damage from water and weather.
Chimney Flashing—This is the metal band around the chimney where it comes out of the roof. It functions to stop water intrusion from getting past the roof line and into the home.
Masonry—This is the brick and mortar. The brick and mortar make up the chimney.
The mortar is the “glue” that is between the bricks and holds the bricks together.
Chimney Flue—This is the “pipe” that the smoke, heat, gases and combustible material travel through when the fireplace is used. The flue needs to meet specific requirements to function.
Chimney Flue Tile—A clay chimney flue liner is made up of two-feet heigh sections called flue tile. These flue tile sections are stacked on top of each other and there’s mortar between each flue tile that’s the “glue” that holds the liner together. A chimney flue usually will have 10 or more of these flue tile sections.
Fireplace—This is the box where the fire is when the fireplace is used. The fireplace is not the chimney and the chimney is not the fireplace!
Damper—This is the little metal doorway that opens and closes. This doorway is a metal plate with a handle that is able to be opened and closed. The damper is opened to use the fireplace.
Liner—Another name for the “flue” or “flue liner” and that’s the passageway for the smoke and heat and fumes when the fireplace is used. Many liners are made out of very hard clay. More modern liners are made of stainless steel.
Smoke chamber—See the diagram. This is the part of the fireplace right above the damper and directly below the start of the flue liner. The smoke chamber acts to direct the smoke and heat and fumes into the liner system when the fireplace is used