Tuesday, August 26, 2014
10:34 pm edt
flues have a damper, which is used to meter the draft between "all the way closed" (no draft flow) and "all
the way open" (maximum draft flow). While the damper's primary function is to help conserve energy during and after
fires, it's most important job is to reliably stay open (and out of the way) during the fire. If the damper falls
shut during an active fire, there's going to be big smoke in the house! Dampers need periodic adjustment where we make
sure they are sitting square in the frame and are opening and closing correctly.
Most chimneys have a throat damper located right over the firebox. These dampers
are actuated with various ‘poker style’ control handles that usually have several different settings between open
and closed. Many chimneys provide excess draft to the firebox, enabling the user to keep the damper partially closed
during the fire, thereby radiating additional heat out into the room. Every fireplace and chimney
is unique, so it is important that any experimentation with damper positioning be done carefully - it is never advisable
to try to change the damper position during a fire. The handle will be extremely hot and even with a fireproof glove
on, you will be reaching directly over the fire.
Some chimneys have top sealing dampers which, not surprisingly, are mounted on the chimney top. These are usually
more efficient than throat dampers, easier to control and shut more tightly. Some top damper models need to be oiled
periodically in order to open & close fully and smoothly. When upgrading to a top sealing damper, it is essential
that it is sized correctly and installed so that it can open and close without impingement.
If you have any questions regarding your damper, or would like your damper inspected/adjusted,
please let us know. We also do this automatically as a part of any flue cleaning. Being familiar with your damper
and how it works will surely help to enhance your enjoyment this wood burning season!
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Chimney Swifts Do Not Harm Your Chimney!
5:15 am edt
Over the past few weeks we have received dozens of calls from homeowners concerned that loud birds have taken up residency
in their chimneys. What they don't realize is the Chimney Swifts (Chaetura Pelagica) have actually been nesting in the
flue since late March. They just hear the birds now because the nestlings (babys) have become old enough to make
an audible 'buzzing' noise during feeding that is amplified by the configuration of the chimney flue. While the Swifts can
be a little disruptive, they do the chimney no harm. These birds are protected by law under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and
as such should be left alone for the duration of the nesting season. Please be sure that your damper is closed to keep them
from unintentionally getting into the house. Usually in mid to late August they abandon the nest (and your chimney) to embark
on their amazing annual migration down to the Amazon Basin - mostly in and around Eastern Peru. Once they have vacated the
chimney on their own, we'll be happy to come install a cap or screening to keep them out next spring. You may choose to continue
to host these little birds if you don't mind the noise though, as one family (two adults & 4-6 fledglings) consume
thousands of flying insects each day, and don't harm your chimney in any way! To read more about these busy little birds,
go to ChimneySwifts.org
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Check Us Out On CBS Radio
11:25 pm est
This is the time of year when the better quality news outlets cover fire safety in the home. This past week Fran Schneidau
called me with lots of questions for CBS Radio in New York. She seemed genuinely interested in promoting fire safety and getting
the message out.
CBS News - Frireplace Safety
Thanks Fran, and WCBS for taking this important subject to the people!
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Choosing Your Fire Wood & Seasoning It Well...
People ask me all the time "Dave, what's the best kind of wood to burn?" & I tell them its simple - hard woods
that are well seasoned will give you the most heat while producing the least amount of soot and creosote in the flue. Oak,
Ash, Maple & Beech are some of the best. Pine, Cedar, and other "soft" woods are about the worst. An easy way
to tell whether a split piece of fire wood is hard or soft is to just hold it in your hand. Maple has more than twice the
density of White Pine so it feels much heavier to hold. Seasoning wood, by letting it dry for 6 months to year after cutting
and splitting it, will also make a big difference in how much heat the wood delivers pound for pound. Green (unseasoned) wood
results in a cooler, smokier fire, and the steam created by the water (literally) boiling out of the wood creates a lot more
soot and creosote up in the flue. Well seasoned wood will usually have many cracks on each end that form as the moisture evaporates.
One last thought - be sure not to burn rotten wood in your fireplace or woodstove. Wood (hard or soft) that has been stored
out in the weather for too many years, will become water logged and unusable. Always be sure to have your fireplace screen
in place during the fire, Happy Burning!
4:36 am edt
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Does Your Fireplace Smell Like A Campfire In The Summer months?
During the warm & humid summer months, some fireplaces will emit an odor that can make the whole house smell like
there's a campfire burning - even though you may not have had a fire in your fireplace for weeks or even months! This is usually
caused by soot and creosote that has accumulated up inside your chimney flue, combining with humid air being drawn down the
flue (often made worse when Central air conditioning is in use.
3:22 am edt
The solution? Clean
your chimney! By removing most of the soot that's in the flue, a thorough chimney cleaning dramatically
reduces the most active ingredient in the soot/humidity combination. While it is impossible to remove every bit of soot in
the flue, we can usually get enough out where the smell is significantly reduced or eliminated altogether. Not only will you
have a less smelly flue, it will also be a safer chimney next fall when you begin to burn wood again.
house smells like a campfire give us a call, we'll gladly come over and check the flue for soot and creosote deposits. We
can also make sure your damper is closing properly. This type of check-up is free, and should be done every year or two anyway.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Beware of Chimney Sweep Telemarketers
Well the thieves & bandits are at it again. I went to inspect a chimney on Maple Ave North in Westport today. The homeowner
had recently hired a 'chimney sweep' from Long Island to clean her fireplace flue at a deeply discounted price. She was left
uneasy by his super fast cleaning job and hard sell of additional repair services. Sure enough, her instincts were right.
When I got there I found the fireplace flue was loaded with dangerous creosote deposits - it had barely been brushed out at
all! Please beware of this scam. If a company calls to say they will be in the neighborhood and can clean your chimney for
a low price, don't be fooled! If a company tells you repair work is required you should get at least one more opinion/quote.
This is about more than being ripped off financially - it's about fire hazards and the safety of your family!
11:10 pm est