On a cold winter day, there is nothing more comforting than a fireplace which works efficiently. To ensure this, it is necessary to make sure that the chimney is working adequately and removing the gases and smoke from the fire, so that it is led outside the home.
Fires produce carbon monoxide, and any build up of this gas in a home can lead to fatalities. Besides this, depending on the material used to create the fire, some of them can produce a fairly large amount of smoke. All this needs to be taken out of a home. A chimney helps to do this, by the simple physical process of convection that allows hot air to rise. If a proper draft is created by allowing some cold air to also come into the heated room, this will set up a current that allows the hot air containing the smoke and other gases out through the chimney outlet. Such outlets are placed over the roof of a home, and this ensures the creation of a draft to evacuate the heated air. This in a way also keeps the area around a fireplace at temperatures that are tolerable. If there is no venting of such hot air, things can not only get uncomfortable, but there is always a danger of combustible things around a home, like draperies and linen, catching fire. It is therefore necessary that chimneys in a home are always properly maintained, and any chimney repair attended to immediately.
Common Problems With Chimneys
Problems with chimneys that do lead to chimney repairs can come from:
Build up of creosote
Cracks in the flue
Problems in the chimney cap
One of the most common problem that does affect chimneys is the flue getting blocked. This can happen after long periods of usage, while debris from the fire and from other sources do get collected in the flue. This prevents the proper draft being created and does lead to a chimney not functioning as it should. Animals and birds also tend to use these flues to burrow in or build nests. These activities are normally restricted to spring time and warmer days when the fireplace, when the chimney remain unused. These homes or nests can then block the hot air from effectively escaping and lead to a fire not lighting up, as it should. The blockage can also lead to smoke and gas build up within the home and this can become dangerous.
When you use wood or other organic fuels for lighting a fire, one of the by products of such burning is creosote. It is an oil and will get carried up along with the hot air and smoke. This can build up on the walls of the flue. Because of its oily nature, such build ups tend to attract and accumulate dust, and further add to the accumulation. There have been many instances, where such creosote build ups also lead to their getting ignited. This causes a fire in the chimney that can force a down draft into the home, along with all its dangerous gases.
What with the creosote and many other by products of a fire, the environment within a chimney is such that it corrodes the walls of the flue. This damage can lead to irregularities that prevent the flue from functioning as it should. Holes or cracks can also be created in the flue.
Over time, due to the constant temperature differences created in the walls of a chimney, the brickwork can crack and start falling apart. Obviously a damaged chimney structure cannot function efficiently and needs to go in for chimney repairs.
The top of the chimney needs to be protected by a cap, to prevent rain water or snow from getting in. It is also necessary to create some sort of protection to the chimney so that entry into it by rodents and birds is prevented. At the same time, provision needs to be made in the cap and crown structure to allow the hot gases and air to pass out, so that the chimney functions efficiently. These openings further need to be protected to prevent ingress and this adds to the problems. Caps of chimneys are almost constant candidates for chimney repair.
The damper in a chimney allows you to control the draft and this can at times get worn out or damaged, so that it stops working properly. The damper may then need repairs.
Effecting Chimney Repairs
A chimney needs to be carefully inspected, before winter days set in. While it is possible to do this yourself, it can do no harm to get in the right professionals, who will not only complete the necessary inspection, but will also be able to carry out any chimney repairs that such inspection reveals as a necessity.
Blockages and creosote buildup need to be removed from flue walls as part of the repair process. Present day professionals use a lot of sophisticated equipment both for the inspection and cleaning process. It can thus be a far less of a messy process than it used to be in earlier years, where such work needed a lot of clearing up afterwards.
Damages to the flue and chimney walls can be repaired with a number of bonding agents that are easily available in the market nowadays. These agents must be able to resist heat. Any broken bricks need to be replaced, and brickwork joints need to be smooth so that air movement is never impeded. It can help to a large extent if any chimney repairs includes lining the chimney so that it presents a seamless surface, that adds to its efficiency.
Dampers are best replaced at regular intervals as they make a very important component of a fully functional chimney. Make sure that the damper works easily and effectively controls the draft.
The crown and cap of a chimney is very often the chief recipient of any chimney repair efforts. The brickwork around the crown requires to be attended to every year. The grills or other mesh needed to protect openings can get corroded and require replacement.
Chimney repairs are a must if you are to continue to enjoy the warmth and comfort of a good fireplace. Do this every year, and you will find that your chimney will give you long years of service.
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