To put it simply, the chimney is a structure that is meant to protect you. Imagine if there was no way to channel the smoke from the fire that is keeping you warm. You would be inhaling the smoke, as well as the toxic fumes produced by the burning wood. Inside the chimney is a component called the flue, which is responsible for venting these gases. Flues have been made from clay, but metal flues are becoming more common.
Sometimes the venting of gases by a flue can become insufficient. Some of the reasons for this are:
- The flue has become warped
- Debris falling into an open chimney
- Loose masonry falling into the flue
- Birds nesting inside the chimney
- Dangers of Poorly Maintained Flues
Regular checks by a chimney sweep can quickly reveal any flue blockages or damage. Poor venting by a flue can actually be dangers for people inside the home in the following ways:
- If gases cannot escape through the flue, they could seep through spaces inside the chimney structure and enter the home. One of the most dangerous is carbon monoxide.
- The flue pulls the heat away from the home’s interior. If it is not venting the way it should, this heat could cause combustible materials in the house to ignite.
- Just like creosote, hot flue gases can ignite and cause a house fire.
Keeping the Flue Safe
Annual inspections will keep a flue functioning well. However, if you use your fireplace or wood burning stove frequently, more than one annual inspection is a good idea. An inspection will also include the chimney structure to determine if any material is falling into the flue. When the flue is clean, it will be easy for the chimney sweep to spot any physical defects which could hamper its operation.
Start your fires quickly using seasoned wood. Hotter fires lead to less buildup of creosote inside the chimney and flue since the heat pushes the gases out more quickly. Another important safety tip is install carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Be sure to talk to your chimney sweep about ways to care for your chimney and flue, and steps you can take between inspections. You should also waterproof your chimney to add another layer of protection for your flue.
Give us a call at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service at 610-626-2439 if you would like to schedule a chimney inspection or cleaning. Both of our chimney sweeps are CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) certified and we focus on continuing our education in our field every year so we can better serve you.