Our Company Blog

Proper Maintenance of an Oil-Fired Appliance

Nearly half of fall has already passed by with the arrival of November. Winter is just a few weeks away, and the weather is here to prove it. Long gone are hot afternoons full of shorts and sandals. Instead, most people do not leave the house without bundling up in a jacket and scarf, and everyone has the impending winter season on their minds. Homeowners especially should at least begin turning on their heating appliances to ensure they are in working order, and for those who rely on oil-fired appliances, now is the time to schedule annual servicing. Oil-fired heating systems can consist of boilers with hot water distribution or furnaces with forced air distribution. Both setups contain finely tuned mechanisms that require regular maintenance to keep them working safely and efficiently.

oil-furnace-maintenance-suffolk-ny-chief-chimney

An oil-fired appliance functions by spraying a fine mist of fuel oil into a combustion chamber along with a steady flow of air, and igniting the combination with a spark. The resulting flame creates hot air that heats up the heat exchanger walls before flowing out through the exhaust stack. The heat exchanger walls transfer the heat to the distribution medium (either water or air), which is then forced throughout the home. Boilers utilize this mechanism with the distribution medium of water, and the heated water travels throughout the water pipes in the home to radiate heat in the various rooms. A furnace also uses this mechanism, but it heats up air instead of water, which is blown through ducts to the rest of the house.

Whether the system uses water or air does not affect the fact that the oil-fired appliance will still need servicing. A number of problems can arise with the oil system that requires a professional eye to find and repair. One such problem is an inefficient mixture of air and oil entering the combustion chamber, which can cost extra money every winter in surplus fuel burned. Different situations can cause this problem, such as an old or clogged burner nozzle, an improperly calibrated fuel pump, and incorrectly adjusted air volume and draft controls. While these fixes are simple, they should only be made by a professional to ensure they are done correctly.

Another common issue with oil-fired appliances is failure to create a flame. This can be a result of a variety of problems, and fixing it immediately is crucial to avoid explosions or poisoning. The combustion chamber could be leaking, the stack control may not be functioning properly, or the ignition electrodes might be dirty or broken. A professional can spot and repair these issues quickly and effectively.

If your home utilizes an oil-fired appliance for heating, call to schedule its annual servicing before the temperatures drop any farther. For those living in Suffolk County, New York, you can contact Chief Chimney Services, Inc. for a professional consultation.

By John Pilger on October 30th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Proper Maintenance of an Oil-Fired Appliance

Reasons to Reline Your Chimney with Stainless Steel

The seasons have officially changed, and fall has arrived in full swing. Vibrant leaves decorate the ground as they fall from the trees, and the chilly wind has everyone dusting off their light jackets. In addition, the colder temperatures have homeowners looking ahead to heating their homes throughout the upcoming bitter New York winter. Many homeowners utilize heating appliances such as stoves and fireplaces, and because these units have chimneys, they require special care and maintenance. While your chimney sweep is out to clean and inspect the chimney, ask him or her to check for a flue liner in the chimney. If your chimney does not have one or if the current liner is damaged, you may want to consider making the investment before winter.

stainless-steel-chimney-liner-suffolk-ny-chief-chimney

A damaged or missing flue liner comes with a wide variety of problems. If water finds a way inside the chimney, a flue liner prevents it from going on further. Without a liner or with a liner full of cracks, the water can cause damage. A masonry chimney interior absorbs the water, and during the freeze and thaw cycle of winter, the structure becomes damaged. Cracks and holes will form, and eventually, the structure may collapse.

Additionally, the gases from the fire that are meant to flow out of the home through the chimney may actually seep through the unlined chimney back into the house. Dangerous chemicals like carbon monoxide and creosote create numerous health hazards, so keeping them out of the house is crucial.

You may also be losing money on fuel by leaving your chimney unlined or with a damaged liner. Newer heating appliances have a higher efficiency than older appliances, meaning they burn at lower temperatures. Due to the physics of hot air, these highly efficient units need a narrower flue to function properly. If the chimney is too wide, the heat will dissipate too quickly, causing more fuel to be burned and even resulting in some toxic gases settling back into the home. You can save costs on fuel and keep your home safer by having a chimney sweep install a stainless steel flue liner with a size that fits the efficiency of your particular unit.

Another frightening issue associated with unlined chimneys is unintentional house fires. A study done by the National Bureau of Standards showed that when a fire was burned under an unlined chimney, the adjacent woodwork took just 3 ½ hours to catch fire itself. In just one evening with a lit fire, your home could burn to the ground.

If you live in the Suffolk County area of New York and you need your chimney relined with a high quality stainless steel flue liner, contact Chief Chimney Services, Inc. for a professional consultation. The experts at Chief Chimney Services, Inc. can help save you money and keep your home and family safe.

By John Pilger on October 15th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Reasons to Reline Your Chimney with Stainless Steel

Carbon Monoxide and Your Fireplace

Summer has officially ended, which means the next frigid New York winter is one season closer. As everyone starts putting away t-shirts and short and pulling out parkas and mittens, homeowners have another task on their minds. Winter is also fireplace season, so everyone is flocking to have their chimneys swept and inspected. Those who neglect to service their fireplaces and chimneys this year are putting the health of their families and homes at risk. While there are a variety of different risks associated with a fireplace in disrepair, none is more insidious than carbon monoxide.

carbon-monoxide-suffolk-ny-chief-chimney

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is small gaseous molecule that results from all types of combustion. This means that carbon monoxide is present in car exhaust, stoves, lanterns, wood- and charcoal-burning units, and gas ranges. If the fuel burns in an enclosed space, the carbon monoxide product quickly builds up in the air. As the concentration of carbon monoxide in the air increases, so does the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. To make matters worse, you cannot tell if deadly gas is present by smell or taste or sight. Only a specialized carbon monoxide detector can determine its presence.

Poisoning by carbon monoxide can occur within minutes depending on the size of the space and the rate at which it fills up. The carbon monoxide enters the blood stream after inhalation and attaches to the red blood cells before the oxygen has a chance. Thus, carbon monoxide is distributed throughout the body in place of the absolutely vital oxygen, eventually resulting in severe tissue damage and death. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. If the victim is not moved to clean air, unconsciousness quickly ensues. The early symptoms mimic much less dangerous illnesses, so many people do not think about moving to an open area.

What Does This Have To Do With My Fireplace?

Carbon monoxide is a product of any type of burning, so if your fireplace burns wood, charcoal, pellets or gas, it produces carbon monoxide. A properly installed fireplace and chimney should safely vent the carbon monoxide out of the home, but a number of issues can arise to hamper that ability.

Any type of chimney obstruction contributes to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If the path of gases up the flue is blocked, the gases will back up into the home. Different types of obstructions include animals, nests, or a dirty chimney. You can have a mason install a chimney cap to prevent animals from living and building nests inside the flue. To prevent creosote and other fire products from building up and closing off the flue, you should have your chimney swept and inspected at least once per year.

While obstruction is the most common cause for carbon monoxide in the home, you should schedule an inspection with a professional chimney sweep company to determine if your fireplace poses any other types of risks. If you live in the Suffolk County area of Long Island, New York, contact Chief Chimney Services, Inc. for a professional consultation.

By John Pilger on September 30th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Carbon Monoxide and Your Fireplace

Dealing with Draft Problems in Your Chimney

Perhaps you were never able to use your fireplace, or you used to, but it started backing up smoke into the house. When the smoke and hot air fails to escape through the flue, your fireplace and chimney are said to be experiencing drafting problems. A wide variety of issues can lead to drafting problems, and oftentimes, they completely baffle and frustrate homeowners.

Chimney-draft-problems-suffolk-ny-chief-chimney

One easily resolved cause of smoke back up is a closed damper. The damper assembly acts as a door to allow smoke and hot air to escape through the flue when a fire is burning and to keep the furnace-heated air inside from escaping when the fireplace is not in use. If the damper stays closed during a fire, the smoke has nowhere to go except into the house.

Another common drafting problem is an obstructed flue. Animals like birds, raccoons, or squirrels seek out the warmth and safety of the chimney during cold, winter months. These animals and their nests will partially or completely block off the flow of smoke through the flue. A chimney service can install a chimney cap for an affordable price to prevent animals from nesting in the flue.

An obstructed flue can also be caused by the buildup of creosote, a tarlike compound created by burning wood. A health threat in and of itself, creosote also builds up inside the flue and may eventually seal it completely. To prevent this and the other dangers of creosote, have a mason sweep your chimney at least once every year.

Your chimney can also experience drafting problems when the firebox and flue do not fit together properly. The size of the flue compared to the size of the firebox should follow a 10:1 ratio, meaning that for every 10 square inches of firebox, there should be 1 square inch of flue opening. If the flue size cannot accommodate the volume of smoke produced by the fire, the smoke will back up into the house.

Additionally, the flue should be positioned deep inside the firebox, and the fire should be built as far back as possible. If the fire sits too close to the interior opening of the firebox, it will never have a chance to enter the flue before seeping into the house instead. This could become an issue if the firebox was installed improperly or if it was not manufactured according to fire safety codes. A mason can help you make the right choice in addressing this issue.

If you want to use your fireplace again and keep you and your family safe, get in touch with an expert to help you address any issues. If you live in the Suffolk County area of Long Island, New York, contact Chief Chimney Services, Inc. for a professional consultation. Get your fireplace back today!

By John Pilger on September 15th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dealing with Draft Problems in Your Chimney

Changing Temperatures Can Seriously Damage Your Chimney

If any part of your home can withstand the notoriously harsh New York winters, it would be the chimney. Made of tough brick or stone, it has most likely seen decades or even centuries of unforgiving temperatures. While the chimney is particular strong and durable, it does have weaknesses and that includes dramatic changes in weather.

temperature-change-suffolk-ny-chief-chimney

Chimney damage due to temperature changes starts with the presence of moisture in the structure. Aside from stone, all materials used to create a masonry chimney are porous and sensitive to contact with water. Even stone chimneys need mortar to bond the stones together, so they do not escape the dangers of water. When water hits materials like mortar or brick, the porous materials absorb the water like a sponge. While this does not have immediate repercussions, it will eventually cause damage.

During the bitterly cold winters on Long Island, every outside structure is subject to the freeze and thaw cycle. This includes your chimney. Now that the porous materials on the chimney contain water, the freeze and thaw cycle can damage the structure. The water inside the brick or mortar expands and contracts in freezing cold temperatures and this continuous movement weakens the brick and mortar.

Signs of damage due to changing temperature include cracks in the mortar, loose bricks or stones, missing bricks or stones or a listing structure. Without the proper attention and maintenance, a water and temperature damaged masonry chimney could collapse, which means serious costs.

You can protect your chimney from this type of deterioration in a couple different ways. One way to do this is to have a chimney service apply water repellent to the outside of the chimney. Using a water repellent instead of a sealant is crucial, because the repellent allows water vapor trapped in the masonry to escape, while it discourages water entry. A sealant will keep any moisture trapped and the damage will happen anyway.

Another way to protect your chimney is to have a chimney cap installed. A chimney cap is a small, simple contraption that covers the top of your chimney. Usually made of copper or stainless steel, chimney caps prevent water from freely entering the inside of the chimney. This can help prevent water damage to your masonry and water damage to other areas such as the flue, damper, and the inside of your home. In addition to keeping water out of the chimney, chimney caps also prevent animals from nesting in the flue and keeps live embers from escaping to create a fire hazard.

Both the application of a water repellent and the installation of a chimney cap should be performed by a licensed professional. Chimney caps sold by big box hardware stores are generally low quality and a chimney service can provide you with a properly fitting, high quality chimney cap that will last years longer. Also, both services pose serious danger to your safety, so consider leaving them to the experts. If you live in the Suffolk County area of Long Island, New York, contact Chief Chimney Services, Inc. for a professional consultation.

By John Pilger on August 25th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Changing Temperatures Can Seriously Damage Your Chimney

HeatShield Ceramic Flue Sealant Can Save Your Fireplace and Home

A fireplace acts as a beautiful, sophisticated focal point in any home. It faithfully serves you every chilly New York winter, providing you with a source of heat and adding that special ambiance for holidays or get-togethers. In return, you lovingly address all of your fireplace’s maintenance needs on a regular basis by having professional chimney sweeps and inspections performed. Although regular maintenance can prevent many problems, it cannot always prevent everything. Specifically, if your inspector finds a hole or crack in the chimney lining or flue, this needs to be taken care of right away because it poses a serious safety hazard.

How is a Damaged Flue Dangerous?

heatshield-chimney-liner-suffolk-ny-chief-chimney

Hearing from your inspector that your flue has suffered damage is not something any homeowner wants to hear. Oftentimes, people may brush the issue off as minor and forgo repairing the damage. Unfortunately, ignoring your damaged flue can have disastrous consequences.

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, when an unlined chimney is used to vent a fire, the adjacent structural woodwork can catch fire within 3 ½ hours. When gases from the fire escape the flue through a hole or crack, or if no flue is present to begin with, the hot mixture of smoke, toxins and particularly embers will seep toward your house’s structure. After a certain amount of exposure to the emissions of the fire, the combustible materials in your home (wood, drywall, plaster) will catch on fire.

In addition, the gases that escape from your flue deteriorate the mortar of your chimney. This also allows gases to travel closer to your home and even enter your home. Dangerous smoke, containing carbon monoxide and the known carcinogen creosote, is not something that should be in your home. Also, as the mortar deteriorates so does the structural integrity of your masonry chimney. After extended exposure to smoke, the entire chimney structure could potentially collapse – dangerous and costly.

How Should I Fix My Flue?

Instead of replacing your entire chimney liner, which can be expensive, you have another, more affordable option to repair it. Even if the damage is extensive, the product called HeatShield Ceramic Flue Sealant can repair anything – from plugging small holes to resealing an entire flue.

Chief Chimney Services says that HeatShield has the durability of ceramic and cement, and the product comes with a 20 year warranty when it is installed by a certified technician. A blade customized to your chimney applies and smoothes the material to any damaged areas of your flue. The HeatShield company also requires a video inspection before and after the application to ensure the highest quality work.

Who Can Apply HeatShield Ceramic Flue Sealant?

Only certified technicians can apply HeatShield Ceramic Flue Sealant, because they are trained to properly assess the damage, apply the product and guarantee a long lasting seal. If you live in Suffolk County, New York or the surrounding area, call Chief Chimney Services for a professional consultation from HeatShield-certified technicians.

By John Pilger on August 10th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on HeatShield Ceramic Flue Sealant Can Save Your Fireplace and Home

The Science of Combustion

Ever wondered how a flame stays lit? Many fireplace owners have problems keeping their fire burning because they don’t know the basics of combustion. Here’s what you need to know:

Understanding the combustion process can increase energy efficiency and promote safety in your home.

Understanding the combustion process can increase energy efficiency and promote safety in your home.

By John Pilger on July 12th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Science of Combustion

The Rundown on Chimney Mold

Molds can pose serious health risks to you and your family. Don't allow them to flourish in your chimney. Make sure water and moisture stay out!

Molds can pose serious health risks to you and your family. Don’t allow them to flourish in your chimney. Make sure water and moisture stay out!

Mold is something you never want in your home, and most people think of the basement as the most common area for mold growth. However, if you have a leaky chimney with water penetrating your chimney walls, your chimney can be a prime spot for mold growth. Mold can spread quickly through your house, so if you have chimney mold, it should be removed as soon as possible to keep you and your family safe from the adverse health effects breathing in mold spores can cause. Chief Chimney Services would like to answer a few questions for you about chimney mold to inform you how to be on the lookout for a mold invasion of your fireplace and chimney.

What causes fireplace and chimney mold?

According to the website Mold Advisor, unused fireplaces are the most common places for chimney mold to develop. The dark, damp, and poorly vented unused fireplace creates the perfect environment for mold to grow. The warm summer months, when you are not using your fireplace, is the perfect time for this to occur. The most likely fireplaces and chimneys to develop mold growth have leaks somewhere in the chimney because water is needed to allow mold to grow. Chief Chimney Services can not only take care of removing chimney mold, but we can also repair leaky chimneys to keep water out which lowers the possibility of mold to even occur.

What are the signs of chimney mold?

If the mold has spread, you may see mold growing on the bricks of your outer fireplace or even on the walls or ceiling of the room that contains the fireplace. If you do spot mold growth on the outside of your fireplace or in the room, call Chief Chimney Services immediately to have us inspect the inside of your chimney for more mold. Most likely, the mold is unable to be seen because it is only growing on the walls of the inside of your chimney. However, you will probably notice the distinctive musty smell of mold coming from your fireplace. You and your family may also be suffering from respiratory problems due to breathing the mold. If you suspect chimney mold, again call us as soon as possible to inspect your chimney and fireplace and remove the mold.

What are the adverse health effects mold can have on me and my family?

In the beginning, mold can cause breathing problems similar to the common cold with sneezing, coughing, headache, runny nose, and a sore throat. However, prolonged breathing of mold spores can cause serious illnesses like asthma attacks, chronic sinusitis, allergic reactions, and pneumonia.

How do I remove chimney mold from my fireplace and chimney?

You are strongly advised to allow professionals like Chief Chimney Services to remove all of the chimney mold growth as it can be a hazardous job. However, if your doctor okays it, you can clean up any exterior mold from bricks by using an antifungal cleanser and a stiff brush. Be sure to wear a breathing mask when cleaning up mold.

If you have any other questions about chimney mold, contact Chief Chimney Services today. Our staff is happy to assist you quickly with this possibly dangerous problem.

By John Pilger on June 30th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Rundown on Chimney Mold

Types of Masonry Restoration

If your masonry and/or firebox needs so repairs, call us and our experts will have fixed in no time!

If your masonry and/or firebox needs some repairs, call us and our experts will have it fixed in no time!

Masonry restoration is the phrase used for working with any form of masonry on an existing building or home that doesn’t encompass actually building it. Restoration runs the gamut from tearing the masonry down and rebuilding it from scratch to cleaning and sealing. One of the most commonly needed restoration projects is masonry and firebox repair. Keep reading to learn what this job involves and why it’s so critical.

Masonry and Firebox Repair

The specific type of mortar used in fireboxes is called refractory mortar. However, don’t assume that your fireplace was built with this mortar. The chances of an older home actually having refractory mortar in the firebox are slimmer than the chances of a newer home. This is due in large part to changing building codes and the availability of the product. Many brick masons who constructed fireboxes in homes well into the 1990s used either a Portland-cement-based mortar or a self-concocted fireclay mortar (a mix of Portland cement, crushed fireclay, and sand).

Although both of these mortars were approved by building codes of the time, they haven’t fared well in homes in which the fireplaces are used regularly; the problem is simple: Portland cement doesn’t hold up well when subjected to the cycle of heating and cooling that occurs in a firebox. In an effort to combat this problem, most major building codes have added clauses requiring refractory mortar be used, as it doesn’t use Portland cement as a binder; instead, either calcium aluminate or sodium silicate is the binder. Over the long haul, refractory mortar performs far better than Portland-cement mortar and is more readily available than it was a few decades ago.

Approaches for Repairing a Damaged Firebox Mortar

In order to repair damaged firebox mortar, you can take one of three approaches. The first approach involves simply scraping out and repointing the joints between the bricks with refractory mortar. The second approach involves applying a thin coat of refractory cement over the floor of the firebox. The final approach involves removing damaged bricks and replacing them with castable refractory cement. No matter which approach is taken, scrubbing the surface clean and vacuuming any dust before making the repair is critical.

Along with any part of your home, your fireplace requires maintenance to ensure your family’s safety during its use. A damaged firebox can be a potential fire hazard and should be repaired or replaced before using the fireplace again. At Chief Chimney Services, we work hard and pride ourselves on doing outstanding chimney and firebox repair and restoration work. The level of expertise of our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps is unmatched by anyone else on Long Island. No matter what your question or problem, we’re here to help! Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

By John Pilger on June 9th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Types of Masonry Restoration

Help, My Chimney Stinks!

A stinky chimney is an indicator of an even greater chimney problem that exists or can possibly exist in the future. To get to the bottom of it, let our experts at Chief Chimney help you out.

A stinky chimney is an indicator of an even greater chimney problem that exists or can possibly exist in the future. To get to the bottom of it, let our experts at Chief Chimney help you out.

We all want the same things from our chimney systems. We want a chimney that vents properly and thoroughly. We want a firebox and flue that provides the protection from high heat that they were designed to provide. We want a system that keeps moisture from making its way into the interior of our chimney — and the interior of our home. And we want a chimney that doesn’t stink.

As CSIA-certified chimney professionals, Chief Chimney technicians are focused on helping our clients get all of that from their chimney systems — optimum performance, optimum levels of safety, minimum levels of moisture intrusion, and a pleasant absence of stink. If you’ve been frustrated by a stinky chimney, we can help.

Chimney Odors Are A Warning Sign

The thing about chimney odor that we often don’t think about as we’re turning up our noses: It’s helpful, in a sense. That’s because ultimately, chimney odor is an indication that there’s a bigger problem going on in your chimney or with the use of your heating appliance.

A Musty, Dank Odor

If the smell you’re noticing is dirty, musty and dank, that’s most likely related to moisture, and very possibly is coming from mold growth. If you have mold or moisture, odds are you have a chimney leak.

Chief Chimney technicians can inspect your system thoroughly to figure out what’s allowing moisture to get into your chimney — which can be anything from a cracked chimney crown to damaged flashing, or something as simple as a missing chimney cap. When we find the culprit or culprits, we can make repairs to get rid of your leak — and get rid of that smell!

A Singed, Smoky Odor

Even though you’re routinely lighting a fire in your fireplace or stove, you shouldn’t smell a smoky odor in your home —your chimney is meant to carry away the byproducts that contribute to a smoky odor. So if you smell (or see) a lot of smoke when you’re using your appliance or in between uses, that’s an indication of a problem either with your venting system, or your burning practices.

If there’s a problem with your chimney’s draft — the upward movement of air that carries out combustion byproducts and smoke — you’ll most likely get an indication of that through a smoky stink. If you haven’t had the chimney swept in more than a year, there’s a good chance your problem is excess creosote buildup. But the problem could also have to do with chimney blockages, wind-induced downdrafts or a variety of other issues. We can inspect your chimney system to find your issue and correct it.

Smoky odors can sometimes just be the result of less-than-optimum burning practices, though — even something as simple as neglecting to open your flue completely during your fires.

Burning anything other than seasoned or kiln-dried cordwood — like wood that isn’t properly dried, trash or Christmas trees — can also cause your fire to produce excess smoke and excess creosote. In the case of burning green or moist wood, it can contribute to the development of troubling Glazed Creosote, which is extremely combustible, has a particularly strong odor and is really difficult to remove. If your flue has glazed creosote, we can remove it, and bring your system back to proper (and less stinky) condition.

If you have questions about the best burning practices and chimney odor problems, we’re always happy to help our valued clients. Just give Chief Chimney Services a call!

By John Pilger on May 30th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Help, My Chimney Stinks!