Fireplace, wood-burning stoves, gas or oil heating appliances all contribute to dirty chimneys. Burning wood produces a black, sticky combustible layer that requires regular cleaning. We sweep your chimney clean by brushing the inside to eliminate built up soot.
Depending on your usage, the damage can range from a light layer to heavy build-up of burnt solids. A yearly clean-up by American Chimney Service eliminates your concerns, and gives you peace of mind.
Licensed, bonded and insured, American Chimney Service's technicians are experienced and arrive properly equipped for the job with instructions to bring any potential problems to the attention of the homeowner. Our sweeps first inspect your fireplace or heating system, the chimney or flue pipe, the spark arrestor and other related components. If they see any problems, they will make recommendations for remediation.
After the inspection, technicians cover the inside of the fireplace to contain soot or dust created during the cleaning process. They then climb to the roof and clean the insides of the chimney with poles, brushes and scrapers - soot and debris falls to the bottom. The sweep later re-enters the house, removes the debris, cleans out the inside of the fireplace, and vacuums any remaining dust or soot.
A safe, compliant chimney lining is mandated in most fire codes as a result of extensive testing by the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) to address concerns about durability, performance and safety. Therefore, in a contemporary masonry chimney, the flue lining is made of terra cotta, ceramic or metal, and serves several functions:
In the NBS tests of unlined chimneys, adjacent woodwork caught fire in only 3 1/2 hours, which is why an appropriate liner is so very important.
The NBS tests revealed that in unlined chimneys, highly acidic flue gases often penetrated the brick and mortar, eating away at the chimney's mortar joints, and allowing heat to transfer more rapidly to nearby combustibles – which means that dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide can leak into the living areas of the home.
The key to maximized performance in most oil/gas furnaces and modern wood stoves is a correctly sized flue. Why? Because in addition to leading the products of combustion out of the house, the chimney draft also supplies combustion air to the appliance. If the liner is correctly sized, it prevents excessive soot buildup in wood burning stoves, and minimizes production of carbon monoxide that can occur with conventional fuels.
Old, damaged or unlined chimneys are potentially hazardous. There are three main liner options we offer to keep your chimneys working well, and your home safe. We recommend you have your chimney liners inspected regularly to be sure they meet modern safety standards.
Inexpensive, easily obtained, and high on performance, clay tile chimney liners are the most popular choice for liners in todays' marketplace. They are, however, vulnerable to splits and cracks, and must be checked regularly and repaired if necessary. We are fully equipped to do that for you.
Used primarily in liner upgrades and repairs, stainless steel or aluminum liners provide safety, performance and durability. Stainless steel liners are used for wood burning fireplaces, oil or gas furnaces. Aluminum is used as an inexpensive alternative for medium efficiency gas furnaces. High heat-resistant insulation is used with metal liners to help ensure safety and enhance performance.
Cast-in-place cement liners create a smooth, insulated passageway for flue gases. This form of liner can actually improve the integrity of older chimneys, and is for use with all types of appliances and fuels.
Until very recently, expert inspection and evaluation of fireplaces, stoves or other venting systems was left up to the discretion of chimney service technicians. Now, there are standards and codes established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regarding home heating appliances (NFPA 211).
Here is what to expect from your American Chimney Service technician for each level:
A Level 1 inspection is the minimum required for systems that are status quo – that are not changing and are in continued use under the same conditions. In a Level 1 inspection, our technician will examine easily accessed portions of the chimney exterior, interior and accessible components of the chimney connection. Your American ChimneyService technician will examine your chimney structure, flue, appliance installation and connections as well as check for combustible deposits and obstructions.
A Level 2 Inspection is required when you make changes to your system, including changes in fuel type, changes to materials and shapes within the flue, or replacement of appliances. It is also mandatory when you buy, sell or transfer property...or after a malfunction, fire, or forceful weather event. A Level 2 includes the requirements in a Level 1 inspection, and may include a visual/video inspection to examine internal surfaces and flue liner joints. During a Level 2, the technician explores accessible portions of the chimney, plus attics, basements and crawl spaces.
A Level 3 Inspection is warranted when hidden hazards are suspected. It includes all the items checked in Levels 1 and 2, and then goes beyond to access concealed areas of the chimney or flue. it is performed with special tools and may entail removing or destroying some permanent portions of the chimney or building.
New Jersey Uniform Construction Code requires a chimney certification for replacement of a hot water heater, furnace, or boiler.
Prior to installing a new furnace, boiler or hot water heater, the homeowner must make sure that chimney is in safe condition, and that the chimney certification is signed and given to the local code enforcement office.
By signing the chimney certification we certify that chimney/vent is free and clear of obstruction, and is substantially clean of residue from its previous use serving an oil appliance. We further certify that the chimney/vent is appropriately lined and sized for the appliance being installed.
Every chimney should have a cap in order to protect it from the elements, as well as certain other environmental factors as shown below.
Does my chimney need a cap? Excess moisture from rain and snow getting inside the chimney slowly damages the chimney lining. The material between liner tiles will eventually dissolve, and elements of a corrosive nature which exist in exhaust from heating system appliances mix with excess moisture which slowly weakens the lining. The chimney's structure can be weakened by water pooling at the base. Expansion damage can be caused by repeated freeze/thaw cycles of water inside the chimney. A properly installed chimney cap decreases your chimney's exposure to this damage by keeping most of the water out.
Animals can be kept out by a cap that is fitted with a screen mesh barrier. Members of your local varmint population as well as birds choose chimneys to nest in because of the warmth they provide. The results of such creatures settling in your chimney can be both hazardous to your health and potentially dangerous in the risk of your chimney getting clogged. These animals carry infectious diseases like rabies, other harmful illnesses and bacteria as well as exposing your home to fleas, ticks and worms. Be sure your cap is fitted with a screen mesh.
Some chimneys have caps that are made of stone, concrete or brick and are on stone legs or bricks above the top of the flue. Metal caps are most common with those manufactured of copper or stainless steel offering the highest level of durability. These caps usually have the screen mesh mentioned above already incorporated into their design. Usually, mass produced chimneys have caps that are specifically designed to fit.
American Chimney Service maintains the highest standards when inspecting chimneys with regard to the condition, installation and presence of a chimney cap.
The damper is one of the most important components of your fireplace. The damper stops the warm air from inside your home from escaping through the chimney to the outside environment. If your damper is open or leaks, you might as well be throwing money out the window with what you are wasting in heating costs. In most cases a homeowner will see a return on his or her investment, in having their damper replaced within 2 heating seasons.
Your fireplace damper is located just above the firebox in most masonry chimneys. The damper is meant to seal the fireplace shut when you are not using it. Most fireplace dampers are made of metal and seal against metal which will eventually allow warm air from inside your home to leak. The metal plates that make up your damper warp do to expansion and contraction from heating and cooling by your fireplace, due to the warping this metal to metal seal worsens, allowing an increase in the volume of warm air leaked from your home, in turn resulting in your heating system having to work harder to keep you warm which will cost you more in dollars spent on fuel annually.
American Chimney Service uses only the finest products with respect to fireplace dampers. As technology advances, American Chimney Service likes to consider itself at the forefront of exploring the use of new materials which can help decrease the wear of your fireplace damper which will in turn increase the efficiency of your home. Greener pastures are within reach as long as we work together and use the tools that are accessible to us.