Bees in Chimney

We get calls frequently for bees in chimney.

All to often home owners have them exterminated, rather than finding a real beekeeper. Once you have bees relocated, we have solutions to help keep bees from returning, specifically, if you have a masonry chimney.

It’s called a top mounted chimney damper. Works great.

bees in chimney

Chimney Fire

This time of year we get calls for service from alarmed customers who have had a chimney fire.

The by products of burning solid fuel, wood or pressed logs, is soot and creosote.  Soot and creosote accumulate in the flue with use of fireplace.  Soot and creosote are highly flammable.

A chimney fire happens when the buildup of soot/creosote in the flue catches on fire.  When a great deal of heat is introduced into unit, the buildup will ignite.  People burn Christmas trees or wrapping paper and these produce large flames with high heat.  This will ignite the soot/creosote in the flue and fire will spread up the entire flue and can belch flames out the top of the chimney.  It becomes a giant torch and can produce a huge roar.

Temperatures in flue will go from range from normal of 300-500 F degrees to over 1700 F. Chimney fires can create a lot of damage, and sometimes one will get damage from the fire department’s efforts to extinguish the fire.  So, one must always be cautious about having too big or too hot a fire and one should get chimneys cleaned and inspected regularly and especially after a chimney fire.

Replacing fireplace gas lines

Gas lines coming up through the floor of older masonry fireplaces often rust out and need to be replaced. Here is a rusted gas line we replaced.

rusted fireplace gas line

Chimneys are a Major Source of House Fires

house fire, chimney

It was reported recently that fireplaces or chimneys cause about 25,000 house fires per year in the U.S.

The damage is mostly due to flames migrating upward to crack, warp or melt the masonry or metal chimney walls.

How can you prevent chimney fires?

1. Minimize creosote (soot) build up by getting chimneys swept regularly. Clean when there is 1/8″ of soot buildup.
2. Get chimney inspected regularly. This would include a video inspection of the chimney to make sure there are no gaps or cracks which can be a fire hazard. If your chimney sweep only looks down the chimney or uses a hand held mirror, this is not good enough. He will most likely miss many cracks and gaps.
3. Install a chimney cap. The cap can keep out leaves, birds, bees, and rodents. Animal nests can provide fuel for a fire. The cost of removing birds, bees and rodents is much more than the cost of a chimney cap. If you are in a beach community, stainless steel caps will last a lot longer than plain metal ones.

Fireplaces and chimneys have an average life expectance of 30 to 40 years

chimney crackMany homeowners think that chimneys do not require maintenance and last forever.  However the age of a fireplace is very relevant to how safe it is to use.  Most fireplaces and chimneys have an average life expectance of 30 to 40 years.  Water, acids, carbon, and high temperatures all cause erosion and decay.  Eventually, that breaks down the internal integrity of any chimney.

The Chimney Safety Institute reports that in the winter the biggest source of house fires are the use of fireplaces.

Approximately 25% of chimneys built between 1950 and 1990 have hazardous cracks and gaps which can result in a house fire.  These often can not be detected without a video inspection.  These cracks and gaps are usually repairable unless the structure of the chimney has been compromised.

In last month we have seen 2 prefabricated chimneys (built in 1990’s) which are factory built metal units, where the metal flue had rusted out.  The holes in the metal created a fire hazard.  These units are not repairable and can only be replaced.  In both cases, the home inspector noted cracks in the refractory panels but failed to look up the fireplace to see the holes in the metal pipes.

If you have a home that is older than 25 years and you are using your fireplace and you have not had it inspected in the last 5 years, it is important that you get it inspected and cleaned as needed.  The inspection should include a video inspection of the chimney flue to make sure no hazardous conditions exist.   Lucky Sully Chimney Sweep includes this level 2 inspection as part of its inspection and cleaning services.

1983 Home of a prefabricated rusted chimney

This prefabricated chimney had refractory panels which had large cracks but on examining chimney flue, it was discovered that it was very rusted and hazardous to use.

Anyone with an older chimney and fireplace of this type should take pictures up the flue to check if there are issues of this type with their chimney.  They should have a chimney inspection if any rust is observed.

1983 prefabricated rusty chimney

Effects of voids in lintel

2 issues here. In an attempt to remodel a fireplace, the lintel was removed making the fireplace opening taller. This might be aesthetically pleasing, but now the fireplace has been damaged and likely will not draft properly. Nearly impossible to repair.

The black streaking shows evidence of cracks in firebox allowing smoke and hot gasses to potentially get into combustibles.

fireplace lintel

Chimney Brick Repair

Had to replace all these bricks. Sprinklers kept soaking bricks and got rebar wet. It rusted and destroyed the bricks. The black stains are from creosote/soot/smoke/ hot gases escaping flue and firebox, potentially getting into combustibles and house fire.

rusted and destroyed bricks

Masonry Firebox Repair

The masonry firebox is the box that surrounds the flames. It’s at the base of your chimney. After a while, the firebricks get wear and tear, and it may be time for a repair.

Here is a before and after masonry firebox repair we recently did.

before and after masonry firebox repair

Smoke Chamber Repair

The smoke from your fireplace needs a place to escape. Otherwise, things could get dangerous, fast. A smoke chamber repair includes sealing gaps or voids in the chamber so that smoke has a smooth passageway to exit your chimney.

The black stains is soot from hot gases leaking through crack getting close to combustibles.

 

smoke chamber