Extension of Chimney and WETT Inspection

Hopefully decent weather today as I will be outside extending a chimney which is too short.  There are clear requirements on chimney height which is 900mm above the roof where it sits or extends out of the roof – this should be measured at the centre of the chimney flue and the side of the chimney (top of chimney is shorter than bottom – don’t try to cheat and measure the highest or tallest side – measure the centre where the flue gases come out).  But there is also a requirement to be 600mm higher than any other object or structure within 3 metres!  This last one is often the problem, although there are also some out there which fail to meet the first.

Once completed of course a WETT Inspection – Level 2 – is in order.  When anything has changed as per the guidelines a Level 2 inspection is required.  You need to be aware of that because there are many WETT Inspectors who are NOT qualified to perform a Level 2 inspection!  If somebody is certified by WETT as a SITE Basic Inspector and nothing else, the SITE Basic is their ONLY certification, then they are only able to perform a Level 1 Inspection!  What else needs Level 2?  A couple – one of the most common being that of Real Estate transactions or Real Estate sales.  Many do not know this, including Realtors themselves!  Why is this?  Well at times the system may not have been used for years, may not have been used properly, may have broken or non-functional components or need cleaning.  A Level 1 Inspection would never find any of these situations!  You need to find a WETT Certified Chimney Sweep or WETT Certified Technician who are also able to perform a Level 2 Inspection or a SITE Comprehensive Inspector who is able to perform a Level 2 as well as a Level 3 inspection.

Chimney Sweep Everett

Chimney sweeping in Everett area – two inserts and two wood stoves.  One of the stoves was an older Fisher model – non-certified with single wall pipe.  Nothing wrong with installation from a code perspective – but a terribly inefficient wood stove – would be worth it to get a more efficient and modern stove which would save money, energy and add enjoyment.

The Life Cycle Of Creosote

If you burn wood improperly (either due to an old appliance – green unseasoned wood – or other reasons) the consequences can be disastrous for your chimney.

Wood does not burn the same as a fossil fuel, with over 50% of the wood weight being moisture from the tree sap or resin.  This causes wood to burn more slowly and at a lower temperature.  This may seem like a good thing – but there can be dangerous consequences from it.

Often times, especially with older stoves, when burning wood the operator will reduce the amount of air entering the firebox to save fuel or make the fire burn longer.  This will cause the stove to smoulder and smoke – all be it some newer models today handle this MUCH better due to their catalyst secondary burn feature.  However, with an older stove of which there are many in the Midland and Penetanguishene area, causing the wood to smoulder creates a lot of smoke – and smoke that is cooler in temperature.  This cool smoke entering the chimney does not maintain a high temperature and will linger in the chimney longer – this causes the smoke to cool even further and to actually create condensation on the chimney walls.  Smoke from a wood fire has a flammable gas within it and this flammable product creates creosote.  (some think it is due to the resin in the tree – but this has been proven incorrect in university studies).

Once in a condensation state or liquid it can now flow into cracks and joints – which if masonry can actually cause the mortar to deteriorate and is why liners are mandatory in masonry chimneys.

This creosote will slowly solidify – and there are three ways the creosote can form.  Each of these are called Stages or Degrees.  The first is a gummy tar like product – the second is more of a crispy flaky product and the third is a hard black shiny product which is the most difficult to remove.  The condensation will, if left to slowly dry out, turn into the last one.  If there is a hotter fire built, it will dry out more quickly and be more like the second type mentioned.  Regardless of what form, creosote will build up and reduce the cross sectional area of the chimney and flue pipes. Solid creosote is highly flammable and is dangerous.  When burning temperatures in excess of 2000°C have been recorded in chimney fires and is why chimney sweeping is so important.

Finally there is a fourth type of creosote – but is not considered one of the states or degrees of creosote as it does not form naturally.  It is instead formed during a chimney fire; and is often bubbly looking, expanded almost honeycomb like, crispy and crunchy – easily crushed between fingers.  This actually can fully block a chimney – and sometimes a customer will have a chimney fire – not know it – and suddenly their stove does not work well and they have no draft.  What?  Yes – most – in fact studies state that 80% of all chimney fires are undetected at the time. This does not make a chimney fire any less dangerous.. and often times it is during the sweep that we find the evidence of a past chimney fire.  In fact I found one a couple of weeks ago in Orillia – however only a couple of pieces – did the power sweep break up the rest?  Was it from an older timeframe and some previous sweeps had taken out the rest?  Hard to say. Some sweeps do not remove the baffle and clean the whole system – so I do find things that were there from past sweeps at times.  So .. hard to say.


Had To Use Creosote Remover Today

Yes, sometimes to get to the bottom of the glazed creosote requires help and that is where a professional grade creosote remover comes in.  Thankfully not something that is necessary a lot but when it is.. it is.

Going to be a cool night – a few wood fires burning out there already I expect.  Be sure to stay safe – burn good seasoned wood and have your chimney swept by Certified Chimney Sweep on regular basis.

Water Causes Most Chimney Damage – Not Fire!

It is true; most chimney damage is actually caused by water.  Far more damage is caused by rain than by chimney fires.  Not to discount the danger of a chimney fire when it happens, but the rain – especially in the rainy parts of the year can cause serious problems with chimneys.

Whether your chimney is masonry or factory-built, long term water exposure can eventually cause cracks or gaps in chimneys where creosote can accumulate and will increase the risk of a chimney fire or even provide passage for dangerous carbon monoxide gases to enter your living areas of home.

What are the clues to a potential problem?  If a factory built chimney then rust stains are one significant clue.  These could be on the outside or the inside.  If they are in the fireplace then the risk can become even higher – if you see it in the fireplace then it is likely a lot worse up the chimney.

Another clue may be any standing water or where you see water dripping – water anywhere near your home is never a good thing.  Your chimney does not like water and neither does any other part of your home – water is their #1 enemy.

Look for bent, damaged or missing flashing.  The metal flashing around your masonry or factory built chimney (as well as the caulking as well) are designed to keep water out.  They must be intact and in good condition to work well.  These can become warped or damaged over time and cause water intrusion and eventual water damage.

If you don’t have a rain cap get one now.  If there is not one there is a considerable increase in risk of damage.

If a masonry chimney – consider having waterproofing applied to the outside – a proper material will allow moisture to escape out but prevent it from entering the masonry.  Never use any paint or non-vapour permeable water sealer not designed for masonry – as it will make it worse and actually can hasten masonry deterioration!

Call a Certified Chimney Sweep to perform any recommended jobs – the Certified Chimney Sweeps are the top level of the industry’s professional standard.

Replacement of Refractory Bricks in Fireplace Insert – Tiny Beaches Road

Sometimes the refractory bricks don’t need to be change; in fact most often they don’t.  Occasionally however you do need to do the job; and sometimes you need to cut the bricks to fit into the stove or insert.

This is when having the proper tools to do the job comes in handy!  The proper saw with a diamond blade will cut the bricks smoothly, quickly and easily.

Always good to hire a Chimney Sweep who is trained and has the skill, experience and knowledge.  Hire a Certified Chimney Sweep!

Certified Air Tightness Tester

What does a Certified Air Tightness Tester do, know and why does it matter.  Air Tightness certifications are provided in Canada by CRESNET – the Canadian equivalent of RESNET.  The purpose of CRESNET is to provide proper and effective energy audits and apply a proper HERS Index.

As I work closely with Home Energy systems and heating – knowing more about the whole building envelope is an important part of the job and how it can impact the solid fuel burning appliance and the occupants of the home.

If you are burning a wood stove, wood furnace, fireplace or insert – they all need air (oxygen) – the same as we do.  If they have no outdoor air supply they will attempt to use the air available to them in the home.  New fireplaces built to code will have external air supply – many new wood stoves, pellet stoves, etc. also have the provisions for external air supply to the fire.  The importance of this in a tight home can not be overlooked, not only is the oxygen the fire needs supplied – the potential of a downdraft is also eliminated.

Be smart; be safe!  Hire somebody certified to do the work!  Oh and yes I did get my Air Tightness Certification!


How to best clean a clay tile lined fireplace flue in a masonry chimney?

What’s the most effective way to sweep and remove the creosote from a clay tile lined fireplace flue in a masonry chimney?

Honestly there is no single and no easy answer.  There are many different creosote types encountered and some require slightly different techniques.  The advancement of tools in the industry helps a lot and there are other factors as well such as rooftop or chimney access.  Bottom line if there is more than 2mm of creosote – it should be cleaned.

Historically the way to clean was from the top working down using either round or flat wire brushes; this can be effective when there is a powdery creosote buildup or even a thin layer of glaze present.

However, due to technology the rotary sweeping method from bottom up using nylon or poly rods attached to a drill has become quite effective and popular.  These also are very effective at removing the powdery creosote buildups as well as thin layers of creosote glaze – they can actually be more effective than the older brush method – although the older brush method does give a feel when using which is beneficial in a masonry chimney and lost in the power sweep.

However, if the creosote glaze becomes thick and is not flaky, then it can be very difficult to remove with traditional methods from either the top or the bottom.   Chains can be used – however this method often will damage the flue liner – and should be used with caution – especially true if the liner is old and in not great condition.  Chemicals can also be used to assist in removal of the glaze creosote buildups.  Some of these are designed to be used with fireplace/insert/woodstove in use – these often work well to help in reducing buildup but caution should be used if there is already significant creosote deposits present in the flue.  Having a fire in the appliance with large buildup is asking for a chimney fire!  There are products we can use when the appliance is not in use – but it has to remain in place for a time to effectively loosen the creosote and does become an expensive job.  It can however be very effective at loosening the hard deposits from the flue surface.

It is also important to note that most chimney sweeps also now have very sophisticated and expensive chimney cameras; capable of looking closely at the chimney walls from inside.  This can be done before the sweep to examine how and where the flue gases flow,  based upon buildup, or after the sweep is performed to closely examine for cracking in tiles.

Inspecting during the sweep is important and should be done by an professional Certified Chimney Sweep.  Which is why a proper Chimney Sweep is not going to be performed in less than an hour in most cases.  You should always hire a Certified Chimney Sweep or Certified Advanced Chimney Sweep.

Sunrise on Georgian Bay

Yes sunrise!  Out sweeping chimneys on islands at sunrise.  Was beautiful weather and a beautiful photo opportunity.

Fall makes the trees so beautiful and the warm weather makes work so enjoyable, although I don’t expect the warm weather to last much longer.  Will be dressing a little warmer in a week or two when out on water doing Chimney Sweeping !

Yes cottage chimneys do need sweeping – some more often than others – a with any other wood burning system it depends on who is using it, how often and what they burn.

However, if you have property on a Georgian Bay Island – don’t forget your sweep!  Or even if you do not have anything on islands, sweeping is still just as important!  Don’t forget and risk a chimney fire.

Hire ONLY a WETT Certified Chimney Sweep!

Burning Potato Peels To Save Sweeping Chimney

Does burning potato peels save sweeping chimney?  Some do it; and some have done it for years.  Claiming they don’t need to clean chimney if they burn potatoes?

Does it work – is it true?

Well there are more than enough articles on the internet on this one, all it takes is a bit of research and the truth will turn up.

Fact is no.  It will not – does not – and never did work.  In fact with the new EPA stoves – especially the Catalyst stoves – I am not sure it is a great idea at all.  Not sure what it might do to the Catalyst device.

At any rate – back to the topic at hand.  The very best it might do is dry out and make Type 3 Creosote – the hard black, shiny creosote more dry and flaky – more easy to clean.  But it DOES NOT – NEVER DID – and NEVER WILL actually clean a chimney.  The old timers who do it will never be convinced otherwise in some cases; but sorry to say there is more than ample research that has been done in this area to disprove this old wives tale and myth.