Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Chimney Safety Institute of America?
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is a nonprofit organization governed by a volunteer board of directors dedicated to the education, training, and certification of chimney and industry related professionals. Additionally, they strive to advance public awareness about the dangers of chimney fires and other problems related to the maintenance and performance of chimney and venting systems. Since 1983, CSIA has been the industry leader in chimney and venting education. Our nationally recognized credentials include the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep, CSIA Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician, and CSIA Master Chimney Sweep.
What is the make up of a chimney?
Chimney Crown- The chimney crown rests at the top of your chimney, generally helping to protect exposed masonry chimneys from water and weather damage.
Chimney Cap- Chimney caps are actually a roofed addition to your chimney. They function to help prevent water from entering your chimney, and can be fitted with screens to help keep birds and small mammals from nesting in your chimney.
Flue- The flue is the empty space inside your chimney that allows combustion gases to vent.
Flue Lining- For a safe flue, a lining must be used to ensure minimal accumulation of flammable debris. This lining should be stainless steel or specially formulated lining tile.
Chimney Chase- The chimney chase generally refers to a factory made case used around factory made chimneys. This function is taken by masonry chimneys in homes that have them.
Smoke Chamber- The purpose of the smoke chamber is to gently compress the byproducts of combustion into a smaller space (the chimney) without causing back draft. The use of sloping walls, in conjunction with good fireplace design and maintenance, helps facilitate this.
Chimney Damper- Chimney Dampers are lever or pulley activated doors within your chimney. They can be closed to prevent energy loss when your fireplace isn’t being used. They also help prevent rain water or animals from entering your home if your chimney cap doesn’t restrict this.
Smoke Shelf- This shelf is just behind the chimney damper. Flat, it catches falling debris and rain water, and helps with the transition of large volumes of smoke into the small chimney.
What is that white discoloration on my chimney?
The whitish discoloration on the exterior of the furnace chimney is efflorescence. It is caused by the escape of gases through gaps in the liner. Felgemacher Masonry can make specific recommendations about installing a new liner and tuck pointing or rebuilding the chimney if necessary.
How do I know if my chimney needs tuckpointing or rebuilding?
Take a close look at the walls of your masonry chimney. Do you see cracks, crumbling bricks, uneven areas of mortar, voids, and noticeable gaps between the bricks? If the answer is yes or you're not sure call us to provide an estimate of the repair.
I can see water coming into my fireplace and I can see water stains on the ceiling near the fireplace. Is this an issue that Felgemacher Masonry can remedy?
Yes, we can help you prevent future leaks, but doing these repairs will not undue existing stains. Felgemacher Masonry installs protective chimney covers and dampers. We seal crowns and flashings and also do chimney tuck pointing and rebuilding.
What is the difference between vented and vent free gas logs?
Vented gas logs require a fully functioning fireplace to be installed; the damper must be locked in an open position. Vented logs burn at a very low efficiency (less than 10%), requiring the logs to be vented to the outside. They burn up to 100,000 BTU’s and produce black soot on the logs.
Vent free gas logs operate at 99.9% efficiency (using technology similar to a gas range). Vent free logs burn gas clean, so venting to the outside is not required. Vent free gas logs burn up to 40,000 BTUS depending on room size. Vent free products are code approved, ANSI certified, and UL listed.
Why do my vent free logs have an odor sometimes?
Vent free logs use the air in the room for combustion. As a result, anything released into the atmosphere of the room will be circulated through the vent free burner causing an odor. So always remember clean air in, clean air out – scented candles, air fresheners, carpet deodorizers and tobacco to name a few can all cause this problem. Dust and pet dander are also culprits to stinky logs. Getting annual service for vent free logs and burner is a great way to help eliminate odors and should always be performed by an NFI trained technician or someone familiar with vent free products.
How often should I have my chimney clean?
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that all chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits and correct clearances.
How long does it take to clean a chimney?
A typical cleaning can be over in as little as 30 minutes, but can go as long as an hour and a half. Nesting material if present can take longer and may require a separate fee.
Will there be a mess during the cleaning process?
No, there will not be a mess during the chimney cleaning process. We put down drop cloths, wear shoe covers and our vacuums have HEPA filters. Our technicians strive to leave the area around the fireplace as clean or even cleaner than we found it.
Why didn't the technician get on the roof as part of my chimney cleaning?
Most chimneys and fireplaces can be cleaned from the bottom. We have specially designed tools made for this application. A typical sweeping will involve roof access for inspection of brick work, caps and flashing. Chimneys over 30 feet or hard to reach chimneys may not get inspected from the roof. This is typically left to the discretion of the technician.
I am buying a home. Should I get a chimney inspection before closing?
YES! Just because someone says a fireplace is “usable” does not mean that it is up to code. A NFPA Level-II inspection will identify potential problem areas, or give you peace of mind that the fireplace in your new home is in working order. It is always better to know up front than to be surprised later.