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Old Hat Chimney Service's Blog

The Dangers of a Cracked Chimney Liner

Triangle Danger SignOne of the most important parts of your chimney, the chimney liner serves several functions that affect the safety and performance of your fireplace. If your chimney liner becomes cracked or damaged due to water penetration of your chimney, you must take care of this repair task before you can safely use your fireplace. Scheduling a chimney sweeping at inspection with Old Hat Chimney Service allows our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps to look at your liner to see if it needs essential repairs. It could be so deteriorated that you may even need to replace the damaged liner with a new one. We would like to tell you more about chimney liners and why cracks and gaps in liners can be so hazardous.

What Are the Main Functions of a Chimney Liner?

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), chimney liners serve three important duties to prevent hazardous occurrences:

  • Liners protect your house from heat transfer to combustibles. In both the 1940’s and the 1980’s, the National Bureau of Standards tested masonry chimneys that had no liners and discovered that heat moved so rapidly up the chimney that the adjacent woodwork caught fire in less than four hours. Chimney liners can prevent dangerous home fires.
  • Liners protect your masonry work from the corrosive byproducts of combustion. If you have no liner or have cracks or gaps in your liner, flue gases can penetrate the bricks and mortar of your chimney. Since the flue gases are acidic, this penetration will eat away at the masonry work. As the mortar joints erode and deteriorate, toxic gases like carbon monoxide can easily leak into your home and possibly cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Liners provide a correctly sized flue for the greatest efficiency of your heating appliance. Many fireplace inserts and stoves are smaller than your existing firebox, and a chimney liner can create a new flue to perfectly fit your new heating appliance. An improper fit can cause draft and combustion issues that can lead to excessive buildups of the highly flammable compound, creosote, in wood-burning units and production of carbon monoxide in gas-fueled appliances.

What Are the Different Types of Chimney Liners?

Chimney liners come in three main types:

  • Clay Tile Liners – The most common type of masonry chimney liner, clay tile liners are inexpensive and easily found, but they have a couple of disadvantages. The first is the ceramic-based tiles do not distribute heat evenly if a chimney fire should occur. The uneven heat will cause the tiles to crack and break. The other disadvantage is clay tiles cannot adequately contain the liquid combustion byproducts released by gas-fueled appliances.
  • Metal Liners – Made from stainless steel or aluminum, this type of liner is generally chosen to upgrade and repair existing chimney liners and to install with fireplace inserts and stoves. Stainless steel is the recommended metal for these liners as it is longer-lasting and much more durable.
  • Cast In-Place Liners – Made from lightweight castable cement, this type of liner creates a smooth, seamless, insulated passageway for the toxic gases to escape your chimney. Suitable for all fuel types, cast in-place liners are great for improving the structural integrity of aging chimneys.

Want to know more about the hazards and dangers of a cracked chimney liner? Contact Old Hat Chimney Service to ask our staff any questions you may have about chimney liners.

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The Benefits of Fireplace Refacing with a Wood-Burning Insert

wood_insert_old_hat_chimney_service_atlanta_gaIf the look of your fireplace is outdated and you would like to remodel its appearance, you can easily reface your fireplace by selecting a wood-burning fireplace insert from Old Hat Chimney Service and having our technicians professionally install the insert in your existing fireplace. Not only is this an economical way to remodel your fireplace, but you will also experience other benefits from your new wood-burning insert. We would like to tell you more about these benefits to inform you how easy fireplace refacing can be.

Installing a Wood-Burning Fireplace Insert Is an Inexpensive and Quick Way to Remodel Your Fireplace.

Working much like a wood-burning stove, an insert is a cast-iron or steel box that sits inside your existing masonry fireplace. You will not have to worry about noticeable gaps in between your insert and the sides of your fireplace because a decorative flange will be fitted around the edges. A great way to update the look of your hearth, you can find a variety of styles of wood-burning inserts. No matter if your tastes are classic and contemporary or sleek and modern, you can choose the perfect fireplace insert for your decor.

Wood-Burning Fireplace Inserts Will Save You Money on Your Winter Heating Bills.

According to HouseLogic, the National Association of Realtors’ home improvement website, you will cut your winter heating costs by 10% to 40% with an insert. This is because an insert has an enclosed design that increases the efficiency of burning wood, which gives you the most heat for the lowest cost. Additionally, most inserts are equipped with a fan that circulates warm air from the firebox into the room for extra heat.

Wood-Burning Fireplace Inserts Are More Environmentally-Friendly Than Traditional Wood-Burning Fireplaces.

Almost all new wood-burning fireplace inserts now meet the fuel efficiency guidelines of 60% to 80% set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. With emissions reduced to barely anything, wood-burning fireplace inserts are great choices for the environmentally-conscious homeowner. The combustion is so efficient that much fewer noxious gases and other pollutants are released by the wood smoke.

The Chimneys of Wood-Burning Fireplaces Are Easier to Clean.

Due to the efficiency of these fireplace inserts, less creosote is produced, which makes sweeping these chimneys a much simpler process. A stainless steel connector between the insert and the flue liner of your chimney is required by the NFPA. An alternative to the setup is the installation of a connector that runs all the way up the chimney, and this can be even easier to clean and maintain.

Wood-Burning Fireplace Inserts Provide a Longer Burning Time Than a Traditional Fireplace.

The fireboxes of these inserts run from 1.6 cubic feet to 3.1 cubic feet and can hold enough wood to provide a fire for six to eight hours without placing more firewood in the insert.

Need to update the look of your fireplace? Contact Old Hat Chimney Service today to talk to us about installing a wood-burning fireplace insert.

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Convert Your Wood-Burning Fireplace into a Convenient Gas-Fueled Fireplace

gas_fireplaces_old_hat_chimney_atlanta_gaAlthough you love your wood-burning fireplace for its traditional fire, you are tired of the chores of bringing in wood from the storage shed and cleaning up the ashy mess left behind. You also may be concerned about the creosote deposits and pollution caused by wood smoke. You dream of having an instant, clean-burning flame with no cleanup involved. Old Hat Chimney can make your dream a reality by converting your wood-burning fireplace to a gas appliance. To help you with making this fireplace fuel change, we would like to tell you about the options you have with this conversion as well as a few tips from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).

GAS FIREPLACE OPTIONS

Gas Logs

One of the easiest ways to convert your wood-burning fireplace to gas is to install gas logs. You have two choices when it comes to selecting these logs:

  • Vented Gas Logs — Also known as “yellow flame” logs, these gas logs require a chimney for venting. Often mistaken for a wood-burning fire, vented gas logs provide a realistic-looking, beautiful flame. Old Hat Chimney sells gas logs that look almost exactly like real wood. Made from refractory ceramic or cement, these logs are constructed with great attention to detail with knots and craggy bark added to look even more realistic. You can even choose what type of wood appearance you would like, including driftwood, oak, and other species. Vented logs, however, do generate soot and carbon, so you will have to sweep up sooty remains and have your chimney swept annually. v
  • Vent-free Gas Logs — These gas logs are also referred to as “blue flame” logs because of its blue flamed fire, which is not as realistic as a fire from vented gas logs. However, vent-free gas logs provide more heat and burn cleaner with no ashy, sooty mess. We can install these logs in a fireplace with the damper closed or in a firebox cabinet that has been approved for installation without a chimney. This means you can have a fireplace even if you don’t have a chimney! The drawback to vent-free gas logs is the possibility of negatively affecting the air quality in your home if burned for a prolonged period of time, although you can trust Old Hat Chimney to be sure your vent-free logs are properly installed and safe to use.

Gas Fireplace Inserts

If you want to give your fireplace a new look, you may want to choose a gas fireplace insert to install into your existing wood-burning fireplace. These inserts provide a greater heat output than gas logs, and you can find inserts that look exactly like a wood-burning fireplace. Professional installation from Old Hat Chimney is a necessity as improper installation can cause serious problems, such as carbon monoxide leaking into your home.

Stand-Alone Gas Fireplaces

For those who do not have a fireplace in their homes, there are entire fireplace cabinet enclosures that includes logs and a mantle that can be installed anywhere in your home. Another plus to these gas fireplaces is they are less expensive than wood-burning appliances.

No matter which option you choose, you need to have gas heating appliances installed by a professional and experienced gas installer, such as our technicians at Old Hat Chimney. For safety reasons, you should install carbon monoxide detectors in your home, especially if you are using gas logs. Also, just because these gas-fueled fireplaces seem to be relatively maintenance free, you still need to have your chimney swept and inspected at least once a year.

Need more information about converting your wood-burning fireplace to gas? Contact Old Hat Chimney today, and we are glad to answer any questions you may have about this fuel change.

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Fall is Almost Here: Beat the Rush!

It’s the end of summer and most people are trying to enjoy the warmth for as long as possible. They’re not yet thinking about the winter months and their fireplaces. You should get your chimney inspected annually, before you light your first fire of the year. However, most people call to schedule an appointment to have their chimneys and fireplaces inspected in winter or late fall. By calling us now, however, you can avoid the rush and make sure that you can get an appointment before you want to use your fireplace.

Why Are Annual Inspections Important?

Here at Old Hat Chimney Service, we know how frustrating it can be to try to find a reliable, trustworthy, knowledgeable chimney sweep. But if you live in the Atlanta area and are in the market for a new chimney care provider, your search is over.

Here at Old Hat Chimney Service, we know how frustrating it can be to try to find a reliable, trustworthy, knowledgeable chimney sweep. But if you live in the Atlanta area and are in the market for a new chimney care provider, your search is over.

Inspections are incredibly important. While you may not think that something is wrong with your fireplace, there are many hidden dangers that an untrained eye can easily miss. A variety of things, such as animals, may have made their way into your chimney and obstructed the air flow. Hidden damage and creosote buildup put your family at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and/or a chimney fire. The National Fire Protection Agency recommends that your chimney be inspected:

  • At least once a year
  • When you purchase a new home
  • Any time there has been a change to any appliance that vents directly into the chimney
  • Any time there has been significant structural work done to the home

You’re In Good Hands

The chimney professionals at Old Hat Chimney Service are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), so you can expect industry-leading standard from us in every job we perform. We’re always dedicated to providing the highest level of service and customer care.

Old Hat technicians also possess industry-leading tools, including chimney video scanning systems. This gives us a much more detailed look at your flue. Without these video systems, technicians rely on eyesight, flashlights, and instinct to spot any potential danger lurking in your chimney. The video is simply much more accurate and allows us to see even minimal damage and correct it before it becomes a much larger issue.

Different Levels of Inspection According to Need

A level one inspection is recommended if you are using the same chimney in the same way. It’s a visual inspection of the readily accessible parts of your chimney and heating appliance.

A level two inspection will be performed if a home is being bought or sold, a new appliance is installed, or a flue liner has been replaced. This inspection includes the same things as a level one inspection, and in addition, we access the upper and lower parts of the chimney system in attics and basements or crawl spaces.

A level three inspection is appropriate when damage or potential damage has occurred (this could be due to fire, lightning, strong winds, or other circumstances). It includes the same things as the previous two inspection types, and an inspection of the system behind permanent parts of the chimney, appliance, or home. This means that the level three inspections may require the removal of drywall or masonry.

Old Hat Chimney Service technicians can help schedule the correct inspection for your chimney. Call us at 770-529-2654 or click here to schedule an appointment today. Don’t wait until everyone is rushing for an appointment to call us!

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Brick Damage and Spalling and How It Affects Your Chimney

You may not know it, but moisture, not heat, is the biggest cause of damage to chimneys. Bricks and mortar are somewhat porous and water from rain and moisture can get in these pores and cause damage to your chimney brick. This damage caused by moisture or water in the brick is called spalling.

What is chimney spalling and how is it caused?

Chimney DamageSpalling is when the masonry bricks or stone begin to flake off or become missing due to water penetration. You may first notice this when you find bricks or stones lying on the ground or around your roof.  The freezing and thawing of too much precipitation absorbed in the masonry is the main cause of spalling. The damages of spalling can be worsened by the condensation of flue gasses in liners that are not the right size, or gaps and cracks in the mortar joints located on the inside of the chimney. Also, extra water entering the interior of the chimney chase at the top can make spalling more prominent. Softer types of brick are more likely to have moisture penetration affect them than the harder types, but builders will often use the softer types to make up for expenses.

The chimney is one of the first places to show that it has damaged because it is more exposed to the elements than the rest of the home. This will start with the top portion, but when the chimney begins to spall the inside at your fireplace, damage has already started. These bricks and stones cannot be repaired, and should be replaced quickly.

How can you prevent spalling?

There is no way to completely protect your chimney from water, but there are some ways you can help. First, have your chimney waterproofed. Waterproofing can extend the life of the chimney and brick for many years. Your chimney technician can do this on any clear day after your sweep. The sealant itself will need about six hours to dry, so plan accordingly. Also, if you live in an extra wet area you may want to look into having two coats applied. Chimney caps are another great way to help keep water out, but they must be installed properly to be safe.

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