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Pros And Cons Of A Flue Top Exhaust Fan

Chimneys with continuous smoking problems can be a frustrating experience. Many homeowners stop using their fireplaces all together rather than deal with smoke blowing into their homes, sluggish fires, or lingering odors. However, some homeowners may find their smoking issues alleviated by a flue top exhaust fan.

Pros And Cons Of A Flue Top Exhaust Fan Image - San Francisco CA - Fireplace Safety ServicesWhat is a flue top exhaust fan?

Traditional exhaust fans are used to push hot air from the fire out into your home. Top exhaust fans, however, serve a different purpose; top exhaust fans are used to overcome pressure issues in the chimney. When turned on, the flue top exhaust fan creates draft by pulling air up from the hearth while also drawing in fresh outside air. This process provides enough air for combustion while also preventing strong downdrafts.

New construction homes that are too airtight and have fires that burn sluggishly can benefit from these types of exhaust fans, as can those with negative pressure caused by nearby tall buildings or trees. Fireplaces that are difficult to start because of a cold flue can also benefit from a flue top exhaust fan; the air flow can help warm the flue before starting the fire.

While flue top exhaust fans can be extremely useful in homes with occasional smoking problems, they are not a one-size-fits-all solution. A chimney inspection by a certified chimney sweep can help identify the cause of your smoking issues; a chimney sweep can recommend whether a flue top exhaust fan is appropriate for your home.

Other causes of smoking issues.

There is no one cause of fireplace smoking problems; there can be as many as 15 different reasons for smoking fireplaces.

The following are a few of the possible causes of smoking issues:

  1. Negative air pressure.
    Chimney height, nearby building, home additions, and trees can all affect the air pressure in your chimney. The chimney must be at least two feet taller than any other structure within 10 feet; doing this ensures that an area of negative air pressure is not created surrounding the chimney, which can affect drafting.
  2. Improperly sized flue.
    If the flue is too large or too small, the fireplace may not be able to draft properly. When the flue is too small, the chimney is not able to quickly draw the smoke up the chimney, causing smoke to linger in the room. If the flue is too large, the chimney will pull down too much air, blowing smoke back into the room. The flue may need to be relined after a new insert is installed or if the fuel source of the fireplace is changed.
  3. Flue blockage.
    A blockage in the flue can constrict air flow and prevent proper venting. Blockages are typically caused by debris such as animal nesting materials and leaves in the chimney; excessive buildup of creosote can also cause a chimney blockage. Having the chimney swept regularly and ensuring the chimney cap is well fitted and undamaged are two ways to avoid chimney blockages.

Give us a call!

Don’t stop using your chimney if you suffer from long term smoking issues. Instead, consider a flue top exhaust fan as a way to improve smoking problems and overcome pressure issues. For more information on flue top exhaust fans, contact Fireplace Safety Services today!

Spring And Summer Fireplace Maintenance

Warmer temperatures and longer days have finally arrived, meaning fewer and fewer homeowners are using their fireplace systems. Instead of forgetting about your fireplace until fall, consider having maintenance done this spring or summer!

How winter weather damages your chimney

Spring And Summer Fireplace Maintenance img - San Rafael CA - Fireplace Safety ServicesThe masonry of our chimneys is designed to withstand the elements and can last for decades. However, winter weather is extremely tough on chimneys; large cracks or missing masonry can often appear in as little as one season.

When water from snow and ice are combined with freezing temperatures, the resulting freeze thaw cycle can cause significant damage or deterioration to the masonry of the chimney. During the winter, existing cracks or holes in the masonry can absorb water from rain, ice, and snow; as temperatures drop, the absorbed water freezes and creates progressively larger and larger areas of damage.

Other parts of the chimney, such as the flashing, chimney cap, or chimney crown can also be damaged by harsh winter weather conditions. Damage to these chimney parts can cause chimney leaks and water damage to delicate interior fireplace components. An annual inspection each spring can ensure a harsh winter did not cause chimney damage.

The importance of annual maintenance

Annual chimney sweepings and inspections are an important part of keeping your fireplace burning safely and efficiently. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that all homes have their fireplaces serviced at least once per year, regardless of how often they are used. National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 also states, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”

“A chimney inspection is like an annual dental check-up,” says Ashley Eldridge, Director of Education for the CSIA. “It’s preventative maintenance that helps minimize potential hazards.”

The benefits of spring and summer maintenance

Because fireplaces are used so little in the spring and summer, few homeowners think to have them serviced during this time. Their lack of use makes the fireplace “off season” the perfect time to have them swept or inspected, however.

After a long burning season, many fireplaces have a buildup of soot, ash, and flammable creosote in the flue. Having the chimney swept in the spring ensures this buildup is not damaging the flue liner, as well as ensures the fireplace is ready to use again when fall arrives.

Warm temperatures and mild weather make it easy to finish repairs on time. Because few homeowners use their fireplaces during this season, your ability to enjoy your heating appliance when you need it should not be impacted. Likewise, scheduling chimney services in the off season gives you greater flexibility in scheduling an appointment that is convenient for you. Don’t forget about your chimney when spring and summer arrive! Instead, take advantage of the off season by having your chimney serviced.

Contact Fireplace Safety Services today to schedule your spring and summer chimney services!

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