Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
We are often asked a multitude of questions, and we want our customers to be just as in the "know-how" as we are. We are firm believers that knowledge is power, as well as a tool that can save you money and guarantee peace of mind!
Why do I need my Chimney cleaned?
This is the first and most obvious question, as well as the most important question! First and foremost, it is essential to understand a little bit about the chimney itself. The chimney goes back to ancient Roman days when bakeries would use it to ventilate smoke out of the home. It wasn't until after European settlers began to move around and industrialize in colder climates that the need to heat the home became apparent.
Over the years, the methods that we've used to heat our homes have chained, but the way in which we do it has not changed all that much. Today, the most common ways to heat the home are using Oil, Gas, and Solar Power, Solar power, Wood stoves, Pellet stoves as well as a multitude of other forms. Predominantly, we work with our Oil and Gas furnace burning customers.
Oil and Gas are not clean burning fuels, they both leave a byproduct that is created from the heating of the home! In the case of Oil, it is soot. In the case of Gas, it is Carbon. Now, many people believe that the Chimney is a fireplace, and they are half right- the chimney is a compartment-a casing, in which sits a pipe called a flue that connects to the bottom of the heating furnace, which then ventilates the debris out of the home.
Oil, producing soot- can deposit a greasy, flammable film that over the course of one season may accumulate up to about 1/8th of an inch. Over time, the heat and pressure will condense this deposit and a host of things can happen at this point, the first and most obvious is that it will clog the air way needed to properly ventilate the passageway necessary to expel these noxious fumes. The next thing that can happen at this point is that the soot has been sitting there, exposed to heat and pressure. This pressure hardens this growth of by product, similar to how diamonds are made-only not as pretty or safe! When humidity begins to interact with this soot, creosote begins to form, which is exponentially more flammable than soot alone.
Over time, this accumulation of soot will begin to eat away the lining of the flue, which is why most people prefer to install a liner, to prevent having to have extensive reconstructive work down the line due to the sulfuric acid creation from the heating of the furnace. Cleaning for Oil chimneys are recommended to be done every year to prevent any serious damage as well as to keep up with regular maintenance.
In the case of Gas, our gas burning neighbors have a bit more lee-way because Carbon doesn't accumulate as quickly as soot does, the cleaning is recommended to be done every two years. Carbon can cause blockages that can lead to chimney fires.
Does it matter if I use Oil or Gas?
No, we are insured and trained to clean both Gas and Oil burning Chimneys.
What if I don't have a chimney?
Some customers have something called a Direct Vent, these are mostly found in newer homes built after 1970. In most cases, you would know you have a Direct Vent because it sticks out the side of your home as a horizontal pipe that takes the excess debris and by-product out of your home.
My home is new do I still have to get it cleaned?
It's recommended to wait 5-6 years after initial construction to begin cleaning, but the jury is out on definitive "written in stone" answers. Some people consider it good form to get it done every year for oil and every 2 years for gas. The decision ultimately falls on you and what you feel more comfortable with.
How long is the process?
It takes approximately 30-40 minutes for the inspections as well as the cleaning.
What is the process?
Two licensed and uniformed technicians arrive at the appointed time. One technician goes up on the roof with a Teflon wire brush and gently brushes the sides of the flue while the second technician awaits at the bottom of the unit with a high power industrial vacuum sucking away (in some cases years) of accumulated debris. Once that is done, a Draft test is performed, this is where we test for cracks and leaks. Then we proceed with the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) 25-point inspection. We also check to see if you need repointing and any brick work. Once that is completed we test for Carbon Monoxide. Once everything is complete, you get everything in writing, guaranteeing you a year in Oil and Two years in Gas, guaranteeing you at the same rate you paid this year, next year.
What Causes Creosote?
Master Sweep actually explains this in the best way we have seen so we are going to quote them here and give them credit for their thorough explanation!
"What most people think of as "smoke" is better termed "flue gas." This "smoke", or flue gas is released by the initial fire: the "primary combustion." Flue gas consists of steam, and vaporized but unburned carbon based by-products (vaporized creosote). As the flue gas exits the fireplace or wood stove, it drafts upward into the relatively cool flue where condensation occurs. Like hot breath on a cold mirror, the cool surface temperature of the flue causes the carbon particles in the warm vapor to solidify. The actual cause of creosote condensation, is the surface temperature of the flue in which the flue gas comes in contact. This resulting carbon based condensation which materializes inside the flue is creosote. It's usually black in appearance. It can be the fine black dust called soot, (1st stage creosote); or porous and crunchy, (2nd stage); or it can be tar-like: drippy and sticky, until it hardens into a shiny glaze, (3rd stage). All forms of creosote can occur in one chimney system. Whatever form it takes, creosote is highly combustible. If it builds up in sufficient quantities - and ignites inside the chimney flue: the result is a volcanic chimney fire."
What Products and Services do we offer?
We offer a wide range of home safety, maintenance, improvement and security services as well as products. For a complete listing of our services and products kindly view our Products and Services tab