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Why Is My Fireplace Smoking?

When colder temperatures start moving into the Chicago area, one of the first things you want to do is light a fire in your fireplace. However, every time you try to start a fire, you end up creating a toxic atmosphere of smoke instead of cozy warmth. You may feel like giving up on your fireplace, but Aelite Chimney Specialties are here to help you solve this common problem. One of the most common questions we are asked by our customers is “Why is my fireplace smoking?” We would like to share with you some of the most typical reasons why this problem occurs.

Why Is My Fireplace Smoking Image - Chicago IL - Aelite Chimney Blocked Chimney

Debris such as leaves, sticks, or pieces of damaged bricks and mortar joints fall into your chimney. This causes smoke to be forced back into your home, because that debris has blocked the exit path it should take. The chimney sweeps from Aelite Chimney Specialties can remove this blockage from your chimney. By doing this, allowing smoke to exhaust instead of blowing back into your living space.

Incorrect Chimney Dimensions

You could be experiencing smoke issues because your chimney is not tall enough. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), a chimney must be three feet taller than the shortest part of the roof. Plus, its top should be two feet higher than any part of the building within 10 feet. If your chimney is too short, the draft may not work properly. This can cause smoking issues. Another dimension issue involves the fireplace opening being too large.

Negative Air Pressure

Many homeowners try to increase energy efficiency by weatherizing their homes, which includes sealing every window and door. While this prevents drafts, it can also negatively affect the air pressure when the sealing is extra tight. Not only will a fire not be able to get enough make up air, but the chimney will also be unable to draw our air properly. To alleviate this issue, simply crack open a window in the same room as the fireplace before lighting a fire.

Sometimes the solution to a smoky fireplace be as simple as opening the damper completely. However, if that does not correct the issue, contact us at Aelite Chimney Specialties. We can inspect your chimney to take care of the problem, so you can enjoy your fireplace this winter!

By Nick Wagner | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

The Anatomy of a Masonry Chimney

Image courtesy of Rudi Oosting of Oosting Masonry Construction

Image courtesy of Rudi Oosting of Oosting Masonry Construction

If you have a masonry fireplace, many important parts make up the anatomy of its chimney. Many homeowners are unfamiliar with these parts and their functions, and when something goes wrong, it can be invaluable to know the names of each part and what these parts do. As part of our duties as Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps, we at Aelite Chimney Specialties enjoy educating our customers about their fireplace and chimney systems. We would like to tell you the names of each part of the anatomy of a masonry chimney and explain what exactly each part does to keep your fireplace working safely.

As identified by the CSIA, the anatomy of a masonry fireplace and chimney system includes the following parts:

MORTAR CROWN — Also called a chimney crown, this part sits on top of the chimney to prevent water penetration of the bricks and mortar as well as water leaking down the flue and into your home.

FLUE — Available in different shapes and sizes, the flue is a chamber that vents out the corrosive byproducts of combustion from the fireplace. A single chimney can have multiple flues if several fireplaces or stoves are connected to the same chimney.

SMOKE CHAMBER — The area above the firebox and below the flue, the smoke chamber allows smoke to mix and rise up the flue. Most smoke chambers are made from terracotta tiles. This part is also known as the chimney throat.

SMOKE SHELF — The smoke shelf functions with the smoke chamber to push smoke out the flue. This area is behind the damper and is the bottom of the chimney.

DAMPER — Usually located in the same area as the smoke chamber and smoke shelf, the damper seals your chimney shut when the fireplace is not in use. A very important part of your chimney, the damper needs to function properly to keep heated air from escaping out the chimney when there is no fire.

LINTEL — A heavy piece of angle iron that holds up the bricks over the center of the fireplace, the lintel is embedded into the brick.

FIREBOX — An extremely crucial component of your fireplace and chimney system, the firebox is a two- or three-walled structure that contains the direct heat of the fire and guides the smoke into the smoke chamber. Since the firebox is exposed to such high temperatures, this part tends to deteriorate more quickly than other parts of the anatomy of your chimney. It is crucial that the firebox is constructed with the right materials and kept in good repair.

ASH DUMP — Equipped with a door, the ash dump is located directly below the center of the firebox. When the ash dump door is open, ashes from the fire fall into the ash dump. The ash dump makes it simple to remove ashes from the firebox.

CLEAN OUT DOOR– Most often located in the basement of your home, the clean out door allows you to clean out the ash dump more easily.

Have questions about your chimney’s anatomy? Contact Aelite Chimney Specialties to ask our staff whatever you need to know about the parts of your chimney.

By Nick Wagner | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

The Significance of a Top-Sealing Damper

Do yourself and your chimney a favor by having a top-sealing damper installed. Save, protect, and be safe.

Do yourself and your chimney a favor by having a top-sealing damper installed. Save, protect, and be safe.

Energy savings. Surely everyone likes to save money whenever possible. Right? Chimney dampers, for many, are just the way to help with those high heating bills. The main purpose of a damper is to seal the chimney airtight when it’s not in use. Heat rises, and if the chimney isn’t sealed when the fireplace isn’t in use, all of the heat in the house goes up the chimney. Liken this to leaving your door open in the middle of winter. You wouldn’t do that, so why settle for a throat damper that doesn’t seal properly. Dampers are one part of your chimney that you shouldn’t leave to function inadequately.

The Job of a Top-Sealing Damper

A top-sealing damper is installed at the top of your chimney to seal the flue shut when the fireplace is not in use. They create an almost airtight seal at the top of your chimney and keep energy in your home. The top sealing chimney damper’s design is two-fold: it stops cold air from coming down the flue while at the same time prevents expensive conditioned air from going up. Top sealing dampers are usually installed in damper repair situations where the original damper is missing or beyond simple repair. The damper itself keeps critters and rain out very well when the fire is out and in the offseason. Top dampers also keep out most insects (flies, bees, mosquitoes, etc.).

How a Top-Sealing Damper Functions

These dampers are designed to make your fireplace more energy efficient by sealing the flue at the top rather than at the bottom. Sealing at the top keeps the cold air out and your warm air in and causes an automatic updraft in the flue when opened, meaning you won’t have to warm the flue first. Top sealing dampers are operated by a control mounted in the firebox and connected to the damper itself by a cable or chain. They are often an economical alternative to replacing a rusted out of warped throat damper.

Why Buy a Top-Sealing Damper

Top sealing dampers help you save energy dollars, protect your chimney from damaging water and other elements, prevent animal infiltration, and provide year-round protection for your chimney. When closed, it serves as a chimney cap and the silicone gasket provides a more airtight seal than a metal-to-metal throat damper. These dampers are specifically designed for wood burning masonry fireplace flues and should not be used for other applications.

It is strongly recommended that you have your top-sealing damper installed by a certified chimney specialist. We’ve completed countless numbers of jobs like this over the years and are at the ready should any chimney issues arise during the installation process. If you’re in the market for a top-sealing damper, give us a call to see how we can help. You won’t be disappointed.

Anatomy of Your Chimney

Getting to Know the Parts of a Chimney

There’s that time of year when you’d want to snuggle up with your loved ones as you endure a cold day – a time when you need warmth and comfort. What better way to do that than in front of a cozy well-kept fireplace. Fireplaces and chimneys have been an integral part of homes for many centuries, especially in countries that are further north or south from the equator, or that have four seasons a year. During winter time, people are likely to experience freezing temperatures for a very long time. They need something that can keep them warm.

Understanding how the different parts of your chimney work together for maximum efficiency and safety is something every homeowner should know.

Understanding how the different parts of your chimney work together for maximum efficiency and safety is something every homeowner should know.

A chimney is not just a luxury or just part of a house’s aesthetic design; it is more of a need. There are essential things to learn because the presence of a chimney and fireplace can open the possibility of fires. If your house has a chimney, you have to know how it works as well as how to clean or inspect it to prevent such untoward accidents. In order to know these things, you must first be familiar with its anatomy. Do you know what it’s made of? It will be easier to address any concern regarding your chimney if you have the basic knowledge on its components.

There are six fundamental parts that make up a chimney:

1. Chimney Crown – This protects your chimney from water leaks in small areas. This is important because it can affect the performance of your chimney. The bricks that make a chimney must be protected to assure that there are no leaks and the mortar element will not deteriorate.

2. Flue – This part serves as a passageway for the smoke to come out into the open. It also has a specific area where the smoke is allowed to come in and out of.

3. Flue Lining – This makes sure that flue is properly held together. This also ensures that there is a minimal amount of dangerous debris that will accumulate.

4. Smoke Chamber – The purpose of this is to conduct the compression of some of the materials from combustion into a much smaller area so as not to cause a repercussion. Using slope walls will contribute to this as well.

5. Chimney Damper – These are lever activated doors if you have an automated chimney. They are closed when the other three seasons are fast approaching and are open once the winter season kicks in. This should be maintained throughout the entire year.

6. Smoke Shelf – This is located behind the chimney damper. It performs the duty of catching free falling debris and raindrops. This helps in the alteration of huge amounts of water into the area of the chimney.

These are the basic parts of a chimney. Like any other man-made infrastructure, it has it flaws and shortcomings. It may get damaged due to many factors. Perhaps it is already old, perhaps it’s overused, or perhaps you didn’t use the right kind of materials to burn. Another reason could be because you didn’t maintain it throughout the years. This is the reason why you have to constantly have it inspected. There might be need for it to be repaired. Companies like Aelite Chimney Specialties, provide the best services to fix, repair, and solve all your chimney frustrations. They are definitely the ones to call if you want to experience a whole new level of service.