What do Gas & Wood Burning Chimneys have in Common?
Gas burns much cleaner than wood, which begs the question: Are maintenance needs the same for gas and wood-burning chimneys? There are several differences in the effects on chimneys of gas versus wood burners. For instance, wood fires cause creosote deposits in the chimney flue, resulting in the need to have the chimney cleaned more frequently. Annual inspections, however, are recommended for chimneys of both gas and wood burning heating appliances. According to leading fire experts, including Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), routine inspections are vital for all chimneys as a matter of safety.
Common Chimney Threats
According to CSIA, a qualified chimney professional can help to prevent several types of danger by performing annual chimney inspections. Chimney fires are seldom associated with gas heating since these hazardous fires typically involve flammable creosote buildup. Potential problems associated with both gas and wood chimneys include carbon monoxide intrusion, water damage, and system issues.
When the weather turns cold in winter, many people adjust their thermostats or light fires to get heating started without first establishing that there is no breach in the venting system. It’s critical to ensure that chimney flues have no cracks or gaps that would allow
carbon monoxide and other toxic gases into the home.
Carbon monoxide is known as a “silent killer” because it is deadly, odorless, invisible, and causes no immediate effects. Breathing carbon monoxide causes 200 deaths in the U.S. each year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The estimates made by other agencies place the average number of carbon monoxide deaths at around 3,000 annually.
The number of injuries caused by carbon monoxide is estimated to be about 10,000 each year.
If your chimney is damaged, it could lead to carbon monoxide exposure, whether your heating appliance burns wood or gas. But chimney damage is just one of the reasons for carbon monoxide poisoning. Modern homes are more airtight than ever, which can, in essence, starve heating appliances of needed oxygen, resulting in the production of carbon monoxide.
Also, heating appliances are highly efficient today, and it’s vital for the chimney flue to be the size recommended by the manufacturer of the appliance. If the flue is the wrong fit and diameter for the fireplace or stove, the performance of the chimney is hindered, increasing the possibility of toxic fumes entering a home’s living spaces.
Gas and wood burning chimneys are constantly subjected to rain, snow, sleet, and other harsh elements. It is common for moisture to get into a chimney’s system and damage porous masonry. Freeze and thaw cycles cause expansion and contraction of the water within bricks. The face of the brick begins to break and pop off, which is known as “spalling.” If timely repairs are not made, chimneys begin leaning and sometimes collapse.
Whether you have a gas or wood-burning heating appliance, many different issues can interrupt proper operation of the chimney or cause fires to have incomplete combustion. Examples include a faulty damper, gas fuel nozzle blockage, and an obstruction in the chimney. Annual inspections and chimney maintenance will ensure that you can safely use your fireplace or stove.
Contact Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
For dependable chimney care from certified experts, contact Northeastern Chimney, Inc., at 860-659-0937. We provide high-quality chimney maintenance, chimney repair, and chimney inspection services.