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Problems with Gas Appliances Vented by Old Chimneys

Chimney Sweep TipsGas appliances are gaining in popularity as people increasingly seek ways to cut the cost of living. Not only can gas appliances save you money, but gas fireplaces and stoves can make home heating safer and more convenient. In fact, convenience is the number one reason homeowners choose to heat with gas-fueled appliances. There is just no way to compare the simplicity of switching on a gas-fueled fireplace with the work involved with burning real logs. If you make the switch to a gas appliance and use the existing chimney for venting, it is important to have the appliance professionally installed and inspected annually. Otherwise, the appliance may not vent properly, which can cause significant damage to your home and put your family in danger.

Inadequate Draft

When your gas appliance is installed and vented through your chimney, it is extremely important that it be done according to manufacturer’s instructions. There are numerous problems caused by an inadequate venting system.

The first reason proper venting is essential with a gas fireplace or wood stove is that the fuel is very efficient. The heat produced by modern, efficient gas appliances goes into your home, not up the chimney. If the chimney flue doesn’t have enough warmth in it, the fumes from the fire may not exit your home, due to an inadequate draft. Without warmth in the flue, the cold outside air tends to push gas down and into your home. This problem can be solved by providing the appliance with prescribed ventilation, to ensure a proper draft.

Acids and Condensation

If the flue is too large for the gas appliance’s connector pipe, another complication that can arise involves acids in the air used for combustion. The air may have the acids which cause acid rain, and the air sometimes carries chlorides, which are picked up from various forms of pollution, such as household cleaning products. If these chlorides and other acids combine with water the result is hydrochloric acid. Other acids can form in your chimney if moisture mixes with residues in the flue.

Water vapor is produced during combustion. These vapors must be carried out of the flue quickly. If they linger, the moisture becomes liquid inside the flue. The condensation is acidic and can cause deterioration of your chimney and liner. The corrosion can cause the flue to crumble. If debris or any other objects cause chimney blockage, the result could be that deadly carbon monoxide enters your home.

Signs of Damage

There are many times when a chimney deteriorates but without any obvious or outwards signs. Improper venting of your gas appliance often does create visible symptoms, however, including the following:

  • Deterioration of the mortar or masonry bricks
  • Stains on the exterior of the chimney
  • Peeling wallpaper
  • Blistered paint
  • Ceiling stains
  • Wet spots or damp patches on the walls of your home, possibly both interior and exterior

Annual Chimney Inspection

Gas Fireplace InsertAccording to both the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fire Protection Association, getting an annual chimney inspection is the best way to learn about unseen problems with your gas appliance that can cause costly damage and expose your family to health risks.

Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110
Phone: 860-233-5770

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