For many decades, a chimney has been an integral part of many Irish homes. The reason behind this is that, up until five decades ago, a fireplace was the only way for homes to stay warm. Of course, where there is a fireplace, there’s a chimney.
Given the abundance of chimneys in the Emerald Isle, it is not surprising why there are a handful of providers offering chimney services.
If you have a chimney in your house, you will, at some point, work with one of these companies. In fact, you would need to hire a chimney specialist at least once a year.
Keeping your chimney in tiptop condition should be on top of your list. Failing to do this can cause tremendous hassle like not having heat during the cold winter months. Worse, it can endanger your life and your property.
Did you know:
One of the leading causes of house fires in Ireland is a malfunctioning chimney. In fact, over a thousand chimney-related fires are recorded each year in the country.
But its not just fire you would have to worry about. There is also carbon monoxide poisoning.
Dubbed as a silent killer, this odourless gas, when inhaled, can jeopardise your health. It can make you seriously sick or irreversibly damage your organs. It can even cost you your life. Over the years, several cases of carbon monoxide poisoning resulting in death has been recorded in Ireland.
Carbon monoxide, like other toxic fumes, is a natural by-product of burning. Hence, it is impossible to eliminate it if you are using open fire. This is what chimneys are for – ensure that these toxic fumes flow out of the house.
However, if the flue is blocked, efficient drafting won’t take place. Consequently, gases like carbon monoxide build up inside the house and become lethal.
The problems mentioned above – unusable chimney, fire, exposure to carbon monoxide – can be avoided if the chimney is inspected and cleaned regularly.
Most homeowners in Ireland schedule these maintenance tasks in autumn in preparation for winter. It is usually done at least a month or two before the official start of the cold months.
This practice is logical since you would want to ensure that you could use the fireplace when the chilly weather begins. In case there are issues with the chimney, you have ample time to address them.
However, some homeowners opt to have their chimney inspection and sweep in spring. One reason for this is that this is the usual schedule for deep cleaning houses.
Of course, this task means cleaning every nook and cranny in the house including the chimney. This makes perfect sense since spring cleaning isn’t just about having an immaculate home but also one that smells great.
Creosote and ash deposits build up in the flue. These by-products have an unpleasant odour that stick to your house and make it smell like campfire.
What’s the point of having a clean house if it stinks, right?
Fortunately, eliminating the odour is not impossible. All you need to do is to extensively clean the flue.
Scheduling chimney maintenance in spring also helps you avoid the so-called autumn rush. Since it’s not a popular time for inspection and/or cleaning, you do not have to wait too long for specialists to check on your chimney.
Lastly, a spring maintenance check allows you to find any damage your chimney may have incurred after being used all winter. Discovering these problems at an early stage enables you to prevent the issues from worsening. Consequently, this lets you avoid having to spend on costly repairs as well.
Perhaps, at this juncture, you are still wondering when to schedule the inspection and cleaning.
Well, you can have it both in spring and autumn. After all, there are no hard rules in terms of how many times you should inspect and clean your chimneys.
A survey is basically an inspection of the interiors of the chimney. This survey is not just recommended for chimneys which are regularly used but also for those which have been idle for quite a while.
A CCTV chimney survey is now the standard for interior inspections not just in Ireland but in other parts of the world.
How is this done?
A mini camera is used to take footages of the flue. Whatever it is capturing is seen on a monitor as well. Some chimney services provider in Dublin allow homeowners to watch the survey real-time. Others simply provide a video recording of the inspection afterwards.
Depending on the preference of the specialist onsite, the inspection may begin from the fireplace going up or from the chimney pot going down.
Once the inspection is done, you would be given a detailed report and in some cases, a copy of the recording of the survey.
The use of CCTVs in inspecting the flue has led to more accurate diagnosis of issues. This is important because, when defects are not properly identified, coming up with long-lasting fixes can be challenging.
Nowadays, it is easier for specialists to see hard to spot chimney issues like hairline cracks. Thanks to these high-resolution cameras, some of which have 360° rotation features.
Prior to the use of CCTVs, a flue inspection was a laborious, time-consuming task. In fact, it was not an unusual practice before to take the chimney apart to get a better view of its interiors. Furthermore, it took so long to complete the survey. This isn’t surprising because it is not easy to check the flue using a mirror and flashlight!
The situation now is very different. With the sophisticated equipment available, these surveys only take an hour or less. Moreover, there is no longer a need to tear down a section or two of the chimney.
The interior of the chimney is covered with a non-combustible material called a liner. An integral part of the flue system, the liner is primarily what makes chimneys function efficiently and safely.
It prevents accidental fires by lessening heat transfer between the chimney and the combustible structures around it. It is also responsible for making sure that toxic fumes flow out of the house.
As mentioned earlier, toxic fumes are harmful to people. They can likewise hasten the wear and tear process for your chimney and consequently, shorten its life.
When mixed with heat and other corrosive by-products, these acidic gases can melt the mortar joints which hold the bricks together. In the long run, this can weaken the entire structure and may even cause the stack to collapse.
So, what is chimney relining? It is basically the installation of the liner in the flue. You get this service when your flue is not lined or if your liner is extensively damaged that replacing it is the only option left.
The different liners available in the market are made up of clay, aluminium and stainless steel. Currently, the preferred liners are those made of stainless steel. These liners are said to be the most durable, capable of withstanding tremendous amount of heat. Furthermore, as compared to clay liners, less creosote and soot accumulate in them. Hence, they are easier to clean.
Here’s the deal:
Even if stainless steel liners are designed to last for decades, this does not mean that they won’t get damaged at all. This is why it is important that you schedule regular flue inspections. Doing this is the best way to find possible liner defects and address them before they become too expensive to repair.
It is not unusual for chimney defects to surface every now and then. Truth be told, the more frequent you use it, the higher the chances are of it getting damaged. Of course, this does not mean that you should stop using your chimney.
What you should do instead is to ensure that you do not take its maintenance for granted. More importantly, you have to see to it that defects are repaired immediately.
One of the most common reasons why homeowners get chimney repair services is blockage. This issue shouldn’t be ignored as it can lead to fires.
Reports show that the top cause of chimney fires is obstruction due to creosote accumulation.
Creosote is a highly flammable by-product of burning wood and coal. When you use the fireplace, this material gets deposited on the flue. Hence, it is important to have your flue cleaned often to prevent build up and a possible fire incident.
Other possible causes of obstruction are poor design, collapsed flue and presence of foreign object like a bird nest. The last is a usual occurrence which is why homeowners are advised to install chimney caps.
Another common chimney problem is a leaky flashing. The usual cause of this issue is improper flashing installation.
Often, this problem is only discovered when it is already worse since there are no warning signs during the early stages.
A leaky flashing must be fixed ASAP because it has far-reaching effects. Aside from compromising the structural integrity of your chimney, it can also damage the attic, roof and adjacent structures.
Of course, when talking about common chimney issues, a cracked crown or cap definitely needs to be included. This problem is so prevalent that most homeowners, at some point, have dealt with it.
Why is this the case?
Well, these parts are found outdoors. They are exposed to various elements, day in and day out. So, it shouldn’t be surprising why they are susceptible to damages, specifically cracking.
While it may seem harmless, a cracked crown or cap can actually wreak havoc on your chimney as well as your entire house.
The cracks serve as entry points for moisture. As you already probably know, moisture in the chimney system is not good. It can weaken the masonry and damage the lining. It can also penetrate other structures like the walls and ceilings. Eventually, when the issue is not addressed immediately, you might be forced to rebuild the entire structure.
Let’s be clear:
Chimney inspection and sweep should be done regularly, at least once a year.
Also, chimney problems should be addressed straightaway.
Lastly, you need to hire the best people to do the aforementioned tasks.
Chimney inspection, sweep and repair – these tasks are not meant for amateurs. Even if you watch tutorial videos on how to do them, it would not be enough.
Keep in mind:
These are complicated tasks. Only when you have the know-how, skills, equipment and experience would you be able to properly inspect, clean or repair a chimney.
So, please do not even think about DIYing these things because it won’t work. You’ll just end up spending more, wasting your time and worst, endangering your life and your property.
Let the experts do these jobs!
But please, do not just hire any chimney repair service provider. If you want to get your money’s worth, pick a reputable company – one that has been in the business for many years and with a track record of consistently delivering excellent service.
Nowadays, gathering pertinent information about a company is as easy as 1-2-3. All you need to do is visit the firm’s website to find out who they are, what they do and what people say about them. You can also check out Internet business directories if you want to read more reviews.
Are you looking for a trusted chimney services provider? We have chimney specialists experienced in repairing, relining and restoring chimneys in Dublin. Call us today at +353 872805825.
Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay
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I knew from the start that John and the team at Access Chimneys were the best people for the job.
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