Most odor problems are caused from one of two possible causes. First possible cause is a simple creosote buildup, which cause cause a smokey or dirty smell. The other common cause also stems from creosote, but can cause a musty odor once moisture enters the flue. Many times these odors are more noticeable in the spring and summer months a couple of reasons. The smoke type of odor is usually caused by a lack of cleaning the chimney and leaving stale soot inside of the chimney walls. If rain water is entering the chimney you will start to get the musty odors of wet soot as well. During the summer months we also experience higher humidity and the chimney tends to not have as good of a draft as that of the colder months. This heavier air combined with the humidity prevents the odors from naturally leaving the chimney through the cap.
This problem can be resolved fairly easily. The first step is to prevent the odors and moisture in the chimney in the first place. We can fix this by maintaining a clean chimney and also by a proper chimney cap and damper system. Sometimes an easy fix to minor odors is to crack a window in the house to change the pressures within the house and the chimney to try and create a natural draft inside of the chimney system.
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Excel Fireplace and Chimney Inc. is a full service fireplace and chimney center serving the Central Illinois and Greater Peoria Area.
Creosote is the carbon produced and left behind from combustion gasses of the wood burning process called pyrolysis. There are 3 stages of creosote:
Creosote is the reason that chimneys need to be cleaned and maintained. Creosote has an acidic property to it and can start to deteriorate chimneys from the inside out. That is why we recommend to have an annual inspection and cleaning of the fireplace and chimney to maintain a good working and safe chimney.
Creosote logs do work. The issue with creosote logs is that people tend to only use them on a rare occasion thinking that it will clean the chimney. This is NOT the case. Creosote logs, depending on the brand, will cost you anywhere from $7.00 - $25.00 / log. If these are used on a regular basis, your chimney will stay fairly clear of heavy creosote buildup. This does not mean that you do not need a professional to come and look at your chimney anymore. It is still recommended to have your chimney inspected yearly to make sure that there have been no changes to the structure of the chimney. Also, your chimney will still need to be professionally cleaned. The creosote logs only change the composition of the creosote and help break it down to an easier substance to clean and remove from the chimney. The deposits from the creosote may still remain stuck to the chimney linings and inside of the fireplace smoke chamber and smoke shelf. So, if used regularly they can be very helpful but will not replace the need of a chimney inspection and sweep. If only used on a rare occasion, they can lead to more expensive repairs down the road. If you have 3rd degree creosote on the chimney flue lining a creosote log may turn it into an oily liquid substance which will then make it extremely difficult and expensive to remove and may call for the use of a professional grade chemical.
Our mission is to provide high quality customer service in a clean and professional manner. Every service call includes an inspection of all fireplaces, chimney systems, furnace and water heater venting, as well as dryer venting and gutter cleaning evaluation if requested. We are also proud to offer full video scan of all chimneys we inspect. Our technicians are able to perform a complete range of services to ensure your fireplaces and venting are running efficiently and safely for you and your family. See our services page for a more detailed list..
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that all chimney, vents, and fireplaces be inspected on an annual basis. We recommend to all our customers that they have their fireplaces and chimneys inspected after they are done burning for the season, which typically means spring or summer. Sweeping your chimney will prevent odors during warmer months and will give us the opportunity to conduct a Level 1 Inspection and ensure that your chimney, fireplace, and venting will be safe to use the following year.
fireplace and chimney
There are many different types of wood available to burn. Each type of wood burns differently. This can turn into a very long subject due to the 100’s of different types of wood available and all the different properties that each wood has to offer. Certain woods burn cleaner than others, some make more smoke, some may pop and throw sparks, and some burn hotter. We recommend to use a seasoned, split hardwood. Probably the most common hardwood used in fireplaces is oak. Oak creates little creosote when seasoned properly and produces a good amount of heat. There are also hardwoods that we do not recommend burning inside of a fireplace or stove due to the extreme heat that it produces. Hedge is considered a hardwood and produces a very high heat. This extreme heat can cause many issues ranging from warping metals inside of the fireplace or chimney, or even causing chimney fires.
Most people unfamiliar with wood and burning wood may not know what seasoned wood means. This doesn’t mean that old log you’ve had sitting in the back yard for 3 years is seasoned because it’s been down for so long. A seasoned piece of wood in our industry is a cut, split and stacked wood that is usually stored for about a year. There are many places that sell moisture meters and these are a VERY helpful tool to have if you burn a lot of wood. Moisture meters will give you a digital reading of the moisture content inside of the wood. It will tell you the percentage of moisture that the piece of wood contains. We look for wood that holds a moisture content of 15-20% moisture. Higher numbers will create more creosote, burn less efficient and be harder to start. Less than 15% and you may notice shortened burn times, more frequent reloading, and you may start getting into over firing issues and not being able to control your burn.
For more information check out this helpful chart.