If you don’t have a fireplace or wood stove, you probably don’t think about your chimney. But gas and oil chimneys need maintenance, too. While there’s not the same fire concern, they can be dangerous, particularly if they’re not properly venting harmful gases from the house.
The most obvious problem is a blocked chimney. Regularly cleaning your chimney will remove buildups of leaves, bird and animal nests, and even dead animals. If you have a cleanout trap, inspect it regularly and remove any debris that may have fallen down. Consider a cap to reduce the debris and prevent birds and animals from making their homes there.
If you have an oil furnace, soot can build up on the interior — the less well-tuned the furnace, the more dirtier it gets. This buildup can impair your furnace’s efficiency, or can even block the chimney. Clean it once a year.
Check your chimney pointing. If the mortar between your bricks deteriorates, the bricks could come loose and fall into the chimney (or on your head).
To get complete combustion (from any fuel), you need oxygen. To burn natural gas, you need 10 cubic feet of air for every cubic foot of gas. If combustion’s incomplete, you end up with deadly carbon monoxide. This is why it’s important to replace your air filter regularly and keep the area around the furnace cleared.
In today’s tight homes, you also have to be aware that there’s less fresh air available. The draw from an exhaust fan in the kitchen can overcome the draft in the chimney and actually pull toxic gases into the house.
To be safe, make sure you have good draft in your chimney. This ensures complete combustion and gets the combustion byproducts out of your house.
More next time.