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      Why does my house smell smokey?

      Why does my house smell smokey?

      In the spring and summer months we see an influx of calls from people complaining that an odor is coming from their inactive fireplaces. Their living rooms are filled with a musty, smokey smell even though they haven’t used their fireplace in months. While most people assume they just need a thorough chimney & fireplace cleaning, the more likely culprit of this smell is a down draft of air coming into the home through the chimney. 

      The hotter and more humid it is, the more intensive the smell can be. When air pressure is lower indoors than outside, air flows down through the chimney and out the fireplace to equalize the negative pressure.  As air flows downward through the chimney, it picks up aromatic hydrocarbon from the creosote in your chimney. This gives the incoming air a smokey smell

      Home appliances like HVAC systems, furnaces, oven hoods, bathroom fans, and dryer vents can also be a source of negative pressure.  When these appliances turn on and pull air though the house, they can also pull air down through the chimney. 

      If you are dealing with a smokey smell in your living room, here are some steps you can take:

      1. Call a Certified Chimney Company

      The CSIA recommends that chimneys are cleaned and inspected annual.  Cleaning your chimney will remove the creosote that has built up and help to relieve the intensity of the smell.  For heavier creosote build ups, a chemical treatment can be used.  Most homeowners wait until the fall to have their chimney cleaned and inspected. This is considered peak season.  If you go ahead and get your chimney cleaned and inspected in the spring or summer, you can benefit from offseason pricing and have your fireplace ready to use come the first cold in fall.  You can book an appointment here.

      2. Install a Top Mount Damper

      A top mount damper secures to the top of the chimney. A quality top-mount dampers features seals and gaskets that help prevent air from entering the chimney.  Installing a top mount damper can not only help with the smokey smell in the spring and summer, it will also help improve your home’s efficiency in the winter.  That is because it will not allow cold air from outside to come inside.

      As a bonus, top-mount dampers can prevent bugs and animals from entering your chimney. This can be beneficial as some animals like migratory birds can be challenging to remove.

      3. Get Negative Pressure Testing or a Home Energy Audit

      Newer, more energy-efficient homes often have negative pressure issues with their chimney.  This is because improved seals on energy-efficient doors and windows more effectively seal the air inside the home.  This leaves the Chimney has de facto point of entry for outside air.

      Getting a negative pressure test or home energy audit will identify if negative pressure is the issue. A home fresh air makeup kit can alleviate these issues by providing appliances with a supply of outside fresh from a dedicated source.

      Your fireplace should be a source of comfort during the cold winter month, but you should not have to put up with unwanted odors in the summer. If you are dealing with smokey smell resonating from your fireplace, give us a call today.

      How Fireplace Inserts Work

      How Fireplace Inserts Work

      A fireplace insert is essentially a steel box set inside another steel box that is inserted into a masonry fireplace. Fireplace inserts greatly enhance the efficiency and safety of masonry fireplaces.  Traditional fireplaces are not inherently efficient.  The efficiency rating of a standard masonry fireplace is between 5-10%.  It’s even possible for a fireplace to pull more heat out of your home than it provides when a fire is burning.  

      How Fireplace Inserts Work

      A fireplace insert features a blower that pulls in room temperature air between in interior and exterior steel box and blows hot air back into the room.  With a gasketed-sealed glass door, no smoke can come into the room from the fire.  Fireplace inserts feature airflow controls that allow you to control oxygen available to the fire thus controlling how quickly it burns.

      There are some key benefits to fireplace inserts that make them attractive options for both wood-burning and gas fireplaces.

      Benefits of Fireplace Inserts

      • Heating Efficiency: A fireplace insert is more efficient than masonry fireplaces at providing heat back into the room and throughout your home. During the cold months, this can help lower your heating bill significantly.
      • Fuel Efficiency: Increased efficiency and control over the fire means less fuel consumption. A fireplace insert will consume 1/3 of the wood of a masonry fireplace.  One fire can burn up to 12 hours in a fireplace insert.
      • Eliminate Smoke & Air Leakage: With a gasketed sealed door, fireplace inserts prevent smoke from coming back into the room, which is not only undesirable, it can also be dangerous.
      • Reduced Ash content: Burn slower and with less fuel means less ash content and creosote. Creosote can build up on the interior of your flue and chimney and is a fire-hazard
      • Enhances Fireplace Appearance: A modern fireplace insert can enhance the appearance of your fireplace. Check out some of the enhanced designed fireplace inserts can provide

      If you are interested in learning more about fireplace inserts or getting a quote on installation, contact us today.

      What Is a Chimney Chase Cover and Why Do I Need One?

      What Is a Chimney Chase Cover and Why Do I Need One?

      A chimney chase cover – or “chase pans” – are rectangular metal caps that fit atop the chimney chase. As a distinct feature of factory-built chimneys, chase covers are most commonly found on homes that were built after 1980.  They are most commonly made out of galvanized steel.  Unfortunately, galvanized steel chase covers don’t last forever. They have a rated life of 25 years.  After years of direct exposure to sunlight, wind, rain, and snow the chase cover can wear down from rust and corrosion.  

      Why You Need a Chase Cover?

      The top of a factory-built chimney is a wide opening.  The chimney chase cover protects that wide opening from precipitation, animals, leaves, and dirt from entering the chimney. The chase cover protects more than just the flue and fireplace, it protects the structure.  Continuous water intrusion can lead to structural damage and mold.

      Signs Your Chase Cover Needs to be Replaced

      • Water Intrusion – If you see water leaking in your basement or fire floor this could be a sign that your Chimney Chase Cover is compromised.
      • Dripping Water – Even if you do not see any noticeable signs of leaking, the sound of dripping water could be a sign of water intrusion that you do not see.
      • Rust/Corrosion – If you can see rust or corrosion, the time is coming to replace your chase cover.

      Replacing Your Chimney Cover

      When the time comes to replace the Chimney Chase cover, we recommend contacting a CSIA-certified chimney professional. 

      At the Chimney Scientists, we will do a thorough inspection of the Chimney Chase Cover to determine if a replacement is needed. If needed, we will take all the measurements and arrange to have a new chase cover custom manufactured.  While traditional chase covers are galvanized steel with a limited lifespan, we offer 316Ti Stainless Steel Alloy. This material is corrosion-resistant and comes with a lifetime warranty.

      Chimney Scientists Featured in Philadelphia Inquirer

      The Chimney Scientists was recently featured in an article on how to keep your fireplace and chimney safe for use in the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

      Regular maintenance is essential to ensure your chimney and fireplace are safe for use. The national fire protection association recommends annual fireplace and chimney inspections.  Since the pandemic, home fireplace use has been on the rise.  

      Read the full article here.