Carbon Monoxide

Fireplaces and gas clothes dryers are necessary appliances found in homes throughout the United States. These appliances come with threats, though. Under the right conditions, both fireplaces and gas dryers can produce the deadly vapor known as carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas, is formed in the incomplete combustion of organic substances, such as those used in fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. It is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it is undetectable to the human senses and, in large enough concentrations, takes only minutes to be deadly. In order to protect yourself and your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, it`s crucial to learn the facts about it and what you can do to prevent it in your home.


Detecting Carbon Monoxide Early

The symptoms of carbon monoxide aren`t unusual from those of other illnesses, and sometimes closely resemble food poisoning, which makes it all the more dangerous. Regular occurrence of the common symptoms is a red flag that could indicate carbon monoxide is present in your home. Headache, dizziness, nausea and chest pain are some of the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you or your family members are experiencing any of these symptoms in your home, and then noticing that they go away as soon as you leave, it could be a sign that there is an increased concentration of carbon monoxide at play.  Symptoms don`t always appear at the first sign of carbon monoxide, however. They can show up after a person has been exposed to lower levels of the dangerous fumes for an extended period of time, often resulting in long-term health problems.


Sources of Carbon Monoxide

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 170 people die each year from carbon monoxide produced by malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances, including fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.  Fuel-burning appliances are common culprits when it comes to carbon monoxide poisonings.  In order to protect your family and home, it`s important to make sure your fireplace or wood-burning stove is properly vented and maintained.  The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you have your chimney and fireplace or wood-burning stove inspected and cleaned at least once a year to check for damages or venting problems.

Here are a few signs  to look out for:

- Streaks of soot around the fireplace or wood-burning stove.

- Excess moisture on windows, walls and other cold surfaces

-  Orange or yellow flames, rather than blue, when you light a fire

- Damaged or discolored bricks at the top of the chimney

- Clothes dryers pose a threat, as well, thanks to the exhaust system built into them.

- Vents connected to gas dryers can produce carbon monoxide if they are obstructed or damaged, and the vapor will be trapped inside your home.


Ways to Protect your Home

One of the easiest ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home.  These will alert you when there is an elevated concentration of the dangerous gas so that you and your loved ones can get to safety before it`s too late.  Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the biggest dangers that can come from your fireplace or gas dryer.  Keeping your family safe from harm can be as simple as installing and maintaining an alarm or regularly inspecting your appliances for dangerous conditions.  Don`t wait until it`s too late; learn the facts about carbon monoxide today.




Burning Season Checklist

The burning season is quickly approaching, but are your chimney and fireplace ready?  The best time to start preparing your fuel-burning appliances for the fall is during summer, when chimney sweeps offer discounted services and more flexible scheduling.

To help homeowners prepare for the burning season early this year, The Fireplace Doctor has come up with a helpful list of common chimney and fireplace repairs and maintenance needs.  Whether your chimney needs one or all of these, now is the time to think about getting it ready for the cold weather.

  • Schedule a chimney sweep and inspection.  This is perhaps the most important maintenance need for your chimney and fireplace.  Before lighting the first fire of the season, your chimney and fireplace should be swept to remove any remaining creosote and soot from the last year and inspected for any damages.
  • Make necessary repairs. Following a routine inspection, a Fireplace Doctor technician will sit down with you to report on his findings. Common problems that crop up during the summer include chimney odors, water leaks, and damages from animals that have found their way inside your chimney or fireplace. These issues need to be fixed before the burning season so that you get the most out of your fireplace all winter long.
  • Protect your chimney from the elements.  The main purpose of a chimney is to allow fumes and vapors to escape. There is a downside to having an opening on top of your roof, however. Chimneys can also serve as an entryway into your home for things that are better left outside, such as rain, debris and animals. Before winter rolls around, you should invest in the special devices offered by chimney sweeps to protect your chimney from the elements.

The Fireplace Doctor specializes in helping homeowners need to get the most out of their chimneys and fireplaces this winter. Here are a few of our top selling services and devices:

  • Lock-top damper. This damper seals tightly on top of your chimney to keep heat and energy in, and rain and animals out. You can open and close it at your convenience using the cable that drops down your flue and attaches to a handle inside your fireplace.
  • FlashSeal. This flashing system has been proven to prevent leaks at the base of your chimney. It’s custom fit design acts as an airtight seal between your chimney’s base and the roof, keeping water from accessing your chimney’s interior.
  • Water repellents. Waterproofing chimneys is a top priority for homeowners, especially during the spring and summer rainy seasons. The industry’s best products, both offered by The Fireplace Doctor, include CrownSaver and ChimneySaver. Both can be applied to masonry chimneys to provide a seamless, waterproof coating that is 100 percent breathable to allow vapors to escape from the inside of your chimney. Water repellents ensure that your chimney can perform its job efficiently during the burning season, without being affected by water leaks.

The most common mistake homeowners make when it comes to fireplace and chimney maintenance is waiting until the burning season to have repairs and other services performed. When you take care of your chimney and fireplace early, you can rely on their warmth for many winters to come. 

Water’s Effects on Chimneys

During the summer, chimneys are typically a forgotten feature on top of roof lines across the country. Unfortunately, the months between May and August see increased rainfall, which puts the structure on top of your roof at risk of developing dangerous, and oftentimes costly, damages. One of the major threats to chimneys and homes during the summer is the dreaded water leak.

Masonry chimneys are especially vulnerable to spring and summer rain showers. Brick, mortar, concrete, steel, cast iron and flue tile are all used to construct these chimneys, and almost all of  them can sustain serious damage from water penetration. Mortar that is exposed to rain can chip away, resulting in loose bricks and water leaks that can in turn cause interior damage in your  home.

 Effects of water penetration

Some examples of common problems that result from water damage in masonry chimneys include:

  • Rusted damper assemblies
  • Tilted or collapsed chimney structure
  • Water stains on ceilings or walls
  • Cracked flue liner
  • Chimney settlement
  • Chimney odors

Preventing water damage

Chimney caps, also known as rain covers, are an inexpensive solution to water penetration. Made from durable, corrosion-resistant materials, caps cover the flue opening to keep out rain, snow and any other substance that could potentially damage your chimney and fireplace.

The flashing  acts as a waterproof seal between the roof and the base of the chimney. Effective flashing systems will keep water from running off the chimney and through gaps in the roof.

Repairing deteriorated mortar joints and chimney crowns regularly will ensure that they remain in good condition. Mortar joints with gaps are more likely to let water in, where it can access the interior of your chimney and home. Chimney crowns should be built in a downward slope that hangs off the chimney by at least two inches so that water is directed away from the structure. They should also be made from durable cement-based mixes to withstand years of weather abuse.

Professional chimney sweeps offer waterproofing services to protect your chimney from the effects of rain and moisture. ChimneySaver and CrownSaver are two of the top products in the industry for sealing chimney masonry and crowns, while allowing the bricks and mortar to still breathe so that water vapors can escape. They will slow down the natural process of deterioration so that your chimney is in good condition for years to come.



Dryer Vent Maintenance Tips

The weather is warm, summer is almost here, and you think your need for services from a chimney and fireplace company is over until next fall, right? At The Fireplace Doctor, our services don’t stop as soon as the cold weather goes away. The months between burning seasons are the perfect time to think about other appliances in your home that need routine maintenance. Dryer vents especially require proper care to work efficiently and safely.  Here are a few warning signs to look out for when you think it’s time for a dryer vent check-up:

  • Extended drying time. A regular load of clothes shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes to dry completely. If you’re having to run one load through several cycles, there is most likely an issue with your dryer vent.
  • Overheated clothing. At the end of a normal cycle, clothes should be warm. If they are scorching hot, however, the dryer vents could be overheating.
  • Closed vent hood flapper. When the dryer is in operation, the vent hood flapper should be open. If it doesn’t open automatically, it needs to be inspected for damages.
Most homeowners don’t think about cleaning out their dryer vents until it’s too late. Lint buildups in dryer exhaust systems are known causes of dryer vent fires in homes across America. Recent statistics show that more than 15,000 clothes dryer fires break out each year, costing homeowners millions of dollars in damages. Regular cleanings are the best way to prevent a fire from breaking out in your laundry room.
The technicians at The Fireplace Doctor are certified dryer vent professionals. They follow a thorough checklist to ensure your dryer remains in the best condition throughout the year. When one of our technicians comes to your home to clean and inspect your dryer event, these are some of the things he is looking for:
  • Dryer duct is at least 4″ in diameter.
  • Concealed ducts are made from rigid metal materials.
  • Metal tape secures all duct joints.
  • Pipe connections point in the same direction as the airflow.
  • Dryer vents terminate outdoors.
  • Flexible metal is used to connect the dryer and the duct.
  • Outside hood includes a back draft damper.


Off season services

Although the winter is over, there’s still plenty you can do to maintain your chimney and fireplace, usually at a lower price than those offered during the peak season. Here are a few ways you can invest in your chimney or fireplace this spring:

  • Chimney cleaning and inspection. Don’t wait until next fall to clean out the soot and ash leftover from last season’s fires. Creosote and soot that coat the inside of chimney flues can lead to “chimney breath”, a sour smell that permeates your entire home when the temperature and humidity levels rise. By getting the routine maintenance out of the way early in the year, you can make sure your chimney and fireplace will be ready as soon as the cold weather returns.
  • Cap  installation. Spring is the mating season for most species of animals, meaning they will be looking for a place to settle down with their “families.” Unfortunately for homeowners, chimneys are an appealing location to escape the wild. Chimney experts recommend having a chimney cap installed in early spring to keep pesky critters from accessing your chimney. Caps also keep twigs and leaves  from getting inside your chimney, so they are a valuable investment for any homeowner.
  • Waterproofing. With early spring comes increased rainfall. It’s crucial for homeowners to protect their chimneys from the effects of rain that can collect on top of the roof and cause water leaks. The Fireplace Doctor has a number of solutions, ranging from Flashseal to Chimney Saver. Check out our services section to learn more about our waterproofing products, and save yourself the hassle of repairing water damage this summer.

It’s common for homeowners to neglect their chimney and fireplace during the spring and summer. This can be dangerous and lead to serious damage in homes, however, so taking the time to schedule routine maintenance or specialized service now, before the summer gets into full swing, would be worth your time and money.

Don’t wait until it’s too late; call the Fireplace Doctor today to schedule an appointment. We can offer more flexible scheduling and special deals that you won’t find during the peak season!


Commending Andrew Blakes

This is to commend your employee, Mr. Andrew Blakes, who cleaned our two chimneys on December 1 in Macon, Georgia.

Mr. Blakes was very proficient, efficient and courteous and be assured we will recommend your company and Mr. Blake’s services to our friends and family.


Clayton and Carol P.

More Testimonials…

The Fireplace Doctor in the News

Did you know that in the South Alabama area several home fires have occurred over the last 2 days. They both have been linked to people trying to stay warm during the increasing cold temperatures.  Well the Local 15 News crew approached us about conducting an interview and chimney sweep on the air. Our Field Supervisor Allen Chamness was in the technician that did the interview with them. They discussed the importance of chimney inspections and sweeps each year. This is a way to help ensure that you don’t run into one of these tragic situations too.  To see the full video please go to our Staying Safe During the Winter Information Page.