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"For the past fifteen years, the number one cause of fires in New Hampshire has been linked to solid fuel burning appliances. These include wood, coal, corn and pellet stoves and furnaces. These devices have improved over the years and should be treated just like any other machine or appliance. In order for them to work properly they have to be maintained regularly. Just as you normally take your car to the mechanic to have the oil changed and other preventative maintenance performed, you have to do the same with heating appliances, regardless of the fuel type." Quoted From The New Hampshire Fire Marshall's Website
As the number one reason of fires in NH for the past fifteen years, you would think that these fires are completely unavoidable. However, the fact is that these fires are completely avoidable if the chimneys and solid fuel burning appliances that vent into these chimneys are properly maintained. That's where we come in. As a fully certified and insured chimney sweeping company in NH, we understand that these appliances and chimneys are going to be used heavily. NH is not a warm state by any means, and some of the "primary" heat sources like oil and electric can be ridiculously expensive. NH rightly looks for alternative sources of heat to supplement their oil, gas, or electric heating systems to both save on costs and to enjoy the cozy kind of heat that only a wood burning appliance can produce. That being said, just because fuel cost is low doesn't mean that these solid fuel burning appliances do not need to be maintained. It is not as simple as plugging one of these bad boys into a chimney and forgetting about them. Failure to maintain any kind of appliance and the chimney that said appliance vents into can have potentially deadly consequences. House fires, chimney fires, and carbon monoxide poisoning are all very real possibilities when a chimney is not properly maintained and inspected on a regular basis, yet, chimneys seem to be one of the most neglected parts of nearly every home.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that all chimneys be inspected annually regardless how much they are used. Per that inspection, a certified chimney sweep can gauge how "dirty" your chimney is and whether or not the chimney flue and appliance need to be cleaned. A general rule of thumb is that the chimney venting a wood stove or fireplace should be cleaned after cord of wood that is burned, a chimney venting a pellet stove should be cleaned after every one to three tons of pellets burned, and a chimney venting an oil appliance should be cleaned about every three years, unless there is a malfunction with the oil boiler or furnace system that causes black smoke to come out of the chimney.
Chimneys that are venting solid fuel burning appliances (i.e. wood stoves, pellet stoves, and fireplaces) get "dirty" much faster than a chimney venting oil, but why is that? And what exactly is making them dirty? Chimneys venting solid fuel appliances get dirty quickly due to a number of factors primarily revolving around stack temperature and efficiency. The stack temperature needs to be as high as possible in order to prevent the gasses that are going up your chimney from condensing into a solid form. The solid form that these gasses condense into is referred to as "creosote." Creosote is the solid form of the smoke that comes off of your fire and goes up the chimney. Creosote is highly flammable. Creosote is the product of incomplete combustion, and is therefore still combustible. When someone has a "chimney fire" what is actually happening is that the creosote produced by incomplete combustion and cool stack temperatures is catching on fire. Creosote is what gets cleaned off of your chimney flue during a chimney cleaning. If you do not clean, or have the creosote cleaned off of your chimney flue, you are at a higher risk of having a chimney fire that could be much more severe. (More fuel, more fire) The more creosote that you have inside your chimney flue is the more creosote that can burn, raising stack temperatures to an unsafe temperature, which will potentially crack your chimney liner. When a chimney liner becomes cracked, assuming that you have one at all, the gasses produced by your fire can then get behind the chimney liner and build up inside the chimney cavity. Creosote that builds up inside the chimney cavity can not be cleaned off because there is no chimney brush in the world that could get behind a chimney liner. This is because the cracks in a chimney liner are very small. However, they are not small enough to prevent gasses from getting into them and building up behind them. And the cracks in a chimney liner do expand as stack temperatures increase. So, by not having a chimney cleaned regularly, you are susceptible to a chimney fire. Once you actually have a chimney fire, assuming that it did not spread into a structure fire, the chimney liner, at the very least, will most likely be cracked due to the chimney fire. Once the chimney liner is cracked creosote can build up outside of the chimney liner. Once creosote builds up outside of the chimney liner, if you were to have another chimney fire, the fire would not be contained inside of the chimney liner. The chimney fire would have a higher chance of spreading into a structure fire, and that is why it is important to have chimneys cleaned, especially in NH, where they are used far more often to vent solid fuel burning appliances.
Chimney cleaning has a surprising dark history behind the trade.
In Great Britain, before 1875, boys, and sometimes girls as young as four years old, but usually around six years old, were "hired" as "chimney sweep apprentices" to climb inside chimney flues and clean them by hand. These young children were primarily orphans, or paupers. In order for the church and country of Britain to reduce the "burden" these poor and orphaned children placed on them, they often signed papers of indenture on behalf of the children, which effectively made the child in question an indentured servant. In the case of the chimney sweep children, they became exactly that.
The indentured servant children of the chimney trade, most often referred to as "climbing boys," were paid no wages. They were fed by their trade master, given a place to sleep, and they were "taught a trade." The problem with the trade that they were being taught is that they were doing it in an extremely dangerous way. Creosote, the chemical compound that they were cleaning out from the inside of these chimneys, is extremely carcinogenic. As a result, a specific form of cancer began to develop in the young chimney sweeps. This form of cancer, to this day, is still referred to as "chimney sweep cancer" by many. This form of cancer could become prevalent in the boys when they were as young as eight years old. The connection between chimney cleaning and this particular form of cancer was first made by Percivall Pott in 1775, one hundred years before sending climbing boys up the chimney became illegal. This, however, was far from the only threat to the boys' health who were performing this type of chimney cleaning. There are documented cases of the boys actually becoming stuck in the chimney flues that they were cleaning and suffocating to death. Life as a young chimney sweep was hardly something to be sought after during this time period.
Reportedly, in 1788, the first piece of legislation designed to protect these young chimney cleaners was passed in Britain. The Legislation was known as "The Chimney Sweepers Act of 1788." The goal of the act was to provide regulation for master chimney sweeps and apprentice chimney sweeps alike. The act was to limit each master chimney sweep to six apprentices, and all apprentices were to be over the age of eight years old. While there were some small groups and organizations who, at this time, believed in replacing the climbing boys with some form of a mechanical tool, the majority of the citizens seemed to believe that their homes would be in danger if their chimneys were not cleaned by the climbing boys.
The next notable act of legislation regarding chimney sweeps was passed in 1834. This act mandated that a master chimney sweep must not take on an apprentice under the age of fourteen years old, and that a climbing boy must not be sent up a chimney to extinguish an active chimney fire. Six years later, in 1840, the legal age required to be a chimney sweep was increased to twenty one years old. However, it is said that this was widely ignored, as the law was not thoroughly enforced. This became evident in 1875 when a twelve year old boy became lodged in a hospital chimney. Great efforts were made to save the boy. A hospital wall was actually completely torn down in the effort to save him, but he did not make it. It was due to this final incident that the chimney sweepers act of 1875 was signed into law. The chimney sweepers act of 1875 mandated that all chimney sweeps had to be authorized by the police in order to carry out their business in the district. This act gave police the legal authority to enforce the previous legislation as it was written.
The history of chimney cleaning in the united states was not much better. Climbing boys were used, though, reportedly, less often than in Britain. Many homeowners in the United States used bags of bricks to clean their own chimney by dropping the bag of bricks down the flue. There was also much more regulation on how the flues were supposed to be built. The climbing boy "trade" was eventually passed on to African American slaves.
Today, thankfully, chimney cleaners do not operate the way that they did in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. Today, chimney cleaners do all of the chimney cleaning from inside the home using power tools and short sections of interconnecting rods. Today, cleaning a chimney is the easy part. A chimney inspection is what requires knowledge and skill in today's world. In today's world, anyone with the proper equipment could clean a chimney, but what separates a basic chimney cleaner from a certified chimney sweep is all in the inspection.
A Fireplace is an inviting place of such warmth that when many think of it, they are immediately swept over with warm thoughts of the holidays. A nice open fire can certainly take the chill off after a cold day outside shoveling fresh NH snow, but when is it time to clean the chimney that vents the fireplace?
Typically the chimney venting the fireplace should be thoroughly cleaned by a professional, insured, and certified chimney sweep after about a cord of wood is burned through it. However, it is strongly recommended by the National Fire Protection Association that all chimneys be at least inspected annually by a certified chimney sweep.
Fireplace cleaning is using either manual tools or a power sweeping system with the goal of removing as much flammable creosote as possible from the fireplace, smoke chamber, and fireplace flue.
Fireplace cleaning is important in NH because fireplace cleaning is a way to help prevent chimney fires from taking place. There are around twenty five thousand chimney fires every year in the united states alone. And those are just the chimney fires that are on record. As a professional chimney sweep I can say from experience that there are many more chimney fires that occur every year that are smaller, contained, and go undetected. These smaller chimney fires also cause substantial damage to the inside of the chimney flue, and should not be taken lightly. These smaller chimney fires can substantially damage chimney lining systems and be the cause of major chimney repairs. Larger chimney fires cause around one hundred and twenty five million dollars in damages every year in the united states. Fortunately, simply having your fireplace cleaned and inspected annually by a certified chimney sweep can significantly reduce your risk of having a chimney fire.
While cleaning your own fireplace in NH is always an option, the real benefit of having a certified NH chimney sweep clean your fireplace is in the fireplace inspection. A certified chimney sweep is trained to look for any potential safety hazards that may exist inside your fireplace. A certified chimney sweep will check the fireplace flue for cracks and signs of a chimney fire, they will check all clearances to combustibles around your fireplace and fireplace mantle, they will check the condition of your smoke chamber, and they will check the condition of your firebox. Most certified chimney sweeps also use power sweeping systems, which can get the fireplace and chimney much cleaner than older push broom style cleaning systems. This is because power cleaning systems can get into some of the tougher nooks and crannies within the smoke chamber that older style sweeping methods could not get to.
NH fireplace safety standards can be found primarily inside of of what is called the NFPA 211.(National Fire Protection Association's Article 211) Inside the NFPA 211 is the state's standards for solid fuel burning equipment and ventilation. The NFPA 211 is the primary reference material of a certified chimney sweep.
NH is a naturally cold state where heating appliances and fireplaces are used far more than in many other states. Because of this, chimneys in NH can get dirty fast! A dirty chimney is a dangerous chimney because the substance actually making the chimney appear "dirty" is flammable. The substance making the chimney appear dirty is called creosote. When creosote is not cleaned out of the fireplace smoke chamber and fireplace flue system it can cause chimney fires, as well as chimney blockages. A chimney blockage can cause smoke to come bellowing into a home, and a chimney fire can burn a home to the ground. Blockages and chimney fires are the potential consequences of not having a fireplace properly cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.
A Wood Stove in NH should be cleaned after every cord of wood that is burned through it. The wood stove and chimney should also be inspected annually to ensure that the wood stove and the chimney venting the wood stove have no major safety defects.
A wood stove cleaning entails far more than just cleaning out the inside of the wood stove itself. A wood stove cleaning involves cleaning out all pipes coming off of the wood stove in the event that the wood stove is free standing and has stove pipes coming off of it. It also involves cleaning the chimney liner that is venting the wood stove from where the wood stove vents into it, all the way to the top of the chimney. In free standing wood stove applications (wood stoves that are not inserted into a fireplace) there is also what is called an ash dump door that should be cleaned out. Inside the ash dump door is where all the soot and creosote falls and collects.
Neglecting to have a wood stove and the chimney venting a wood stove cleaned can have devastating consequences. Wood stoves can absolutely cause chimney fires, and because they are used far more often as a heat source than a fireplace, that means that they are, on average, going to build up far more creosote. The more you use it, the more dirty and dangerous it will become until it is properly cleaned by a certified chimney sweep. Choosing not to clean your wood stove and wood stove flue properly will almost certainly lead to a chimney fire over time.
Wood stove cleaning in NH is especially important. NH is a very cold state, and oil and electric heat can be very expensive. This expense often leaves folks looking for a more affordable alternative to their "primary" source of heat. Wood stoves can be a great supplemental heat, and the kind of warm, cozy heat that you get from a wood stove is like no other. However, because NH uses these wood stoves to supplement their heat far more than some of the warmer, more mild states, that means that we, as a state, need to take the maintenance of these stoves very seriously. Having a wood stove properly cleaned and inspected every year is the best way to ensure that your supplemental heat is going to be operating as safely as possible.
Wood stove safety standards in the state of NH can be found in one of two places. The first place is inside your wood stove installation manual. The installation manual will usually cover nearly every aspect of your wood stove's safety standards with a few open ended exceptions:
The wood stove manual will usually say that the wood stove should be installed into a chimney only if the chimney is clean and up to today's safety standards. But what exactly are those safety standards, and what constitutes "clean?" The safety standards most wood stove manuals are referring to can be found within the NFPA 211. The NFPA 211 is the standard for solid burning appliances and the ventillation of said appliances. If you have any questions regarding your appliance manual, or the NFPA 211, please contact your local, certified chimney sweeps. It is our job to know the material within these standards, and it is our job to make sure wood stoves are not only clean, but installed as safely as possible.
The venting system for a pellet stove in NH should be cleaned after one to three tons of pellets are burned. If it is your first year owing a pellet stove we recommend having the pellet stove venting system cleaned after the first ton of pellets are burned so that we can gauge how much build up you are generally going to produce per ton. The amount of buildup produced can depend on the brand of pellet stove, the brand of pellets burned, and air intake settings.
The actual mechanics of a pellet stove also require maintenance. This is a separate service not generally provided by chimney service companies, but is essential to owning a pellet stove nonetheless.
A pellet stove cleaning could mean one of two things:
Strangely enough, these two sides of pellet stove cleanings are generally done by two separate companies. One company generally does the pellet stove vent cleaning, inspecting and installing, and the other company generally does the mechanical cleaning, repair, and diagnostics. Anything Chimney cleans, inspects, and repairs pellet venting systems currently, but does not do cleaning, inspecting and repairing of the pellet stove mechanical system.
It is important to clean a pellet stove in NH for many reasons.
It is important to clean the venting of a pellet stove because the pellet vent can become blocked and result in smoke coming back into the home from the pellet stove. Pellet stoves can also cause chimney fires even though they are a lower temperature burning appliance.
It is important to clean the actual mechanics of a pellet stove because if the mechanics of a pellet stove are not cleaned the pellet stove itself can malfunction and not work properly. A pellet stove that is not working properly can result in not being able to use your pellet stove at all.
Pellet stove safety standards can be found in a combination of two places. The first place is inside the pellet stove manual. Inside the pellet stove manual you will find nearly every safety standard for the installation of your specific pellet stove. If there is anything that is not clarified, the information can be found in the National Standard For Chimneys And Vents. (The NFPA 211) If you have any questions about any portion of the safety standard, please do not hesitate to reach out to your local, certified chimney sweep. It is our job to know and understand these standards.
A chimney venting oil does not need to be cleaned nearly as often as a chimney venting solid fuel. A chimney venting oil generally only needs to be cleaned every three to five years. The exception is when the oil burning appliance has recently malfunctioned in such a way that caused black smoke to go up the chimney and through the smoke pipes. This is generally referred to as an over-firing oil appliance. When this happens, black soot builds up in both the chimney and smoke pipe and must be removed as soon as possible to avoid potential blockages from occurring.
The reason that it is important to clean a chimney venting oil is because oil soot is highly acidic. The fumes alone from an oil flue is often enough to eat through most lining materials. To prevent this process from accelerating, it is important to clean the corrosive oil soot out of the chimney. It is also very important to clean the chimney of an oil burning appliance when it malfunctions and builds up black soot in the flue system.
An oil chimney cleaning entails using either a manual or power-sweeping method to knock all of the acidic, corrosive soot off of the flue system and into the powerful vacuum inserted into either the thimble or chimney clean out. The smoke pipe coming off of the boiler is also cleaned during an oil chimney cleaning.
The NH standard for oil burning equipment and chimney venting can be found inside the NFPA 31. (National Fire Protection Association's Article 31) The NFPA 31 is the go to source in NH for anything that is not covered in detail inside your oil appliance's specific installation manual.
Anything Chimney provides chimney cleaning services in Salem NH and all surrounding NH towns. Anything Chimney does not provide chimney cleaning services in the state of Massachusetts.
Anything Chimney provides amazing chimney cleaning services in the town of Derry and all surrounding towns including Hampstead NH and Sandown NH.
Anything Chimney provides top notch chimney cleaning services in the town of Londonderry and all surrounding towns including Hudson NH and Litchfiled NH.
Anything Chimney provides the very best chimney cleaning services in Windham NH.
Anything Chimney provides first class chimney cleaning services in Nashua NH.
Anything Chimney provides it's highly reviewed chimney cleaning services to the residents and businesses in Hollis NH.
Anything Chimney is based out of Manchester NH, so of course we provide our chimney cleaning services to Manchester NH!
The capital city is one of our favorite places to be! Anything Chimney does provide chimney cleaning services in the city of Concord NH
Anything Chimney has many Bedford NH chimney cleaning clients!
Anything Chimney provides chimney cleaning services to the beautiful city of Dover NH
Anything Chimney provides chimney cleaning services to both Rochester and Gonic.
Portsmouth is towards the very end of our chimney cleaning service zone in NH, but we absoloutly do provide our highly rated chimney cleaning services in Portsmouth NH!
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