Do you have a gas appliance that vents through your chimney? While you probably understand that cleaning is important for traditional stoves and fireplaces that burn wood or coal, you might not know that chimney maintenance is just as important when you’re using a gas stove or other gas appliance like a heater, boiler, or furnace. Neglect acid damage from gas appliances, and you might be calling a roofer or mason for some surprise chimney repair. Here is some manageable basic maintenance to avoid a disaster.
Schedule annual inspections.
Natural gas is a popular choice for heating homes at the moment due to its convenience and efficiency. Unfortunately, you’re not getting the best efficiency if your system, venting, and chimney aren’t in tip-top shape. As recommended by the National Fire Protection Association, schedule a yearly inspection with a chimney maintenance professional who can catch the first signs of damage or build-up.
Choose appropriate venting.
To be really on top of things, have a chimney inspector take a look at your set-up before you even install a gas appliance to get the best recommendations on venting and construction, plus a baseline for future inspections. High-efficiency appliances and old chimney constructions can be a poor match if not planned precisely. Flues or connector pipes that are too large often cause dangerous complications.
Make sure water isn’t excessively condensing in the flue.
When gas burns, a lot of water vapor is produced. When ventilation is poorly matched to the chimney and appliance, then water vapor accumulates in the chimney and ventilation. Eventually, enough water damage can cause corrosion and the collapse of sections of the chimney and flue liner. Blockages from corrosion could mean ventilation is less efficient, and suddenly dangerous gases like carbon monoxide that would normally harmlessly vent outside are pushed backward into your home. To avoid this, periodically check the flue for excessive condensation.
Double-check that the chimney liner/flue liner you are using is appropriate for gas appliance usage.
Some liners shouldn’t be used with gas appliances because of the material they’re made with. Be sure that any liner you’re using is approved for use with gas.
Keep a look out for visual warning signs.
Damage in and around your house (near the chimney, of course) could clue you in to an issue that’s difficult to detect otherwise. Damp patches or water stains on walls/ceilings, peeling wallpaper, blistering paint, crumbly brickwork or eroded mortar joints are all signs of structural damage that could have resulted from an issue in your chimney’s venting. A white staining called efflorescence on the outside of the chimney masonry is another specific sign.
In a nutshell, if you notice anything unusual, call a chimney maintenance professional. Not only could issues with gas venting be damaging to your home, it could be horribly damaging to the health of you and your family. Remember that old chimneys and installations aren’t the only culprits; new chimneys and stoves can be damaged or installed improperly as well. Be practical and proactive, and your gas appliance will provide your home with efficient warmth for years to come.