JEFFREY L. DECKER
CHIMNEY SWEEP AND HEARTH PROFESSIONAL OF CT MA AND RI
CleaningAnnual Servicing of Oil-Fired Appliance Chimneys
The by-product of the incomplete combustion of fuel oil is unburned carbon and sulfur - commonly called oil soot. Oil soot accumulates on the walls and at the base of the chimney. Chimneys should be inspected and serviced annually. The best time of the year to sweep an oil chimney is in the springtime, after the heating season. By sweeping the chimney at this time, you don’t have to worry about a sudden cold snap interfering with the recommended annual servicing of your appliance.
During the winter, the oil-fired appliance is subject to long-running cycles. These long run times produce a higher risk of oil soot build up. However, the combustion process also produces carbon monoxide (a tasteless, odorless, poisonous gas). Carbon monoxide may spill back into the house instead of going up the chimney. If appliances are not adequately vented or when the chimney base is not properly swept, oil soot may adhere to the sides of the chimney, the accumulation of these soot deposits can fall to the base of a masonry chimney, or directly into the top of the oil-fired appliance. This fallen soot build-up may restrict the flow of flue gases which consist mostly of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor.
A common misconception is that the oil service company takes care of the chimney. The reality is that the oil burner company may shovel out the base of a brick chimney and they may brush out the connector pipes, but most likely will not clean the chimney system. Most oil burner service technicians may tell the homeowner that the system is okay without even inspecting the entire chimney. This includes going to the roof and inspecting the interior as well as the exterior masonry (if applicable), flashing, chimney cap, etc. Chimneys should be “inspected annually and cleaned and repaired if needed”. Just as the oil furnace is serviced annually, so should your chimney system be serviced.
Many homeowners are not aware that the chimney’s interior, when not properly maintained, will decay and break down. Failing to have an annual chimney inspection allows such decay to remain undetected. Soot is comprised of carbon and sulphur. This sulphur, when mixed with rain water or moisture from the flue gases is absorbed into the flue tile and starts a deteriorating process called flaking or spalling.
Annual service will remove soot deposits and keep the deterioration process to a minimum. In metal chimneys the interior lining is constructed of stainless steel, which will not rust, but can corrode from the oil soot’s sulfuric acid reaction. This corrosion causes small pinholes to form which ruin the integrity of the liner. When these pinholes form, the liner is unable to properly contain the byproducts of combustion. When a clay lining in a masonry chimney flakes, or a metal chimney or lining system corrodes, they are unable to contain the heat and the flue gases, thus creating a potential hazard. When we perform the annual inspection and sweeping of your oil chimney, you can typically expect to see the following: There will likely be some equipment set-up. Steps will be taken to seal off areas which may otherwise allow soot to enter your home. The pipe connecting the oil furnace to the chimney will be disconnected, swept and reconnected. An inspection of the exterior of the chimney will be made. The chimney/flue will be swept if needed, and the interior of the chimney will be inspected to determine its soundness. Any loosened soot deposits will be removed. When service has been completed, the furnace will be restarted for you. When our technician has completed the evaluation, he will recommend any corrective actions that might be required and provide you with a written inspection report of said findings.
An annual inspection and sweep is your first line of defense to detect any potential problems.
'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.'
Call Jeffrey L. Decker today for all your chimney needs.
Working Together to Protect Your Home and Family