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Older Chimneys and Your Gas Appliance

Nowadays, I see a lot of homes buyers with older properties and newer gas appliances like a gas fireplace or furnace. There are many advantages to modern gas appliances including up to 50 percent higher efficiency (directing heat into a space far more efficiently), wasting less fuel and reducing pollution up to 70 percent. You can do more with less so to speak

The only problem is that the acid produced by your gas appliance may be eating away at the inside of your chimney which causes damage that can put your family and home at risk. I usually see these types of problems when I am performing an annual chimney inspection of your chimney, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association and the Chimney Safety Institute of America or a homeowner specifically call me about the problem.

Most homeowners who have a traditional fireplace or wood burning stove are aware that they need an annual chimney cleaning and inspection. However those that have a gas heating appliance like a furnace, boiler or water heater are just as reliant on a chimney in order for venting of exhausts and fumes. The big difference is that gas appliances fueled don’t produce creosote which is that tar like substance that is produced by wood burning appliances.  They can leave corrosive deposits in your chimney that aren’t visible until it’s too late and the problem has become too dangerous or will be very expensive to repair. In order to ensure that your gas heating appliance is installed correctly and meets industry standards you should have a professional chimney sweep evaluate the chimney at the time the appliance is installed.

While gas is a clean-burning fuel it must take in air for combustion. Acids such as chlorides may be present in the air that your gas appliance uses in its operations. During combustion, water vapor is produced. If the gas appliance and venting system are properly matched, the vapor is carried out of the chimney quickly. However when the heating appliance and venting system are not properly matched the moisture will turn to liquid inside the flue causing deterioration and corrosion that could cause the chimney liner to crumble.

Just like everything else over time, older, unlined chimneys are more exposed to these types of problems because of their age and general usage.  Some of the signs that your chimney may be experiencing problems include wet spots or damp patches on the interior walls or exterior walls of your home, blistered paint and/or peeling wallpaper, ceiling stains, stains on the exterior of the chimney and deterioration of the mortar or masonry bricks. In other cases there are some chimney liners that are not compatible with gas appliances because of the materials that they are made with. Always verify that the lining system that you purchase or even the existing lining system is the right one to be used with gas appliances.

Finally, make sure that your furnace was installed according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions and that it meets the National Fire Protection Association Standards. Whether you’re noticing problems in your chimney or you’re planning on installing a new gas appliance, a professional chimney sweep will be able to provide you with the right advice.

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