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What Is Chimney Venting? Why Do We Need It?

Welcome to fall colors and temperatures!

As our thoughts turn to get ready for the change of season and staying warm, it is important to think of safety and efficiency.

We don’t expect you know the workings of your chimney or fireplace, so we wanted to touch upon probably the most important function of the chimney – venting. The chimney’s venting system is essential to ensure combustion products exit the home while reducing carbon monoxide risk. This applies to both your fireplace and heating systems.

what is chimney ventingWithout venting, the combustion pollutants remain in the living space or can transfer throughout the home through cracks and gaps. Please read more here to understand the types of venting and what you need to know.

Chimney venting is when the by-products of combustion are exhausted through the chimney to the atmosphere. This passageway is called the flue.

This applies to both your fireplace (or wood stove), and likely, your heating/hot water equipment. The exhaust for your heating equipment may be installed inside your existing masonry chimney or through a separate stack. Approved condensing boilers can also have PVC or polypropylene venting installed through a vertical vent if the chimney allows.

For a chimney venting project, it is important to hire a chimney company that knows how to collaborate with other teams. Boston’s Best Chimney is experienced in working with engineers, plumbers, and contractors to complete chimney venting projects properly. Click here or call (781) 893-6611 to set up a free estimate.

Why Is Chimney Venting Important?

Chimney venting is essential for your chimney. Here are some reasons why:

1. Chimney vents protect the building from heat transfer. Without chimney flue vents, heat can move through the chimney fast enough to cause fires in adjacent combustible materials.
2. Properly installed chimney vents carry gases up and out of the building. Without proper venting, the flue gases can seep into the home causing a fire hazard or carbon monoxide issue.
3. Chimney vents protect the interior masonry from corrosive byproducts of combustion. If flue gases were allowed to penetrate the masonry, the deterioration would accelerate the aging and structural integrity of the chimney.
4. Chimney vents will prepare you for your boiler flue inspection. Did you know that you should get your boiler inspected annually? Having proper chimney vents setup will get you ready to pass this important inspection.

Get Your Venting Installed!

Chimney venting will keep your home safe and equipment operating at maximum efficiency’s interior safe. As the Chimney Safety Institute of America says, “you most certainly want to keep your chimney and venting system in mind as an integral part of an efficient system.” If your chimney does not have proper venting, do not hesitate to set up a free estimate with us to learn more about this service. Click here or call (781) 893-6611 to get in touch.

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Master the Art of Firewood

It may seem odd to use “art” and “firewood” together, but if you’ve ever suffered from wood fireplace issues caused by using the wrong kind of firewood, you know there’s something to the idea. No matter how excellent your fireplace is, without knowing the ins and outs of firewood, your experience can be far less than satisfactory.

Here are some ideas to help you become a master of the art of firewood.

What kind of wood is it?

choosing firewood, Kansas CityBasically, firewood is divided into hardwood and softwood varieties. Hardwoods such as hickory, maple and walnut burn longer and with less smoke and creosote deposits in your chimney than spruce, pine, redwood and other softwoods.

Don’t burn wet wood

Unseasoned (wet) firewood isn’t ready for the fireplace. The high moisture content will cause it to ignite with difficulty and burn sluggishly. It also will produce far more smoke than dry, seasoned wood.

Along with the possibility of excess smoke backing up into your home, unseasoned firewood will add more flammable creosote to your flue. Creosote is the leading cause of chimney fires in America each year, so remember: less smoke = less creosote.

Arranging your logs in the fireplace

A good way to get set up for a fire is to stack logs on a fireplace grate so there’s room beneath them to add kindling (small wood chips, bark, dry grass, tightly crumpled newspaper, etc.). Don’t overfill the firebox or stack the logs too tightly together – they need air circulation to burn fully. You can also add the kindling to the top of the stack and burn downwards.

The logs you use should be about three inches narrower than the width of your firebox – again, to allow plenty of air.

Getting the fire started

Kindling and a match are the only safe and effective ways to start a fire in your fireplace. Items to never use include:

  • Lighter fluid, kerosene or any other accelerant
  • Clothing
  • Metals of any kind
  • Painted or pressed wood
  • Christmas trees
  • Household trash
  • Colored newspaper or magazine pages

These items can release a large amount of toxins into the air, and some of them will cause the fire to burn way too hot. Stick with the tried-and-true method of kindling and dry wood.

If fires are sluggish or smoke is backing up

Assuming you’re using seasoned wood and no extra materials in your fireplace, a sluggish fire or one that pushes smoke into your room may point to a drafting issue. Drafting problems can be caused by:

  • A house that’s too air-tight – crack a window near the fireplace.
  • Obstructions in your chimney flue including excess creosote and soot buildup, tree debris and small-animal nests. Have creosote and other blockages professionally cleaned by a chimney sweep. Prevent these problems by installing a quality chimney cap or flue cover.
  • A flue that’s the incorrect size for the fireplace. Have this issue inspected and then modified according to recommendations.
  • A broken or dirty damper that won’t fully open.

Kansas City Chimney SweepFollowing these guidelines will make you a true master of the art of firewood and give you a lifetime of quality fires and lots of comfort and enjoyment.

Fluesbrothers Chimney & Fireplace of Kansas City, KS, can help with any chimney and fireplace needs that arise. We offer CSIA-certified chimney cleaning, fireplace and chimney inspection and all types of repair work to keep your system running optimally and safely. Call us today at (913) 236-7141.


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Is There a Problem in My Fireplace Smoke Chamber?

Is there a problem lurking in your smoke chamber? Most homeowners know that chimney cleaning is essential for minimizing fire and safety risks and prolonging the chimney and fireplace’s life span. However, there is one section of the chimney that is unfamiliar to most homeowners. It’s called the smoke chamber, and it turns out that it gets the least attention, but it is the most at risk of a chimney fire.

What is the smoke chamber?

The smoke chamber is the area just above the damper at the base of the flue. Its purpose is to direct the flow of smoke and gases up the flue where it exits the chimney into the atmosphere. The smoke chamber is built using a corbeled or block technique to prevent fumes from backing up into the living space.

creosote clean up Kansas City Chimney SweepsThe older corbeled method no longer meets current building code requirements due to an increased fire risk. Corbeling involves staggering the bricks like steps. The jagged edges increase the likelihood that the mortar joints will suffer accelerated deterioration due to its proximity to the heat and gases rising through the narrow chamber.  The deterioration can cause gaps or voids that inhibit venting, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. The accumulation of creosote in these areas can also increase fire risk and reduce its structural integrity.

On the other hand, smoke chambers in newer chimneys are built with a smooth surface. The absence of the jagged edges strengthens the mortar joints, increasing safety, efficiency, and performance.

Smoke chamber parging

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends corbeled smoke chambers be parged to correct any deficiencies. Smoke chamber parging is a restorative process that smooths out the jagged surfaces filling in any cracks or gaps in the mortar joints with new mortar material. The restoration process reduces the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning while increasing the fireplace’s performance. In cases with poor construction or extreme deterioration causing a structural issue, a cast in place restoration process may be recommended to repair the corbeling with a smooth, seamless surface. For minor damage when there are no structural issues, a sealant may be used to repair the gaps in the smoke chamber’s mortar joints.

fireplace inspection KC Chimney SweepSmoke chamber repair

It is recommended that homeowners have a professional chimney inspection to determine if their smoke chamber needs parging. If a review determines that parging is necessary, the chimney sweep will make the required repair to restore the smoke chamber to meet current local building codes. It will increase safety and will also improve fireplace efficiency, draft, and performance. Contact us to schedule your smoke chamber inspection today!


The post Is There a Problem in My Fireplace Smoke Chamber? appeared first on Fluesbrothers Chimney Service.

Leaves and Tree Limbs Over Your Chimney

Changing of the season is in full swing! Beautiful red, orange, and yellow leaves contrast against dark tree branches make for beautiful scenery. With the winds we’ve experienced this week, along with a bit of rain, brought the first wave of leaves and branches falling to the ground…gutters…roof… and chimney.

Fall Clean Up

Protect your chimney against Fall and Winter damage by trimming away any branches and limbs that overhang the chimney. Keeping the area clear of debris will help save on potential repairs. Here’s why:

  • Falling leaves can enter the chimney. Dry leaves are flammable, while wet leaves decay, leaving a musky sweet smell in your home.
  • Empty branches can break, splint, crack and fall making their way inside the chimney. In Winter, snow weighs down branches causing them to scrape the sides or top of the chimney. This can affect wear on the mortar, chimney crown and bricks causing the materials to weaken leading to water leaks, faster deterioration and more.

Chimney Obstructions

We all enjoy the shade that the trees provide. It even helps to keep the home cool on those very hot days by providing some shade. But with the good comes a caution. Small twigs, leaves, branches, seeds pods and even acorns fall from the tree and get into the chimney. That’s why it’s vital to have a chimney cap.

We have seen many homemade chimney caps, such as chicken wire or a plastic crate covering the chimney (Yes, it’s true). Although creative, its best to install a professional grade chimney cap. These durable structures help to keep snow, rain, debris and animals from making your chimney their home. A  properly installed chimney cap will also minimize wind downdrafts that can cause smoke to backup from the fireplace.

Trees + Chimney = Drafting

Tree limbs that are close to the chimney may cause drafting problems. This occurs when the tree limb and branches are taller than the chimney itself. These are the branches and limbs that need to be cut back.

Keeping the space clear above the chimney allows the chimney to draft more consistently and help keep the fire inside your home healthy and able to draw out any smoke and gas. This is important for the health of your home, family, and environment.

What’s Next?

 This is a great time to get those trees in shape. Then prepare to enjoy your fireplace, whether it’s woodburning or gas, by ensuring your chimney is clear and free from debris, animals, dry or rotting leaves and branches. Superior Chimney’s technicians are certified by the CSIA organization. Check out our credentials here.

Give us a call today at 877-244-6349.

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Want an Easy Switch from Wood to Gas Fuel? Install an Insert!

gas fireplaceTraditional wood-burning fireplaces are an excellent addition to any home, but they have one major downside: inefficiency. Most of the heat goes up the chimney, and that’s one of the reasons why many homeowners consider switching to a gas fireplace. In the past, converting from wood-burning to gas fuel was an expensive process. However, fuel inserts make it easy to switch from wood fuel to gas.

What are Fireplace Inserts?

A fireplace insert is a self-contained heating appliance made of steel or cast iron that fits into an existing masonry fireplace. The significant advantage of inserts is its closed combustion system, which increases its efficiency and minimizes heat loss. They are available in both natural gas and propane models.

Electronic Ignition

Gas fireplace inserts use an electronic ignition system to light the fire.  It’s as simple as flipping a switch. Many models also have a remote control allowing the user to ignite the fireplace and control the flames without getting off the couch. Other features include automatic timers and thermostat controls.

Types of Gas Fireplace Inserts

There are essentially two main types of gas fireplace inserts: vent-free and direct vent. Vent-free inserts are just like the name suggests — they do not require a chimney or vent to release combustion byproducts to the outside.  On the other hand, a direct vent fireplace insert requires a vent to draw in oxygen and release combustion gases externally.

The type of gas insert to choose also depends on your preferences and needs because each has its advantages and disadvantages. For instance, a direct vent fireplace insert generates more heat, has a more realistic flame experience, and produces much fewer emissions than a traditional fireplace. However, it requires a chimney or external vent to operate.

On the other hand, vent-free inserts are more flexible because it doesn’t require a chimney or vent. They can be installed practically anywhere in the home, even inside a fireplace with an inoperable chimney. However, they produce less heat than a direct-vent insert. Although considered safe, vent-free inserts release a small amount of emissions into the living space.

gas fireplaceWhy Convert Your Traditional Fireplace to Gas?

Gas fireplace inserts significantly increase energy efficiency and reduce heat loss. Traditional fireplaces have a heating efficiency of around 20% – 30%, which means they lose up to 80% of the heat they generate. Gas inserts are much more efficient, with 80% – 98% heating efficiency. Gas fireplace inserts also burn cleaner, have less waste, and are more convenient to operate with a switch or remote control. They also eliminate the hard work of sourcing firewood. They also produce very little smoke and creosote, making them safer to operate and easier to clean and maintain.
Ready to make the switch from wood fuel to gas fuel? We have a large selection of gas fireplace inserts in many aesthetically pleasing styles and sizes to meet your home heating needs. Contact us to schedule a free in-home estimate.

The post Want an Easy Switch from Wood to Gas Fuel? Install an Insert! appeared first on Fluesbrothers Chimney Service.

Converting from wood logs to a gas fireplace: a primer

It’s finally fall! 2020 has been the most insane year in memory, but that cool air is coming to usher in everyone’s favorite season. Do you have the items you need to make your home warm when the temperature drops? Have you been stocking up on wood logs for your fireplace?

If you want to switch things up this year and convert your fireplace to gas. Southern Chimneys can help you make the switch.

Southern Chimneys Can Help You Make the Gas Log Switch

This is the time of year Southern Chimneys gets a lot of requests to convert wood fireplaces to gas and we can understand why. Gas fireplaces are less mess, less worry, and can be used year-round. People claim they heat the room up better too. Gas fireplaces release fewer allergens into your home and fewer pollutants into the environment. You know that creosote gunk we often talk about cleaning? That comes from burning wood!

Southern Chimneys and Peterson Gas Logs

Southern Chimneys can come help you install gas logs. We use Peterson Gas Logs, the “cleanest, most economical, most convenient alternative to burning real wood”. These vented gas logs can be installed in your current, functioning, wood-burning fireplace. We’ll run the lines and install a gas line if needed. We’ll also determine just the right size log for your fireplace. They’ll look great in your home as all Peterson Gas Logs are crafted to look just like real wood, so you can maintain the fireplace appearance you’re used to. And, you get to use a remote control to turn on your fireplace and control the flame size, height, and strength, so there’s that extra bit of coolness.

If you want to go over all your gas-log options, give Southern Chimneys a call. We can help you determine which type of fireplace would be best for your home and get it all ready before things get too far along into the burn season!

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Do I Really Need to Clean the Chimney…Again?

The air conditioner cover is on, the furnace filter has been changed…now what am I forgetting? Ah, that’s right. Get the chimney sweep done. Do I really need to sweep the chimney this year?

I use a gas fireplace. I don’t need to get it swept…right?

Gas fireplaces are a great convenience as they can be started and stopped quickly and the cleanup is minimal. However, a gas fireplace still has a firewall and as the system functions similar to a heating system, problems can occur such as:

  • Cracking in the firewalls and/or liner
  • Buildup of debris
  • Cracked chimney crown
  • Deteriorated masonry and joints
  • Blockage in the ventilation

What if I don’t even use the fireplace?

There are homeowners that use the fireplace as a decoration and never turn it on. It may not need to be swept as often however it is best to have a certified technician inspect the structure annually so that you know it is ready for use when you do want to turn it on. Here are a few things you need to consider:

  • Cracks and deteriorated firewalls, masonry and joints
  • Chimney liners are not properly sized and installed causing moisture to enter your home
  • Pests and nests love unused fireplaces
  • Nature’s garbage can cause build-up of debris

I don’t use the wood burning fireplace often…just a couple times per year.

If you burn wood in your fireplace 1 or 100 times, tar and creosote accumulate and cling to the inside of the chimney. Creosote is a byproduct of wood combustion and found in the smoke of the open flame. Once it mixes with cold air and water, it solidifies and gets stuck to the chimney liner. If the chimney liner is poorly fitted, or you don’t have one, the creosote sticks to the brick itself.

What’s Next…

Whether you have a gas, woodburning or don’t even use the fireplace, a 14-point chimney inspection with photo documentation will always be done by a certified technician. What this means for you is that each of our professional technicians have earned the CSIA’s Chimney Safety Institute of America’s credentials. You can feel safe and secure knowing that our technicians have the continued education and knowledge for maintaining and evaluating a chimney and ventilation system.

Get Fall off to a cozy start with a Superior Chimney 14-point inspection with photo documentation completed by one of our CSIA certified technicians. Call us today for an appointment at 877-244-6349

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6 Chimney Maintenance Tips for a Stronger & Longer-Lasting Chimney

Chimney Inspections In Prairie Village, KSGetting the most out of your chimney requires periodic maintenance. Some of this maintenance should be done by a licensed chimney professional; other tasks are ones you can easily take care of yourself. Let’s look at six important maintenance activities for your chimney.

Inspect the chimney’s bricks and mortar

Damaged chimneys leave signs. You can do a visual inspection of your chimney’s masonry and spot early signs of trouble so it can get fixed fast. Look for:

Crumbling mortar on the roof near the chimney


Cracks in the bricks or mortar

Loose bricks

White staining on the masonry (could point to a chimney leak)

A tilt in the chimney

Inspect the chimney’s components

Damaged components can allow water to get into the chimney system. You should periodically check:

Chimney cap – make sure the mesh isn’t torn and the cap is sealed tightly to the top of your chimney.

Chimney crown – look for cracks or decay in the cement.

Flashing – if the flashing that seals the gap between your roof and chimney is warped or rusted out, water can flow down into the house.

Fireplace damper – it should work without a lot of squeaks and should open completely and close fully.

Chimney Inspection In Lenexa, KSInspect the firebox

People use their fireplaces all the time but often don’t really look at them. Start your firebox inspection by removing all the ashes and soot. Check for bricks that are loose or cracked. Feel for dampness on the surfaces. You can use this time to clean smoke and soot stains from the perimeter of the firebox opening.

Watch for chimney leaks

A variety of events can cause a chimney to leak. You can’t always prevent things like lightning strikes, pounding hail, and earthquakes, but you can stay on top of leaks and get them fixed quickly.


The most common leaky chimney signs for the average homeowner to watch for include:

Water in the firebox

White stains on the exterior masonry (as noted above)

Strong, musty odors coming from the fireplace

Damp sections of the walls or ceiling adjacent to the chimney and fireplace

Make sure smoke detectors and CO monitors are working

Smoke detectors alert you to smoke. Carbon monoxide monitors alert you to the presence of this deadly gas within the smoke. Replace batteries in these devices once a year and test them several times a year.

Have your chimney cleaned and inspected

Annual chimney sweeping and chimney inspections are critical parts of smart maintenance. Chimney sweeps use electric scrubbers, brushes, cleaning solvents, and industrial vacuums to remove flammable creosote and drafting obstructions from your chimney flue.

Licensed chimney inspectors will alert you to early signs of damage and malfunction so you can resolve the problem before an extensive – and expensive – repair issue unfolds. Chimneys should be cleaned and inspected once a year.

As you’ve probably figured out, the key to a safe, efficient, and long-lasting chimney is staying on top of necessary maintenance and fixing problems as early as possible. The tips outlined here will help.

Fluesbrothers Chimney & Fireplace of Kansas City, KS, provides CSIA-certified chimney sweeping, chimney inspections, and all levels of chimney repair and rebuilding services. Trust our experts to do it right the first time. Arrange an appointment or get your questions answered at (913) 236-7141.


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Use this resource to prepare your chimney for fall!

It’s hard to care about your chimney and fireplace when summer is still raging on outdoors. Weather aside, fall is still coming and soon you’ll be needing to use that chimney and you might not have it ready!

What do you need to do to prepare your chimney for the cold season?

Keeping your chimney and fireplace clean and protected now will lead to a successful heating experience in the fall and winter.

Here’s what you need to do with your chimney during the dog days of summer:

  • Clean the hearth
    We hear it all the time: people forget to sweep and dust their hearth, meaning it can be full of ash. Yuck. You don’t want that lying around, being breathed in. Time to get to cleaning. You’re going to want to wear gloves and old clothes because this job gets dirty! Scoop out the ashes with an ash shovel. Use a small broom and dustpan to sweep out the rest. Next, you’re going to want to use your favorite gentle cleaner and scrubber to get the creosote up and give everything a final wipe off and vacuum.
  • Close the damper tight
    If you’re not closing your damper tight there is essentially a hole in your house letting cool air out!
  • Turn off pilot light (gas)
    If you’re using a gas fireplace, you should know if you have a standing pilot light and make sure it’s been out for the summer.
  • Replace the decorations!
    If that fireplace was just sitting there going unused, you may have used that space to decorate. Move the plants from around the hearth and get ready for your chimney to host stockings and nutcrackers instead.
  • Call Southern Chimneys to remove creosote
    Before giving those hands and knees too much of a workout, you honestly probably won’t be able to get all that creosote out that’s been storing up all winter. Even if you do, you certainly won’t be able to get aaaall up in it. That’s when you need to give a professional chimney service like Southern Chimneys a call.
  • Call Southern Chimneys to check or install a chimney cap
    It’s always a very wet summer in the southeast. Chimney caps keep out things like moisture and animals that can wind up in your chimney at summertime.

Consider making end-of-summer the time for your yearly chimney inspection!

It’s always smart to get a jump on things and schedule your chimney and fireplace work and inspections long before the weather cools down. Now’s the time to clean up, decorate, and get things inspected so you can enjoy your living room, clean and safe, all year long.

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5 Things Chimney Sweeps Look at when Examining Your Chimney

When you have a certified professional chimney sweep look over your chimney during an annual inspection, you’re going to get a thorough understanding of your chimney’s condition and details on any repair work that might be necessary.

Chimney sweeps with certifications through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) have advanced knowledge of chimney systems and inspects for venting sufficiency, structural soundness, and the integrity of a chimney’s components.

Here are five key areas your chimney sweep will closely examine during a chimney inspection.

Chimney Structure Repair Services In Shawnee, KSThe chimney structure

The bricks and mortar that make up your chimney structure must be undamaged and put together correctly in order for it to operate safely. Chimney sweeps are careful to look for signs of cracking in the masonry, crumbling mortar joints, loose bricks, and evidence of water infiltration.

A proper chimney inspection will also check for a leaning or unstable chimney, which could be the result of brick damage, a badly built chimney footing, and other causes.

Safe clearance

Chimney sweeps ensure that the heat and toxic gases created during combustion are properly vented and will not touch or affect any vulnerable materials of your home adjacent to the chimney/fireplace. Damage to fireplace bricks and internal flue damage can allow flames, acidic substances, and dangerous gases to move into the house.

Integrity of components

Part of a professional chimney examination is checking components. Chimney crowns, caps, flashing, dampers, and other devices all serve to help the chimney operate safely and efficiently. When these components are rusted, broken, cracked, or warped, the result could be a serious water leak, which can cause widespread damage to the chimney system and the home.

Creosote buildup in the flue

Creosote is a flammable substance created when wood fires are burned. Smoke condenses in the flue and forms a sticky, flakey, or solid substance that is the cause of most chimney fires in the U.S. each year. The longer you use your fireplace without having your chimney cleaned, the more creosote you’re going to be dealing with.

In addition to the danger of fire, creosote also can damage the chimney liner and other internal parts and areas of the chimney due to its high acid content.

Obstructions in the flue

Professional Chimney Sweeps in Leawood, KSA final key area chimney sweeps examine is the ability of your chimney flue to draft smoke. When you operate your chimney with no chimney cap or one that is old and damaged, a variety of obstructions can get in and hinder drafting.

Common obstructions that chimney sweeps remove from flues include leaves, twigs, falling fruit, and other tree debris. Additionally, squirrels, birds, and other small animals love to build nests in chimneys during the off-season. This nesting material narrows the smoke passage. Animals who die inside the chimney unable to escape add to the problem.

Chimney cleaning services

Professional chimney inspections along with chimney sweep services performed once a year will ensure that your chimney is working properly and safely. Chimney cleaning is the #1 way to prevent dangerous chimney fires and drafting issues that could send deadly carbon monoxide into your home.

If it’s been more than a year since you had a certified chimney sweep take a look at your chimney, we’re ready to help. Fluesbrothers Chimney & Fireplace of Kansas City, KS, provides expert chimney cleaning, chimney inspection, and chimney repairs. Get the solutions you need by calling (913) 236-7141.

The post 5 Things Chimney Sweeps Look at when Examining Your Chimney appeared first on Fluesbrothers Chimney Service.

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