Every year many people are harmed from being exposed to deadly gasses and substances emitted from fireplaces and furnaces. Your home heating is essential during winter, particularly in cold zones, but if neglected can become dangerous. Properly functioning furnace flues and exhaust vents are critical in keeping your home free from toxic airborne elements. See here why it’s important to keep your furnace flue clean and when you may need to call in professional help.
What’s the Purpose of a Flue?
Boilers, fireplaces, and furnaces that burn fossil fuels or wood give off water vapor and noxious gasses. One of the most notorious by-products is carbon monoxide, a gas responsible for many deaths each year. Other noxious elements include hydrocarbons, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. The furnace flue, also known as a furnace flue pipe, directs these combustion by-products up the pipe and safely vents them out of the house.
So, what can happen if you don’t keep your furnace flue clean? If the flue is blocked, the dangerous gasses and toxins cannot escape from the vents, are backed up, and seep into indoor air. At best, this is unhealthy and, at worst, can be deadly if carbon monoxide builds up.
You can avoid this problem with regular inspection and annual maintenance.
How Do You Decide If Furnace Flue Cleaning Is Urgently Needed?
Your furnace will give a few clues that there is a problem with a build-up in the flue pipe, and maintenance is required. Common signs include:
- Rooms are no longer as warm as usual when the furnace is on. This loss of heat can be a gradual or sudden process. If build-up in the flue occurs slowly, the impact on room warmth will likely be slow but sure. While if there is a sudden blockage, the loss of heat will be dramatic.
- The furnace appears to work correctly for a time but will then shut itself off.
- There is a distinct acrid odor when the furnace starts up and runs.
Inspect and Detect
Next, a little detective work is necessary. Look for the obvious first, like a visible blockage at the exhaust vent on the roof. Bird or rodent nests, autumn leaves, and debris from storms can all find their way to vents and easily clog them. Heavy snowfalls can also result in vent blockage.
Then inspect the actual flue duct or pipe. Look for signs of rust, soot, unknown substances, and water stains at the base or along the pipe. These are indicators of a definite problem in the flue.
How Do You Keep Your Fireplace or Furnace Flue Clean?
If the problem is simply an external blockage at a roof vent, you may be able to remove this yourself with a broom or pole. Or you may have to get up there on a ladder and gather it up yourself for disposal. Still, instead of putting yourself at risk on the roof you can get this task done by professionals when you book your annual HVAC maintenance.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends inspection and maintenance before every winter to prevent carbon monoxide leaks. CPSC also recommends that qualified tradespeople conduct the following checks:
- Inspect chimneys, flues, and vents for leaks and blockages.
- Inspect all vents to furnaces and other fuel-burning domestic equipment to make sure fixings are tight and properly connected.
Aside from preventing harmful gas leaks, there’s another reason to keep your furnace flue clean — reducing damage to it. Furnaces that run on oil and gas produce acidic by-products that corrode the flue lining, and flue and chimney caps can also be damaged. Maintenance of the flue requires using rods and brushes to sweep out any build-up of soot and creosote, and other substances.
Expert HVAC Maintenance in North Virginia
You need professionals to carry out furnace flue cleaning and HVAC upkeep.
At Six Penny Chimney, we have all the specialized equipment needed to perform thorough furnace flue cleaning and chimney sweeping. We will carefully inspect your equipment and tighten any loose fixings. Any blockages will be removed from your roof vent, and we also remove, inspect, clean, and reattach the flue caps.
Worried about us making a mess? We will keep your house spotless by using dust cloths and powerful vacuums. We know you will be as impressed with our service as are he great majority of our customers. We look forward to your request for service.