A dirty dryer vent can cause a house fire. Keep an eye out for signs that tell you your dryer vent needs to be cleaned.
In the chimney industry, we’ve worked hard through the years to spread the word about the importance of annual chimney inspections and regular chimney sweeping. Those simple maintenance appointments are key to keeping your chimney at the levels of safety and performance you expect, want and need.
But the need to regularly maintain dryer vents, by and large, hasn’t gotten as much attention. And that’s unfortunate, because when it comes to fire hazard concerns, dryer vents are just as important to consider as chimneys. We have a lot of sobering clothes dryer fire statistics up on our website (including the fact that the simple failure to clean gets cited in more than a third of annual U.S. dryer fires), because we think it’s important for our clients to know how important it is to regularly clean dryer vents.
How Do I Know When It’s Time To Clean My Vents?
We recommend an annual dryer vent cleaning appointment, to ensure that you’re removing and limiting lint build-up on a regular basis and maximizing your dryer’s efficiency, too. But if you want a few more practical indicators, we can help — your dryer will do a lot to tell you when it needs some attention.
Call Hudson Chimney To Schedule A Dryer Vent Cleaning If:
You’re Finding Wet Laundry After Running A Normal Load
If your vents are packed up with lint, air and byproducts aren’t exhausting properly, and your dryer is struggling to vent moisture and do its job, so you’re usually left with moist towels even after a load runs for the normal amount of time. Worse than spending extra time and money to dry your laundry, though: Heat can build up in those constricted vents, leading to a fire hazard.
You See Lint Build-up On The Dryer Termination
You know the termination that vents all that hot dryer air outside? If you see a lot of lint around the opening or inside, that’s an indication that you have lint built up throughout your vents. It’s time to clean.
Your Dryer and Laundry Room Feel Extra Warm
When your dryer is working too hard because lint build-up is stopping it from venting properly, heat will build up. And your hot dryer will make the room feel warmer too. That extra heat is a good indication that a vent cleaning is overdue.
Those are just a few indicators, and we’d be glad to tell you more about proper dryer vent maintenance. If you have any questions, or want to schedule a cleaning appointment, give Hudson Chimney a call!
Know how to remove ash the right way.
Once burned, solid fuels like wood, coal, and pellets will leave homeowners with ashes to remove. The amount of ash and frequency of removal will depend on several factors including the type of wood burned (softwoods or hardwoods, anthracite coal or bituminous, etc.), the type of fuel, and the appliance itself. For instance, if you burn coal you’ll have much more ash than you would from burning wood. Ash will also contain different substances depending on the fuel. Coal ash contains things like cobalt and boron that are toxic to humans, animals, and plants.
Precautions must be taken both during and after ash removal, and believe it or not, there may be ways to reuse your ash once you’ve removed it. Perhaps in your garden! Read on for all the basics of ash removal or feel free to call Hudson Chimney with any questions you may have. Also refer to the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s guide called “To Remove or Not to Remove Ash.”
How to Remove Ash
We would venture to say that the majority of homeowners who scoop ash do so into a simple metal pail. This pail then gets set outside. This isn’t a great idea, especially if it’s being set outside onto a wooden porch. Because hot coals can survive buried beneath ash for even a few weeks it is imperative to treat ash very carefully, as a hot pail can char a wooden deck. We’ve also seen coals be blown onto a deck, where they may catch fire.
The answer to these potential problems is to purchase a dedicated ash pail or ash holder, which should have a large handle and a bottom that’s slightly offset from the very bottom so that it doesn’t make contact with the surface on which it’s resting. Most importantly, the pail or holder should come equipped with a lid that closes tightly. There are numerous options for ash pails and holders in many styles so you don’t have to sacrifice style for safety.
And if you have ashes from burning wood, you may want to consider adding the ash to your garden to diminish its acid content. Wood ash has a high content of potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and phosphorus and can help decrease the acid level of your soil if need be. We recommend testing your soil prior to adding wood ash, however, as it may not prove helpful if your soil is very dry to start with.
If you live in northeast Florida and need your fireplace, stove, and/or chimney professionally cleaned, contact Hudson Chimney. We handle everything from simple sweeps to complete restorations.
If you’re interested in ease of cleaning, you may also want to read about our chimney clean-out doors, which allow you to clean your fireplace and chimney flue.
Say Goodbye to Your Chimney Blockages
Is your home’s safety one of your top priorities? Do you want to save yourself from spending thousands of unnecessary dollars on expensive repairs from damages you could have prevented? Well, we’ve got the answers that you’re looking for!
Since it’s the Holiday season, you are busy preparing your house for the coming festivities. This is also most likely the only time of the year when you get to check how your chimney is doing. Most of the problems of homeowners have something to do with chimney blockages. Here at Hudson Chimney the safety and well-being of our clients always come first, we want to give you a few trade secrets on identifying the culprits of these very common chimney blockages.
Has your fireplace started pouring smoke into your living room? You may have a blockage.
You have probably heard this being mentioned in TV commercials and promotional ads. Creosote is basically the Diva and superstar amongst all the common chimney blockers. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a particular by-product of burning wood on your chimneys. It builds up on the sides of your flue system. If left unnoticed, Creosote may accumulate and this can definitely lead to flue (or house) fires. It is highly flammable.
Things such as trash, tree foliage, leaves and other debris both natural and otherwise are also one of the most common causes of blockage. You would be surprised what we find stuck on people’s chimneys during regular inspections. Most homeowners are barely aware of what gets stuck up their chimneys. But without a chimney cap, the wind can deposit lots of debris into your chimney.
Small birds, raccoons, squirrels and animals and bugs are also one of the famous chimney blockers out there. Not only do they cause problems due to that blockage, but most of these animals (those unable to get out) create a nasty and putrid smell that can enter and spread to your homes.
What we can advise everyone to do to save more money and prevent further damage from happening is to get your chimneys inspected and swept often. You can also opt to get a chase cover or a chimney cap. Hudson Chimney is well updated with the technology that would ensure your safety and would help you from spending too much. So don’t wait until your chimney gets clogged, give us a call now and we’ll gladly help you out!
Containing the Fire
When most people think about the common problems that a fireplace-owner faces most of them think about things like masonry cracks in the chimney, problems with the ventilation of smoke, and the need to have it swept out regularly. Unfortunately one thing that most people don’t think about is the deterioration of the firebox. In fact many people don’t even know what a firebox is. For those people let me explain. The firebox is the chamber in the fireplace that actually contains the fire itself. The interior walls and floor are what make up the firebox. As fires are burned the constant heating and cooling puts stress on the firebox and over time the entire thing will need to be replaced. If you find yourself at this point it is time to call a professional to come and perform the necessary work.
The first step in replacing the firebox is to determine the size and type. It is very important that the new firebox be of the same size and type as some fireplaces are designed for there to be a gap in between the box and the actual masonry behind it. Once this has been determined the panels need to be removed. This is best done with a screwdriver or chisel. Once all the panels have been removed your fireplace will be devoid of a firebox and thus unsafe to use until a new firebox is put in.
If you have a firebox that is a decade old or older it may be necessary to find a newer model that fits your fireplace as many from that long ago do not fit current industry standards of safety. A professional chimney sweep will be able to make this determination. Once a new firebox is purchased it will be installed. Many fireboxes will require a masonry cement pattern to be drawn onto the box to look like real masonry. It may take a few fires for it to gain the rustic fireplace look. Once the cement dries the fireplace should be ready to burn again and will probably burn even better than before.
It is important never to put off replacing your firebox. If your chimney sweep says that you need a replacement you may be only a few fires away from causing serious damage to your home. The firebox plays an important role in insulating the masonry from the heat of the fire and structural damage to your house is much more expensive and time consuming than replacing the firebox in your fireplace. So always have your chimney inspected and swept on a regular basis and if you get the dreaded news that it may be time to replace your firebox go ahead and do it. You will be saving yourself a lot of time, trouble, and money in the long run.
A Certified Dryer Vent Technician Can Make All The Difference
When most homeowners purchase a dryer, they expect that they will have it for a good number of years before it needs to be replaced. That is why so many people are surprised to find their dryers not working as well as they should after just a year or two of use. Instead of purchasing a new appliance, consider having a certified dryer vent technician take a look. They may be able to fix the problem and avoid an unnecessary, costly purchase.
Regularly scheduled dryer vent cleanings go a long way toward maximum efficiency from your appliance.
When a dryer has vents that are clogged, it has to work even harder to do the same job. The result is that it needs to use much more energy, which can often cause a spike in the family’s energy bill. In addition, the dryer may simply stop doing what it is supposed to do and clothes will still come out damp after several cycles and a great deal of wasted energy. A good cleaning can often solve these problems.
In addition to solving common dryer problems, a good vent cleaning can extend the life of the machine. Just as with any piece of machinery, regular maintenance is necessary to keep it in good working order. A certified dryer vent technician will be able to clean the vents thoroughly and, at the same time, make recommendations about any other maintenance that may be necessary. This can help avoid other problems before they begin and keep the dryer working for many years.
It may be tempting for homeowners to try to take care of their dryer vents on their own. Most people use the dryer every day and it does not seem like a very complicated piece of machinery. However, there are many different parts to a dryer and it takes training to be able to care for it properly. An untrained person who tries to take care of their dryer vents may end up doing more damage than good.
In addition to causing damage to the dryer, trying to do this type of work can be dangerous to an inexperienced person. It is important to keep in mind that special precautions must be taken every time someone deals with an electrical appliance. Someone without the proper training may make a simple mistake that could cause them to electrocute themselves. Saving the money on a professional technician is simply not worth the risk.
It is important to use not only an experienced dryer vent technician but one who is certified. Most will have their certification through the Chimney Safety Institute of America, which also deals with dryer vents. In addition to certifying technicians, the CSIA offers valuable information for homeowners. In addition to many informational articles, their website offers a tool that allows homeowners to find certified technicians in their area.
When it seems as if a dryer is malfunctioning, the case may simply be that it needs to have simple maintenance performed on the vents. This should be done annually, even if there is not a problem, and only by a certified technician. The Chimney Safety Institute of America helps train qualified dryer vent technicians and can be very helpful in finding a reliable, local technician to get the job done. This simple bit of maintenance can extend the life of the dryer by years and save money in energy costs over time.
What to Do When You Smell Chimney Odors
Having a chimney can be a great addition to a home but the smells they sometimes emit can be extremely unpleasant. There are many different things that may cause chimney odors, from animals living within the chimney to creosote that has built up on the chimney walls. Whatever the cause, there are a few things that every homeowner should do if they notice a strange and unpleasant odor coming from their chimney. Anything that can cause an odor can be identified with an inspection.
As soon as noticeable odors start coming from the chimney, it is important to stop using the chimney immediately. There are some causes of chimney odors, such as creosote, that can actually cause a fire hazard in addition to a smell. Until the cause of the odor has been determined, it is best to avoid the risk of a flame getting out of control by ceasing to use the fireplace at all. In many cases, the problem will have a quick fix and a fire can be enjoyed again soon.
Chimney odors can be caused by several different sources. An inspection can help you identify the problem.
The next step is to do a basic cleaning of the fireplace and the surrounding area. For example, make sure that there is not any excess ash or debris inside of the fireplace. A small amount of ash is fine for purposes of insulation, but too much can be dangerous as well as unpleasant. In addition, debris could be an indicator of what is causing the issue. For example, moisture could cause a smell but it could also cause brick and clay to fall from the chimney.
If a smell starts coming from the chimney, stop and look at what is being burned in the fireplace. Only material that is intended for the fireplace, such as coal or properly seasoned wood, should be used to make a fire. Burning other material may be the source of the smell that comes from the fireplace or chimney. Not only will it smell bad, but this could also cause potential damage to the chimney as well as a dangerous flame.
There are a few simple habits that every homeowner should establish in order to keep their chimney from producing unwanted odors. Perhaps the most important is making sure that the damper is closed when the fireplace is not in use. This prevents normal chimney odors from blowing into the house and through the air of the living space. This is a simple fix that may take care of unwanted odors for good.
If the problem is not immediately apparent or if it requires a thorough cleaning of the chimney, it is important to call a professional chimney sweep. A chimney sweep will have the tools and the know how to take care of the issue quickly, safely, and efficiently. Trying to clean the chimney can be dangerous for an inexperienced person, both because of potential animals or chemicals and because of the necessity to climb on the roof. To avoid the problem in the first place, consider having an annual cleaning by a chimney sweep.
If there is an unpleasant smell coming from the chimney, the safety of the home and everyone in it should be the first priority. Until the cause of the odor can be determined and fixed, stop using the fireplace and chimney immediately. The problem may require a simple solution, such as closing the damper, or it may be more complicated. In this case, contact a professional chimney sweep instead of attempting to make it a DIY project.