Monday, October 29, 2018

Consumer Alert: Beware of Unlisted Wood-burning Stoves

By Marge Padgitt

►CONSUMER ALERT:

There is a big difference in quality and longevity when it comes to wood-burning stoves. Some metal wood-burning stoves and all barrel stove kits being sold by home improvement stores are NOT U.L. Listed or EPA approved, and therefore, cannot be installed in most cities according to the International Residential Code and city codes. 

Wood Stove Kit from U.S. Stove - this is an unlisted product

Wood stove barrel kits allow the consumer to modify a 50-gallon barrel to be used as a wood-burning stove. The barrels were not designed for this purpose, nor have they been tested for this use. It is unknown how long the so called "stove" would hold up. It is definitely not a product with a secondary burn chamber, so would be very dirty burning, spewing black smoke during use. The EPA does not allow such wood stoves to be used. 

So why are these kits sold? Good question, and I don't have the answer to that other than apparently, anyone can sell anything in the U.S. 

When purchasing a wood stove look for a label on the product that says "U.L." or Underwriters Laboratories, which indicates that the appliance has been tested do U.L. standards. If no label exists, it is not legal to install in most cities. 

Check with your local building codes official before purchasing a wood-burning heating appliance to see what their jurisdiction requires. Most major cities require that a licensed contractor do the installation of the stove and chimney or flue liner. The license they are looking for is called an HVAC or Master Mechanical License. Some cities require that a Certified Chimney Sweep by the Chimney Safety Institute of America or an NFI Certified Woodburning Specialist by the National Fireplace Institute do the installation. 

However, it is good advice to not waste your money on these potentially dangerous products. Find a local professional chimney sweep or hearth retailer who carries good quality wood-burning stoves with a warranty. 
_______________________________

Marge Padgitt is the CEO of HearthMasters, Inc. in Independence, Missouri. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Chimneys should be inspected after a lighting strike

All chimneys should be inspected after a lighting strike. Damage can occur not only to the exterior chimney, but the interior as well. 

A lightning strike caused major
damage to this chimney exterior
and interior
Pieces of bricks on the ground and roof, or blown out sections of a chimney are signs that a recent event occurred and the chimney may have been hit by lightning.

In some cases the damage is so severe that the chimney must be torn down and rebuilt. In other cases where there are only a few damaged bricks or stones these can be removed and replaced with new bricks.

When lightning strikes a chimney the evidence is usually obvious. There is always an entrance and exit point. The entrance point, usually found near the top of the structure, will likely be a large hole with burn marks, and may include large cracks through the masonry or blown out sections of stones or bricks. The exit point is usually found somewhere within the chimney structure in the flue, smoke chamber, firebox, or even the outer hearth inside the house. 

Damage not so visible from the ground -
lightning hit the top of the chimney and
pushed a brick out on the back side
A professional chimney inspector should examine any chimney that has been damaged by lighting. The chimney sweep should perform a Level II internal chimney inspection with a chimney camera system in order to see if any interior damages have occurred which make the fireplace, furnace, or water heater flue unusable. Only persons trained specifically on chimneys can identify chimney damages properly and provide the needed documentation for an insurance claim.  Lighting and chimney fire damage to chimneys is covered by homeowner's insurance.

______________________________
Marge Padgitt is the president and CEO of HearthMasters, Inc. dba Padgitt Chimney & Fireplace. She is a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep and NFI Certified Wood- burning Specialist. Contact Marge at hearthmastersboss@gmail.com.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Chimney Sweeps/Technicians Convene at Lake of the Ozarks June 13-16, 2018


Press Release

Chimney Sweeps/Technicians Convene at Lake of the Ozarks June 13-16, 2018
The Midwest Chimney Safety Council presents Sweeping the Lake conference at the Red Oak Resort and a nearby workshop location June 13-16, 2018.  This is the 38th annual conference presented by the organization.



Camdenton, Missouri May 26, 2018

Chimney technicians will learn masonry skills and will practice building masonry chimneys on June 14-15 at a nearby home of one of the members of the MCSC. Eight stations will be set up so everyone attending will get a chance to build. These skills are necessary in order to repair chimneys.
A masonry heater core demonstration will be presented at the same time. Masonry heaters are site-build masonry appliances that heat homes with wood.

Business courses will be presented on June 13 and 16 at the Red Oak Resort meeting hall. Industry vendors will display their products on June 13.  A special day for ladies only will be held on June 15 at the hall where classes geared for office staff and self-defenses for women will be presented.  An auction and barbecue will be held on the evening of Friday the 15th.  A Most Creative Top Hat Contest will be held on Friday night.

Presenters include Gary Hart, expert mason; Gene Padgitt, expert mason; Tom Grandy, national business expert; Victor Imgarten, chimney expert; Tom Urban, inventor of the Chim-Scan chimney camera system; Aaron Libertini, martial arts

For more information about the conference and presenters visit the Midwest Chimney Safety Council website at www.mcsc-net.org

Contact Margie Padgitt, President of the MCSC at 816-461-3665 or e-mail margepadgittmcsc@gmail.com.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Clogged gas flue can cause illness or death


On May 17, 2016 Blue Springs, Missouri homeowners Richard and Mary Buckley were told by their heating and cooling contractor that they needed to call a professional chimney sweep to inspect their chimney. High carbon monoxide readings indicated that something was wrong with the venting system.

When a chimney sweep arrived he found an unlined chimney in a 100 year old home that was completely blocked with four feet of mortar, debris, leaves and twigs. The gas boiler and gas water heater could not vent toxic carbon monoxide gasses out of the flue, and it had been that way for years. The chimney sweep speculates that the only reason the homeowners were still alive is because the house is old and drafty, and that outside air diluted the toxic gasses coming into the home.

Unfortunately, the homeowners did have some symptoms of CO poisoning, which consisted of flu-like symptoms while they were inside the home, but ceased when they left the premises. This is common when a house is toxic.

According to the Midwest Chimney Safety Council, gas flues are often ignored and neglected, and are commonly in much worse condition than fireplace flues. People tend to think about removing flammable creosote from a wood stove or fireplace flue, but don’t often realize that the condition of a gas flue is critical. While gas does not produce creosote, it does produce Carbon Monoxide, which must be contained within the flue walls until it exits the chimney at the top.

If the chimney is damaged or does not have a flue liner, CO can leak into the interior structure. Blockages cause CO backup, and incorrect sizing of the flue liner or connecting pipes can also be a CO hazard. Most heating and cooling contractors do not service, maintain, or repair gas flues or chimneys, and refer chimney work to professional chimney sweeps.

The Midwest Chimney Safety Council urges homeowners to have their utility flue checked annually at the same time the fireplace is serviced by a professional chimney sweep. The MCSC recommends that homeowners use a sweep who is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. To find a list of professional chimney sweeps in the Midwest visit www.mcsc-net.org



Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What you Should Know about Chimney Fires


The following information is from studies conducted and researched by the Fires, Causes, Effects and Evaluation by the CSIA. A copy of the book may be obtained by calling the CSIA at 317-837-5362. 

These questions often come up when evaluating chimney damages: What is 
chimney fire damage?  And what other possible causes might there be for damages to a flue liner, chimney, smoke chamber, and chimney cover?  The MCSC has put together these guidelines in order to help insurance adjusters, engineers, and chimney inspectors determine the causes for chimney damages. This is very brief outline, and we suggest that a copy of the book named above be obtained if further explanation is needed.

​- Most chimney fires occur without the homeowner’s knowledge—in fact, only very few fires are witnessed or reported to the fire department.

​- When a sudden temperature differential of 500 degrees occurs in a chimney, the clay tile flue liners will crack due to expansion. This differential cannot be obtained by the normal operation of a fireplace or wood stove, and has not been able to be duplicated in field study.  Studies show that a chimney fire is the most likely candidate for the cause of tile liners to break. 

Longitudinal break in tile flue liner Photo: HearthMasters, Inc.
- Tile liners will break longitudinally first, due to the nature of their construction, then horizontal and diagonal cracks will occur in more severe fires. - A NON-creosote chimney fire can occur when flue gasses accumulate in the flue and will ignite when      temperatures reach 1000 degrees. Note: Creosote ignites at 1000 degrees. - Burnt, ash creosote may found in the flue and smoke chamber after a chimney fire.  This is lightweight, expanded creosote that can only be created by a chimney fire.  - Isolated scorched areas of the flue may be present (although not always) and are positive indications of a chimney fire, since accumulating creosote does not avoid particular areas. - Tar glaze may have melted away from the fire. Some creosote may melt and flow away from the combustion zone and may be found in the smoke chamber or damper area, or around the thimble entrance of a stove pipe, or around a chimney cover. - Fires of long duration may cause thermal expansion of the masonry such as the
Longitudinal break in 2' section of  clay tile flue liner after a chimney fire. Note that the break goes all the way  through to the back side. 
cement crown, facial wall, and exterior chimney, which will result in clean breaks in the masonry. - Holes and mortar bond breaks may be found in the smoke chamber area and flue after a chimney fire due to expansion. - The chimney cover may be warped, discolored, or damaged.  Myths regarding tile flue liner damages - Thermal fatigue (p 4-11) (years of expansion and contraction) cracking: no evidence is found to support this idea. - Lightning: (p 4-9) lightning can damage flue liners, but there is usually other damage to the chimney such as blown out bricks at the top of the stack. - Moisture– (page 4-12) Rain entering the chimney from the top of the flue and from condensing flue gasses: Washed-out mortar joints and spalling (flaking) flue liners are caused by moisture. No evidence has been found to support the suggestion that cracked tiles are the result of moisture damages, however, if the chimney was not constructed properly with air space between the flue and surrounding masonry, and water leaked into the chimney between the flue and masonry and froze, it is not inconceivable that the expansion might cause a liner to crack horizontally. - Settlement: (4.3.3) “Settlement is an overly-used diagnosis of distress in masonry structures of all types.” However, it does occur.  Look for inadequate foundation or footing and uneven settling.  Also look for shifted or offset flue tiles, which shows movement.