Frequently Asked Questions About Chimneys

You Asked The Questions, We Give the Answers
Should I have my chimney checked before I use it?

Some things to consider before using you chimney:

  1. Is water coming into your chimney system?
  2. Do you have a nest in your chimney system?
  3. Do you have cracks or loose mortar in your firebox?
  4. Is your flue on the verge of a chimney fire?
  5. Do you have a chimney liner?
  6. Do you have cracks in your chimney liner?

If you don’t have a liner, do you have separations in your chimney flue where gas emissions or heat transfer can enter into your home?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you should have a local Wood Energy Trained Technician assess your chimney prior to using it. They will review ten or more major points relating to your chimney in order to answer your concerns and to give you the information you require to have a safer and more energy efficient fire in your chimney system.

How often should I have my chimney swept?

The Chimney Safety Association of Canada (CSAC) requires that flues be inspected annually and swept if required.

Note: If your usage exceeds 25 times in one calendar year, it is recommended that you have your chimney checked by a Licensed Wood Energy Trained Technician (WETT) before continuing to use it.

Why is my chimney leaking?
There are a number of possible causes for a chimney leak: flashing, deteriorated cladding or loose mortar, lack of a directional hooded pot, improper ventilation, and condensation to name a few. Before making any assumptions or repair attempts, it is important to have a qualified professional identify the exact cause of the problem. Correct identification ensures that the correct repairs will be done.
Why does my chimney smell?
Water saturation, excess creosote build-up, wildlife scat, and insufficient draft could be causing the unwanted smell in your chimney.
Why does my chimney smoke?

Water saturation through chimney masonry or through the top of the chimney is the leading cause of smoking, and structurally unsound, chimneys.

Other causes of chimney smoking include insufficient height, back drafting from one flue to the other, and unbalanced mechanical venting.

What can I do to keep wildlife out of my chimney?
Installing a wildlife-deterrent chimney cap will permanently keep wildlife out of your chimney.
How do I remove birds' nests, squirrels, raccoons etc. from my chimney?
A Wood Energy Trained Professional carries wildlife removal products and will be able to assist you in the humane removal of unwanted wildlife from your chimney.
How do I light a fire in my fireplace?
  1. Always ensure that your chimney is in good repair before use. Prior to your burning season, make an appointment with a Wood Energy Trained Professional for a chimney inspection.
  2. Once your chimney has been inspected and certified compliant for use, you need to assemble some firewood.
  3. Make certain your damper is fully open. This allows your flue to prime (or heat up) faster, thereby slowing the rate of creosote build-up and reducing the risk of smoke back-drafting into your home.
  4. Depending on the make-up air balance in your home, it may, in addition, be necessary to prime your flue by taking a rolled piece of paper, lighting it inside the fireplace, and holding it near the damper to warm the flue. This will create an updraft before you light your natural, seasoned wood or manufactured firelog.
  5. A common point of departure when lighting a wood fire is to stack seasoned wood on top of kindling and paper on a raised grate. Alternatively, you can use a manufactured firelog. Visit the Duraflame website; you will be surprised to discover how cleanly the Duraflame log burns relative to natural firewood.
  6. Once your fire is burning to your satisfaction, you can adjust your damper to slow the rate of burn, thus increasing your fireplace’s efficiency.
What can you tell me about firewood?

Using quality, seasoned firewood will help your fireplace burn cleaner and more efficiently; green or wet wood can cause smoke problems, odor problems, and rapid creosote buildup, and can lead to dangerous chimney or structural fires.

Some wood energy knowledge

The heat produced by burning firewood is actually the sun’s energy. Through the process of photosynthesis, trees store solar energy as chemical energy that we can then use for heat.

Unlike burning fossil fuels like gas and oil, which many believe destablisers our climate, burning firewood releases no more harmful greenhouse gases than would be produced were the wood to rot on the forest floor. So long as we are responsible in the ways we select, cut, and burn our firewood, burning wood is the correct choice for the environment.

Seasoned wood, the correct choice

All firewood contains water. Freshly cut wood can hold up to 45% water, while well-seasoned firewood generally has a moisture content of 25% or less. Well-seasoned firewood is easier to light, produces more heat, and burns cleaner.

The thing to remember is that for wood to burn efficiently and cleanly, the water must be gone. If you split or buy pre-split wood 6 months to a year in advance, and then store it properly, the sun and wind will season the wood for you.

If you burn green wood, the heat produced by the combustion process will have to dry the wood before it will burn. This drying process uses up a large percentage of the wood’s heat energy, resulting in less heat for your home, and gallons of acidic water in the form of creosote being deposited in your chimney.

Alder, birch, and maple are commonly used for firewood.

Firewood do and don’ts

  • It’s okay to burn a little pine, even construction scraps. Use just a little and use it mainly for kindling.
  • Do not burn large quantities of resinous softwoods as these fires can quickly get out of hand.
  • Do not burn scraps of treated or painted wood, especially treated wood from decks or landscaping ties. They can release dangerous amounts of arsenic and other toxic compounds into your house.
  • If the “seasoned wood” you bought turned out to be green and you elected to burn it anyway, have your chimney inspected by a Wood Energy Trained Professional more often than usual; you may build up creosote very quickly.
  • You don’t have to burn only premium hardwoods. Less dense woods like elm and even soft maple are abundant and make fine firewood, so long as you are willing to make a few extra trips to the woodpile.

What about burning artificial logs?

Manufactured artificial logs primarily offer convenience. Artificial logs should be burned one at a time, and only in an open fireplace. Be sure to read the directions on the package carefully. Duraflame is the world’s largest fire log manufacture.

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