As winter approaches thoughts turn to staying warm on long cold days – sipping cups of hot chocolate in front of roaring fires. Such sweet daydreams are often chased away by more practical thoughts like: Did we buy enough wood to see us through? Where’d we put the fire irons when we tidied up this spring? When did we last get the chimney cleaned?
It is generally recommended (and not just by chimney sweeps) that a well-used chimney should be inspected, if not cleaned, once a year. It’s also recommended that a heating boiler or furnace is inspected and tuned up once a year.
What’s the connection?
Well, your oil boiler or furnace needs a vent to the outside world and 99 times out of 100 that vent will be a chimney flue. When a technician does your annual boiler/furnace tune up he’ll set the burner to the correct temperature for your specific chimney flue. If your flue is narrow the burner temperature will be lower than for a larger flue. Oftentimes ‘narrow’ means ‘not recently cleaned.’ And therein lies the connection.
Imagine your technician comes to service your boiler in the fall. He gets it all running well, sets the burner temperature according to your chimney draft and wishes you a happy warm winter. The next week, the chimney sweep shows up and does an equally beautiful job cleaning out the chimney. It’s been awhile and there’s a fair amount of soot built up but he gets it all cleared out and leaves you with a flue that’s clean as a whistle.
It’s also considerably larger than it was when the heating technician worked on the boiler/furnace and did the set-up.
Now, when your heat is running, the burner temperature is set too low for the clean flue and the boiler won’t draft as well. Initially this will mean that you’ll burn more fuel to achieve a nice warm house, but ultimately the poor draft will lead to a build up of soot in the lower part of the flue, which eventually will fall back into the boiler clogging up the burner.
Moral of the story?
Have the chimney sweep come before the heating technician, not after. And, if that’s not possible because of scheduling issues, call us to let us know the sweep came, and we’ll send a technician over to adjust the burner.
As always, if you have questions about the home energy solutions offered by Lamprey Energy, please reach out to us directly at 603-964-6703.