Concerns When Attaching a New Gas Appliance to an Older Chimney
Gas has become a widely popular fuel for supplemental heating appliances like fireplaces and stoves. It’s convenient, economical and clean-burning. It’s so popular, in fact, that many homeowners are adding gas fireplace inserts to their traditional wood-burning masonry fireplaces. This is a good move, but it can also be risky. Any time a new appliance is connected to an existing chimney, it needs to be done correctly by professionals trained in this type of changeout.
Ye Olde Brit Chimney Sweep of San Bernardino, CA, would like to share a few details you need to know if you’re considering venting a gas appliance through an existing chimney.
Draft and venting issues
An incorrectly sized flue will not vent a new gas appliance efficiently. The flue may not warm up enough to allow the combustion gases to flow up it, which will cause backups in your home.
Of greatest concern is carbon monoxide, which can enter your home and lead to severe health problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that hundreds of people die each year, most often during the winter months, from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. Thousands of emergency room visits occur because of breathing this toxic gas.
Odorless and invisible, carbon monoxide can cause a variety of health issues, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Mental confusion
With prolonged exposure, the symptoms become much worse. When you’re considering adding a gas-fueled appliance to your existing chimney, it’s critical that you have the work done by professionals who are trained in chimney service, venting principles and gas appliance installation.
Although fireplace inserts come “ready to install,” that doesn’t mean that they’re ready for anybody to install them. A major part of training for qualified chimney and fireplace technicians involves venting and drafting processes. Experienced technicians understand the dangers of acid buildup in chimney flues that are the wrong size for the appliance. They understand how hydrochloric acid and other acids can form during fireplace use and lead to serious problems for the people who live in the home. They are also familiar with the results of acid buildups inside flues, which can cause damage to the venting system and the chimney itself.
Gas appliance inspections
It’s important to have a licensed, experienced gas fireplace technician install your new insert or other gas appliance and hook it up correctly to the existing chimney. It’s also important that your appliance be inspected annually. A proper gas fireplace inspection will include the pieces and parts of the fireplace itself, as well as the venting system and the exterior chimney. It’s easy for a homeowner to miss early signs of damage that could progress to the point of a serious health or safety risk.
Between inspections, watch for:
- Signs of damage to the bricks and mortar of the chimney
- White or dark stains on the exterior masonry
- Damp sections of the ceiling or walls near the fireplace
- Wallpaper that’s peeling
- Musty smells in the attic
These are all signs that some level of chimney system damage exists. The damage could be the result of an incorrectly installed gas appliance. It could also be caused by many other factors, such as the age of the chimney, masonry damage from weather events and recurring chimney fires.
Gas appliance installations done correctly
If you’re thinking of converting an older, inefficient fireplace to gas, the experienced gas installation technicians at Ye Olde Brit are here to help. We’ll advise you on the type of new appliance that will best meet your needs, and we’ll make sure the installation is done correctly.
All our work complies with the numerous California codes that govern building and fire safety. Every installation is done according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Speak with a Southern California fireplace expert today by calling (909) 880-2120. You can also use our handy contact form.