Now that we have finally had our first appreciable snowfall in the Rochester MN area we have to be on the lookout for Ice Dams. Ice dams are the result of snow melting on the roof due to poor insulation.
There are many reasons to keep your homes fireplace and chimney clean and in tip top operating condition. A dirty chimney will reduce the effectiveness of a fireplace as a heat source. Severe neglect and lack of maintenance may result in a chimney fire. Chimney fires can lead to home fires.
Home fires are dangerous and devastating. Each year fires cost nearly 347 billion in the United States. Costs can include medical treatment, property loss and damage, fire department costs, and lawsuits, just to name a few.
On a recent home inspection near Rochester MN, I came across what appeared to be a blocked chimney flue. Both the furnace and water heater were functioning properly with nice blue flames. I was however getting back draft Carbon Monoxide exhaust from both appliances.
To insure proper ventilation of bathrooms and kitchens it is important that all vents exit the roof through proper roof vents. Venting to the attic adds moisture to the attic area which can result in icing and excess moisture in that attic area.
The recent heavy snowfall and drifting brings one more thing that Rochester and Southeastern MN homeowners need to keep an eye on. Home owners with High Efficiency, direct vent furnaces and water heaters need to check to see that the venting has not been drifted over with snow or blocked.
The only can of green beans we have in the house… And they are way past the expiration date. I guess we'll have to run to the store. This home inspector thinks it would have been better for the home owner to have the furnace professionaly repaired by a qualified repairman.
As a home inspector, I take the time to discuss the furnace filter with the new home owner during the walkthrough at their home inspection. It is crucial that you change your furnace filter regularly to help keep the air clean in your home.
It’s getting cold and you are starting to close up the house for the season. Contaminants that are in your furnace, home, and duct work will circulate through out your home all winter long. Your HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning) system can collect molds, fungi, dust, bacteria’s, pollens, and other allergens, that can cause irritation to some or all who live in your home. Believe it or not, the air in your home can be 2-5 times more polluted that the outdoor air according to the EPA.
After years and years of exposure to the elements, the mortar and wash cap around your tile chimney top can start to crack and deteriorate. These types of defects should be noted by your home inspector at the time of your home inspection.
Cracks in your chimney cap should be caulked or sealed in order to prevent damage form freeze/that cycles during the harsh Rochester MN weather. When water is trapped in the masonry or mortar joints, freezing literally starts to break the chimney apart.
Small cracks can be sealed with masonry caulk, or silicone. The best choice would be a urethane or one part epoxy product.
After inspecting your chimney mortar and cap for cracks and deterioration, clean the cracks with a brush or air spray. Fill the cracks with caulk and/or sealant. Caulk should only be used if the cracks are relatively small. You should inspect your chimney cap at least once a year. If it is too high or dangerous for you to attempt yourself, contact a local Rochester MN chimney contractor to perform an inspection and repairs.
Larger cracks or major chimney repairs should be handled by professional masons or certified chimney sweeps. If the chimney cap is in real bad shape, the long term solution would be to have the cap replaced with poured concrete. The concrete mix used should be formulated to withstand the weather extremes and moisture. Caps should have adequate expansion joints between the concrete and the clay chimney flue tile. This expansion joint should be sealed after the chimney cap is cured. Pre cast chimney caps may also be available in various sizes from you local chimney contractor.
Replacing your furnaces air filter at regular intervals is the first step in keeping your furnace running properly. The furnace filter's main purpose is to keep soot, dust, pollens and other particle contaminants out of the air in your home. Clogged and dirty air filters result in your furnace blower having to work harder. This makes your furnace more costly to operate and will shorten its lifespan.
There's not a furnace out there that can, or will continue to operate efficiently without periodic maintenance. It's important to keep your home's heating system clean, lubricated, and properly adjusted. Replacing the filter regularly will extended life of your heating system and will help the furnace to heat efficiently. In addition, you will save energy and expense.
What is Carbon Monoxide and why do I need a Carbon Monoxide Detector? Yes, Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and potentially dangerous gas produced when fuel burns without enough air for complete combustion. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, coughing, irregular breathing, paleness and cherry red lips and ears. If symptoms are noticed, it is advised that you immediately open windows and doors to ventilate the home or structure, call 911 and get outside into fresh air. Later, have appliances checked carefully by a qualified heating contractor.
When doing a home inspecion I look for, and note whether there are Carbon Monoxide and smoke detectors in all applicable locations. Make sure you install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home and within 10 feet of sleeping areas, in rooms over or near a garage, in the basement or other isolated area, and in rooms where space heaters are used. Detectors that have been verified by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and have been manufactured after October 1995 conform to minimum alarm requirements. Those marked UL 2034 or IAS 6-96 have met the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines. Follow the directions for installing and using the detector carefully.
To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning: Your chimney and flue should be checked and cleaned every year. Have a qualified inspector check appliances and heating systems each year. Make sure all home appliances have adequate ventilation. Carbon Monoxide detectors should not be relied upon as a substitute maintaining appliances, furnaces or chimneys. The flames in appliances and heating systems burners should be blue, not orange. Never use a gas range as a space heater. Never run an automobile or gasoline engine in an enclosed space. Charcoal grills should never be used indoors indoors.
What is carbon monoxide? Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. It is often called the "silent killer" because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes.
The winter heating season is upon us here in RochesterMN area. When doing a home inspection and analyzing the heating system, I try to determine is a home's forced air heating system's age. If it is an older unit I suggest you have a professional heating contractor service it every year.
How often should you change the filter on the furnace? Whenever it's dirty. And although it sounds a little silly, some of better filters get dirty more quickly and need to be changed more often.