Gas Appliance Safety: The Importance Of A Properly Designed Flue
When you think of a chimney, most people associate it with a wood-burning fireplace in their living or family room, with a flue heading up and out of the roof of their home. But do you know how it works? Did you know flues are attached to every gas appliance in your home, and if they aren’t properly designed can cause problems?
With a traditional wood-burning fireplace, it’s important to provide regular maintenance to ensure it’s working properly. The nostalgia of the chimney sweep comes to mind, as they ensure the soot is properly removed to keep the home safe.
While gas appliances don’t release visible traces of soot after burning fuel, they do release corrosive materials that can slowly build up in the flue. Don’t think our modern day energy efficient appliances combat the problem; they actually add to it. Because we care about efficiency, we want the heat to remain in our home, where we can benefit from it. But it takes a certain amount of energy to send these gases up and out of the flue. By making it more efficient, it can make the flue temperatures drop too low, causing its own set of problems.
One of the biggest is incomplete combustion. The flue is responsible for generating enough air for the appliance to work, as well as letting the combustion byproducts escape up and outside of the home. If the flue doesn’t heat to the proper temperature, it can’t create an adequate draft. This can lead to the appliance releasing carbon monoxide into the air.
The second biggest problem comes from water vapor. The original chimneys would produce high amounts of heat; high enough to prevent moisture from condensing in the chimney and harming the house. But without sufficient high heat, water vapor can produce a gallon or more of water every single hour for some appliances. And that condensation can quickly cause problems in the flue. Because it’s acidic and corrosive, it can contaminate the air supply. As moisture attaches to the walls of the flue, it helps attract sulfur deposits too. And all that causes air pollution as well as begins to break down the internal structure of the flue design.
The first step in solving this is to have your venting system evaluated to make sure your entire system is operating at peak performance. If a problem is found, it should quickly be corrected to prevent further erosion. A few dollars spent now correcting the problem can eliminate costly problems down the road.
When was the last time your gas appliances were evaluated?