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... and down the chimney he came with a bound.

As we were preparing for the jolly old man in the big red suit to come down our chimney, it got me thinking about how poor Santa must see some pretty rough chimneys in our neighborhood. So I had a few thoughts to share with St. Nick. Here is the letter that I sent Mr. Kringle last week:

Dear Santa,

We are so excited that you will be back in Prairie Village this year! My boys, for one, cannot wait.

I know that you have a lot of homes to visit all in one night, so I thought I would offer you some suggestions on how to make the best use of your time. You see, most of the chimneys in our fair city are in rough shape. Being a chimney professional, I am sure that you have seen it all throughout the years. Most of our chimneys are old clay tile flues, and after sixty-plus years, they are looking pretty rough.

I would hate for you to rip that awesome suit of yours, so I thought perhaps you should just walk the neighborhood and perhaps try out some doors for a change. Although our city doesn’t have the best chimneys, it does offer great walkability and convenience. Unlike many of the newer “clover-leaf style” neighborhoods, most of our streets run north to south and east to west so you should be able to find your way around pretty easily.

Santa, my guess is that you are a traditionalist, so I hope that I am not “stepping on your toes.” Please know that you are still more than welcome to park your sleigh on our roof tops if you would like. And for any inconvenience our chimneys may have caused, we will leave out an extra cookie or two.

Here’s to another successful delivery year!

Your friend and supporter,

Chad Taylor

If you can identify with this letter, here are a few chimney tips to consider:

If your chimney flue is the original masonry tile flue, it is most likely in need of some type of repair. At a minimum you should consider having a level-two chimney inspection each and every year before the winter months arrive. A level-two chimney inspection involves running a camera up the entire length of your chimney flue to check for cracked tiles, soot and creosote build-up, and or gaps in between the tiles. Each of the aforementioned can result in a chimney flue so regularly scheduled inspections are a big deal.

It is untrue that if you use gas logs you do not have to worry about the condition of your flue. There are generally two types of gas logs: vented and ventless. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, vented gas logs generally put out a yellow or orange flame, similar to a real wood fire. Like a real fire, the CSIA says that vented gas logs generate soot and carbon which is deposited in your chimney. These deposits can cause further damage to your chimney and can result in a flue fire. Ventless gas logs, which emit a blue flame, are in most cases installed with the chimney damper closed so gases are not sent up the flue. It is still recommended that you have your ventless gas logs evaluated periodically to ensure proper operation.

In many cases, a homeowner may be unaware of a chimney flue fire. We have had clients of our own discover that a flue fire has happened during their time in a home and they had no idea. Here is why this is so dangerous. Consider these words from the CSIA concerning flue fires in a masonry chimney flue. When a chimney fire occur in masonry chimney – whether the flue is an older, unlined type or tile lined to meet current safety codes – the high temperatures at which they burn (around 2000°F) can “melt mortar, crack tiles, cause liners to collapse and damage the outer masonry material.” Most often, thermal shock occurs and tiles crack and mortar is displaced, which provides a pathway for flames to reach the combustible wood frame of the house. This event is extremely dangerous, so call 911 immediately.

Here’s wishing you and your family and happy and safe holiday season!

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