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Your Place: Condensing Furnace Exhaust Vapors Can Freeze Near Chimney

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By Al Heavens

Homespun frozen chimney(MCT)—A reminder: Asking a question here should not be a substitute for hiring a professional to handle a problem. The most important function of this column is as a forum for ideas. Some problems look alike but often are not exactly the same, so one person’s solution may not be universal.

Q: I write in regard to a problem that occurs when the weather is extremely cold. Ice has formed, actually in an upward-type icicle, on the top of my chimney.

My house is around 60 years old and, driving through the neighborhood, I notice there are others like mine. I’m thinking there is moisture coming out the chimney, and thus forming these icicles.

A: This happens when water vapor in the furnace’s exhaust is condensing and freezing on top of the chimney because of extremely cold weather. If the outdoor temperature were above freezing, the exhaust would simply continue to rise.

Is it a problem? You should have a chimney professional check to see if there has been any damage.

“Your Place” resident expert Harris Gross, of Engineers for Home Inspections in Cherry Hill, says he is seeing a lot of beat-up surfaces from the brutal winter: peeled and damaged paint and stain on home exteriors and decks, rotten wood on exteriors and decks, cracked bricks and mortar joints in walkways, scalloped concrete in walkways, patios and driveways … the list goes on.

“It might be a good idea if people walked their property and home’s exterior and took a look at things,” he says.

Q: Our beautiful wood floors are starting to extrude chips and slivers from between the boards. Not sure if they are wood or some other kind of filler, or what to do about it.

 A: You don’t say what kind of wood or how new or old the floors are. If they’ve been redone recently, the refinisher might not have done a good job cleaning up.

If they are old, well, things do fall apart as they age. It may be time to have them redone.

Pine floors tend to produce such splinters and chips after a few years, for example.

 ©2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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