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Neighbor is complaining about soot damage - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

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  • Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

    My neighbor is convinced my chimney is ruining her house. I'm not convinced I'm the cause, but aside from that, she has painted press-board siding and says that pin-head sized black marks appear on the paint, burn through, make a hole in the paint, and then start spreading and rotting the siding. She showed me some of these tiny black spots and I suppose they might be pin-head flakes of ash, I have no idea frankly. They seemed to be on all sides of her house regardless of the fact that the wind which blows smoke from my chimney (admittedly directly onto her house) couldn't possibly be blowing anything around to some of the back sides of the house and garage that she is using to make her point.

    Obviously, the spark-arrestor has nothing to contribute since she is complaining about pin-head size particles. The mesh in the spark-arrestor is at least 1/4" across.

    So, the painter or whatever professional she asked for advice thinks she needs to spend thousands of dollars repainting her house, and of course, any future use by the oven will continue to destroy her house (so she believes).

    So, I have no idea what to do. I was curious what technical analysis FB members might offer? Are you familiar with these pin-head size black particles escaping the chimney and landing on surfaces nearby? Is this something chimneys simply do? They are admittedly larger than "smoke", but I'm just wondering if this is typical, if there is anything I can do, or if I just have to abandon my oven to prevent her from suing me or asking that I pay to repaint her house every year.

    I'm at a loss for what to do.

    Thoughts?

    Website: http://keithwiley.com
    WFO Webpage: http://keithwiley.com/brickPizzaOven.shtml
    Thread: http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f21/...ttle-7878.html

  • #2
    Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

    Keith,
    I would go purchase one length of siding (they come in 16' lengths) and construct a four-sided box with it. Each vertical side would be 24"wx16"h and the supporting frame could be made out of scrap 2x4's. Obviously you'll have to paint it. Place your new siding box between your most excellent oven and your neighbor's house and fire it up. I think you would know the verdict pretty quickly and in the event your oven exhaust is not the culprit any video you might happen to take would be most supportive of your case.

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    • #3
      Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

      Another line of thought is to place a Y piece at the top of your chimney with a baffle on one outlet. You then hook up a temporary fan to the other outlet and direct the smoke through a water trap which would settle out all carbon, smoke and ash that would be exiting your chimney, when the smoke ceases, then a baffle could be turned to direct the hot air out of the top of your flue. A bit of mucking about but foolproof!
      You are always going to have trouble with your neighbor now without something drastic like this and really, with a bit of planning, how hard would it be?

      Cheers

      Neill
      Prevention is better than cure, - do it right the first time!

      The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know


      Neill’s Pompeiii #1
      http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/n...-1-a-2005.html
      Neill’s kitchen underway
      http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f35/...rway-4591.html

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      • #4
        Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

        The claim that smoke from your chimney is damaging all sides of her house seems far-fetched. Does smoke from your chimney envelope her entire house in a cloud of smoke?

        Furthermore, that smoke particles could eat through the paint doesn't sound right either.

        I'll bet her problem is mold.

        http://www.moldinspector.com/painting-over-mold.htm

        "Painting Over Mold Problems
        Painting over mold problems does not fix the underlying mold contamination problem. Mold loves to eat paint, including even paint which contains mildicides [which only temporarily slow down the underlying mold growth]. The Kilz product does not kill mold or anything else. Kilz exists to hide problems [like water damage stains] prior to painting."
        Last edited by Grimaldi; 10-04-2010, 07:40 AM.

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        • #5
          Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

          It sounds like mold to me, too.

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          • #6
            Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

            Yeah, I dunno. She showed me some tiny black things (that aren't flat spots). They look like caterpillar droppings or something. They are jet black and she's convinced they appear after I fire my oven (on all crazy sides of her house). So it's not just flat spots, it may therefore not be mold. Plus, she has admittedly lived there a long time and says this is new, coincidental with the oven...but there's the fact that it shows up on wall that my smoke doesn't blow anywhere near. Sheesh.

            Anyway, I'll take your points under advisement. I'm definitely unclear on how the water trap works. I assume you are describing something similar to a water-pipe or hookah, but I don't really understand how those work either.

            Thanks.

            Website: http://keithwiley.com
            WFO Webpage: http://keithwiley.com/brickPizzaOven.shtml
            Thread: http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f21/...ttle-7878.html

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

              Assuming that it is soot, it is composed of pure carbon, and is not on fire or even hot after it leaves the stack, so while she may be getting spots here and there, they won't do any damage at all, other than making it dirty. But I doubt that is what it is.

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              • #8
                Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

                Keith,

                I just finished installing brand new siding to 100% of my parent's house in southern california and was intrigued by your dilemna. I did a google search and found something called artillery fungus. It sounds exactly like what your neighbor has.

                Black Spots on Vinyl Siding | DoItYourself.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

                  Far fetched is right. What if you had a wood burning fireplace installed? Thousands of homes have those. Could she prevent you from using it? If you are within code regulations, I can't see that she can do anything beyond complain. Now, if you want to keep her happy, helping her find out the real problem is .... well, helpful.
                  I'm also in agreement that by the time 'soot' gets to her house, it wouldn't be hot enough to burn through anything, not to mention it would most prominent on the side facing your house, with lesser amounts as you go around it. Maybe post some pictures of her siding?
                  My oven (for now):
                  http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f43/...ven-14269.html

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

                    It's mold - probably the artillery fungus Gianni mentioned. Forget the elaborate set ups - just look at your oven, its chimney and your own house. If it's soot it will be all over those things - and anything closer to the oven than her house. Soot particles large enough to do that kind of travel and be visible will also be large enough to settle out closer to home - in fact you should see a lot of it (unless your chimney is higher than the phone pole - in which case check with the neighbors on the next street! ). Soot smears pretty well but it's not fuzzy - mold often is.

                    As for proving it, try a light bleach solution in a spray bottle and just spray the icky stuff. If it disappears instantly (and I do mean instantly) it is unquestionably mold. Not all molds act the same so a failure to respond isn't definitive but it would certainly be suggestive that mold wasn't the culprit.

                    Mold - it's what's not for breakfast!
                    Last edited by Archena; 10-04-2010, 07:13 PM.
                    "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

                    "Success isn't permanent and failure isn't fatal." -Mike Ditka
                    [/CENTER]

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                    • #11
                      Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

                      Keith,
                      My preconceived notion about WA (Seattle) is that it rains alot (not sure what months), much like it does here in FL. May thru Sept here means daily rains, high temps, dreadful humidity. Along with that comes TONS of mold and mildew. I literally have to clean/pressure wash every square inch of hard surface outside of my home at least 3 times a year. I'm sure you are familiar. I have to believe you are dealing with mold, just can't believe it is soot or any kind of ash fallout.
                      I do considerable smoking with my oven, not to mention that I am still burning through a huge batch of free poplar that creates huge clouds of acrid black smoke (even when the oven has gone 'plasma').......never have I found soot or ash on my home (15' away) or on my neighbors (30' away).
                      I feel for you, neighbors like that are exactly why I am not very sociable within my neighborhood. I think you are damned either way - this lady has decided to be a pain in the ass and will find find something to pin on you, even if you demolish your oven.

                      As long as you are not breaking any laws, I say put the burden of proof on her.....keep firing that baby up.

                      RT

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

                        I think Gianni is spot on with the artliiery fungus. A quick google search brings up a wealth of info as well as pictures. This stuff is exactly what you have described. Your neighbor won't be happy, but you will be off the hook.
                        Don't be surprised if your crackling fires are too noisy (sleep deprivation) or the food smells too good (causing her to excessively snack/eat, jepordizing her health).
                        Good luck buddy.

                        RT

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

                          I want a 'like' button for RT's last post.
                          My oven (for now):
                          http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f43/...ven-14269.html

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

                            Take a sample of it off her house and have it analyzed. It may cost you a few dollars, but I don't imagine it will be anywhere near the cost of repainting her house if it is just a common mold. Make sure she knows what you are doing and that she observes the samples that you take so that when the lab report comes back, she has no argument. If it is mold, tell her politely to shut up and go inside so that you can enjoy your WFO.

                            BTW....I can't imagine fungus and mold being a foreign concept in Seattle.
                            Last edited by Neal; 10-15-2010, 11:59 AM. Reason: add comment

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                            • #15
                              Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

                              I have an odd question. It sounds like she want's something for free like a house painting or she just want to make trouble. So here is my odd question.
                              Where you live do they have any regulations or restrictions about wood fired outdoor furnaces for home heating. Some places don't allow them due to the low chimney output unlike a house chimney 20' up. So I don't know how that translates to a WFO but if she is looking to make trouble can she go that rout to shut your oven down?

                              I don' know the elevations involved but if you went higher with your chimney would that help the smoke to pass her house?

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