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Old 10-03-2010, 09:40 PM
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Default 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?
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Old 10-04-2010, 12:13 AM
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Default 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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Old 10-04-2010, 04:49 AM
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Thumbs up 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
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Old 10-04-2010, 06:16 AM
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Default 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 at 07:40 AM.
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Old 10-04-2010, 06:54 AM
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Default Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

It sounds like mold to me, too.
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Old 10-04-2010, 11:23 AM
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Default 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.
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Old 10-04-2010, 11:44 AM
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Default 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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Old 10-04-2010, 12:56 PM
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Default 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
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Old 10-04-2010, 02:30 PM
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Default 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?
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Old 10-04-2010, 07:10 PM
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Default 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!
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