Category: Chimney Care

Tips for Cleaner Fireplace Burning, Safer Homes

csw-pa-featured-image

An annual chimney inspection by a professional is definitely the first step to enjoying your fireplace safely, but there are other things you can do to keep your fireplace safer during fall and winter. If used recklessly, your fireplace can become the number one fire hazard in your home.

Don’t Burn Trash

You might think it’s okay to use your fireplace like a trash can in your living room, but you should never throw any trash into your fireplace. Plastics, wrapping paper, magazines and any paper printed on with colored ink is unsuitable to burn in your fireplace. These things can all give off toxic chemical while burning. To be safe, you should only ever burn logs in your fireplace. Avoid using old magazines to start your fire. Ideally, you should only use things like dry tree bark, corn cobs and pine cones for tinder.

Don’t Use Green Wood in Your Fireplace

Much like plastic and other trash, green wood isn’t appropriate for burning in your fireplace. Green wood gives off more smoke while burning. This causes soot and creosote to build up in your chimney much faster than if you were to use dried logs. If you want to reduce soot and creosote buildup even more, you should aim to use woods like birch, oak or hickory.

Start Your Fires Right

Starting a fire without gasoline, charcoal lighters and other highly flammable substances is more difficult. However, you’ll be willing to put in the extra effort once you realized how much safer it is. Never use highly flammable things to start fires in your fireplace. Not only do many of these things give off vapors that can explode, it’s also much easier to burn down your house in an accident. If you use a can of gasoline by your fireplace to light your fires with, the whole can could catch fire by accident and burn down your entire house. You might think it won’t happen, but accidents can happen more easily than you think. One wrong move with these substances will place you at great risk.

The safe way to start a fire is by using dried organic materials, like tree bark and sticks to light your fire. It takes longer, but you’ll significantly reduce the risk of burning down your house.

Keep the Area Around Your Fireplace Clear

If you’re using your fireplace on a regular basis, you should keep the area around it clear of anything flammable. Don’t keep your stack of wood right next to the fireplace, it should be at least a few feet from where the fire burns. Before you light a fire, you should check that there aren’t any children’s or dog toys, and that anything else that could potentially catch fire isn’t near the fireplace.

Another area you should keep clear of anything if you’re using your fireplace is the mantel. It’s okay to have decorations on the mantel when there isn’t a fire burning. But before you light a fire, you should always clear the mantel entirely. During the fall and winter, when you’re regularly using your fireplace, it’s best to temporarily move all your decorations to somewhere else in the house.

Always Open the Damper or Flue

Your chimney is meant to channel smoke and toxic gas from your fireplace so it will flow outside. To avoid lung problems and carbon monoxide poisoning, it should be open while there’s a burning fire.

Always open the damper before lighting a fire. To check that the damper is open, look up your chimney using a flashlight or mirror. Even once the fire has died, the damper should be kept open while the embers are still glowing. The damper can be closed only once everything has turned to ash and nothing appears to be glowing anymore.

Always Have a Fire Extinguisher on Hand

It doesn’t matter how safe you try to be while using your fireplace, having a fire extinguisher somewhere nearby is still essential if you want to practice good fire safety. Having a fire extinguisher could help you put out a small fire in no time. Remember, even fires that seem small can burn down your house. A big fire can start from a single spark. Always better to be safe than sorry.

Take Preventative Measures

Besides for having your fire extinguisher where you can easily reach it when there’s a fire, you should also make use of other safety measures available. Your fireplace should have a screen in front of it to keep you safe. Also have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed so you can spot potential danger as soon as possible. Remember to regularly change the batteries in your detectors and try to test them at least monthly.

Safety Around the Fire

The last safety measure is up to you. To be safe whiles there’s a fire burning, you have to see to it that you’re careful enough to avoid unnecessary hazards. When you have a fire burning, it’s good to leave a window only slightly open for air to escape. Never leave your fireplace unattended while it’s burning (This means you can’t go to bed, or run a quick errand if nobody will stay behind to take care of the fire.) Also remember to always clean out ashes before you light a new fire.

Fires can be very relaxing, but you should never forget that they can be equally, or even more dangerous than they are comforting. To safely use your fireplace, it’s recommended that you have your chimney inspected regularly by a professional chimney sweep registered with the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

Do you know how often you need to have your chimney cleaned? Check out our Knoxville Office!

Chimney Maintenance Keeps Your Family Safe

If you have a chimney you owe it to your family, and your home to get your chimney cleaned. Why you may ask, well this article from Home Advisor explains how getting your chimney cleaned will save you home.

If you own a fireplace, chimney maintenance is not optional. Deadly fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, and expensive chimney repairs are only some of the more serious consequences associated with neglected chimney maintenance. Whether you need to know what you can expect with chimney cleaning and inspections or whether you need a more detailed explanation of these potential dangers, if you haven’t had your chimney cleaned in the past year, you need to know the following.
Read More Here

Chimney Caps

You might wonder why your chimney has a cap, isn’t cap another word for lid? And how is a lid helping your chimney ventilate? Read this article to answer these and other simple questions.

A chimney cap serves many functions. A decent chimney or stove will have its own protection against some of these things, but they all still leave a gaping hole into your home that allows anything from bats and mice to rain and wind to get through. Rather than having a flue guard too low in your chimney, it of course makes sense to have a cap on top.
Read More Here

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care

Is your chimney ready for Santa this season? Make sure you get your chimney cleaned before Santa gets there and gives you coal for covering him in soot! This article from Home Advisor gives you more reason to get your chimney cleaned than just a lump of coal.

Most homeowners consider their chimney an indestructible part of their home that requires little or no attention. However, the lack of understanding proper chimney maintenance causes a substantial number of preventable deaths and injuries each year.
Read More Here

Down Through the Chimney

cswfeatured-image

It’s that time of the year again! Time to cook your favorite homemade meals and spend some time with friends and family. As always, gifts will be part of your Christmas celebration. Santa will also be paying a visit soon, so besides for leaving him cookies and milk, you’ll want to clean out your chimney before his arrival. After all, leaving Santa a dirty chimney to climb down might just land you on the naughty list! It would ruin his suit and his white beard will be black with soot by the time he gets down. Santa is busy on Christmas Eve, he can’t go home and take a shower to clean off soot after visiting every house.

But when it comes to taking care of your chimney, coal in your stocking and landing on the naughty list should be the least of your concerns. Keeping Santa happy isn’t the best reason to have your chimney cleaned this winter.

Why Clean A Chimney?

Unlike other parts of your house, cleaning your chimney isn’t something you do so it will look nice. You won’t really be able to see the difference after your chimney has been cleaned. Not unless you actually look up or down your chimney, at least. Sweeping a chimney is a safety precaution to avoid a chimney fire from starting in your house.

Many homeowners neglect having their chimney inspected and cleaned annually. Unfortunately, many of those homeowners end up paying dearly. There’s no way of knowing what a chimney fire would cost you if one were to start in your house. At the very best, it would cost a few thousand dollars. At the worst, it might cost your life.

Fire is a dangerous thing to work with, so if you use your chimney in the winter (even if it’s only a few times) you should have it inspected and cleaned out once a year. There are a few reasons why a neglected chimney can be very dangerous:

  • Soot buildup, birds’ nests and other debris could be hiding in your chimney. If it isn’t removed it could easily catch fire. Even when extinguished as soon as possible, these fires tend to cause a lot of damage. The worst cases are when entire houses burn down and people lose their lives.
  • Certain aspects of your chimney, like its height, might not meet local safety regulations. If you’ve never had your chimney inspected, you could find out that it’s been a safety hazard all along.
  • When your chimney isn’t clean, it could leak carbon monoxide into your home. Carbon monoxide is a gas fires release as they burn. Because carbon monoxide has a similar molecular structure to carbon dioxide – which is an abundant gas you breathe in all the time – your red blood cells can bond with carbon monoxide molecules . The problem is that, unlike carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide is poisonous and too much carbon monoxide buildup in your blood is fatal.

While you might think your chimney is safe, it’s important to realize that carbon monoxide (much like carbon dioxide) is an invisible, odorless gas. This means you won’t be able to see or smell if your chimney is leaking this poisonous substance into your house. If your chimney is leaking any smoke into your home, that’s certainly a red flag. You should have your chimney inspected, cleaned and perhaps even fixed before using it again.

But even if your chimney isn’t leaking smoke, there could still be carbon monoxide released into your home from your fireplace. Symptoms of mild carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, headache and weakness. If you often feel somewhat light-headed after adding wood to your fireplace that could be a sign that your chimney is leaking carbon monoxide. And while carbon monoxide in small amounts isn’t fatal, it’s still damaging to your health.

And when it comes to carbon monoxide, it doesn’t matter what you burn in your fireplace. The gas is released even from your car exhaust. So not matter what kind of chimney you have, it has to be regularly inspected.

Furthermore, a chimney that leaks carbon monoxide is likely to have obstructions that prevent it from effectively channeling smoke out of your home. These obstructions are usually flammable, meaning it’s an early warning sign of a potential chimney fire.

Can I Sweep My Chimney Myself?

Many want to know if they can DIY their chimney inspection and cleaning. The problem is that a professional chimney sweep knows exactly what to look for. Homeowners that clean their own chimneys often leave a lot of soot and other debris, so cleaning your own chimney won’t necessarily make it any safer.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (or CSIA), suggests you have your chimney inspected by a professional chimney sweep before you start using it for the winter. This is to ensure that any potential problems are caught and dealt with before you start making fires.

But although it’s always better to catch problems even before they can cause any harm, having your chimney inspected in the winter is also acceptable. Especially if you didn’t have your chimney checked before making your first winter fire. In that case, having it checked before making another fire is absolutely recommended. Just because your previous fires didn’t cause harm doesn’t mean your chimney will be safe for the duration of winter. On the contrary, your chimney could’ve been a ticking time bomb all along.

Please consider the safety of yourself and your family and have your chimney checked this winter. Not only will you make Santa happy, you could also be giving local firefighters the gift of a holiday season free of tragic emergencies.

Wet Weather and Your Chimney: Preparing for Rain, Snow, and Humidity

csw-featured-image

The weather in middle Tennessee is only one motivation behind why numerous families cherish living here — with four strong seasons and for the most part warm weather year-round, Knoxville and the encompassing rural areas are awesome spots to locate your home. In any case, if that home has a chimney, be set up to keep up it amid times of rain, snow, and high humidity. With yearly moistness midpoints running from 53% to 84%, the center Tennessee territory is inclined to rain, dew, haze, and the incidental cluster of ice or snow — all of which can affect your chimney.

Introduction to dampness can change the state and structure of your chimney, particularly if the water presentation happens amid a period of to a great degree high or low temperatures and for a drawn out timeframe. Probably the most well-known aftereffects of chimney dampness presentation include:

Rust: Rust can happen on any metal some portion of your chimney, and is a typical issue among chimney proprietors. After some time, it can disintegrate your chimney if not tended to appropriately. Watch out for rust happening on your chimney’s outside, particularly on the top and the blazing. Additionally check for rust inside the chimney pipe and firebox, and on any metal chimney embellishments. On the off chance that you spot indications of rust, call a chimney investigator to deal with it promptly.

Creosote development: Creosote is a blackish-chestnut, tar-like substance that can develop inside your chimney vent with expanded presentation to dampness, particularly amid the winter months. Cold air outside of your chimney makes buildup inside the chimney when warm air from your fire is discharged through the vent. Like how your warm breath makes buildup in cold air, the hot pipe air consolidates and makes particles that border to the inside of your chimney. After some time, creosote can improve the probability of a chimney fire. Check to ensure your pipe is spotless and without creosote, particularly amid cold and moist seasons.

Masonry damage: If your chimney has a brick exterior, be careful of dampness harm to the brick work. Introduction to dampness can make blocks split or spall (flat chipping), or even drop out inside and out. Tragically, once a block is harmed it turns out to be much more powerless against dampness — implying that you ought to cure stone work breaks and spalling when you see them to avoid additionally harm.

Spilling: Obviously, a broken chimney is not protected or compelling with regards to making a warm, comfortable fire in your fireplace. On the off chance that you hear hints of dribbling water originating from your chimney, see dampness in your firebox, or feel drafty, smelly air leaving your chimney amid warm, muggy days, then call an assessor to evaluate whether there is a hole. The sooner you can address a hole and reseal your chimney as required, the less extra harm and risk your home will confront.

Chimney Sweeps Prevent Fires

You may think it unnecessary to have someone come clean your chimney. Fire cleanses right? This is not the case. There is dangerous build up in your chimney, and this article goes over how they help your house stay safe from the sparks from your fireplace.

You may find it odd to hire someone so that your fireplace doesn’t produce fire, but if your flue is blocked or your brickwork isn’t solid, your house could be in danger. If your masonry is cracked in a wood-burning fireplace, sparks could escape between the fissures and set fire to your house.
< a href="http://www.homeadvisor.com/article.show.Chimney-Sweeps-Prevent-Fires.13631.html"> Read the whole article here

What Not To Burn

csw_pafeatured-image csw_pafeatured-image

Cold winter weather is back. With the return of the chilly season, you’re likely to once again use your fireplace on a regular basis for heating. Having a fireplace can supply enough heat in your home, even if you live in some of the coldest parts of the country. The good thing about heating with fire is that it’s considered to be a highly affordable alternative to electrical heating.

But even when heating with fire, there are things you should know. The kinds of wood you use can have a huge impact on both the efficiency and safety of using fire to heat your home. Better wood will prevent damage to your chimney and should give off less smoke and sparks as it burns.

Use Only Well-Seasoned Woods

Don’t ever use green woods that have not yet dried properly. Woods that aren’t well-seasoned will cause more creosote buildup in your chimney. Creosote buildup can eventually block your chimney completely.

There are a few good indicators you can use to determine the dryness of your firewood. A well seasoned wood should have all, or most, of the following properties:

  • Cracks in the wood are a good indication of dryness, but shouldn’t be the only thing you check for. Green woods can have cracks while well-seasoned, dry woods can have no cracks at all.
  • Splitting a piece of wood to feel whether the inside is damp is a reliable method to check if it’s ready to burn. Wood that feels even slightly damp should be left to dry out more before you use it in your fireplace.
  • When the wood dries, it’ll darken from white or cream to a brownish gray or yellow depending on the kind of wood you’re using.
  • Properly dried wood will sound somewhat hollow when you hit them against one another. They’ll make a hollow thump. Greener woods, however, will sound more dull when you strike two pieces together.
  • Burning a piece can be a reliable way to tell if the wood is still too wet. Green wood will hiss as it burns and often makes more crackling noises than dry wood. Furthermore, dry wood will catch fire more easily than wet wood.

If you still feel unsure about how to tell if wood is ready to burn, you could invest in a wood moisture meter. Wood moisture meters are a reliable way to tell whether your wood is dry and they’re easy to use.

Stacking Your Firewood

During spring, summer and fall, you should aim to stack green firewood in a way that will allow it to dry more easily. There are a few things that’ll help the wood season more quickly.

  • Don’t stack unseasoned wood too densely. It’s better to stack pieces of different sizes together so that there’s plenty of ventilation room between each piece. Stacking your firewood should be nothing like playing a game of tetris!
  • Your stacks should preferably be on the smaller side. A big stack with many rows might look impressive, but if some pieces aren’t exposed to open air, your firewood will dry unevenly. Pieces closer to the center of your stack will stay wet for longer.
  • Keep your stack where there’s plenty of sunshine. You want the wood to dry and prevent any mold from growing.
  • Avoid stacking your firewood directly on the ground in your garden. Wood that’s dried a bit can be stored in a roofed shed that isn’t closed on every side. You need some air movement to help wood dry. Unseasoned woods stored in an unventilated area can cause mold to grow, which is a potential health hazard.

Piece Size

For the best results, the pieces of wood you burn should be about 14-18 inches long. But your preferred length will vary depending on the width of your fireplace. To make stacking a fire easier, pieces should be more or less equal in length and they shouldn’t be too long to fit properly in your fireplace.

The diameter of the pieces you use will also differ. If you want a fire that stays worm for a long time without needing to tend to it often, most of the pieces you use should be larger. Ideally, your fires should, however, consist of smaller pieces and larger pieces. Smaller pieces catch fire more easily and will burn faster than larger pieces. When measured across the widest part, the width of your pieces should vary between 3-6 inches.

Trees That Make Good Firewood

The tree species you burn for firewood will have significant impact on the way your fire burns. For fireplaces you should try to use woods that are denser. The best choices for firewood will be woods that burn hot enough to warm your house, but not so hot it damages the inside of your chimney. Good woods to burn include birch, oak, hickory, maple, ash and beech. Woods that are still good, but somewhat less good include cherry, fir and walnut.

Avoid burning chestnut, spruce and hemlock as these woods often smoke and spark a lot while burning. Soft woods, like pine, are good when you want to start a fire, but not ideal to use as fire fuel once you’ve got a fire going because they tend to smoke more than other options.

However, if you have some wood you’re unsure about, it won’t do much harm to burn some of it and check for smoke and sparks as it burns. Don’t continue using a wood as your main source of fire fuel if you find that the wood gives off too much smoke or sparks a lot.

Because it’s already winter, you won’t be able to dry woods yourself anymore. Check that any wood you buy is already well-seasoned and that the pieces are a good size. Buying wood from a good supplier is the best way to know your firewood will be of a high quality.

How to Maintain a Fireplace and Chimney

There are lots of things you can do for your chimney to keep it in top working order in between inspections. This article covers the basic ways to care for your chimney on a day to day basis.
For simple cleaning, start by removing the ashes from the fireplace. During the cold season, make sure that the ashes don’t build up to a depth greater than about 2″. After the cold season, remove all of the ashes from the fireplace.
Click here to read the full article on how to care for your chimney.

How To Hire A Chimney Sweep

Are you worried about the state of your chimney after not using it all summer? Maybe an animal has made a nest? Or there is a more serious problem that you can’t see. You need to hire a chimney inspector but aren’t sure how. This article from the Chimney Safety Institute of America has you covered!
There are more than 1,700 CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps located within North America. To ensure that homeowners receive a certified sweep at every job, all chimney sweeping companies promoting the credential are required to have a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep on every job site
Click here to read the full article.