Tag: Chimney Sweep

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.

Consider a Wood Fireplace Insert to Spruce Up Your Hearth

csw-safeatured-image

You cherish everything about your conventional masonry fireplace with the exception of its absence of heating proficiency. In spite of the fact that you appreciate sitting by the crackling wood fire and noticing the aroma of smoldering wood, you are burnt out on your heating bills expanding every winter. Sadly, a large portion of the heat delivered in your older fireplace is going out the chimney, so you are using different approaches to heat your home, which can get costly. Chimney Sweeps West can help you transform your conventional fireplace into a more effective heating apparatus with another wood insert. We might want to inform you regarding the advantages of a wood-smoldering fireplace insert and also the significance of having this heating apparatus professionally introduced.

The Benefits of a Wood Insert

Increase the heating proficiency of your home and diminishing your heating costs

Since the normal proficiency of a customary fireplace is only 10 percent, it is anything but difficult to enhance with another heating apparatus. You might be astonished at the amount of an expansion you will get from a wood fireplace insert. More up to date wood inserts have a heating effectiveness rate of somewhere around 65 and 80 percent! These inserts have water/air proof fixed entryways and utilize fans to circle the heated air all through your home. They additionally utilize modernization that permits wood to smolder all the more gradually, which gives more heat. This incredibly lessens how much cash you spend to heat your home. You won’t need to purchase as much firewood since you will get longer enduring flames with less wood.

Decrease the measure of pollution

Conventional fireplaces can discharge contaminating outflows that can hurt nature, however the new innovation used to assemble wood inserts permits wood to copy all the more gradually, as well as a great deal more neatly. The U.S. Ecological Protection Agency (EPA) even confirms numerous models of wood inserts as spotless smoldering heating apparatuses.

Enhance the stylistic theme in your home

You will have a wide range of choices of sizes and styles of wood inserts to make a more alluring point of convergence in your home. Whether you incline toward a work of art or contemporary look, Chimney Sweeps West knows you will locate the ideal style for your home stylistic theme.

The Importance of Professional Installation

In spite of the fact that you may consider yourself a jack of all trades, there is considerably more to introducing a wood fireplace insert than simply setting it in the fireplace opening. We emphatically suggest that you have a fireplace professional introduce your wood insert. Your old masonry chimney will be too expansive for your new insert, and to avoid draft issues, you should have a stainless steel liner introduced with the insert that will give an effectively measured vent to the machine. This legitimately measured vent will make your wood fireplace insert work a great deal more effectively and securely than it would with the first pipe in the chimney.

Need to take in more about wood fireplace inserts? Get in touch with us at Chimney Sweeps West to converse with our staff about how this heating machine will spare you cash and increment the heating productivity of your home.

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.

How Much Does a Chimney Sweep Cost?

Are you considering hiring a chimney sweep but aren’t sure if you need to? You don’t really want to spend the money if it isn’t necessary right? This article from HomeAdvisor goes over the reasons you should have your chimney cleaned or inspected.
Having a wood fire burning in your fireplace all winter long can save you on your electric bills, not to mention the nice homey feel it can give your house. However when smoke goes up a chimney, it leaves behind ash and carbon residue. These residues need to be cleaned out periodically, or they can result in chimney fires, carbon monoxide leaks, and lack of airflow through the chimney to the outside. You may wonder what the cost is to have a chimney sweep clean out your chimney, and a number of factors influence the price for cleaning it.
Get all the information here.

Why You Need A Chimney Care Pro

featured-image

Your chimney performs a few very important tasks to help keep your fireplace safe. Apart from channeling smoke so that it leaves your house, it also prevents carbon monoxide from accumulating in your home when you make a fire and prevents fires from spreading.

Your chimney isn’t just a hole in the roof above your fireplace that allows smoke to escape, it’s a necessary safety measurement. There’s much more to a chimney than meets the eye. More specifically, the inside of a chimney is what helps it to function properly.

Have you ever seen the inside your chimney? Do you what a safe chimney should look like inside? Would you be able to see if something wasn’t right?

Maybe you do know what the inside of your chimney looks like, and maybe you’re confident in your ability to identify and fix any problems you could potentially come across. But it would be wise to reconsider that confidence, because chimney care involves more than simply sweeping out some blackish, dirty-looking stuff and then calling it a day.

Why You Shouldn’t Inspect Your Own Chimney

Sweeping a chimney seems easy enough. Technically it should be as easy as cleaning anything else in life. If you’ve ever washed your own driveway pavement or the walls of your house, cleaning out a chimney shouldn’t be much more difficult that they, should it?

Well actually, sweeping a chimney is a rather tricky thing to do. It’s definitely more complicated than cleaning your driveway.

For starters, you’re actually going to have to get on the roof of your house. Without implementing the necessary safety precautions, that in itself could lead to absolute disaster. You might think that getting on your roof without a harness to prevent death or serious injury in case of a fall isn’t very important. Like many people, you probably think it’s okay as long as you don’t do it too often.

Truth is, the risk you’re taking is still pretty big. Once you’re on the roof, you’ll also have to be performing tasks you don’t do regularly. Especially if you’ve never cleaned your own chimney, you’re running a high risk of either falling, or not doing a proper job of cleaning out all the debris. In both cases, your negligence could prove to be fatal. And even if you are planning to use a safety harness, improper use could lead you to end up gaining almost no safety benefit from it.

But when it comes to the actual chimney inspection, things get even trickier. Small cracks on the inside of your chimney could lead to big problems. The same applies for loose bricks or damaged mortar.

A qualified chimney sweep will know exactly what to look for during a chimney inspection. Among obvious issues, such as checking for bird nests or animals like snakes or squirrels that could be taking shelter in your chimney, a professional chimney sweep will also be able to tell whether or not your chimney complies with safety requirements regarding size and structure.

Why Not Just Get A Handyman?

Like many other people, you might realize the risks involved in cleaning out your own chimney, so instead of hiring a chimney sweep, you decided to get a handyman.

Clearly, you respect the fact that you aren’t able to perform dangerous tasks and that you need to hire a professional, which is already a step in the right direction. By hiring a handyman, you’re reducing the risk of injury from a serious fall. But you aren’t paying someone not to get hurt, are you? You want your chimney to be properly inspected and cleaned.

And while the average handyman will be able to do a much better job of sweeping your chimney than you can do yourself, it’s still not as good as getting a real chimney sweep to do the job. It’s a bit like getting a dental assistant to do the work of a dentist. Yes, you’re working with a qualified professional, but that doesn’t mean the professional you’re working with is right for the job.

Chimney sweeps usually complete courses by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) or other organizations that help them to specialize in their field. A good chimney sweep isn’t just a handyman who decided he likes sweeping chimneys, but a professional who knows that doing a proper job can be a matter of life or death.

That said, you should always ask before hiring a company or individual to inspect your chimney, because not all chimney sweeps have any special training for the job. The chimney sweep industry is largely unregulated, with only a few recognized associations providing qualifications for companies and individuals. Fact is, many chimney sweeps really are only handymen who decided to sweep chimneys, and while they might be just fine at doing their job and what they’re doing is in no way illegal (although it could be, in some cases), it’s always better to get someone who knows their stuff when it comes to chimneys.

Normally, it’s recommended that you have your chimney inspected once a year. If you just moved into a new house, having the chimney inspected before using it also is advised. Other than that, you should have your chimney inspected if too much smoke is entering your house from the fireplace, if you notice any strange smells, or if you notice anything else that could potentially be a problem.

If you’re in search of a professional company to help you with chimney inspections, then feel free to contact Chimney Sweeps West. We’re a BBB accredited business and we specialize in performing thorough chimney inspections.

3 Quick Tips For Finding A Knoxville Handyman

home-improvement-knoxville

3 Quick Tips When Finding A Knoxville Home Repairman

Roofer Working On Exterior Of New Home

Water tends to travels before it drips down visibly. Interestingly, a leak can come out twenty feet away from the original leak in a roof.

Is your garage door giving you a bad time these past few days? Perhaps, it is time to contact a Knoxville Handyman for your home repair needs. Trusting a repair guy to do the work seems the easiest recourse available in times like this one. But even though repairmen are the most convenient solution to household repair problems, and especially if you are not adept at this kind of jobs, you still want to make sure that some things, like if the guy is insured, so that you get a quality and insured job. After all, everyone wants to have a house that functions really properly for the longest time and no one wants to always spend on repairs for broken appliances or home improvement fixtures. So, what are the things you need to remember when hiring a home repairman? From finding out if the repairman is properly insured to making sure they bring the right equipment, having your garage door fixed should produce favorable results to you if you remember these 3 quick tips. Read below. Is he properly insured? This is the very first thing that you must take care of before any repairman takes care of the garage door job, or any home improvement job for that matter. In home improvement tasks like this, accidents are inevitable. You don’t want to have an injured workman in your house uninsured and pay for their hospital expenses, so better make sure the handyman who is going to handle the garage door repair is properly insured so as to protect you against any odds arising from injuries or accidents that happened during the job. Can the company or handyman furnish a free estimate of the total cost of the job repair? Is the handyman willing to provide the digits? If not, there is a problem there. You don’t want to work with a contractor that you don’t initially know how much they charge for the work done. Free quotes are given as a courtesy to customers who even thought of availing their services. When asking for a free bid, include an estimate of time they think will be required to finish the job. Is the company experienced and organized? Although photos are not enough, you can see in them the kind or quality of job the repair company has done with their previous customers. This is just one but most effective ways to determine if they are the right choice. Besides, if the repair company is confident with their services, it would be willing to provide before and after photos to encourage customers to trust them. You can also ask them the length of time they have been in the business. The longer they exist, the more that you can trust them. But don’t just rely on this aspect. See the company profile. If possible, check if they have the right types of equipment and tools. See their vehicle. You can also ask the assigned handyman to do the home improvement job in your house, questions you think necessary for you to trust them. Doing these things help determine if the company is experienced and organized. Once you are secured with the above tips, it will give you the confidence you need to consider that the local home repairman or the repair company is the right choice for your needs.

Level 2 & 3 Chimney Inspections

brick-chimney

Professional Chimney Cleaners

NFPA 211 is the usual code upon which certified chimney sweeps base their services and CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps are examined to those three ranges of inspection. Always ask for the extent of inspection that you believe can be most applicable in your chimney and venting system. Each degree of inspection covers particular items dependent on the person, equipment, and venting system. Level three – A Level 3 inspection is carried out when a hidden hazard is suspected that can not be uncovered without accessing concealed areas of the chimney assembly and flue. This inspection will include all the pieces from the Level 1 and a couple of inspections, plus an analysis of the chimney building and the concealed portions of the chimney and flue. Level 3 inspections are usually mandatory when assessing damage that has occurred to the chimney or to the constructing structure. Level 2 – If you’ve bought a new home heating appliance, made a change to any existing equipment that’s vented by way of your chimney, or for those who suspect that there’s injury to your chimney, a Level 2 inspection must be carried out. A Level 2 inspection consists of all the things in a Level 1 inspection plus an evaluation of any accessible parts of attics, crawl areas and basements. Your technician will even do an inside chimney video inspection of your chimney during a Level 2 inspection.

What Costs Less – A Chimney Inspection Or A House Fire?

CSW_AugFeatured-Image What Costs Less – A Chimney Inspection Or A House Fire?

It’s easy for a home owner to feel tempted into using a chimney winter after winter without ever having it inspected. Home owners might argue that the idea of getting a chimney inspected is hype that’s been created for the sake of making an extra buck, but that really isn’t true.

Chimney sweeps have been working to clean out chimneys since the Industrial Revolution. Back then they often worked in poor conditions and tended to fall ill as a result of the work they performed. Nowadays chimney sweeps have to necessary equipment to avoid the potential health risks associated with their profession, but it should be noted that the same health risks chimney sweeps faced long ago are among the problems you can face if your chimney is poorly maintained.

Why Inspect My Chimney?

CSW_Article-ImageAug

As mentioned before, soot buildup in your chimney can cause illness, but perhaps more seriously, a chimney that isn’t functioning properly can release more carbon monoxide into your home than is safe. Carbon monoxide is a odorless gas which is a silent killer that has literally caused people to die in their sleep.

But there’s another reason you should have your chimney inspected on a regular basis. A chimney left without maintenance for too long greatly increases the risk of a chimney related fire in your home. Bird nests and other rubble can catch fire in your chimney, resulting in a fire that can cause a great amount of damage to your house. In the worst cases, chimney fires can burn down an entire house, even claiming lives. While many people might feel that a chimney inspection is too expensive, the cost of a chimney inspection is little compared to the safety of you and your family.

But what if a fire doesn’t claim any lives? How does the cost of having your chimney cleaned compare to house fire?

The Average Cost For Chimney Sweeping

Depending on the company you’ve asked and the kind of chimney inspection you’re getting, the cost of having your chimney inspected could vary. Prices for a basic chimney inspection start at anywhere from $100 to $250.

If there’s additional work that needs to be done, this price could go up quite a bit, even to as much as $500 for everything. While that might sound like a lot to pay for having your chimney inspected, the additional costs are usually for other things such as repairs. If you’ve been quoted a for a larger amount than you would’ve expected, you don’t have to just accept it without asking questions. If the company you’re working with deal professionally, your chimney sweep will be able to tell you exactly what the additional costs are for.

How Much Do House Fires Cost?

It’s much harder to know what a house fire would cost, but the average cost of a house fire tends to be about $4000. Which means that even if the average cost of a chimney inspection was $400, you’d be able to get your chimney inspected ten times before it would cost you the same amount as a house fire, but because the cost of an average chimney inspection will probably be closer to $200 rather than $400, you’ll be able to have your chimney inspected twenty times before it adds up to the cost of a house fire.

These numbers are only estimates, and the truth is that a more severe house fire can cost much more than even fifty chimney inspections. In cases where a house is burnt to the ground and nothing but rubble remains, you can expect to pay much more than $4000. In such cases you’d have to pay for the site to be cleaned after which you’d have to have a new house built and replace all your possessions. There’s no way of knowing what that would cost for certain, as it will vary from one individual to another, but there’s no doubt that it would be very expensive.

Even in a small house fire, you’ll have a lot of cleaning up to do. Furniture will need to be deodorized to remove the smell of smoke. If damaged to any plumbing lines occurred, you’ll also have to have wet areas dried. On top of all those things, you’ll need a proper cleanup to be done to remove any soot the fire left behind. Only once you those tasks have been performed will you be able to turn your attention to repairing the area damaged in a fire.

Repairing fire damage doesn’t only hurt your wallet, it’s also time consuming and in many cases there’s stress and some trauma related ti this. When comparing the effort associated with fire damage repair to the ease of maintaining your chimney properly, the cost of an annual chimney inspection is definitely a worthwhile investment.

On top of all those things, one of the best benefits of having your chimney inspected is that it will give you peace of mind to know that your chimney is safe for use when winter arrives.