Our Company Blog
Many homes have a gas fireplace. Unfortunately, homeowners generally don’t think about servicing them until something goes wrong, which is usually at the most inopportune time. Whether you take a few moments to check out some of the more obvious things yourself or schedule an appointment with a trusted fireplace service technician, both can save you a lot of frustration down the line.
Guidelines for Gas Fireplace Service
As you may or may not know, there are several different types of gas fireplaces, and the guidelines for servicing each is somewhat different. If a model has what is known as a standing pilot—the pilot light stays on all the time—the most important regular service item is the pilot assembly. Some units have a pilot light that’s only on when the unit is in use, while others use electronic ignition to light the burner directly without using a pilot system at all; both of these won’t need servicing quite as often.
For the last few decades, all unvented gas fireplaces and inserts as well as gas log sets have been manufactured with an Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) to ensure safe operation of the appliance; these sensors should be cleaned every year to keep the system from becoming more sensitive and/or causing nuisance shutdowns. If you are particularly handy—one capable of changing you own oil or the spark plugs in your car without breaking something—you should be able to handle this task; however, if you are the slightest bit apprehensive about handling anything dealing with gas, it’s best to leave this to a trained, experienced professional.
The goal is to clear out the accumulation of sediment in the tiny pilot opening. A can of compressed air can be used with the included straw to direct air toward the opening to clean it out. If you opt to do this yourself, remember to make sure the pilot is OFF. If the pilot assembly is at least five years old or if you live close to salt water, this method might not be as effective as it once was, leaving you needing to seek professional assistance anyway!
Gas Fireplace Cleaning Needs
Unvented logs are designed to burn very cleanly; as such, if you notice any black sooty deposits on your logs, it is best to stop using them immediately to make sure your logs and/or burner are set up correctly. If you aren’t absolutely sure that everything is correct, please refrain from using your fireplace until you can have a professional technician evaluate the situation for you.
Other fireplace options and gas log sets need cleaning, too, but perhaps not as often depending on the frequency of their use. Vented gas logs should be cleaned regularly if there is any sooty buildup present; there are commercially available sprays on the market to assist with this task if you are comfortable doing so. If at any point you are unsure or the least bit apprehensive, it is best to err on the side of caution and contact a professional to handle the work on your behalf.
Direct vent gas fireplaces have fixed glass panels that will likely need annual cleaning to stay clear. If the glass is collecting a black residue (soot), the fireplace should be adjusted to remedy this issue. If the glass has a gray or white film, however, there is no need to worry; there are chemical compounds in the gas itself that produce the residue (this is completely normal). The use glass cleaners containing ammonia is a huge no-no. Water and a soft cloth will usually suffice as long as you make this is part of your regular cleaning routine; adding a little vinegar to the water may save you a little elbow grease. Tougher deposits may require special fireplace glass cleaner to ensure that the job is done properly. Don’t forget to dry your glass completely and check for streaks and fingerprints before re-installing the glass!
Here at Chimney Care Company, your family’s sense of security and safety is important to us—which is why we’ve spent the last 25 years installing, repairing, cleaning and maintaining the chimneys, fireplaces and dryer vents of our neighbors in Cincinnati, southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky. To schedule an appointment, please give us a call at 513-248-9600 or click here. We appreciate your business and look forward to helping you keep your family safe and warm for years to come!
Chase covers fit over the top, outer opening of your chimney. These covers are designed to keep precipitation, debris and animals out of your chimney and are custom made to fit your specific application; it’s similar to the lid on a shoebox. Buying a chase cover is extremely important and absolutely necessary to the life and maintenance of your chimney and your home. Because of its job function, a chase cover is more than an option; it’s a necessity!
Material Options for Every Budget…
Everyone loves knowing that they have options. For those of you in the market for a new chase cover, you’ve got options, too. Chase cover materials run the gamut and can accommodate all budgets: galvanized steel, aluminum, copper and stainless steel. Galvanized steel covers are the least expensive; unfortunately, they rust quickly and need to be replaced within a few years. Aluminum covers don’t have the same rusting issues as their galvanized counterparts, however they’re not typically used for this function simply because the metal is too soft.
Copper is, by far, the highest quality choice and is accompanied by the largest price tag as well; if you’re in the market for that type of look (and can afford the additional cost associated with it), you can’t go wrong with copper. Stainless steel is the strongest of the four materials. It costs a bit more up front than galvanized steel, however, the mere fact that it won’t rust and should never need to be replaced again more than makes up for the increased initial investment.
Never Trust the Rust…
Many homeowners do not notice that their chase cover has begun to rust. This is because it’s all the way up on top of the chimney, which isn’t exactly the easiest place to see. Sometimes it’s easier to spot a rusted chase cover after it has rained. This is due to the fact that when the water runs off of the chimney cap and down the sides of your chimney, it carries the rust down the sides with it, leaving stains and discoloration.
It is your responsibility as a homeowner to have this problem repaired as quickly as possible to prevent more significant damage from occurring to the chimney system. If rust damage isn’t repaired, the middle of the cover may begin to sink in, which will lead to an accumulation of water, leaves, and other debris. This buildup puts more stress on your already damaged cover and could cause it to cave in completely, thereby exposing the inner workings of your chimney system to the elements.
If you’re in the market for a chase cover for your chimney — either as a replacement for a damaged cover or as an enhancement for your chimney — contact the professionals at Chimney Care Company. Our professional technicians will inspect your entire chimney system and, if necessary, will properly fit a chase cover to your chimney’s exact dimensions to ensure that it is properly sealed from the elements. Your home is an investment, and we want to help you protect it. No matter what your chimney or vent needs, contact us today. We look forward to serving you!
Your chimney may look good on the outside but can have hidden dangers lurking on the inside. A video inspection of your entire flue system is a good first step, as it will be able to spot missing or damaged mortar joints, cracks, and/or spalling that a professional may miss by doing a visual inspection alone after cleaning. If it is determined that you have a damaged chimney liner and repairing it is an option (which will save you a good chunk of change), HeatShield® can restore your chimney’s clay flue liner and save you the expense of rebuilding or relining with a stainless steel chimney liner.
What exactly is HeatShield® anyway?
HeatShield® is a chimney liner repair system that eliminates the hazards and draft problems caused by gaps, cracks, and spalling in otherwise sound masonry chimneys. It is a specially formulated “cerfractory” coating, which combines the strength of a high-fired ceramic with the heat resistance of high temperature refractory cement to restore the integrity of your chimney’s flue. This restored integrity allows your flue to properly vent hazardous flue gases up and out of your home.
Developed in Europe over 20 years ago, HeatShield® has been independently tested and has been found to exceed all American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Outlines of Investigation for chimney repair and resurfacing products.
What options are available to me?
HeatShield® provides several options to address varying degrees of chimney liner deterioration:
- Joint Repair System—recommended for the repair of defective mortar joints
- Resurfacing System—recommended for cracked or spalling chimney liners
- CeCure Sleeve Relining System—recommended for chimneys with more serious defects or those that are unlined
Your certified chimney professional will be able to let you know which option is best for your particular job depending on the severity of the identified defects. Each of the available options will help restore your chimney to its original peak level of safety and efficiency in a very timely and cost-effective manner.
The sealant is supplied as a dry powder that your chimney professional then mixes with tap water immediately before use. Once it has been applied, the compound dries to a hard ceramic-like material that’s both moisture- and corrosion-resistant. Once allowed to cure, it has been proven to withstand moisture, corrosive flue gases, and temperatures in excess of 2,900°F. ASTM rated it as a “Super-Duty” refractory mortar, which more than meets National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) and International Residential Code (IRC) requirements, as both only require “ Medium-Duty” refractory mortar for use in fireplaces and chimneys.
Remember that not all chimney liner repairs and systems are the same. For very severe flue system damage, it is possible that HeatShield® will not be the appropriate option. Chimney repair is nothing to mess around with; following professional and manufacturer instructions as well as local building and fire codes is an absolute must. Contact Chimney Care Company to schedule your next chimney inspection sooner rather than later so we can ensure that your flue system hasn’t been compromised. You owe it to yourself and to your family to take this issue very seriously. Your lives depend on it!
If you want your wood-burning fireplace to burn cleaner and more efficiently, choosing local seasoned firewood ranks high in importance. If you are not familiar with what this type of wood is, the term “seasoned” simply means dried. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), using seasoned firewood can actually improve the performance of your fireplace and chimney. Building a fire with freshly-cut, wet wood can create smoke and odor problems and promote the rapid accumulation of large creosote deposits, which are the main cause of chimney fires. Shopping for seasoned firewood can be tricky because you do not always get sufficiently dry wood. Our staff at Chimney Care Co. often suggests to our customers to find a trustworthy local firewood cutter to be sure the wood you buy has been dried or to cut their own firewood and season it themselves through proper storage. We have some tips on drying firewood we would like to share with you to help you properly dry and store your fuel.
- Cut each piece of wood to the same length. A uniform length makes the firewood easier to store. Consider the size of your firebox when determining the right length. In general, firewood should be about three inches shorter than the width or length of the firebox.
- Before you stack, split the wood. Splitting the wood in advance of stacking it improves the drying process by exposing more of the wood to the air.
- Check the moisture content. You will want to note the amount of moisture in the wood before drying it. You want the wood to reach a moisture content of 20% to be sure it is properly seasoned. To measure the exact water content in wood, you can use a moisture meter, which can be found for around $25 at a hardware store.
- Stack the wood in alternate directions. Using this stacking pattern creates better air circulation, allowing for faster drying.
- Store your firewood off the ground. To keep the bottom of your wood pile from getting wet and absorbing moisture, build a storage shed or other structure that can keep the wood at least six inches away from the ground.
- Cover the top of the pile, but leave the sides open. When building your storage shed, be sure to include a roof. A simple lean-to structure with a roof and a floor is all you will need. You can also cover your wood pile with a tarp, however, leave the sides of the pile uncovered as the tarp can trap moisture inside. You can remove the tarp when it is warm and sunny, which will speed up the drying process.
- Store your wood for at least six months to a year.[bold] The best way of knowing your wood is properly seasoned and dry enough to burn effectively is to wait at least six months before using it as firewood.
If you have any questions about local seasoned firewood, contact Chimney Care Co. today. We are happy to tell you more about the best fuel for your fire.
Replacing your old stove or fireplace has a variety of benefits, including being more environmentally friendly, keeping your family safe, and—best of all– saving money! Older wood stoves and fireplaces are not up to EPA standards, however; the majority on the market today is. You can tell if your stove is EPA certified because it will be labeled on the back. You can also check the EPA’s list of certified wood heaters. Stoves that are not already certified are not able to get certification; if your stove is not already certified, you must buy one that is.
Better Air Flow
Wood smoke is essentially wasted energy. EPA rated products have better insulation and improved air flow. With a properly installed EPA rated fireplace, you will see and smell much less smoke; which means less harmful chemicals in the environment. Because they are more efficient, there will be less creosote buildup in the chimney, lessening the risk of a fire and keeping your family and home safer.
There is also money to be saved when you make the switch. The higher efficiency means that you will spend less time and money replenishing and hauling fire wood. Making the switch means you will use up to one-third less fire wood. In addition, your purchase may qualify for a Federal Tax Credit for Consumer Energy Efficiency. Ten percent of your stove, up to five hundred dollars, may be covered. Make sure that you save all system receipts and manufacturer certifications, in case the IRS asks for proof of your energy improvements. Then, make sure to file IRS form 5695 with the rest of your tax forms.
There are some stipulations on switching your older fireplace. You cannot sell the old fireplace because if someone else is using it, it will not help the environment, which is, of course, the EPA’s main goal. The EPA recommends that the old stove be put out of commission. The new stove must also be installed by a professional. If a certified technician installs it, you can get a rebate and be assured that it will perform properly. Stoves installed by non-professionals can be deceptively dangerous. Problems with the installation may not be initially apparent—and may result in fires. Used, non-certified stoves can either be scraped or traded in with the purchase of the new one.
Deciding on which new stove or fireplace to buy may be difficult. You have the choice of wood, pellet, or gas burning and stoves, inserts, or fireplaces. It depends on your preference, needs, and budget. There’s not a one size fits all solution. Fortunately, you can make an appointment at Chimney Care Co. and we can walk you through the wide array of options. We sell and install stoves and fireplaces, so you can count on us during the entire process. Later on, you can also call us for maintenance and repairs. We do it all! Your wallet, your family, and the environment will thank you.