Chimney Care Company's Blog

Spring Is Here – Get Your Chimney Cleaned and Inspected Now

Spring Cleaning Your Fireplace - Cincinnati, OH - Chimney Care Company

NO MORE WAITING GAMES…

Most homeowners with a fireplace have been told about the importance of having their chimney system cleaned annually (or more often depending on how heavily they rely on it during heating season), and a large portion now acknowledge this importance and make an annual inspection and cleaning part of their yearly to-do list. Yet somehow chimney maintenance is de-prioritized until the colder weather begins setting in. Homeowners can then be seen scrambling to make their appointments so they can start using their fireplaces to keep warm at night. What many of these homeowners complain about, however, is the wait time involved between scheduling the appointment and actually having the work completed.

AVOID COSTLIER FUTURE REPAIRS…

They’re not overly excited about waiting a few days or weeks for their respective chimney service companies to be able to fit them into their schedule. Some homeowners, due to their impatience, will settle for a non-certified chimney company; in doing so, they may be saving a few dollars in upfront costs, but they could very well be spending a lot more down the road, as these fly-by-night sweeps could overlook a small issue that could have disastrous consequences for you and your family.

IF YOU DO NEED REPAIRS, THEY CAN BE COMPLETED QUICKLY

Chimney professionals are no doubt the busiest during the fall season. As the temperature drops, the fireplace begs to be used, but only when it is clean and ready. It might be a few weeks before a crew can get to your home, and if they find your chimney needs repairs, there can be more delays keeping you from using your fireplace. The spring and summer are the best times to get your chimney cleaned and inspected and allows plenty of time to address any repairs. Scheduling is usually easier as well as its kind of like getting your air conditioning serviced in winter.

DON’T SETTLE FOR LESS THAN THE BEST…

Rather than settling for an untrained alternative simply because they can come service your chimney system a day or two sooner in October, why not call a reputable company during the warmer spring months to take care of all of your chimney system needs. Your chimney might be one of the farthest things from your mind when it’s no longer cold outside, but it can save you in the long run from lots of hassle and frustration.

A little planning and forethought can help to ensure that you receive your annual service from a reputable, certified company in a timely manner. Enjoy your fires this year with peace of mind. To make an appointment today, call us at 513-248-9600 or click here to schedule an appointment online.

By Jeff Keefer | Tagged with: Tags: , | Leave a Comment

The Convenience and Savings of a Pellet Stove

The Convenience of a Pellet Stove - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care CompanyYou may have heard a lot lately about pellet stoves as they have become a top choice in heating systems for homes over the past few years. The first pellet stove came on the market in 1930, and since then pellet stoves have gone through many changes, going from a large, boxy, workhorse design to a smaller decorative heating appliance to be used in residential homes. Since the heating industry has moved towards heating systems based on efficient combustible and renewable resources in the past 10 years, pellet stoves have seen a great resurgence, and The Chimney Care Company has been asked many questions about these stoves. We’re here to provide you with some of the more commonly asked questions we receive and the answers we’ve supplied.

WHAT IS A PELET STOVE? WHAT ARE PELLETS?

Convenient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly, a pellet stove is a sophisticated electronic appliance that gives you an economic and eco-friendly heating option for your house. Pellet stoves are fueled by wood pellets, which are made from recycled sawdust, wood shavings, and the other scrap pieces that have been swept up off the floors of sawmills. Cheap and easy to manufacture, wood pellets are compact, resembling rabbit food, and environmentally friendly because they have a very low pollution rate.

HOW MANY TYPES OF PELLET STOVE ARE AVAILABLE?

There are two different types: freestanding and insert stoves. You can get an insert if you have an existing fireplace, and one of our expert technicians at The Chimney Care Company will install it into the firebox and vent it through your chimney. If you do not have a fireplace, you can go with a freestanding stove with its own exhaust pipe.

ARE DIFFERENT STYLES AND OPTIONS AVAILABLE?

Available in all sorts of sizes, shapes, styles and colors, you are sure to find the perfect pellet stove for your home, no matter your taste. As for options, you can go with the standard model or with the super deluxe version with a programmable, controlled feeder and a remote control thermostat. Our staff at The Chimney Care Company would love to show you our wide variety of pellet stoves available. Other options include the hopper location, heat output levels, and manual or automatic ignition.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF HAVING A PELLET STOVE?

The advantages and benefits of a pellet stove far outweigh the disadvantages of an open wood burning fireplace. Pellet stoves are easy to operate, convenient, environmentally friendly, and safer, as they give off less smoke and creosote. They give off far greater efficiency of heat allowing you to use your centralized heating unit less to heat your home. This lowers your heating bills and reduces harmful emissions. In addition, the fuel—the pellets—are inexpensive and easy to store and usually made from recycled materials, such as unused sawdust.

One disadvantage of a pellet stove is that it runs on electricity, so you will need to prepare for alternative heating sources in case of a power outage. Another disadvantage is that you might need to buy your fuel in advance for the season and keep it in a safe dry place as pellet fuel is not available everywhere. Pellet stoves and heating systems are becoming more popular and pellet fuel is becoming more available in more places everyday.

We hope you’ve found this information to be beneficial in your decision making process. If you have other pellet stove related questions, please don’t hesitate to come by the showroom and discuss your heating options with the professionals at The Chimney Care Company today. Our knowledgeable staff will be more than happy to answer your questions!

What to do About a Leaky Chimney

Wood Insert - Fireplace Xtrodinair - Milford CT - The Cozy FlameIf you have a masonry chimney, chances are you will have a chimney leak at some point. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) , water is your masonry chimney’s biggest enemy. Every part of your chimney will suffer damage if water is able to penetrate into it, which is why it is so important to practice maintenance steps like waterproofing your chimney. However, if you notice stained ceilings or walls, loose bricks on the outside of your chimney, or even a musty smell coming from your fireplace, you more than likely have already suffered a chimney leak, and now you need to call a professional chimney company like Chimney Saver Solutions to locate the leak and repair it.

Finding the source of a chimney leak can be a difficult task. Being a more informed homeowner and knowing the four major causes of a leaky chimney can save you a lot of time and frustration:

    1. Your chimney cap is missing or damaged. Made from stainless steel or copper, chimney caps are your best defense against water penetration, as they cover the top of your chimney. Bad weather or animals trying to get into your chimney can damage your chimney cap, leaving your chimney open to the elements and allowing rainwater to enter freely. At Chimney Saver Solutions, we carry and professionally install a wide variety of chimney caps to keep your chimney safe from damaging water penetration.
    2. Your chimney crown is worn out. Sitting underneath your chimney cap, your chimney crown is a layer of concrete that seals off your chimney. However, if your crown is not made from the correct material or if it is improperly installed, damage and deterioration occurs sooner, enabling water to leak into your chimney. Our technicians at Chimney Saver Solutions will assure you that you have a well constructed and well-maintained chimney crown to replace your old, damaged one.
    3. Your flashing is damaged or missing. The metal sheeting that sits in between your chimney and your roof to protect that area from water leaks, flashing is often improperly installed, as not every chimney company takes the time to customize the flashing itself to perfectly fit your roof. At Chimney Saver Solutions, our technicians carefully measure each part of your chimney and its surrounding areas to customize the flashing to fit exactly, leaving no holes or cracks, thereby allowing no room for water penetration.
    4. Your mortar joints have deteriorated over time. When water penetrates into your chimney and gets into your bricks and mortar, it wears down the important mortar joints that hold everything together causing holes and cracks to form within the masonry. Many times, water within your chimney will freeze during the winter, and when it thaws out, bricks break and crumble, leading to more holes and eventual structural damage of your chimney. At Chimney Saver Solutions, we can fix the masonry work inside your chimney by tuckpointing. Once that repair work is finished, we can apply our waterproofing treatment to ensure the masonry work in your chimney is protected from any future water leaks.

If you suspect you have a leaky chimney, contact Chimney Saver Solutions today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced technicians, who will solve your leak problem for you as quickly as possible and protect your home from future water penetration damage.

EPA Increasing Fireplace and Stove Efficiency Standards

Wood Stove EPA Efficiency - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care Company

Avalon Rainier™ Wood Insert
Heat Output: 71,800 BTU’s / Hour
Emissions: 2 Grams Per Hour

Wood smoke from home heating is the primary source of wintertime air pollution in our country. It contains fine particulates, gases, and even toxic compounds. These pollutants can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as respiratory disease. Wintertime wood burning for residential home heating can be a significant source of pollution both inside your home and out. Wood smoke impacts occur during the winter months when cold temperatures contribute to increased burning. Frequent winter inversions cause air stagnation, which causes pollutant levels to exceed healthy air quality standards.

PROGRAMS TO ASSIST WITH CHANGING OUT WOODSTOVES

As a result of the increased attention now being given to air quality, many states have begun to offer tax credits and incentives (in the form of woodstove change-out programs) that offer rebates to replace old uncertified stoves with new cleaner stoves. Most programs allow consumers to trade in an old woodstove for a new one, at a discounted price, but some only allow trade outs to lower emitting appliances such as pellet and gas stoves, or give much higher rebates for pellet or gas stoves. The Alliance for Green Heat believes that “many wood stove change out programs haven’t taken a holistic approach and, as a result, air quality improvements have been somewhat undermined.” The Alliance has urged the EPA to use their leverage in directing funds to areas that have demonstrated a level of commitment, such as banning the installation of new exempt woodstoves, old, second hand uncertified woodstoves and/or unregulated outdoor wood boilers.

MAKING STRIDES IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Unlike cars, refrigerators and virtually every other appliance, woodstoves can last so long that they remain in use for upwards of 50 years. As a result, most woodstoves are still not EPA certified, a program that wasn’t started until 1990. Pollution from older stoves, or from incorrectly used new stoves, is a serious health concern, and one of the best ways to get them out of circulation is a changeout program.

CONSIDERING WHAT THE EPA HAS TO SAY

Back in the late 1980’s, the EPA established a mandatory smoke emission limit for catalytic woodstoves (4.1g/h) and for non-catalytic woodstoves (7.5g/h). Today, all woodstoves sold in the U.S. must meet these limits, and many are certified for emissions down in the 1 to 4g/h range. The EPA certified emission rate is a reliable number that can be compared from one model to the next.

When shopping for a new woodstove, you’ll have two main sources of information to help you in making your decision: manufacturer’s literature and the advice you receive from the woodstove dealer. This is where knowing who to trust is of the utmost importance. The professionals at The Chimney Care Company would like to be your trusted resource for this information. We can help you find the perfect heating appliance, one of which might just be perfect for your needs, and install it for you, too. Our technicians can help you weigh your choices and their benefits and land on the perfect new appliance. Stop by our showroom and talk to our home heating experts about what you’re envisioning for your home, and we’ll do the rest.

How to Start a Fire with Less Smoke

Start a Fire With Less Smoke - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care CompanyOne of my favorite things about the cooler months of the year is spending time next to a warm, cozy fire. The crackling wood and radiant heat just soothe my innards like nothing else ever has. Question: What’s more romantic that snuggling up with your significant other in front of a glowing fire? Rhetorical question, Keefer. Nothing is more romantic than that! Question: What’s more relaxing than coming home from a long day at the office, sitting in your favorite chair, and unwinding next to a glowing fire? Come on Keefer, that’s another rhetorical question. Nothing is more relaxing than that! For those of you who have trouble starting a fire in your fireplace without also filling your entire house with wood smoke or those of you who want a few fire starting pointers, this blog’s for you.

Fireplaces that smoke are simply, for whatever reason, not drawing the smoke up the chimney. There are a lot of possible culprits when this happens. There could be a blockage; perhaps a bird has decided to build a nest and make your chimney home. There could be a large tree in your yard that grows over your chimney and impedes the airflow. Perhaps the opening of your fireplace is simply too large for the size of your flue, which can result in smoke taking the path of least resistance and back puffing into your living space. The issue could also be that there is a downdraft caused by air movement off of your roof. If you’re making home improvements and add storm windows on your house to make it more air tight, this could result in your fireplace being unable to get enough combustion air, which would result in the smoke spilling back into your house. Needless to say, the causes of the smoke are more numerous than you may have originally realized.

Before starting a fire in your fireplace, you’ll first want to ensure that your damper is open; a fireplace requires a large amount of air after all. Once this is done, you’ll want to ignite a fire-starter brick, some newspaper, or dry kindling in the center of your fireplace grate. This will ensure that the hot air begins funneling its way up the chimney and not back into your house. Before adding any wood, it is important to remember to never overload your firebox, as this will not allow the requisite amount of combustion air to flow around the wood.

Next, place one log, lengthwise, behind the starter and another one in front of it. When those two pieces of wood catch fire, place a log diagonally across them. This setup will help to encourage combustion air to flow around all three logs, which is critical for an even burn. To maintain proper airflow, regularly remove ashes from your fireplace into a metal container with a cover; many homeowners will keep these containers outdoors, which is a great idea since it removes a potential fire hazard from the home. This is also similar to a top down burn, where the starter kindeling is at the top of the logs, allowing the wood to burn from the top down more efficiently and bringing more fire heat into the room.

I once heard someone compare fireplaces to young children, and this comparison has stuck with me ever since: “Fireplaces are like children. They need to be watched at all times to make sure they’re doing what you want them to do.” I like to think he was pretty accurate with that comparison. Properly arranging the wood in your fireplace and providing it with enough space for air to flow around the logs is critical to allowing you to get the most out of your fire. By following a few simple steps, you, too, can have a roaring fire in your fireplace this heating season.

If you follow these steps and still have issues with smoke in your home when starting a fire, call or contact the experts here at Chimney Care Company in Cincinnati and we can help you with your chimney and fireplace smoke issues.

By Jeff Keefer | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

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