Chimney Care Company's Blog
When you’re sitting in front of a cozy fire, the last thing you’re likely to be thinking about is the condition of your chimney. However, if you don’t give it some thought before you light that next fire, your enjoyment may be very short-lived. Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, which can damage structures, destroy homes and injure or kill people. These fires can burn explosively, causing flames and/or dense smoke to shoot from the top of the chimney. However, slow-burning chimney fires don’t get enough air or have enough fuel to be as dramatic or visible, but the temperatures they reach are very high and can cause just as much damage to your chimney’s structure.
THE FORMATION OF CREOSOTE
You’re probably asking yourself, “what exactly is creosote, and how, exactly, is it dangerous to allow it to accumulate inside my chimney?” It’s fairly easy to explain really. Your fireplace was designed to safely contain and expel the byproducts of the combustion process. As these byproducts exit the fireplace and flow up into the relatively cooler chimney, condensation occurs. When the condensation dries, it gradually hardens, taking the following forms: stage 1 creosote (velvety soot), stage 2 creosote (porous and crunchy), and stage 3 creosote (shiny, rock-hard glaze).
THE PROBLEMS WITH STAGE 3 CREOSOTE
The buildup of Stage 3 creosote is denser and harder than brick, and firmly adheres itself to your chimney’s inside walls, becoming a second skin. Chimney brushes can’t sweep it out and more serious abrasives that would be strong enough to break the glaze would, more than likely, damage the chimney itself. Fresh layers of creosote can build up rapidly, accumulating quickly when previously deposited layers of creosote don’t dry completely. These newly formed layers insulate the older layers from the heat of the rising wood exhaust, which eventually dries them and creates a heavy buildup of sticky creosote that eventually solidifies completely; this results in a rock-solid layer of creosote is often referred to as glaze. Increased amounts of creosote are formed from burning unseasoned softwoods in your fireplace than properly seasoned hardwoods as well.
The improper burning and/or venting of airtight wood-fire byproducts cause the conditions for excessive creosote accumulation to occur. To be more specific, stage 3 creosote deposits will form when there is a draft problem, when green or wet wood is burned, or when the draft control is set too low, which causes your fire to smolder. Stage 3 creosote removal is crucial, as it helps reduce the likelihood of a chimney fire.
Creosote becomes dangerous when it is allowed to accumulate in your chimney because it turns into a fuel source for a possible deadly chimney fire. Unfortunately, the build up of creosote can never be avoided completely; however, burning small, hot fires and using dry, seasoned wood can minimize the buildup. During your annual chimney inspection and sweeping appointment, the CSIA-certified professionals at The Chimney Care Company will come out to assess the situation and will prescribe the proper course of action to cure your chimney’s creosote woes. We will also clue you in on what caused the buildup in the first place and can suggest ways you can prevent future buildups.
Laundry is part of life’s weekly grind, but did you know that dryers cause roughly 2,900 home structure fires, 5 deaths, 100 injuries and $35 million in direct property loss in the U.S. each year? What’s more, the majority of dryer fires happen in the fall and winter months, with the peak being in January. The most common cause of dryer fires is failure to do a thorough cleaning. Because a lint trap is not a foolproof method for catching all the fuzzy stuff in your dryer, lint can gradually build up and catch fire in the heating element or exhaust duct. Many people are under the impression that cleaning these vents isn’t all that important. Unfortunately for them, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
RECIPE FOR A HOUSE FIRE
Clogged dryer vents are an accident waiting to happen. A partially obstructed vent filled with lint can cause increased drying times and waste energy while a blocked vent can lead to a fire. There are numerous warning signs that will indicate that you have a dirty dryer vent: your clothes are still damp after a complete drying cycle, there’s excessive heat buildup in your laundry room, and/or your dryer is used frequently. One of the ways—perhaps the best way—to decrease the chances of a dryer fire in your home is to simply clean your lint trap before or after every laundry load of clothes.
LINT BUILDUP IS COSTLY
Aside from the inherent danger of fire, buildup of dirt and lint in the dryer vent can also significantly increase your energy consumption, thereby costing you more money. The increased energy usage is due in large part to your dryer taking more time to dry your clothes because of the blockage; it has to work twice as hard to accomplish the same amount of work. Possible signs that a dirty or clogged dryer vent may be to blame include: your dryer no longer dries the clothes in one cycle, your clothes carry a musty smell after a full drying cycle, your dryer seems to run hotter than normal, a visible amount of lint is noticed around the lint filter, and debris is noticed within the dryer vent opening on the outside of your home.
CLEANING DRYER VENTS IS A MUST!
To avoid this potentially dangerous buildup in your vents, following a predetermined maintenance schedule is important. The majority of dryer vents need to be cleaned at least once a year; some dryer ducts need more frequent attention. Some determining factors include: the number of people who are using the same dryer, the age and condition of the dryer, and the length of your dryer vent. The best way to ensure dryer safety is to clean the lint screen after every use and to have your vent and duct cleaned regularly. In fact, studies prove that effective cleaning maintenance of dryer vents and lint screens can reduce the chances of fire by as much as 90%. Not only does vent cleaning help prevent house fires, it also will make sure your clothes are dry and smell nice after each use.
Lint builds up in your dryer vent each time you run your dryer. Cleaning the lint screen will help you keep the dryer running and working well, but a little lint will still remain within the vent itself. It’s very important to keep up with dryer vent cleaning, as the accumulated lint is a fire hazard that endangers your house and everyone in it. Call Chimney Care Company to schedule an inspection and cleaning of your dryer vents today!
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.
You 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!
Not all fireplaces are created equal. Depending on the age of your home and/or the overall condition of your fireplace and all of its parts, you could be sending some serious money right up the chimney during the heating season; it’s estimated that a typical homeowner can send up to 8% of valuable heated air flying straight out the chimney. If reading this statistic has you even the slightest bit scared about using your fireplace as a heating source when the weather turns cold, don’t write it off just yet. The good news is you can transform your fireplace into an efficient room heater simply by adding a fireplace insert.
WHAT CAN A FIREPLACE INSERT DO FOR ME?
An insert is the answer to making your old fireplace more efficient without having to replace it, and, most of the time, they can be retrofitted to your existing wood-burning fireplace seamlessly. Adding an insert will only slightly (in most cases) change the overall look of your fireplace; however, it can take it from a net energy loser to a helpful tool in keeping those skyrocketing heating costs at bay during the winter months.
CAN I AFFORD A FIREPLACE INSERT?
You’re probably sitting there wondering how much an insert is going to set you back. To be completely honest, they are far from cheap. Nevertheless, they are affordable. Inserts can run anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 depending on the time of year and your geographic location. This is an all-inclusive price, which includes installation and a new specialized chimney liner.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF FIREPLACE INSERTS?
If you’re considering a fireplace insert, there are a few options available to you. Choosing the type of heater that best meets the needs of your particular application is as simple as deciding what’s most important to you—burning real wood and having heat even if the power goes out (choose a wood-burning insert), burning a bio-fuel without the hassle of wood in an attempt to minimize your carbon footprint (choose a pellet insert), or flipping on fast heat in a particular portion of the home (choose a gas insert).
Because fuel prices are in a constant state of flux, any savings measurements are really just a moving target. Generally speaking, a homeowner who opts to have an insert installed is looking at an annual savings of anywhere from $75-$250 dollars. While this may not sound like a tremendous amount of savings considering the upfront costs of the insert itself, the savings over the long haul can and will really add up over the lifespan of the insert. Your home is an investment, and, as such, any decision you make needs to include at least a small measure of foresight. We carry a wide variety of quality appliances, and in our 20+ years in business, we’ve kept a focus on finding and recommending only the industry’s most reliable and beautiful products. Whether you prefer the convenience of researching products online or getting up close and personal to compare products, the professionals at The Chimney Care Company have you covered. Give us a call today at (513) 248-9600 or stop in and visit our showroom to see all we have to offer.