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Mantel Decorating Ideas for the Holidays

Next to the tree, nothing sets the tone for the holidays quite like a well-decorated mantel. Whether you prefer traditional décor or modern flair, there are some tips and tricks to employ when putting together a stylish fireplace mantel for the holiday season.Mantel decoration ideas

Mantel decorating: The basics.

Regardless of what your overall vision for your mantel is, knowing some mantel decorating basics that can set you up for decorating success. Here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind when decorating your mantel:

Focus on symmetry. You will want your mantel to feel balanced. That means having similarly sized items on each side of the mantel. A good rule of thumb is to place your largest décor items on the outside edges of the mantel and work your way inward.

Have both vertical and horizontal components. Garlands are a mantel mainstay for a reason. It’s good design to have a horizontal décor element on your mantel to accompany your vertical décor. Don’t want to go with the traditional greenery? You can choose a long length of driftwood, a garland of Christmas bulbs, a bunting, or an eclectic mix of stockings.

Don’t let your garland or greenery hang too long.

If you do choose to drape décor from your mantel, it should not come more than one third of the way to the floor.

Mix in a variety of materials and textures. Don’t just stick with natural wood candlesticks and greenery, or Christmas bulbs and glass vases. Add interest to your mantel by using a mix of materials and textures. You can add an unexpected element to a traditional green mantel by using antique cars and toys. Or you can add pine cones to a mantel filled with glass bulbs.

Anchor your mantel with a backdrop. Add a mirror, a modern piece of holiday artwork or lighted aluminum or cardboard letters. This theme to the wall above or behind your mantel will anchor your décor. In addition, help you turn your fireplace, mantel, and wall into a stunning focal point.

Mantel safety tips:

If you use your fireplace to provide heat or ambiance to your home, it’s also important to keep fireplace safety in mind when decorating your mantel. Some basic mantel decorating tips to keep in mind are:

Use nonflammable materials. Even if you choose to use natural looking greenery, flame-retardant garlands are available. Also, they provide a safe choice for decorating your mantel. If you light your fireplace, avoid buntings or hanging tinsel that could catch fire or melt.

Avoid hanging décor. If you will be lighting your fireplace, skip hanging the stockings in front of the fireplace. Instead, place garlands on top of the mantel, rather than draping it from the mantel. When you finish decorating, make sure you take a step back and evaluate the mantel décor. This is to make sure none of your decorations are too close to the hearth.

Keep a fire extinguisher handy. If you have a fireplace, it’s always wise to have a fire extinguisher nearby and to make sure it is ready to use. As you decorate your mantel, it’s an excellent time to make sure that you have an extinguisher on hand, in case your décor does ignite.

Gas Fireplace Tune-Ups and Cleaning

Gas fireplaces are a modern convenience. They give you the heat and ambiance of a traditional fireplace, without the hassle of building and maintaining a fireplace. They’re also cleaner, without the ash, soot and smoke of a wood-burning fireplace.

Gas Fireplace Tune-Ups and Cleaning - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care CoBecause of their ease of use and clean, efficient burn, homeowners often forget that a gas fireplace requires annual cleaning and maintenance, just like their wood-burning counterparts.

Why your gas fireplace needs an annual tune-up and inspection.

Gas fireplaces are incredibly easy to use and nearly maintenance free. However, the Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that the gas fireplaces and their chimneys undergo annual cleaning and inspection. This is just like any other type of heating stove or fireplace. With gas fireplaces, chimneys can still face damage or deterioration that compromises their structure and safe use. In addition, chimneys can become blocked by animals, leaves or debris. An annual chimney cleaning and inspection ensures that the chimney is structurally sound. Making it free from damage, and clear of any animals or obstructions.

The inside of the gas fireplace also requires an annual cleaning and inspection for safe operation. The burners and vents can become clogged with debris, either from dust or deteriorating bits of your ceramic logs. Over time, glass can crack or chip, compromising its function, and other parts of the fireplace. This includes seals, valves, fans, and blowers. Even the pilot light can malfunction or fail. Your annual gas fireplace cleaning clears away any debris that could inhibit the fireplace’s safe function. Also, the inspection checks for any problems that could compromise the safe or efficient function of your gas fireplace.

What the annual cleaning and inspection of a gas fireplace entails:

During your annual gas fireplace tune-up and inspection, your Chimney Care Co. fireplace technician will clean and inspect your chimney flue. They will also check your gas fireplace for proper clearances and venting. This is to make sure that valves, seals, gaskets, fans, blowers and the pilot are functioning properly. The technician also will look for damaged or worn-out fireplace components. These include cracks, gaps or scrapes within the firebox, signs of condensation around the chimney, and signs of leaking gases into the home.

What you can do to maintain your fireplace.

In between your annual gas fireplace cleaning and inspection, there are some things you can do to keep your gas fireplace operating optimally. Each month, especially during the months when the fireplace is in use, clean both sides of the fireplace glass. Inspect the glass for signs of cracks or chips. Inspect the inside of the fireplace for signs of deteriorating logs. Clear away any dust or spider webs from the inside of the fireplace. Always call for service if you notice any problems with the fireplace, such as difficulty igniting the pilot or malfunctioning blowers.

Call to schedule your gas fireplace tune-up and inspection today!

Before you fire up your gas fireplace for the season, call The Chimney Care Co. to schedule your gas fireplace tune-up and inspection! We’ll make sure that your gas fireplace is clean and safe for a winter’s worth of heating. We will also talk to you about regular maintenance to keep your gas fireplace burning cleanly, safely and efficiently all year long.

Don’t forget to have your furnace flue swept

Flue Swept - Cincinatti OH - Chimney Care Co.As a responsible homeowner, you know the importance of having your chimney and fireplace swept and inspected each year, usually in the fall before you light your first fire. What you might not know is that the annual sweeping and inspection of your furnace flue is just as important as your annual fireplace and chimney maintenance. Your annual furnace maintenance can keep your family safe from the dangers of carbon monoxide and help your furnace running efficiently.

Why furnace flue sweeping matters

Any type of heating appliance that involves combustions, whether it’s a wood-burning fireplace or a gas furnace, releases by products that should be exhausted through a flue. When it comes to your gas- or oil-fueled furnace, the byproducts that are released during combustion are highly corrosive. When they are left too long on the walls of your flue, they can cause a thinning of the flue that eventually can lead to holes. A crack or hole in your chimney flue is a dangerous thing because it can allow deadly carbon monoxide to seep from the flue into your home.
When your furnace and its flue haven’t been cleaned properly, it also can reduce the efficiency of your furnace and shorten its lifespan. As with any time of a combustible appliance, furnaces must “breathe” to work efficiently. They draw air in to fuel combustion and then exhaust the byproducts of that combustion. A furnace that can’t breathe will work harder to heat your home, costing you more money in home-heating bills. The lack of efficiency also means that your furnaces is working harder than it should to heat your home, which can shorten your furnace’s lifespan, which can have you putting money into service calls or even a new furnace before you should need to.

How to maintain your furnace properly

Just like you do with your fireplace and chimney, you should be performing annual fall maintenance on your furnace and furnace flue. First, you should have your furnace professionally cleaned and inspected. That means having the flue and combustion chamber swept. The flue pipe should be closely inspected for signs of damage or corrosion. In an oil furnace, the oil filter should be changed. In all furnaces, the air filter should be changed at least once per year, and the blower belt should be checked while the filter is removed. A professional also can test the efficiency of your furnaces combustion and adjust the amount of fuel the burner receives, if needed. In a gas furnace, the burner tubes should be vacuumed. Finally, fall is a good time to vacuum all of the heating grates around your home to make sure they are dust free, which can help improve the efficiency of your furnace and your indoor air quality.

Schedule your furnace flue sweeping today

If you’re not sure who to call to have your furnace flue cleaned, call the home-heating experts at The Chimney Care Co.We can have your furnace flue swept, inspected and ready for the cold winter months.
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The Value of CSIA Certified Technicians

When you’re searching for someone to clean, inspect and service your chimney or fireplace, there is one thing you should be on the lookout for: Certification by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). This certification lets you know that you are hiring a trained chimney professional who will follow industry best practices when taking care of your chimney and fireplace.

The Value of CSIA Certified Technicians - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care CompanyAbout the CSIA

The CSIA is an industry leader in education when it comes to fireplaces, heating stoves, venting and chimneys. It was founded in 1983 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to training chimney industry professionals to properly care for chimneys, vents and heating appliances. Also, to educate the public on safe fireplace and heating stove operation. The CSIA provides industry standard certifications for chimney professionals in the United States.

What CSIA certification means:

To obtain CSIA certification, chimney professionals have to undergo education courses. They also sit through an exam on caring for fireplaces, heating stoves, vented appliances and chimneys. You can be confident that your CSIA-certified chimney sweep has been trained in the science of fire burning and creosote formation.

This fire science includes:

  • The correct techniques for cleaning, inspecting and repairing chimneys.
  • Building and installation of chimneys and fireplaces.
  • The laws and industry standards regarding chimney, vent and fireplace construction and installation.
  • EPA requirements dealing with fireplaces and heating stoves.

How chimney sweeps become CSIA certified:

To achieve their CSIA certification, chimney sweeps must attend a CSIA review, or attend the CSIA’s National Chimney Sweep Training School. This is a six-day training course that gives sweeps hands-on chimney care experience. After completing a review or training school, sweeps must sit through a one-hour exam on successful chimney sweeping. In addition, they must learn the National Fire Protection Association’s chimney code. Also, take a 90-minute open-book exam on the International Residential Code. To maintain their CSIA certification, sweeps must sit through the exams every three years or must undergo continuing education courses.

The CSIA Code of Ethics:

On top of their education and exams, chimney sweeps must swear to the CSIA’s code of ethics to obtain their certification. The code of ethics maintains that the sweep will adhere to what they have learned through their CSIA training.


  • They will educate themselves on and follow local codes that apply to fireplaces, heating stoves and chimneys.
  • That they will abide by all manufacturers’ instructions as they install, maintain and repair home-heating appliances and chimneys.
  • That they will treat their customers professionally.
  • They will educate their customers on the safe operation and maintenance of their heating appliances and chimneys.

The Chimney Care Co. and the CSIA:

At The Chimney Care Co., we understand the role we play in keeping your fireplace, chimney, your home and your family safe. We know how important it is that our technicians are knowledgeable about what they do. That’s why we are proud to be CSIA-certified sweeps! If you are in need of a chimney professional, call The Chimney Care Co. to schedule an appointment today! With our CSIA certification, you can be confident that you are getting educated professionals that will treat you, your chimney and your home with respect.

Replacing Your Chimney Chase Cover

When it comes to keeping your chimney and fireplace system safe and sound, keeping water out should be your No. 1 priority. When water is allowed to make its way into your chimney, it can damage your flue liner; rust your replacing-your-chimney-chase-cover-img-cincinnati-oh-chimney-care-codamper, firebox or fireplace doors; or even cause water damage to the walls and ceilings that abut your chimney.

If you have a manufactured fireplace, your chimney top should be enclosed with a chimney chase cover. Each fall, as you prepare your chimney for the fire-burning season, it’s important to make sure that your chase cover is firmly in place and damage free. If your chase top is corroding, it’s crucial that you have your chase cover replaced.

What is a chimney chase cover?

Unless you have visited your roof, you’ve likely never seen your chimney chase cover. It’s a flat metal box that encloses the top of your chimney. It should be fitted with a chimney cap that allows smoke to escape the flue while keeping water from running down the chimney flue.

What does a chimney chase cover do?

Your chimney chase cover should seal your chimney’s chase. That is, the box framing that surrounds your prefabricated chimney. The chase cover prevents water, animals and debris from entering the chimney flue. It also keeps water from seeping down between the sides of the chimney and the sides of the chase, which can cause water damage to your home’s structure.

Why do chimney chase covers need to be replaced?

Like anything, chimney chase tops will wear down over time. When homes are built or fireplaces or heating stoves installed, contractors often will keep costs low by installing the cheapest possible materials. Because of that, many chase covers are made from cheap galvanized metal. That metal breaks down within the span of about five years, rusting and corroding and failing to keep out water.

How can you tell if your chimney chase cap needs to be replaced?

Often, the first sign of a failing chimney chase top is a water leak within your chimney. If your chimney chase cap has developed a hole or crack, you might notice water pooling within your firebox, rust around your damper or a discolored wall or ceiling near your chimney. To avoid a leaking chimney, it’s important to have your chimney inspected annually! Your chimney technician will check your chimney chase cover and warn you of any signs of weakness.

What should I look for in a new chimney chase top?

At The Chimney Care Co. we recommend installing a chimney chase cap made from a durable metal that will protect your chimney for years to come. We install chimney caps made from stainless steel or copper, both of which will provide a beautiful finish to your chimney and keep your chimney dry.

If you’ve noticed water leaks in your chimney, if you’ve noticed rust or corrosion on your chimney chase cap, or if you are due for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection, call The Chimney Care Co. to schedule an appointment today.

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