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Although there’s nothing quite like the warmth and beauty of a crackling fire, every fireplace owner knows that there’s nothing quite as messy as trying to get rid of the ash that remains after you’ve built several fires. But did you know that you shouldn’t clear out all the ash that’s left on the floor of the firebox? That ash can actually serve several purposes that can be useful when building a fire in your fireplace!
First, different types of wood make more or less ash. Softwoods tend to make more ash than hardwoods, so if you’re trying to reduce the amount of ash, try burning hardwoods such as hickory, oak, or sugar maple. Burning hardwoods also has the benefit of burning as a hot, long-lasting fire.
When you clean out your firebox, make sure that you leave a good inch or so of ashes. This will help you out in a couple of ways. First, that ash acts as an insulator for the next fire that you build. The ash makes it easier to build your fire, and once the fire is going, it also helps to keep that fire going. Not only that, but the hot coals rest in the ash and glow, which keeps more heat within the ash and reflects that heat back into the fire.
You don’t want to leave too much ash, however, because this can cause damage to your grate. Too much ash might touch the bottom of your grate, which means that when the coals reflect back, it may actually hit the grate, which will cause it to wear out prematurely. In order to avoid this, you’ll want to clean out some of those ashes!
How to Clean Ash
First, when you decide to clean out the ash in your fireplace, make sure that you wait awhile after the fire is out to make sure that no hot embers are still there, or you could be hurt. Waiting for around 72 hours is a good rule to follow. Next, understand that it might get a little messy to get those ashes out because they are very light and fluffy. In order to make the ashes less fly-away, sprinkle some used coffee grounds over the ashes to weigh them down. Next, use a fireplace shovel to scoop up all but about an inch of the ashes. Have a garbage bag lined bucket or can waiting for the ashes so that you don’t risk leaving a trail of ashes across the room. Dispose of the ashes outside of your home.
In the End, Trust the Professionals
Taking care of your fireplace by cleaning the ashes after ever couple fires is an important part of being a fireplace owner. But make sure that you go that extra step and call us at Chimney Doctors of Colorado to do an annual inspection and cleaning once the weather turns nice!
It’s a magical time of year – snow is falling, lights are twinkling, presents are wrapped, cookies and candy have been prepared. You’ve probably worked hard to get the house cleaned up and ready for guests, too. One thing that could spoil all this holiday happiness very quickly is a house fire caused by your wood fire! There are several precautions you should take when it comes to keeping your family safe and sound during this happy holiday season.
Keep the Area Clear
One of the easiest and most important things that you can do is to keep the area around your fireplace clear of any flammable materials. This can include furniture, decorative pillows, blankets, toys, magazines, books, or anything that will catch fire if hit by a stray spark or ember. It is also important to never leave small children alone in a room with a fire burning.
What You Use in the Fireplace
Another thing to consider is how to start your fire and what to use to burn. First of all, the wood you use should be very well seasoned. This means that it should have been dried for at least 6 months, and longer is even better. If you don’t cut your own firewood but purchase it instead, there are several ways to tell if it’s dry enough. First, dried wood is lighter in weight and in color than recently cut wood, and it may have cracks in it. Also, wet wood has a more pungent aroma than dry wood. Another easy way to tell if your wood is dry enough to burn is to hit two pieces together. The sound that this will make will be a hollow, ringing sound, not a dull thunk.
When you are looking for something to get the fire started, make sure that you are using proper kindling. Use small pieces of bark or twigs as a fire starter, not any type of flammable liquid or wrapping paper.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Another defensive tactic you definitely need to take is to have a smoke detector that works and that has batteries that are charged. Make sure you check your smoke detector on a regular basis and change the batteries every six months whether they need it or not. Another monitor that you’ll want to have up and running properly is your carbon monoxide detector. This is an important defense against carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can occur while a wood fire is burning and that can cause serious health issues, including nausea, dizziness, or headaches. In severe cases, this can cause you to pass out and, if exposure is too long, death could occur
Call Chimney Doctors of Colorado
If you have questions about holiday safety, call us here at Chimney Doctors of Colorado. We are happy to answer your questions to ensure your family’s safety during this festive season of joy!
There are sometimes when damage to an item is easy to detect. Have you ever stepped outside a shopping mall, gone over to your car, and noticed a dent? That’s a pretty good sign that there’s some damage to your car. If you turn on your stove and the oven doesn’t heat up, it’s probably not working right. But some things are a little more difficult to determine. Your chimney is one of those things, in large part because it’s so difficult to see inside of your chimney. If you’re willing to look close, however, there are some signs that you can notice. These signs will let you know it’s time to give your chimney sweep a call.
Water Stains Around Your Fireplace
One easy thing to look for is water damage around your fireplace. Take a look at the wallpaper or paint alongside your fireplace, or even on the ceiling. If the paint is soft or flaky, or the wallpaper is peeling or water stained, chances are there is a problem with the chimney. This could be a crack in the chimney liner or that the mortar around the bricks is spalling, just to name a couple of things. But even if neither of these is the problem, it’s really important to give a Chimney Safety Institute of America certified chimney sweep a call. You want to make sure the damage is repaired before more trouble occurs.
Another sign that your chimney is damaged is actual spalling. Take a look at the exterior of your home. If you see chips or flakes littering the ground around your chimney, spalling is occurring. These flakes or chips are coming from the mortar around your bricks or maybe even from the bricks themselves. It could be that the mortar wasn’t prepared or installed properly in the first place, or it could be that the freeze-thaw cycle has caused the mortar to weaken. No matter what caused it, it’s important to call a chimney sweep company as soon as possible to make sure that structural damage hasn’t occurred. If damage like that is left unchecked, instead of looking at repair work, you could be looking at major rebuild work, and that means lots of time and money.
Take a look at your firebox or your damper system. Rust is a sign that something is leaking that shouldn’t be. Here again, a chimney specialist is your best defense against a leak of unknown origin.
Make Sure They’re CSIA Certified
Whether you’ve noticed signs of damage or it’s just time to schedule an annual cleaning, you’ll want to make sure that the chimney sweep you call is CSIA certified, like Chimney Doctors of Colorado. This ensures that you’ll have professionals that are trained and educated in all the latest techniques. Make sure that your chimney is in tip-top condition by giving Chimney Doctors of Colorado a call today.
Do you love the look and feel of a fireplace, but just aren’t crazy about chopping wood, curing it, carrying it into the house, and building a fire? There are some people who love every part of that; on the other hand, it can be a tiring process that just isn’t right for you. That’s okay. There’s a solution out there for people who love to cozy up in front of a fire at the end of a long day but just don’t enjoy the effort it takes to get that fire going. Have a gas fireplace installed in your existing fireplace! This option makes burning a fire as easy as flipping a switch. It will also help decrease your energy bill because it will help eliminate the warm air from your home being drawn up and out of your house through your chimney! That sounds like a win-win situation!
Advantages to Going with Gas
Of course, one of the biggest advantages of a gas fireplace is ease of use. No more chopping wood, or even building a fire. With just a flip of a switch, you have a fire. This can be very appealing, especially at the end of a hard day’s work. But that’s not the only advantage. With a gas insert, you’ll also be able to enjoy a smoke-free fire. That’s better for your health, especially if you suffer from respiratory problems.
You may be thinking that a gas fire just isn’t as natural looking as a wood fire. Today’s gas appliances have the look and feel of a natural fire. Unless you look close, you might not even be aware that it’s not a wood fire! If you don’t enjoy the work it takes to build a fire, then a gas burning insert is what you’re looking for.
Vented or Ventless
There are also two types of gas burning inserts that you can install: vented or ventless. The advantages of a ventless insert is obvious. You don’t have to worry about placement in an existing fireplace if you don’t want it there. However, some people have complained about feelings of nausea or headaches being around these ventless systems. If you go for a vented insert, you will need to vent your fireplace to the outside through an outside wall or through your existing fireplace. This has the definite advantage of getting some of the byproducts produced by your gas fireplace out of the house and into the great outdoors.
Give Chimney Doctors of Colorado a Call
Regardless of which type of gas fireplace you go with, it’s important that you call in experts who know which type of insert is right for your fireplace needs. That company is Chimney Doctors of Colorado. Not only will they install your gas fireplace, but they’ll be able to help you maintain it as well. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that you use a certified professional to keep your gas fireplace up and running safely and efficiently, and Chimney Doctors of Colorado is the right company for that job!
November is here and it won’t be long until you’ll be smelling that turkey cooking and tasting that pumpkin pie. After a long, happy day of cooking, cleaning up, and visiting with relatives, there’s nothing like sitting down and relaxing in front of a crackling fire. But before that can happen, it’s important to give Chimney Doctors of Colorado a call to get that chimney cleaned. Is it really that important, you might be asking? Read on to see why the answer is yes.
What Happens When Your Chimney is Dirty
Natural fibers in the wood release gases through the smoke and into the chimney. As it gets higher up in the chimney, it hits that cooler surface near the top and condenses. The material that condenses is a thick, brown mass or a black, shiny material that is extremely flammable – creosote. Creosote builds up thicker and thicker through the course of a fire burning season, and any buildup over 1/8 inch is considered dangerous by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. There are some things that you can do to prevent creosote buildup, however. For one thing, the type of wood you use can cause more or less creosote buildup. Softwoods tend to cause a higher level of creosote to build up more quickly, but the type of wood isn’t the only thing to think about. How you burn that wood can also contribute to the amount of creosote buildup. The hotter the fire burns, the less creosote buildup.
Another thing that your chimney sweep will be looking for is blockages. Over the course of the summer, animals or birds may try to build nests in your chimney in order to raise their families in a safe place. After the families move out, the nest remains behind, getting dryer and dryer. If one stray spark hits that dry nest, you could be facing a chimney fire. Paper, debris, or dried leaves can also float into your chimney, creating a fire hazard. Qualified chimney sweeps like those at Chimney Doctors of Colorado clear your chimney of blockages and clean out creosote buildup.
Schedule an Inspection and Cleaning
The most important thing you can do to keep your family and home safe is to call Chimney Doctors of Colorado today so that you can get an inspection and cleaning scheduled as soon as possible. Remember, soon it will be time to gather your friends and family around, enjoy food and fun, and relax in front of a crackling fire. Make sure that you can enjoy this time comfortably and worry free, knowing that you’ve hired the best in the business to clean your chimney.
In most cases, when you buy or make something, you don’t want to just leave it sitting around, exposed to the elements. For example, a good loaf of banana bread gets pretty hard and stale if you leave it sitting on the counter for too long. If you buy a new outfit and leave it hanging in the closet for six months to a year before you wear it, you risk it not fitting anymore or going out of style before you wear it. There are some things that just get better with age, however. Fine wines, good cheese – these both get better with age. Fruitcake can sit around for months and just get better and better, right? Another thing you want to make sure sits for at least six months is firewood. In fact, the longer you can let your firewood sit, the better your fire will burn!
Fresh cut firewood has a very high water content. Trees basically have a series of watering tubes carrying the water to the branches and leaves. In fact, when you cut a tree, you can have 50% – 80% water content. In order to burn efficiently, you want that content down to at least 20 – 25%, and that can take at least six months of drying time – and a year is even better. If you burn wet wood, first of all, it won’t start or burn as easily, and once you do get it burning, you’ll have a smoldering, slow-burning fire that burns colder than a fire using dry wood.
The biggest problem with this is that this type of fire makes smoke that has a higher moisture content, which means that it condenses and adheres to the interior of your chimney in the form of creosote at a higher level than with a dry wood fire.
How Can I Tell If My Firewood is Well-seasoned?
When you cut your firewood, you’ll want to split it right away to speed the drying process. It will dry best if it dries in the open air, and don’t cover it with any type of tarp. Store the wood on a pallet, if possible, and stack it rather than leaving it in a heap. The more sides that you can have exposed to the open air, the quicker your firewood will dry.
If you buy firewood and want to make sure that it is dry, there are a few ways to test it. For one thing, dry firewood is lighter in weight and grayer in color than wet firewood. It will not have as pungent an odor as fresh cut wood. Dryer firewood will have more cracks in it, especially along the cut end. Also, if you hit two pieces of wood together, dryer firewood will have a more hollow, ringing sound.
Call the Pros
If you’ve been burning wet firewood, give Chimney Doctors of Colorado a call and have them check out your chimney for creosote buildup. They’ll fix you up in no time!
It’s easy to see the value of some things. You get a good education so that you can further your career. Having your car serviced on a regular basis keeps it running smoothly. You treat your friends and family right so you can share in the good times – and get comfort and help in the bad times. Something else that can have value beyond what you know? Having your chimney inspected and cleaned!
Why is it so important to have your chimney inspected? Really, what’s the big deal? Your chimney is a big structure, so the chances of a chimney fire are really slim, right? Actually, that’s not true. Your chimney may seem like a big structure on the outside, but if you try to look up and into it, you’ll soon find out that it’s actually pretty narrow.
When you burn a fire in your fireplace, the smoke goes up into the chimney and out of your home. This is great; smoke in the room can cause burning, itching eyes and breathing and lung problems. A problem with the smoke, however, is that smoke can contribute to creosote buildup. Creosote is a brownish or blackish, nasty smelling substance that builds up on the inside of your chimney, especially closer to the top where the vapors in the smoke hit the colder surface of the chimney and condense there. Creosote is highly flammable and can contribute to chimney fires. That’s one reason you should burn seasoned wood, too; it’ll burn with less smoke and hotter, which builds up less creosote.
So, can’t you just clean this out yourself? You can give it a try, but chances are, you’re not going to be able to get high enough to reach all the creosote buildup that exists inside your chimney. Calling a CSIA certified chimney sweep company like Chimney Doctors of Colorado is a good idea; they have the experience to know how to remove that creosote, plus they have the tools that make the job easier and more effective.
Another thing that Chimney Doctors of Colorado inspectors look for is structural damage. Wear and tear over time can have a deteriorating effect on your chimney, and these professionals know just what to look for to determine if repairs need to be undertaken. Although your chimney might look just fine on the outside, there can be damage evident only from the inside of your chimney, and Chimney Doctors of Colorado have video inspection equipment that can be used if they believe further inspection is needed to determine if damage exists.
Have Your Chimney Inspected Soon
Now is the time to schedule your chimney inspection, before the cool days of fall arrive. Go into fire burning season confident that your chimney is safe and clear of potentially dangerous creosote buildup!
There are so many events, people, and occasions that deserve special consideration. September is National Baby Safety Month. This brings attention to the the important issue of educating parents and caregivers about keeping their babies safe through the early years of life. National Earth Day emphasizes the importance of environmental protection. National Teacher Appreciation week gives credit to the hard work that teachers put in during the year. There’s another important week coming up in October – National Fire Safety Week, from October 8-14!
When you use your fireplace, the last thing you want to think about is a chimney fire. But statistics show that this is something that every homeowner should be thinking about. Over the course of a year, over three thousand people die each year in a house fire. Although not all house fires are started by a dirty fireplace, this is responsible for some. Add to that full dryer vents, electrical fires, cooking fires, and other types of heating appliance fires. You can see that this is not a subject to make light of!
Although this is a serious topic, it’s a good one to think about. There are ways to prevent house fires. It’s important that you are aware of precautions you can take to make sure you aren’t caught unaware.
First, it’s extremely important to know what to do in case there is a fire in your home. Figure out the best exit paths, and then make sure that every person in the house knows how to get out – no matter what room they may be in. Practice this route periodically, and make sure you set a meeting place so you are sure everyone is safe!
Another thing you can do is to make sure that you have working fire and smoke detectors in place, and that the batteries are working. You should check the batteries once a month and change them at least once a year.
Keep Your Fireplace Clean
If you’re a fireplace owner, one thing you can do is make sure that your fireplace and chimney are kept clean. Do you use your fireplace a lot? If so, you can be sure that you have a certain amount of that highly flammable substance, creosote, lining the interior of your chimney. If you don’t call in a CSIA certified chimney inspector to take a look, you’re just asking for trouble! A certified professional like those at Chimney Doctors of Colorado will know exactly what to look for by way of repair or cleaning. By doing so, they will be able to clean and repair exactly what needs. This way, you can enjoy your fireplace knowing that you are keeping your family safe.
In the meantime, spread the word that National Fire Safety Week is October 8-14, and encourage everyone you know to take the proper fire safety precautions!
When you think of doing a remodeling job, you probably think big. An updated kitchen, complete with new appliances. A beautiful new bedroom set, bedding, and curtains in the bedroom. Bright, soft carpet and new furniture in the living room. It is just such a good feeling to walk into a room that you have completely remodeled. It fits the exact picture that you had in your mind. However, when you’ve thought of remodeling, have you considered redoing your fireplace? There’s nothing that can change the look and feel of a room quite like a fireplace remodel can!
There are basically two reasons that a fireplace needs to be redone: because it needs repairs, or because it needs updating. Either way, it’s important to figure out exactly how much money you may need to spend before you start to look at ideas. This task can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want it to be.
After you’ve determined your price range, begin to look at the different materials you might use to complete the work. The materials you choose will have a big impact on how much you end up spending.
Is money is no object? You might want to consider using a slab of some solid surface – such as granite or marble. This creates a unique effect that will make your fireplace the centerpiece of the room. Be aware, it will end up costing more, so be sure to pick the perfect piece for your room!
Another good option is steel. Building codes will probably require that you have a certain width of noncombustible material for the surround and the hearth. Therefore, steel can be an excellent option! Or, if you like the look of a metal but want a truly unique look, try copper. This will give a beautiful, glowing finish with the added bonus of changing looks as time passes.
Tile is another great choice when considering a front for your fireplace. Tile has the advantage of coming in many colors and styles. In addition, these tiles can be arranged in innumerable patterns! This ensures that you will have a completely unique fireplace that matches whatever style you’re trying to achieve. Not only this, but you can determine how much you spend by picking a less or more expensive tile.
Bring in the Experts
It may seem like an easy job to make over your fireplace, but don’t be fooled: your fireplace is too important of a focal point in your room to leave to anyone but experts like the technicians at Chimney Doctors of Colorado. They have had years of experience and know just what to do to get the results you’re looking for. Trust your fireplace facelift to the National Fireplace Institute certified and Chimney Safety Institute of America certified experts and you’ll soon have the fireplace of your dreams!
Have you ever sat in front of a fire that just isn’t burning right? Is it hard to keep burning, isn’t producing a lot of heat, and/or is super smoky? If so, chances are the wood you’re trying to burn is too green! That doesn’t mean the wood is actually green colored; it means that it’s too fresh and hasn’t been allowed to dry for as long as it needs to.
When you first cut your firewood, it contains about 50% water content. It’s pretty much common sense why that won’t work; water doesn’t burn, right? Until you let the firewood sit and dry out to about a 20% water content, it won’t burn properly. That’s not to say it won’t burn, but you will have a lot of smoke! Needless to say, this isn’t a pleasant atmosphere to relax in.
An even more important problem with burning unseasoned wood? It causes creosote to form more quickly than dry wood does. Due to the water content in the wood, more steam is released. This makes a secondary burn null and void. Unfortunately, this means that your heat output is cut, so the smoke that is released is more water saturated and heavy. As it gets farther up the chimney, it cools quickly. The cooling results in a higher level of creosote which condenses onto the inside of the chimney. This is a highly flammable material and can cause a dangerous chimney fire!
How Can You Tell if Your Firewood is Green?
There are several ways to tell if the wood you’ve purchased or cut is dry enough to burn properly. Use your senses! One way is by looking at it. Properly seasoned firewood will be darker in color, even gray, and will have cracks in it. It will have a hollow sound if you hit two pieces of wood together, and dry wood will be lighter in weight than green wood. Green wood also has a sweet, sappy smell.
How To Dry the Firewood
There are ways to season your firewood if you buy it – and it’s green. One thing to do is to cut it into smaller chunks and split it instead of leaving it in round log form. This gives it more surface area to dry. After it’s been cut, stack it on pallets so that it isn’t touching the ground. Don’t stack it too tightly; it needs to have air circulating around it to allow it to dry. Also, it’s a good idea to let it set for at least six months. Some hardwoods take longer than this; you are better to err on the side of letting it season too long instead of not long enough!
Have Your Chimney Cleaned Annually
Whether you use dry wood or green wood, creosote buildup is inevitable over time. Make sure that you have your chimney inspected and cleaned on an annual basis by CSIA professionals – like the professionals at Chimney Doctors of Colorado!