Posts made in December 2013

Weirdest Things Found in Chimneys in 2013

At High’s Chimney, we’ve shared just about everything there is to know about the chimney business, including a few bizarre stories (criminals, chimney accidents, etc.).  You’d be surprised what chimney sweeps find in their line of work!  A few odd tales have come down the pipeline in 2013 alone.  So what’s made sweeps around the world stop and do a double-take lately?  Let’s see…

“A 16-year-old boy…a family friend.”

16year-old-stuck-in-chimney (1)

Credit: KCAL

It’s great to be able to say that your grandma loves your friends like family.  Unfortunately for a woman in North Hills, CA, her trust was misplaced.  Pat Hawkins always treated her grandson’s friend like one of her own, but after the 16-year old was found stuck in her chimney in August, she’ll likely be more careful.  The boy managed to make it 10 feet down into the structure, a plan LAPD claimed was executed in attempt to burglarize grandma, before becoming stuck.  The teen was only trapped for around 30 minutes, leaving him relatively unharmed, but emerged from the chimney in supposed victory, waving to cameras.  He probably wasn’t as eager when shown to his prison cell!

“Ma’am, you have a duck in your chimney.”

img via Bruce Cowan

Image via Bruce Cowan

Back in June, Rhode Island woman Susie Cabassas scheduled a routine chimney cleaning.  The technicians who came out to do the job found the usual suspects—soot, ash, etc.  What Ms. Cabassas didn’t expect, however, was for her sweep to tell her, “Ma’am, you have a duck in your chimney.”  With some help from the homeowner, the chimney sweep on the job managed to get the duck out safe and sound, allowing it to tumble from the damper to a pile of ash at the base of the fireplace.  As Ms. Cabassas said herself, the animal became “one lucky duck,” having been swaddled in a towel and released outside by the chimney sweep after a quick photo op.  Lucky duck, indeed, as it was pure coincidence that the chimney cleaning was scheduled for that day!

“A Mysteriously Naked Man in Central Berlin.”

homless-man-stuck-in-chimney (1)

Homeless Man Stuck in Chimney

There have been plenty of stories of burglars attempting to sneak into homes the Santa Claus way (like the one above).  A 39-year-old man in Berlin, Germany, however, doesn’t quite fit the bill.  In fact, no one really knew what to make of him when he was found nude, 30 feet down a chimney in January.  Some claimed that the unidentified victim was homeless or that he’d run away from a hospital, but no clear answers were found.  Police had a tough time rescuing him, and grasping onto a rope had failed.  Finally, fire rescue personnel succeeded in freeing who Reuter’s called a “mysteriously naked man” by drilling a hole in the structure to reach him.  Luckily the man was OK, however he’d lost consciousness prior to his rescue and had to be resuscitated and was described as having become very cold.

Truth be told, just about anything you can think of could get stuck inside of a chimney.  People, pests, objects…anything!  As chimney pros, we’ll never stop running into strange things, and it’s tough to surprise us. But once in a while a story is just too weird not to share!  Ever have your own unique encounter?  Share it with us in the comments below!

 

 

 

How to Buy Firewood

It’s that time of year again: the wind is blowing and cold nights are becoming more common. There’s only one thing to do—start a roaring fire! Before you kick off your fire season, however, you must be prepared. This means purchasing the right firewood! Knowing how to buy firewood isn’t complicated, but there are a few rules to live by to get the best results, so let’s talk not only about getting your hands on firewood, but about how to buy good firewood.

1. Choose Seasoned Wood
firewood-cord-largeNo, the firewood you buy doesn’t have to be sprinkled with salt and pepper. By “seasoned” we mean dried. Seasoned wood may have some “checks” or cracks in the logs, indicating a lack of moisture, and if the bark has not been shaved off by the dealer, it will begin to flake off of dried wood (and in fact should be removed prior to burning!). Firewood burns best when it has been properly dried outside, generally for about a year.

2. Get Efficient Wood
Wet logs, or “green” wood, on the other hand, attract mold and mildew, are home to insects and dirt, produce excess smoke when burned and cannot reach maximum heating potential due to using energy to burn off water. Whatever dealer you seek, be sure that the wood is in prime burning condition. If not, you could be looking at pests invading your home (wood roaches, beetles, spiders, rodents) and the unwanted habit of constantly replenishing your fuel source during each burn.

Some species of seasoned wood make for better fires. Knowing how to buy firewood means avoiding inferior “soft” woods, such as the likes of firs, spruces, pines and poplars. These may be easy to handle, but they’ll leave your home cold—with a maximum of 13,000 – 15,000 BTUs per cord, stinky, smoke-ridden and throw sparks all over (both unpleasant and a safety hazard!).

The better bet is to go with one of several “hard” woods. Some of these include ash, beech, red and white oaks, hickories, maple, locust and birch and they ignite easily and burn hotter and longer. Hard woods are manageable because they’re easy to split for use in your stove. Additionally, they give off copious amounts of heat while minimizing smoke output—giving off 19,000 – 26,000 BTUs of heat per cord! Think about it; would you rather be warm and toasty or cold and shivering?

3. Buy Firewood by the Cord
Firewood is typically sold by cords—stacks of logs equal to 4 feet wide by 8 feet long by 4 feet high—it’s the universal measure! Reputable dealers will sell by multiples of this and fractions of cords—i.e. half a cord. In fact, according to the State of Maryland, such a practice is required by law, so a dealer you found on Craigslist who shows up with a truckload of loose timber might not be treating you fairly in price or volume.

Cord Wood Measurements Maryland State

In addition to knowing that you’ve bought from an ethical business(more on that in our Washington DC Firewood Guide) , buying firewood by the cord also ensures that you can keep track of how much you need and use during the burn season. We usually recommend investing in 3 – 4 cords of wood each year, though this may vary. Knowing these details as well as your own fireplace habits will give you an idea of how many cords you will actually need for a single burn season.

Let’s recap. To enjoy your fireplace all winter, you’ll need 1.) seasoned wood to produce the best possible fire and make good use of fuel, 2.) efficient hard wood to promote warmth and avoid problems like smoke, and 3.) selling firewood by the cord required by law in Maryland. Find a reputable dealer to buy from, it will guarantee you quality and adequate fuel supply. And remember: store your firewood supply in a cool, dry place away from pests or flammable materials to keep it in prime condition for fireplace use! Questions or comments? Sound off below! Happy burning!