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What Type of Fireplace Do You Have? Here’s how to Tell.

Although every type of fireplace burns fuel and provides a degree of warmth, not every fireplace is the same. Depending on the type you have, certain maintenance tasks will be necessary to keep it safe and operating at peak levels. Let’s look at the most popular fireplace styles.

Open masonry fireplace in Fulton, MD Open masonry fireplace

These are the traditional fireplaces, built into a wall by a mason and often surrounded by brick, stone or other materials. Unless the fireplace has been retrofitted, it burns wood logs.

Masonry fireplaces look fabulous and add a rustic touch of charm to a home, but they’re not particularly good heat producers. The open design of these fireplaces allows about 80% or more of the heat they create to be lost up the chimney.

Maintaining a masonry fireplace centers around cleaning and inspection. Wood fires produce creosote, which builds up in your flue and can ignite and start a chimney fire. Certified chimney sweeps use specialized tools to remove creosote and other obstructions from your chimney to keep it safe for use.

Gas & wood Inserts

Inserts are built in factories and are sized to fit directly into the fireboxes of masonry fireplaces. Fireplace inserts are powerful heat producers and add a stunning decorative accent to your home.

Gas inserts should be inspected annually to ensure that the components and gas line connections are in good shape.

Wood inserts, like any wood-burning appliance, need yearly service from a chimney sweep to remove creosote and soot from the vent pipe. Fireplace inserts require venting, but not with the existing chimney. Custom vent pipes are included with both styles of inserts.

Zero-clearance gas and wood fireplacesWood Burning Fireplace in Poolesville, MD

These appliances get their name from their heavy-duty insulation properties that make them safe to install within virtually any wall in the home with no clearance required between the unit and adjacent wall materials and flooring. Similar in performance to fireplace inserts, ZC fireplaces are self-contained units that are installed in places other than the firebox of an existing fireplace.

Zero-clearance fireplaces retain the heat they produce – as much as 80% to 90% of it – and send the heat into the room rather than up the vent pipe. A gas model needs annual safety inspections; a wood-burning model needs inspection along with professional cleaning of the vent system that comes with the unit.

Gas log sets

Gas logs are used in an existing wood-burning fireplace. When professionally installed, these devices create safe warmth and a lot of beauty, with logs that look remarkably similar to real wood.

A gas log set gives you lovely fires but none of the mess and professional cleaning requirements of a wood fireplace.

No matter what type of fireplace you have, it can bring you many years of pleasure and enjoyment. The key to getting the most out of your fireplace is to stay on top of maintenance, which means regular inspection and necessary repairs. For wood-burning units, proper maintenance includes chimney/vent pipe cleaning once a year.

High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is ready to help keep your fireplace safe and running at peak efficiency. We offer CSIA-certified chimney sweep services, fireplace and chimney inspection and repairs on all types of fireplaces and heating stoves. Call us today at (301) 519-3500.

 

Damaged Chimney Signs & Symptoms

Chimney Masonry Repair in Fulton MDA fully functional chimney is a safe chimney. A damaged chimney can be dangerous. Fortunately, you can spot many signs of chimney damage and arrange for the necessary repairs before the problem gets out of hand. Here are four areas of chimney damage/chimney issues to be on the lookout for.

Leaky chimney signs

Water in the firebox: If you see water inside your firebox, likely it means there’s a leak somewhere in the system.

 

White stains on masonry: White stains (efflorescence) are caused by naturally occurring salt and mean that water is getting into the masonry.

Foul smells coming from the fireplace: Excess moisture inside the flue often is caused by a leaky chimney. Moisture mixes with soot and creosote and produces strong odors.

Structural damage 

Crumbling on the roof: Masonry damage often leaves areas of crumbling on the roof near the base of the chimney.

Leaning chimney: If a chimney has begun to lean to one side, it indicates a significant level of damage that needs to be addressed before using the fireplace again.

Missing bricks: When bricks fall completely away from the chimney or parts of the bricks are missing, water damage is often the reason.

Black staining at the top of the chimney: This could be caused by the excess, thick smoke produced by a chimney fire.

Damage to chimney components

Damaged chimney cap: Any compromise to the vented areas of a chimney cap mean that unwanted obstructions could get into the flue and cause drafting issues.

Cracks in the chimney crown: Crown damage commonly begins with small cracks, which expand over time due to freeze-thaw cycles. Water inside the crown structure eventually can destroy it.

Flashing problems: The flashing that blocks the gap between the chimney and the roof should be flat and secure in order to keep water from running down into the home. Warped or deteriorated flashing needs to be replaced.

Chimney liner damage: If the chimney liner begins to break apart or degenerate, you may notice pieces of it in the firebox. You also may be able to visually see some parts of the liner to determine if damage is present.

Chimney Flue Cleaning in Glenwood, MDIssues inside the flue

Aside from what’s listed above, two serious issues can take place inside the flue.

  1. Excess creosote buildup: Creosote is formed when wood burns. The substance is flammable and responsible for most chimney fires in the U.S. each year.
  2. Outside obstructions: Things such as small-animal nests, dead small animals, leaves, twigs and other debris can narrow the smoke passage and cause smoke and carbon monoxide to back up into the house. In both these cases, professional chimney sweep services are called for.

As a homeowner, you can keep a close eye on your chimney and its components and be able to tell when something is wrong. However, your “novice” inspections are no replacement for professional chimney inspections performed by certified technicians. If you watch your chimney and schedule annual inspections by a pro, you’ll be taking a big step toward keeping your chimney safe and running optimallyHigh’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, provides everything you need for a safe chimney including certified chimney sweep, professional inspection and expert repair services. Call (301) 519-3500 with questions or to schedule an appointment.

 

 

How to Get Your Chimney Ready for Santa Claus

Chimney sweep in Potomac MDIt’s that time of year again – the time good old Santa Claus hitches up his sleigh to the reindeer and heads to the homes of every good boy and girl and shimmies down chimneys to leave brightly wrapped presents for the kids. Okay, none of this may be true, but it’s not a bad idea to think it is when it comes to taking care of your chimney.

Let’s look at four ways you can prepare your chimney for Santa and in the process keep it running at max safety and efficiency.

 

 

 

First, Santa needs to be able to get into the chimney

If your chimney is full of accumulated leaves and twigs and dust and bird nests and possibly the bodies of small animals who have died in the chimney, Santa might not even fit into the flue. So, step one in getting your chimney ready for a visit from the Old Man is to have all the obstructions cleaned out.

Doing this will also allow your fires to burn more efficiently and keep smoke drafting up the flue rather than backing up into your home.

Next, Santa can’t afford to get too dirty

Creosote and soot inside a chimney can seriously mar Santa’s pristine red-and-white appearance. If Santa went down a chimney packed with these smoke byproducts, he would emerge looking like he’d been dragged through the mud.

Removing creosote and soot from your chimney also brings the benefit of significantly reducing the chance of a chimney fire – most of which in the U.S. each year start with ignited creosote.

Masonry repair in Poolesville, MDChimney repairs 

Santa isn’t getting any smaller as the years pass, so your chimney might be a tight fit for him. The last thing you need is for his sizeable girth to push against already compromised bricks and mortar joints and cause the whole chimney to come tumbling down.

Damage from water infiltration, house-settling, seismic events and plain old age can cause chimney masonry to degrade. Once the structure is sufficiently compromised, it can begin to fall apart and create a danger for everyone near it. It would be a good idea to repair damaged masonry before Santa arrives.

Finally, don’t smoke out Santa

You’ve decided to leave a low fire burning in the fireplace during the night. Hopefully you’re burning dry (seasoned) logs that produce minimal smoke. Sure, Santa can come down chimneys when the fireplace is in use, but he’s only human, and if you’re burning wet, unseasoned wood, he’s going to get smoked out before he can drop off the presents and eat whatever snack you left for him.

By burning dry wood only, you create much less smoke, which means less creosote and soot buildup as well as less smoke emissions going out into the atmosphere. Plus, your fires will start easier and burn better.

Of course, it’s unlikely that Santa will be dropping down your chimney this holiday season. But if you go about chimney maintenance as if he really was going to pay you a visit, you’ll have a much cleaner, safer and efficient chimney to enjoy all winter long.

High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is standing by this winter to help with the very best in certified chimney sweep services, chimney repair and chimney inspection. We’ll get your chimney in great shape for the long winter season – and maybe for a special visit from you-know-who. Call us at (301) 519-3500.

 

Maximum Efficiency from Your Fireplace This Winter

Fireplace Cleaning in Fulton MDThe only thing better than a fireplace in the winter is an efficient fireplace in the winter. By following these six tips for max fireplace efficiency and safety, you’ll make a big difference in how much you enjoy your fireplace during the cold months.

Tip 1: chimney health 

This tip means to schedule chimney sweep service and fireplace/chimney inspection before the season kicks in. Chimney sweeps will remove flammable creosote and draft-hampering obstructions from your flue, while an inspection will uncover any part of your fireplace system that needs service.

Tip 2: Use dry firewood

Logs that haven’t had time to fully dry out (usually takes six months to a year after chopping) burn inefficiently and produce a lot more smoke than dry logs. Logs that are dry make hotter fires that burn longer and look spectacular.

2a: When storing your firewood outside, set the stack on a rack or pallet to keep it off the damp ground. Store wood in an area that is shielded from rain. If you prefer to use a tarp covering, make sure the ends are open so air can circulate.

2b: Remember that different types of wood have different burn qualities. For hotter, longer-lasting fires, go with hardwoods like maple, elm, oak and beech. When you want a shorter burn time, use softwoods like cedar, fir and red pine.

Wood Burning Fireplace in Poolesville, MDTip 3: maximum performance

When stacking logs, make sure to leave some breathing room in between them. Some people say to start your fire from the top down; other say burn from the bottom up. Whichever way you go, a trick to getting really blazing fires is to start with a relatively small log stack and get it blazing well before adding more wood. Try this and see – and feel – the difference.

Tip 4: Keep the firebox clean

The more clutter of ashes and charred wood in your firebox, the less air that can get in to intensify your fires.

Shovel out debris regularly – and wash/scrape off any soot or creosote on the firebox walls to reduce the chance of fire.

Tip 5: Remember to close the damper after a fire

After your logs are finished burning, preserve the heat that’s in your home by shutting the fireplace damper. A house will retain a certain amount of fireplace-produced heat after the fire is over, but all that heat will go right up the chimney if the damper is left open.

Tip 6: Safety precautions

  • Burn only wood in your fireplace – no household trash, plastics, cardboard, furnishings or any other material.
  • Never use gasoline, lighter fluid or other accelerants to start a fire.
  • Know the signs of a chimney fire: large amounts of dark smoke from either end of the chimney; a clicking/tapping noise; a rumbling sound like a distant train. Call 911 if you notice any of these signs, and put out the fire in the firebox, if safe to do so.
  • Keep young children and pets away from the fireplace while it’s in use; purchase a fireplace screen, if necessary.
  • Make sure you have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors properly installed inside your home.

High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is here to help with CSIA-certified chimney sweep, chimney inspection and chimney and fireplace repairs. We’ll do the job right the first time to ensure safety for you and your family. Call us today at (301) 519-3500.

 

Warning Signs Your Wood Stove Needs Replacing

Damaged Wood Burning Stove in Fulton, MDMany homeowners depend on wood-burning stoves for heat. And if your heating stove is more than 15 years old, you are probably wondering when it will need to be replaced. Keep an eye out for one or more of the following warn signs that indicate it’s time to replace your wood stove.

It was manufactured before 1995

If you have a wood stove that was manufactured before 1995, its time to consider a replacement, older wood stoves are not as efficient and produce a lot more pollution than newer models.

In 2015, the EPA made the most significant changes since 1988 with the introduction of Step 1 of the revised performance standards. The new rule requires manufacturers of wood-burning stoves and heaters to emit no more than 4.5g of smoke per hour.

It was a significant reduction in pollution compared to old stoves that release up to 30 grams of smoke per hour.

And to meet these strict new government standards, wood stove manufacturers made significant changes to its internal design. As a result, more modern EPA-certified wood stoves are more efficient, burn cleaner, and are easier and safer to use.

Signs of warping or cracking

Many wood stoves are built to perform for decades. But the lifespan of your wood stove will largely depend on the quality of materials. While most woods stoves are made from steel or iron, the grade of these materials and quality of workmanship will largely determine the life expectancy of your model. In the last 20 years, imports have flooded the market. Many of these imports use lower grade materials. Although wood stoves that are made from iron or steel are designed to withstand a regular wood-burning operation, the repeated heating and cooling can eventually cause warping. Also, excessive creosote inside the stove can cause a fire. The extremely high temperatures can also cause the stove to warp, and you may notice some cracks near the bolts or welding.

If your wood stove is showing signs of warping or cracking, it is no longer safe to use and should be replaced.

Wood Stove Installation in Poolesville, MDIt produces a lot of smoke

A small amount of smoke is reasonable, especially when starting a fire. But if your wood stove is producing more smoke than normal, your stove may have problems that need a total replacement. The baffle plate or catalytic combustion may be damaged, and there could be water leaks or other damages. A smoky stove is also very inefficient to operate and produces much less heat. Since smoke also causes excessive pollution, including creosote, it’s a sign that it’s time to replace your heating appliance.

 excessive creosote

Older wood stoves are not clean burning devices and require frequent cleaning to prevent the accumulation of creosote and other residues. And if it’s been quite some time since your last stove cleaning, there may be an excessive accumulation of creosote, soot, and other debris in the stove, stovepipe, and vent. Creosote is the primary cause of residential fires. A fire that starts in your stove can quickly spread to your stove pipe and other combustibles throughout your home. So, if you have a lot of creosote in your stove, it’s time to switch to a cleaner-burning EPA-certified wood stove.

You need to use more wood fuel than in the past to get the same level of heat

If your stove is consuming more wood fuel than before to maintain the desired heat, then there may be issues with its heating efficiency. The performance of your wood stove can degrade over time due to warping, air and water leaks, and other problems. Replacing an inefficient wood stove with a newer model will reduce your energy costs. Newer EPA-certified models produce up to 50 percent more heat while consuming 1/3 less fuel.

Clean-Burning & Long-Lasting Fires

Chopped Seasoned FirewoodA lot of times when fires in a fireplace are less than spectacular – when they’re too smoky, don’t last very long, produce excess soot and creosote – it’s not the fault of the fireplace. Often, the only problem is the wood that’s being used.

Not all firewood logs are the same. They look pretty similar, but it’s what’s underneath the patterned bark that makes all the difference. Here are a few things to know when choosing firewood for clean-burning, long-lasting fires.

  1. Select dry wood

Seasoned, or dry, wood logs burn hotter and more efficiently while creating less smoke than wet, unseasoned wood. Plus, they ignite easier and hold their flames longer.

Fires that produce tons of smoke also produce quite a bit of flammable creosote, which sticks to the walls of the flue and can lead to a chimney fire. In fact, most chimney fires happen because homeowners neglect to have their chimneys properly cleaned and inspected on an annual basis.

Dry wood logs have certain characteristics:

  • Grayish or dark color
  • A hollow sound when you bang two logs together
  • Lightweight, not too heavy
  • Cracks/splits at the ends of the logs
  • Bark that easily flakes away .

Store your logs the right way

    Beautiful Wood Burning Fireplace In Fulton, MDLogs stored outside should be set on some kind of small riser/pallet to keep them off the damp ground. Cover the stack with a waterproof tarp, but leave the ends open so air can circulate within the logs and aid in the drying process.

    1. Give your fire what it needs: air

    Air (oxygen) is a key component in creating fire. For a fire to build to roaring proportions, a sufficient amount of air is required. Accomplish this by not stacking logs too tightly together in the firebox.

     

    Additionally, make sure the house has some circulation (crack a window, if necessary), and keep your chimney free of obstructions and built-up creosote to ensure plenty of draft.

    Important note: Chimney cleaning is not a job for the average homeowner. The best choice for this work is a professional chimney sweep who is licensed, insured and certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). This ensures that the job will be done right and safely.

    1. Choose the right logs for the desired burn time

    Logs from hardwood trees will burn longer and hotter than logs from softwood trees.

    Hardwoods include:

    • Maple
    • Oak
    • Beech
    • Hickory
    • Alder
    • Walnut

    Softwoods include:

    • Douglas fir
    • Cedar
    • Redwood
    • Juniper
    • Pine
    • Spruce

    If you chop your own firewood . . .

    After chopping your own wood, exercise patience in the drying process. Depending on the density and moisture, freshly chopped wood can take between six months and a year to fully dry out. Plan accordingly as you build up your supply from season to season.

    High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, believes every home should have a stunning fireplace to enjoy during the cold weather and at other times. Part of that enjoyment comes from a fireplace and chimney that are clean and in tip-top shape. Let us help you keep your fireplace or stove working right. We offer certified chimney sweep, chimney inspection, fireplace, stove and chimney repair and all related services. Give us a call today at (301) 519-3500.

     

     

     

    Chimney Sweeps vs. DIY for Chimney Cleaning & Service

    Chimney Inspection in Fulton, MDWithin the fireplace and chimney services industry, the 2016 scuffle between the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and Angie’s List is fairly well-known. For those of you not familiar with the issue, here’s the thumbnail version.

    Angie’s List, a popular article mill, posted a piece that implied that homeowners could properly clean their own chimneys. Knowing this was false, misleading and dangerous information, the CSIA got to work and forced Angie’s List to remove the article titled “How to Clean Your Chimney.”

     

    In a letter to the president of Angie’s List, shown here on the CSIA blog, CSIA President Mark A. Stoner wrote:

    “Encouraging the average homeowner, who does not meet the (National Fire Protection Association’s) definition of a ‘qualified agency’, to perform his or her own chimney service [. . .] is not only irresponsible and negligent but could lead directly to the loss of life or property due to a chimney fire or carbon monoxide intrusion into the residence.”

    Stoner continued: “By posting this article to its website and promoting it via social media, Angie’s List has effectively endorsed this content and it should be held liable for any and all damages ensuing from a homeowner’s adherence to instructions therein.”

    Why DIY chimney cleaning is not recommended

    Mark Stoner of the CSIA was right in pulling out all the stops to get Angie’s List to remove that article. While there are some fireplace and chimney maintenance tasks the average homeowner can perform safely and effectively (cleaning the firebox; doing a general inspection of chimney masonry or some of the chimney’s components), cleaning creosote out of a chimney is not one of them.

    Professional chimney sweeps go through a rigorous process to obtain valued certifications from the CSIA and other hearth-industry agencies. These include:

    • Certified Chimney Professional
    • Certified Master Chimney Technician
    • Certified Chimney Sweep
    • Certified Chimney Reliner

    Chimney Sweep in Poolesville, MDIndividuals who hold these and other high-level certifications have demonstrated that they understand the multiple elements of a chimney’s operation and structure and have shown specific expertise in using the tools and equipment that are industry-standard in cleaning chimneys.

    Don’t let a “handyman” work on your chimney

    When you allow an untrained individual to clean or do other work on your chimney, you’re setting yourself up for some potentially serious problems.

    Creosote, which forms in a chimney every time wood burns, is highly flammable and is the cause of most chimney fires in the U.S. each year. Cleaning creosote out of a chimney often is a challenging job – even for a professional. Creosote can present as a flakey, sticky or solid substance. Each form requires specific actions for effective removal.

    Certified chimney sweeps make use of electric and hand brushes, specialized solvents, scrapers, vacuums and other equipment to safely remove creosote without damaging the chimney’s interior masonry or liner.

    Just as you would only go to a qualified physician to perform an important medical procedure, you should only hire a qualified, certified chimney sweep to clean your chimney. This professional will know a lot more about the cleaning process and chimneys in general than any “average” person.

    High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is staffed with trained, experienced, certified chimney professionals. When we clean your chimney, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing it was done correctly and in accord with all safety precautions. Give us a call at (301) 519-3500 for your next professional chimney service.

     

    5 Safety Tips for Wood Stove Owners

    Wood Stove Installation in Fulton, MDGetting a long and efficient life out of your wood stove and keeping your home and family safe when using it are important to every wood stove owner. Here are five operational and safety tips to follow for the best experience with your wood stove.

    1. The wood your burn in your stove

    Modern heating stoves are high heat producers and are designed to burn more efficiently than wood stoves of the past. You can contribute to your stove’s efficiency and heat generation by burning the right wood in the right way.

     

    First, use only seasoned (dry) wood for your fire. Damp wood is harder to get started and keep burning, and it produces far more smoke than dry wood.

    Hardwoods such as elm, maple, beech, oak and ash will produce longer, hotter fires than fir, red pine, cedar and other softwoods. Choose your firewood based on the length and intensity of the fire you want. Remember that because of their density, hardwoods take longer to dry, so keep that in mind when purchasing or chopping your wood.

    1. Wood stove maintenance

    For safety reasons, it’s important to clean out your wood stove’s firebox periodically. You’ll want to remove ashes and wood chips, then use a wire brush or similar apparatus to scrape soot and creosote from the stove’s inner surfaces. Excess creosote inside your stove can become a fire hazard, so keep it clean.

    1. Cleaning the vent pipe

    Wood Stove for sale in Poolesville, MDMore of a concern than built-up creosote inside your stove is the creosote that builds up inside the vent pipe, which you can’t see. Creosote forms when smoke is burned and can be flakey, sticky or hard within your flue pipe.WFD

    The best way to deal with cleaning your stove’s vent system is to let a professional do it. Certified chimney sweeps have the tools and expertise to safely remove creosote, soot and other debris from stove pipes. They also can perform system-wide inspections to check for structural damage, venting/drafting issues and worn components. Chimney sweeps are best known for cleaning fireplace chimneys, but they also service vent systems for all supplemental heating appliances.

    1. How not to start a fire

    Using non-approved items to get your fire started can result in dangerous stove operation and also can void certain free-standing heating stove warranties. Never use these items to start a fire:

    • Accelerants such as gasoline, charcoal starter or lighter fluid
    • Charcoal
    • Painted or treated wood
    • Clothing or any kind of fabric
    • Magazines
    • Christmas trees
    • Road flares
    • Household trash
    1. Smoke and CO monitors

    Whenever you have a stove or fireplace in your home, you also should have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) monitors. You already know the reason for smoke detectors. CO monitors check the air for carbon monoxide, which is critically important because this gas is invisible, odorless and potentially fatal to humans and pets. Set up your smoke and CO detectors according to manufacturer’s instructions or the advice of your chimney sweep.

    These are five important tips for running your wood-burning heating stove safely and efficiently. When you schedule regular cleaning and inspections from a CSIA-certified chimney sweep, you’ll learn a lot more about getting the most out of your wood stove and keeping your home and family safe.

    If it’s time for a good cleaning and stove inspection, High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is ready to get to work. We offer the very best in chimney sweep services, stove/fireplace maintenance and all levels of stove and fireplace repair. Call us today at (301) 519-3500.

     

    Warm Up with Your Fireplace Safely This Fall

    Chimney Inspection in Fulton, MDThe warm days and cool nights that fall brings to southwestern Maryland, and the Capitol Corridor is a welcome respite after a warm summer. But with lows already dipping into the ’40s in some areas, many homeowners are already lighting their fireplaces and wood stoves in the evenings. Our weather is going to get even colder with the possibility of freezing temperatures arriving as early as Thanksgiving, according to the monthly weather forecast.

    Chimney Inspection and Cleaning

    When was the last time you had a professional chimney inspection and cleaning? If it has been more than 12 months, scheduling a qualified chimney sweep should be a top priority. A professional chimney inspection assesses its condition and recommends necessary repairs to ensure that it is safe to use your fireplace or heating stove. The technician will also advise the homeowner if there are excessive amounts of creosote deposits and recommend if cleaning is necessary before use. An inspection will also uncover any damages or obstructions that may expose your home and occupants to a higher risk of fire or carbon monoxide.

    Repair or Replace Chimney Cap

    Chimney Repair in Poolesville, MDThe chimney cap plays a vital role in protecting your chimney.  First, it covers the exposed flue to allow the venting of smoke and fumes while preventing pests, leaves, twigs, and other debris from obstructing the vent. Second, it helps prevent water from intruding into the flue during periods of rain and snow. Third, it prevents hot embers and sparks from flying out of the flue and onto the roof, where it can be a fire hazard. And finally, the chimney cap minimizes downdrafts, which can force smoke, soot, and carbon monoxide into your living space. A broken or missing chimney cap increases the risk of water leaks and fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. It should be replaced with a cap that contains a wire mesh screen and spark arrestor. For even greater protection, ask your chimney professional about a chase cover.

    Install a Glass Fireplace Door

    A glass fireplace door contains sparks and embers inside the fireplace, so they don’t fly out and stain or ignite nearby flooring and furniture. They are not only attractive, but they also help radiate the heat in your living space. You will have a beautiful view of the flames without the safety risk. It’s a must for any home with small children or pets.

    Only Burn Seasoned Firewood

    Don’t be tempted to burn fresh or “green” wood in your fireplace. The problem with green wood is that the moisture produces lots of smoke. It also creates more creosote, which is a fire hazard in excessive amounts. Only burn wood that has been seasoned (dried) for at least six months. And, of course, never burn Christmas trees or any hazardous materials in your fireplace or heating stove.

    Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

    Carbon monoxide (CO2) is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that is also known as the “silent killer.” National fire and health safety experts strongly encourage all homeowners using solid or liquid fuel heating appliances to install a carbon monoxide detector. The CO2 detector is the only way you may be able to tell if deadly CO2 gas is leaking inside your home. If the CO2 detector sounds an alert, immediately open windows and doors to bring fresh air into your home. Turn off all heating appliances and contact your chimney professional. If anyone in your home is complaining of nausea, headaches, or dizziness, immediately dial 9-1-1.

    Don’t Leave a Fire Unattended

    It may be tempting to leave your fireplace warming your home when you go out for a quick bite or go to bed. But a sudden downdraft, excessive creosote, hot embers, and other problems can occur at any time that increases the risk of fire. Always extinguish the fire before leaving your home or retiring to bed.

     

     

    9 Things You Should Know When Burning Wood

    Beautiful Wood Burning Fireplace In Fulton, MDNothing beats a wood fire in the fireplace on a cold winter’s night. Or a cool autumn day. Or anytime, really. There’s something special and nostalgic about burning, crackling logs that you just can’t get any other way. If you love your wood fires, here are nine things to know when burning wood.

     Dry vs. wet wood

    Seasoned (dry) wood burns better and produces less smoke than wood that hasn’t had time to dry out. Excess smoke means excess creosote in your chimney, and sluggish burns mean an inefficient fire.

    Fires need air

    For a fire to burn at max capacity, air is needed. Reasons for not enough air getting to your log stack include:
    • house is air-tight – crack a window
    • damper is not fully open to generate a draft – open the damper
    • logs are stacked too close together – remove a few logs so the pile can breathe
    • flue has obstructions – have them removed

     Keep the flue clean

    Regular chimney sweep services by a CSIA-certified technician are important to keep excess flammable creosote from building up in the flue. Chimney cleaning also removes debris, animal nests and other unwanted items, which allows for more efficient drafting.

     Hardwoods vs. softwoods

    Wood Burning Fireplace in Poolesville, MDHardwoods such as alder, beech, hickory and maple are denser and burn longer and hotter than softwoods like cedar, juniper, pine and redwood. If you want a shorter, less-intense fire, go with softwoods. For longer-lasting, heat-heavy fires, hardwoods are ideal.

    Light from the top

    The best way to build a fire in a fireplace or stove is to start the burn with tinder and kindling on top of the log stack. The wood will burn better this way and reach its optimal temperature faster.

    The best tinder and kindling for wood fires

    Crumpled-up newspaper (not colored print), small twigs and pine needles make excellent tinder. For kindling, you want to use heavier material like larger twigs, branch pieces and wood slivers up to about an inch thick.

    What not to use when starting a wood fire

    Aside from newspaper tinder, never use non-wood-based items to start a fire. This includes any type of accelerant (lighter fluid, charcoal starter, gasoline) as well as household trash, lacquered/painted wood, magazines, cardboard boxes and clothing.

    Don’t overload the firebox

    If you pack too many logs in the firebox, the fire will burn too intensely and may cause a chimney fire. Follow the recommendations of your fireplace manufacturer or the advice of a chimney services professional in determining how many logs to use for your fire.

    Keep the hearth area clear

    Don’t set furnishings or rugs too close to the firebox, and use a fire screen or glass doors to keep popping embers from jumping out of the fireplace. Small children should never be left unattended in a room where a fire is burning.
    High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, wants everyone to enjoy their fireplaces in safety. We hope these wood-burning tips have helped. When it’s time for a thorough chimney cleaning to make your fireplace experience even safer, count on our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps to do the job right. Schedule an appointment or get your questions answered by an expert at (301) 519-3500.