Posts tagged with "General"

Best Types of Outdoor Fire Pits For Patios & Backyards

Nothing makes a backyard or patio more welcoming than a warm, safe fire. Choosing the type of fire pit that will fit your space and meet your needs is no easy task. You have to consider how much space you will need to ensure safety, how many people will be enjoying the fire at one time, and which style will complement the landscaping and furniture of your outdoor space.

As experts on fireplaces and fireplace safety, we review the types of outdoor fire pits available and provide some helpful ideas to consider when making a selection. Other than digging a hole in the ground, there are two common ways to have a fire outdoors: outdoor fireplaces or freestanding fire pits. There are a many types freestanding fire pits or bowls which we will review below.

First, here are a few things you’ll want to consider when choosing the best type of fire pit for your space. Continue reading

Reviews: the Good, the Bad, and the Grateful

This doesn’t really fit in any category but I’m in a mood to write it.  Online reviews are an important part of doing business these days. We certainly get our fair share of the good and bad, but ultimately what’s important is our customer. We recently got a terrible review online. The guy gave a long and detailed description of a job gone bad and how terribly inept, unresponsive, etc, etc. we were. You can bet that got our attention and we looked into it right away.

chimney service in Glenwood MDThe thing is that we couldn’t find this fellow in the system at all.  And we couldn’t find a job that fit the description around the time he mentioned.  Not to mention, anything that went as bad as this guy’s job could not escape notice around here.  We are certain something is wrong with the review.  Do not think I am saying we never mess up- a company this size has its share of problems (usually from some kind of lack of communication- it’s our constant challenge) but we try to be right on top of every problem.  We try to get things resolved quickly for everyone’s sakes, including our own.  But this review doesn’t ring right. Continue reading

National Fire Prevention Week – Washington, DC

This October 5th-11th marks the 93rd year the National Fire Prevention Association holds their Fire Prevention Campaign. The campaign was first launched in 1922 after President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire (October 8th, 1871).

This year the theme is “Working smoke alarms save lives, test yours every month!” As part of the theme the NFPA has released some tips for installing, checking, and maintaining smoke alarms. Continue reading

About Chimney Sweep Certifications – The Need To Know

Chimney Sweep Certifications to Enhance Expertise

Chimney sweeps play important roles in our lives: they keep our fireplaces and chimneys happy and healthy so we can stay warm!  Kind of like a doctor for our chimneys!  These pros have to know what they’re doing when they stick their heads inside a chimney, and to do that, chimney sweeps obtain specialized training and the highest certifications in their field possible.  So what credentials do good, qualified chimney sweeps have?  There are a few necessary certifications, and we’ll look at those as well as what it takes to earn them.  Keep reading to learn more!

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Chimney Sweep Trivia: The Light Side

The following post is brought to you by Nayaug Chimney Services, chimney sweeps from Glastonbury, CT.

What do a pig and a whale bone have to do with chimney sweeping? Why did chimney sweeps of long ago wear top hats? Is it true that many people consider chimney sweeps to be as lucky as a rabbit’s foot? What the heck is a spazzacamini? These are just a few of the questions that can be answered when you take a look at the light side of chimney sweep trivia.

Chimney sweep in Poolesville MDWhale Bones Brushes

After the use of climbing boys was outlawed in England in 1864, inventor Joseph Glass came up with the original chimney cleaning equipment that was so effective, the cane and brush design is still in use today. One major difference is that early canes were imported from the East Indies and made of Malacca. Chimney cleaning brushes were originally made with whale bone, not nylon or polypropylene, as they are today.

Top Hats and Tails

There are a couple of different stories which provide an explanation for why early chimney sweeps wore top hats and tails.

A common tale is that chimney sweeps got their top hats and tails as cast-offs thrown out by funeral directors. Being black in color, the garments were practical; and they gave a distinctive air to chimney sweeps in their filthy but necessary professions.

One legend is that in about 1066 King William of Britain was pushed to safety by a chimney sweep as a runaway horse and carriage barreled toward him. The king rewarded the chimney sweep by declaring sweeps lucky and allowing chimney sweeps to wear top hats, which had previously been a custom reserved for the gentry and royalty.

Chimney Sweeps and Pigs

One of the bizarre stories involving chimney sweeps as good luck symbols also involved pigs. It was for a period of time a custom on New Year’s Day for a town chimney sweep to carry a pig through the streets. People would pay the sweep a small sum and then, while pulling a hair from the pig, make a wish.

Chimney Sweeps and Weddings

One legend that is still recognized today is that it is good luck to see a chimney sweep on your wedding day, and it’s even luckier if you shake a chimney sweep’s hand or if he gives the bride a kiss. There are a couple of stories behind this tradition. One is that a chimney sweep once fell from a roof; but because his foot was caught on a gutter, he hung upside down from the roof. A young woman who was engaged to another reached out and pulled him inside through her window, saving his life. The two fell in love and eventually got married to one another.

Another legend which suggests that chimney sweeps are symbols of good luck at a wedding involves King William of Britain and the above-mentioned story about top hats. Part of the king’s reward for saving his life was to invite the chimney sweep to his daughter’s wedding. Ever since that time, it has been considered good luck to have a chimney sweep at your wedding, at another special event, or even as a visitor to your home.

chimney sweeps in Germantown MDGathering of Spazzacamini

“Spazzacamani” is the Italian word for “chimney sweeps,” and it’s also the term used in reference to the annual international gathering of chimney sweeps in Santa Maria Maggiore, Italy. European sweeps have gathered there annually for decades as a way of honoring the climbing boys – referred to as the cradle of the chimney sweep profession – and to celebrate the great progress made in the industry since that cruel, centuries-long practice of sending small boys to climb up the chimneys with cleaning brushes.

Largest Chimney Sweep on Earth

In McPherson, Kansas, the largest chimney sweep in the world stands on the side of the road. The huge chimney sweep was formerly a baker holding a wooden spoon, but the owner of a chimney sweep company, Vaughn Juhnke, bought and renovated it.

As professional chimney sweeps, we take great pride in our profession and how far we have come since the days of such things as toting pigs down city streets on New Year’s Day. Give us a call if you need a chimney cleaning or chimney inspection or if you need any repairs, including masonry repairs; our technicians are all licensed professionals who have the skills to help keep your fireplace and chimney safe.

3 Strange and Unfortunate Chimney Accidents

It’s not news that roofs and chimneys can become hazardous places. What is news are the strange things that actually happen around chimneys. In the past few years, the world has seen some bizarre chimney accidents, from falls to car damage.

chimney service in Great Falls VA2011, Lorraine, France

In early November of 2011, an enthusiastic astronomer named Yoan climbed the roof of the unused factory, Crevéchamps in Meurthe et Moselle, and onto the chimney to see an asteroid pass by Earth. Bearing the additional weight of both his backpack and computer, a few rungs of Yoan’s ladder collapsed, trapping him on the chimney.

In his struggle high in the sky, Yoan made the top of the chimney crumble, the noise of the falling bricks luckily awakening a nearby neighbor. Though firemen arrived to assist in good time, Yoan stayed perched on the chimney into the wee hours of the morning, not wanting to come down until 6:30AM that day!

2012, Chicago, Illinois

In mid-December just last year, a young Minnesota native found his way up to the roof of the Hotel Intercontinental in Chicago to take scenic photos of the city at night. Nicholas Wiem, standing atop the 40+ story building, unfortunately lost his footing during the endeavor and fell into the hotel’s chimney. At first he simply suffered a few burns, seeming, for the most part, to be alright as Wiem texted and called his girlfriend during the ordeal. Given the fall, burns, and toxins that resided within the chimney, however, Weim passed away prior to being rescued from the shaft, an endeavor which took 4 hours, police and fire crews and a Michigan Avenue road closure to complete.

2013, UK

Perhaps the oddest chimney incident in recent history happened only a few weeks ago at the end of January and combined the forces of a chimney, strong wind and a parked car. As crazy as it may seem, chimney debris actually blew off of a house in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, England. Though no one was hurt and the whole chimney itself certainly did not break off and plummet onto the Fiat parked below, a great deal of bricks did, damaging 23-year old Julius Benjamin’s car enough to require his landlord to pay for the damage.

Accidents can happen no matter what you do. However, a good lesson we can take away from these examples is to exercise caution around both roofs and chimneys. Roofs in public spaces are certainly not playgrounds and are generally off-limits to visitors—so respect that. One could hardly give advice on rogue chimney bricks hitting cars, as it is relatively unheard of, however if a structure looks unsound it’s best to stay clear of it (both you and your car). And if you absolutely must access the exterior of a chimney, leave the work to the chimney sweep pros.

Animals and Birds Inside Your Chimney

A number of factors go into maintaining both the safety and overall condition of your chimney.  We know that hazards like residue buildup can cause problems, but many of us don’t remember the smaller nuisances—chimney pests.  A number of unwanted critters can find their way into your chimney, so let’s talk about what those are and how to rid yourself of them.

Chimney swifts & chimney repair in Mclean VABirds in the Chimney

If there is an opening in your chimney, birds often find it tempting to make their way inside.  One notable pest affecting residents in the Washington DC area is the chimney swift.  Chimney swifts are little brownish black birds with a penchant for building nests the chimney.  Unfortunately, once a swift makes its way into your chimney, you’ll likely be stuck with it for a few weeks, as chimney swift chicks hang about the nest for 14-18 days.  Having these birds in the chimney can be quite annoying—they’re vocal little buggers!

When you find yourself plagued by chimney swifts, which are classified as a Threatened species, there isn’t much that you may legally do about it.  The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal regulation, prevents removal of chimney swift eggs and chicks.  To remove the birds by means chemical or otherwise would require a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The best you can do with swifts is to clean up after they’ve gone.  Technicians can be called in later to clean up and remove nest remnants from the chimney. Chimney swifts and most other birds are less likely to return to a nesting location if the nest has been removed.

Animals in the Chimney

Several animals can get into your chimney, including squirrels and bats.  A particularly pesky intruder in the DC area is the raccoon.  Raccoons, usually females, make their way into chimneys to birth and care for pups.  Crafty as they are, mother raccoons sometimes succeed in not only getting inside the chimney, but passing through the smoke shelf or chimney damper right above the fireplace.  If they’ve gotten this far, there’s a good chance of eventually making their way into your home.  If not, you’ll likely have to at least contend with various animal odors.

A raccoon is an animal you never want to have hanging around, as they are notorious for carrying a variety of diseases.  Raccoons are home to bugs like fleas and ticks, which you or your pets can get, and also diseases like rabies and roundworm.

Luckily, there are ways to remove mama and her babies from the chimney.  If you don’t mind the smell, items like predator urine may get rid of raccoons.  A humane method of removal is the live trap. Raccoon trapping is legal in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia, and several services are available. You’ll likely want to trap the mother while she passes through the chimney liner or even attempt to scare her out in some manner.  The babies don’t put up much of a fight quite yet, so it’s pretty simple to reach up the fireplaces and grab them.

chimney cap install & chimney repair in Potomac MD

The Ultimate Protection

The absolute best way to protect your chimney, fireplace, and ultimately your home from pest intrusion is to make sure you have a chimney cap.  If the top of the chimney is not closed off, you’re just asking for something to get inside it.  The best bet is to install a chimney cap that has an attached wire netting that will act as an additional barrier between pests and the chimney.

Obviously several chimney animals wish to invade your home, and they can be quite a nuisance. From loud chirping to unpleasant odors, these pests can create huge problems.  Take proper measures to protect your home.  Doing this will ensure that you won’t have to deal with birds or raccoons in the first place!

High’s Chimney Service named a 2012 Best Pick by EBSCO

Recently, High’s Chimney Service has been named a 2012 Best Pick by EBSCO Research, an independent consumer research firm that produces the publication Best Pick Reports. Currently, High’s Chimney Service is a 2012 best pick for Chimney & Fireplace work in the Montgomery County region, as seen here. As of right now, we’re the only chimney company in the area to earn that distinction.

best chimney sweep in Germantown MDWe’re pretty proud of that.

A little while ago, Best Pick Reports shared with us 15 pages worth of reviews from customers of High’s Chimney that it had independently compiled. We’re happy to say that most are grade A reviews, and we received an A average, although we’ll admit there are some reviews that indicate room for improvement. But we take feedback seriously. Making the perfect chimney company is a never-ending process.

And, if you’d like to see a few of the reviews compiled by Best Pick Reports, read on, because we’ve included some of them below, unedited.

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6 Weird Things You Would Never Expect to Find in Chimneys

What do dead bodies, burglars, nearly $1.5 million dollars and poison have to do with each other? You might think this is the latest Guy Ritchie screenplay, but you’d be wrong. The truth is that all of these things have been found inside chimneys. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, really, since people don’t usually spend too much time looking up their flue (though they really should). Think about it; when’s the last time you inspected your own chimney?

#6 Proof that DDT Kills Birds

Chimney swifts & chimney repair in Mclean VA

Researchers at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario made a strange discovery in a decommissioned Chimney in a campus building – over fifty years’ worth of bird droppings. Researchers dug in (literally) and found that the bird droppings showed sharp decreases in beetles in the diet of insect-eating birds that frequented the chimney. The dramatic decline of the beetle population was due to the use of the infamous chemical DDT, which the beetles were especially susceptible to.  This, in turn, lead to a decrease of the population of the swifts that used the chimney, further damaging the already notorious reputation of the DDT compound.

#5 More than £870,000 in cash

On the other side of the pond in the UK, police found £871,495 up the chimney stack in the Bradford home of Baber Bashir, a conman who had acquired his ill-gotten gains largely through an unspecified fraud. Found tucked in his chimney, the cash amounted to just around $1.5 million USD by today’s standards, making it easily the most valuable chimney in Bradford. That is, before all the money was confiscated by the police and Mr. Bashir and company were locked up for their crimes.

#4 Dead cats and shoes

On the other side of the world in Australia, you might not be too surprised to find a dead cat or a shoe inside your chimney. Reason being, early Australian settlers were very superstitious, and often would hide either a shoe or, in some more morbid cases, a dead cat inside their chimneys. The practice is believed to have come to Australia by way Britain from an ancient Roman practice to ward off evil spirits. Homeowners put these totems in parts of their homes where evil spirits might lurk.

#3 A Burglar

Believe it or not, Santa can serve as an inspiration for more than just altruism. In Georgia, an Atlanta area teen took a page out of the red-suited man’s book when he tried to burglarize a home by slipping through the chimney. After spending ten hours overnight trapped in the flue, he finally cried for help and caught the attention of a neighbor who called the police. After getting pulled from the flue, he went from out of the fire and into the frying pan as he was immediately arrested. To add fuel to the flames, the would-be-burglar made another poor choice by providing police with a false name when they arrested him, really putting him in ‘hot water’.

#2 A Letter to Santa (from 1912)

On a lighter note on the Santa side of things, a Dublin, Ireland man found a note to Santa when cleaning his fireplace; but not just any note. This note, believed to be penned by Hannah and Alfred Howard, somehow survived 100 years on a shelf on the inside of the fireplace. Despite constant use of the fireplace throughout that entire time, the letter has only a small amount of burn damage and is in remarkably good condition. Featuring a detailed, if terse, list of toys and treats the two children desired, it ends with a friendly ‘Good Luck’, and has a few illustrations to go along with it.

#1 A Dead Body (from 1984)

 

There’s no shortage of bodies found in chimneys, as they seem to make a good hiding place for less-savory characters, but this particular body has a pretty interesting history behind it. Joseph Schexnider, a former National Guard serviceman, was due to appear in court in 1984, an appearance that he never made. Known in his family for frequently skipping town, they thought little of it. For twenty-seven years, they presumed that he was on the lamb from charges of possession of a stolen vehicle. Then, in May of 2011, the local bank began renovating it’s second floor, previously used only as storage space. Inside the chimney they discovered Joseph’s remains. He hadn’t suffered any broken bones or apparent trauma, so investigators ruled the death accidental.

And the list goes on…

Chimneys are strange places – even though many households have and use them it’s rare that homeowners take a peek and see what might be hidden from view. Take a look, and maybe you’ll find something for us to feature in a future sequel to this post! Although you probably won’t find any treasure, you should be checking for creosote build-up, for the safety of your family. Build-up’s can be dangerous, and if they catch fire, they can burn your entire house down to the ground. Take a look up there today!

Find anything strange in your chimney? Let us know in the comments below.

Sources:
http://abcnews.go.com/US/skeleton-found-chimney-27-years-man-disappeared/story?id=14169501
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2011/1221/1224309341785.html
http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/8304816.Man_jailed_over___870_000_cash_found_in_Heaton_house_chimney_stack/
http://www.care2.com/causes/48-year-old-dung-deposit-links-ddt-to-bird-decline.html
http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/04/02/3469167.htm?site=newcastle
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45323384/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/hes-no-santa-burglary-suspect-stuck-hours-chimney/