Factory Built Fireplace, Oakland, Berkeley, Alamo, Lafayette, Orinda, Pleasant Hill, Concord, Danville, Blackhawk, Dryer Vent CleaningThis is a fireplace and chimney system that was manufactured in a factory (as the name implies) out of metal.  It is a modular system of component parts that was brought to a job site and installed once the wood framing for the house was in place.  It has a firebox lined with refractory panels, with a damper at the top of the firebox and lengths of double or triple-walled chimney place on top to form a complete fireplace and chimney system.  The chimney above the roofline may be enclosed by a wooden chase.

It has many slang names (which I refuse to use) but some of you may know this fireplace as a Z-Can, ZC, Zero Clearance fireplace (which is a misnomer) as clearances to combustibles are required.  I’ve heard some people refer to it as an insert, which is totally incorrect.

Wood burning in fireplaces, though very comforting, have adverse effects on the environment. (Mathew Sumner/San Mateo County Times)FLUE:  Most people say to me, “Will you close the flue once you complete the cleaning process?”  What they are really asking me to do is to close the damper.

So what is the definition of the word flue?  The chimney Safety Institute of America defines this word as, “The passage in a chimney for conveying flue gases to the outside atmosphere.”

And Webster’s Dictionary defines this word as, “A channel or pipe in a chimney for carrying flame and smoke to the outer air.”

The inside of your chimney may contain one or more flues.  It depends upon the number of fireplaces or gas appliances are in the home.

artificial log, berkeley, lafayette, orinda, walnut creek, danville, alamo, chimney clean, chimney

The commitment to purchase a gas fireplace insert is expensive.  Mind you, you will receive true heat value for years to come once you make that monetary investment.  But some people feel they cannot bare that expense and want an alternative choice and many folks would like just to install a set of artificial gas logs.

The manufacturers of artificial gas log sets state clearly in their installation directions that a chimney must be suitable for wood burning.

In order for us to determine if your fireplace and chimney are safe for this use, we must clean and inspect the interior surfaces of your chimney with our remote vision system (a chimney camera).  With this tool, we can check the condition of the clay liners and their related mortar joints.  If the clay liners in the chimney are fractured or damaged in some way and if the mortar joints are missing or deteriorated the chimney is not suitable for wood burning and in turn not safe for use with a set of artificial gas logs.

If we discover any of these defects our typical recommendations are to line the chimney with stainless steel or recommend the installation of a gas burning or wood burning fireplace insert.

The codes, standards and installation directions clearly state that anytime there is a change in the fuel source in a fireplace and chimney, the chimney must be cleaned prior to the installation of any new product.

creasote, soot, tar, oil, deposits inside chimney

The Chimney Safety Institute of America defines this word as, “Chimney and stovepipe deposits originating as condensed wood smoke, including tars, oils.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines it as, “A dark brown or black flammable tar deposited from especially wood smoke on the walls of a chimney.”

In my experience, I find most people do not realize that creosote is the by-product of anything that is burned in a fireplace or wood-burning stove or insert.  This material is flammable and is the major reason to have a chimney cleaned.

In most cases, it is impossible to remove all the creosote in a chimney.  Creosote can be stone hard and burns into the surfaces of a flue.  But creosote is amazing because it oxidizes and changes chemical composition so that hard, burned on material will become cleanable in some amount of time.

Wood burning in fireplaces, though very comforting, have adverse effects on the environment. (Mathew Sumner/San Mateo County Times)DAMPER:  The Chimney Safety Institute defines this word as, “A valve, usually a moveable or retractable plate for controlling the flow of air or smoke.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines it as, “ A valve or plate (as in the flue of a furnace) for regulating the draft.”

Many fireplaces have a damper blade located at the top of the firebox that is opened when a fire is to be lighted or closed once a fire has been suppressed.  During the colder months of the year it is ideal to close the damper when the fireplace is not in use, as that closed damper will help to keep the cold air outside the home while helping to keep the warm air in the home.  This saves money for the homeowner and prevents the warm, heater air from rising up the chimney and out of the home.

Not all but most dampers operate like a drawer.  When the damper handle is pushed in towards the back-wall of the firebox the damper is closed and when the damper handle is pulled forward (like an open drawer) the damper is open.

Most top-sealing dampers open by pulling down on the handle and releasing it from the bracket that has secured it to the sidewall of the firebox.  To close a top-sealing damper, pull down on the handle and lock the cable in the bracket.

*”Very few people realize the danger of clothes dryer fires. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an estimated annual 15,500 fires, 10 deaths and 10 injuries due to clothes dryer fires. Several hundred people a year are also subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning from improper dryer vent setups. The financial costs come to nearly $100,000,000 per year. In some cases faulty appliances are to blame, but many fires can be prevented with proper dryer venting.”  If you notice that your clothes require a much longer drying time, maintenance of the dryer exhaust system is imperative.yelp.com-l-495x371

Dryer fires occur when the lint accumulation and reduced airflow feed on each other to provide the condition that ignites a fire.  Most people don’t realize lint is highly combustible.

Once upon a time, dryers were always located in the basement of a home but today people have realized their ability to install a dryer closer to the dirty clothes source which is in the bedroom area of the home.  Often that remodel will put the dry between interior walls of the home instead of directly venting through an exterior wall and the venting material is installed in longer runs which means the dryer has to work harder to push the products of combustion farther.  The end results in a greater accumulation of lint, that highly combustible material.

It is important the lint is removed from the lint trap after every load that is dried.  Even with that good behavior lint can still wander into your appliance.  In our experience, lint screens located near the back of the dryer have less internal build up of lint than those with screens near the front door of the dryer.  We do our best to clean as much of that as possible but sometimes it is necessary to call upon the assistance of a dryer repair company that is qualified to disassemble the dryer and access the interior surfaces that collect lint.

If you are undertaking a remodeling project of this nature, try to make the exhaust run as short as possible, straighter is always better and avoid the use of too many elbows which restrict the flow.

Use only 26 gauge venting material and avoid flexible connectors that are constructed of flammable material.  Unfortunately, we see these flammable products sold in every local hardware store.

When pushing the dryer into position take care not to push the appliance so far back that it crushes the venting material.  If it is time to purchase a new dryer, measure the existing space and be certain not to purchase an appliance that is too deep and will compromise the vent connector.  If you notice a lot of “dust bunnies” in your laundry room, it could be because the venting connector has been crushed or has holes.

The dryer duct needs to vent to the outside atmosphere and not into an attic or crawlspace under the house.

Never use screws to put the venting material together.

For safety, never let your dryer run while you are asleep or out of the house and remember to read the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the safe use of their product and install as directed.

Need an appliance specialist?  We have a great referral for you whom we trust with our very own appliances:  Todd Anderson, Anderson Repair Services, 510-301-0223

*The source for this information is from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Proposal to phase out wood burning fireplaces in the Bay Area ended.  Full article available at Contra Costa Times – CLICK HERE.

Information gleaned from www. baaqmd.gov

Sole source of heat:
A wood-burning device may be used during a mandatory burn ban if the device is the only source of heat in a residential dwelling and the device is EPA certified. A person claiming this exemption is required to register the EPA certified device in the District’s registration program and submit records to the District for verification.
(Effective November 1, 2016)

images-9Non-Functional, Permanently Installed Heating Device:
Residential dwellings (excluding commercial and residential rental properties) that have a non-functional, permanently installed heating device may receive a temporary exemption from a mandatory burn ban if repairs are completed in 30 days and submission of all repair documentation is submitted to the District within 10 days of completion.
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Loss of Electric Power and/or Natural Gas:
The use of a wood-burning device is allowed during a mandatory burn ban when there is loss of electric power and/or natural gas as determined by the utility service providers.
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Mandatory Burn Ban:
A mandatory burn ban is declared to prevent regional wood smoke accumulation when a PM2.5 level is anticipated to exceed an unhealthy level within the next 3 days.

Update to the above:
A mandatory burn ban is declared when a negative impact upon public health is anticipated resulting from PM2.4 levels forecast to exceed 35 mg/m3. “Mandatory Burn Ban” will replace “curtailment period.” (name change)
Staff determined that Rule 6-3 already allows the District flexibility to declare Winter Spare the Air Alerts 2 – 3 day sooner to prevent unhealthy air from occurring and it is not necessary to amend the regulatory requirements of this section.

Sales and Manufacturing of Wood Heaters:
All new EPA certified wood-burning devices manufactured and sold must meet or exceed new NSPS standards:
• Effective 60 days after new NSPS standards are published in the Federal Register:
o 4.5g/hr for catalytic and non-catalytic stoves using crib test or cordwood test. If cordwood testing is conducted, the manufacturer must supply the emissions test method to EPA and the test method must be approved.
o Effective 5 years after the date of the final rule, the following new NSPS standards apply:
2.0 g/hr for catalytic and non-catalytic stoves using crib test.
2.5 g/hr for catalytic and non-catalytic stoves using cordwood test. The manufacturer must supply the emissions test method to EPA and the test method must be approved.
Wood stove retailers will be allowed to sell existing inventory of EPA certified devices rated 4.6 g/hr – 7/5 g/hr until December 31, 2015.

Sale or Transfer of Real Property has been changed to Disclosure Requirements for Real Property:
Real estate property may not be sold or transferred if it includes an uncertified wood-burning device. The seller may decommission the uncertified device or may replace it with gas-fueled, electric, or EPA Certified devices that meet or exceed new NSPS standards.
(Effective November 1, 2016)

Update to the above:
Removed Proposed “Point-of-Sale” Requirement
The “point-of-sale” requirement has been changed to require disclosure documents upon sale or rental of real property to disclose health hazards of PM2.5
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Fireplace or Chimney Remodels:
Upon remodeling a fireplace or chimney, an uncertified wood-burning device must be replaced with a device that is gas-fueled, electric or EPA certified that meets or exceeds new NSPS standards. This requirement is triggered by any fireplace or chimney remodeling activity that requires a local building permit.
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Update to the above:
Upon remodeling a fireplace or chimney, an uncertified wood-burning device must be replaced with a device that is gas-fueled, electric or EPA certified if the remodel cost exceeds $15,000 and requires a local building permit.
(Effective November 1, 2016)

Commercial and Residential Rental Property has been changed to Rental Properties with Natural Gas Service:
All commercial and residential rental properties must have an alternate form of heat that does not burn solid fuel and all wood-burning devices must be EPA certified or be replace with gas-fueled or electric devices.
(Effective November 1, 2016)

Update to the above:
Removed proposed requirement that all rental properties must replace wood-burning devices with gas-fueled, electric or EPA certified devices.
All rental property in areas with natural gas service must have an alternate from of heat that does not burn sold fuel.
(Effective November 1, 2018)

New Building Constructions:
New building constructions may only install gas-fueled or electric devices. Installation of devices that burn solid fuel is prohibited.
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Update to the above:
Only the date has been changed.
(Effective November 1, 2016)

Visible Emissions Limitation:
Following a 20 minute start-up allowance for new fires, visible emission of grater than 20% opacity and aggregate to 3 minutes in any hour is considered an exceedance of the standard.
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Registration:
Registration – All residential properties claiming Only Source of Heat Exemption must have a registered EPA certified device.
o Type of Device(s)
o # of Device(s)
o Make, Model and Serial # of Device(s)
o Manufacture Date(s)
(Effective November 1, 2016)

wood burning fireplaces, gas log set

Seize the moment!

Those with wood-burning fireplaces take note! Have you heard about the most recent new proposal to be mandated by the (BAAQMD) Bay Area Air Quality Management District? In a nutshell, there is a strong push toward the elimination of fireplaces. As a result, if you are considering the installation of a set of artificial gas logs or a gas-burning fireplace insert, seize the moment NOW, especially if you are considering relocating in the near future.

The Time is NOW!

As we move toward September, Bay area retail stores and professional chimney installers will be overwhelmed and those dreams to have an installation completed by the Holidays may not become a reality. This is YOUR MOMENT to be pro-active. So before that little cold nip of fall air puts a shiver in your spine, start planning.

4 Guidelines to help with your Chimney decisions

  1. Any time a fuel source is changed in a fireplace, for example, wood-burning to a gas conversion, the chimney must be cleaned.
  2. If the plan is to install as set of artificial gas logs, an inspection of the interior surfaces of the chimney is required to determine the worthiness of the clay liners inside the chimney and their related mortar joints.
  3. If the chimney fails the inspection, you might want to consider your options which could include installing a stainless steel liner in the chimney that will support that set of logs or installing a gas-burning or wood-burning fireplace insert.
  4. It might also be time to consider the seismic liability of your chimney.

The BAAQMD is on the move. There is a proposed mandate coming down the pipeline and all Bay Area residents who love their open wood-burning fireplace should take notice. If the proposal is approved, this will be a requirement on all home sales; Please check our website www.theirishsweep.com regularly for updated information.

The Irish Sweep offers complete installation of artificial gas logs or fireplace insert. Contact us today to schedule your install at 510-521-4088.

 

dryer vent cleaning, structural fires, bay area, alameda, berkeley, oakland, californiaThe US Fire Administration reported 15,600 structural fires, 15 deaths and 400 injuries because of lint build up in the venting system of gas and electrical residential dryers.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that a Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician perform a duct inspection and cleaning on an annual basis which in the long run saves money because of increased efficiency of the dryer and decrease of wear on your appliance.
SIX WARNING SIGNS THAT YOUR DRYER EXHAUST VENTS NEED TO BE CLEANED
1.  Longer than normal drying time
2.  Reduced performance
3. You see lint coming out of the dryer vent opening
4.  Burning smell when your dryer is running
5.  Dryer feels hot on the outside
6.  You haven’t had your dryer vent cleaned in over 1 year.