HOW TO PREVENT FIREPLACE GRATE MELTDOWN

Gone were the days when you have no options to sit around the smoky fireplace. Nowadays no one talks about those pesky fireplace tool sets, thanks to the fireplace grate! That not only puts an end to fireplace smoke in your home but also increases the efficiency of your fireplace in following ways:

  1. Wood consumption is cut to half.
  2. Fireplace smoke is put to an end.
  3. Eliminate the virtual need of “ tending the fire”.

However, fireplace grate comes with a drawback too. Due to thermal oxidation, or simply rust on metal, the fireplace grate grows thinner, until the time it melts down. So, how do you prevent your fireplace grate from melting? Follow these steps:

AVOID HEAT ONLY AT THE CENTER

First and foremost, the best way you can increase the lifeline of your grate is by spreading the heat from the center. By scattering the firewood and coals over the entire grate width, this will prevent fireplace grate meltdown and prolong the life of your grate.

AVOID WATER AT THE FIREPLACE

Unlike your bonfire in the woods or any champ fire that you put out by dousing beer or water on, when it comes to fireplace grate, water will cause them to corrode over time. Let your fire naturally burn and die down.

GO FOR A CAST IRON GRATE

Last but not least, if you want to replace your fireplace grate with a new one, then this time make sure you look for a fireplace grate that is made out of cast iron. Contrary to steel, cast iron can withstand heat in a better manner. Cast iron can withstand 1,400 degrees whereas steel can only withstand 1,000 degrees, making cast iron grates the optimal choice for your fireplace.

REDUCING CREOSOTE

Those who have wood burning fireplaces or stoves know the advantages to a wood burning fire. They are beautiful, warm, and give you a sense of calm. However, with wood burning fires, the buildup of creosote occurs. This goes through some tips to reducing creosote.

WHAT IS CREOSOTE?

When wood is burned, creosote builds up from the transformation. This builds up along the lining of the stove or chimney and becomes a hidden issue for the home. Just like the ash from the bottom of a fireplace needs to be cleaned up regularly. Creosote should be removed occasionally for the safety of the home and those living there. This is why annual chimney inspections are recommended.

These are some recommendations for reducing creosote buildup:

USE THE RIGHT WOOD

Wood that has less moisture and/or seasoned is the best wood to use. When the wood is in such a state, the fire will burn hotter and create less creosote. If the wood has a lot of moisture, it will still burn but at a lower degree. This leads to more smoke and creosote.

KEEP THE FIRE HOT

When a fire struggles to find its fuel (oxygen), it has a hard time getting hot enough to burn all the materials. By having a fire that is low in temperature, creosote buildup is higher.

DON’T LET IT DIE ON ITS OWN

It is common for fires to just be allowed to burn out. By having them die down, the fires are at a low temperature for a long period of time. This causes more creosote and a higher safety issue.

Creosote is a safety issue. Low temperatures and moisture increase creosote production. Therefore, use the right wood that is very dry and avoid having fires at low temperature. If you have questions or need a clean up, talk to our experts at The Irish Sweep.

HELP MY FIREPLACE IS SMOKING

In California, there are not many opportunities to put a wood-burning fireplace to work. The combination of mild temperatures andfrequent no-burn days can make a crackling fire a rare treat. So, what do you do when the smoke comes out of the fireplace instead of going up the chimney?

First things first,is the damper FULLY open? There are two types of fireplace owners: those who have forgotten to open the damper and those who will forget to open the damper. And, with use, dampers become harder to open because of water damage and/or soot accumulation. So, give that thing an extra yank, or pull – depending on how yours works, and make sure it is all the way open.

Next, is the grate (the thing holding the wood off the floor) touching the back wall of the fire box? Without getting into the science of airflow, it’s easiest to just say that touching the back is where the grate needs to be.

If you’re good on the damper and grate, and you need to stop the smoke from billowing into your home NOW, here’s a quick trick:

  1. Get the aluminum foil and a roll of tape (any type will do).
  2. Cut a length of foil that is longer than the opening of the fireplace is wide.
  3. Tape the foil over the top of the fireplace opening.

Pleasant Hill Chimney Cleaner

By making the opening smaller, the chimney has a better chance of dealing with the by-products of the fire. It may not be attractive, but it will save the moment until you can diagnose and deal with the problem more permanently.

Without getting too much into the science of airflow, fireplaces work because air flows and hot air rises. Problems arise when something prevents one of those two things from happening properly. Running dryers, kitchen or bath vents, and furnaces can disrupt airflow – sucking it out of the fireplace instead of letting it go up the chimney. Opening or closing doors around the house can also influence airflow. Obviously, a closed damper prevents air from going up the chimney.

A cold chimney can also cause smoke. You can pre-heat your chimney by lighting a newspaper torch and CAREFULLY holding it up and to the back of the chimney. This gets the air flowing in the chimney before actually lighting the fire.

5 TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE RIGHT TYPE OF FIREPLACE

A fireplace is the centerpiece of a room, a conversation point and a source of warmth and character.  Adding a touch of traditional style and character to your home, there’s nothing like gathering around the fireplace with family and friends on a cool night.  But when it comes to choosing the right fireplace for your home, there are a wide variety of options.  With the five factors discussed below, we look at how you can make a better choice for the right fireplace for your home.

Fuel Type

Fuel type is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing your new fireplace.  The type of fuel your fireplace uses will determine the maintenance, running and cleaning costs of your fireplace.  Wood-burning fireplaces have long been the most popular choice because of fuel availability and their traditional style.  Traditional wood-burning fireplaces are known to be quite inefficient when it comes to heat retention and energy usage, so these are often replaced with wood-burning fireplace inserts that also use wood fuel.  Gas fireplace inserts and artificial gas log sets are becoming more popular as a cleaner and more environmentally friendly source of fuel.

Wood-burning fireplaces and inserts also require more intensive flue cleaning as wood releases more by-products than gas when burned.  Gas burning fireplace inserts still require maintenance, but the level of service may be less extreme due to the cleaner fuel. Gas inserts never need their flues cleaned.

Design

The design of the fireplace you choose should match the theme and design of your home.  It can be helpful to work with a fireplace professional or architect to analyze the qualities of your home and investigate which style of fireplace would fit best.  For a traditional style home, you may wish to choose a traditional wood-burning fireplace or more energy efficient wood-burning fireplace insert which fits into the structure of your fireplace.  More modern or transitional homes may prefer to have an innovative and dynamic gas-burning fireplace insert or artificial gas log design.

Style

The style of fireplace you choose will depend both on the type of fuel you want to use and the characteristics you want your fireplace to possess. Freestanding wood burning stoves are great for heating large spaces, while traditional fireplace and wood-burning fireplace inserts are great when you want to blend heating with style.  Artificial gas log sets can be installed in many creative and diverse ways for a completely new and innovative style of fireplace in your home.  Balancing the right choice of fuel type, fireplace location and home design will help you chose the right fireplace style.

Construction

Many homes are built with a designated space for a fireplace to be installed.  However, some homes do not have space for a traditional built-in fireplace.   Choosing which room and location you want your fireplace installed will help determine whether it should be a built-in or freestanding fireplace or appliance.   Your fireplace professional or architect can also help you determine what material your fireplace should be built from to meet the needs of safety, codes, design, and aesthetics.

Energy Efficiency

Nowadays many people are concerned about heating their homes in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner.  Fireplace style and fuel type can greatly affect how efficient your fireplace is at heating your home.  Freestanding stove, wood or gas burning fireplace insert are generally more efficient than traditional wood-burning fireplaces or artificial gas log sets.  An expert can work with you to find the most efficient and appealing fireplace solution for your home.

Choosing the right fireplace can help you create an inviting atmosphere of warmth and comfort in your space.  Discuss your options with a fireplace expert or architect to balance all the available choices and find the right fireplace for your home.

4 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR FIREPLACE MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY

There’s nothing like gathering around a fireplace for warmth and ambience. However, many people are aware that fireplaces are not the most environmentally friendly way to heat your home. The amount of smoke produced by fireplaces and the inefficiency of their heating performance can be a concern. However, with these 4 innovate techniques, you can make your fire more environmentally friendly while preserving the charm of sitting around the fireplace.

Choose A Wood Burning Fireplace Insert

A wood burning fireplace insert takes the benefits of a wood burning stove and fits into the layout and structure of your traditional fireplace. Wood burning fireplace inserts are enclosed and boost the efficiency of a fireplace to 65-80% (versus 5-10% for an open fireplace).

Wood burning fireplace inserts can heat a room for 3 times longer and burns wood slower and hotter. They also keep the fireplace sealed when not in use, keeping your home warmer, more insulated and more environmentally friendly at all times.

Convert to a Gas Log Fireplace

A traditional fireplace can also be converted to a gas log burner for a cleaner and more environmentally friendly heating source. Gas is a slightly more expensive fuel source than wood (if you get firewood free) but it reduces the costs of fireplace maintenance. On the other hand, quality firewood can also be costly, so gas can sometimes be the more cost efficient option.

Gas logs can look and feel just like a real fireplace without the smoke, ash and chimney buildup. Because a gas log fire produces no smoke and provides more efficient heating, it’s a cleaner and more eco-friendly option when compared to an open fireplace.

Keep Your Fireplace Efficient

No matter what type of fireplace you have, keeping it efficient will make it more environmentally friendly. Regular chimney servicing clears build up and boosts efficiency, allowing wood to burn more effectively. A chimney sweep clears creosote and ash buildup from the chimney interior to improve ventilation, achieving a more complete wood burn. This helps to make your fireplace more environmentally friendly, while also reducing the risk of chimney fires.

Use Quality Wood

Wood that doesn’t burn effectively means a less eco-friendly fire and more fireplace buildup. You should never burn trash, wood with glue or paint, driftwood or moldy wood as these can release chemicals into the air. Instead, always choose hardwoods to burn on your fireplace, as these burn longer, cleaner and hotter than softwoods. Hardwoods burn more efficiently, providing more heat for longer for the same amount of carbon released. Always choose hardwoods to burn on your fire, and make sure every piece of wood burns hot.

Choosing to convert your traditional fireplace to a more environmentally friendly option means you can retain all the charm and ambience of your traditional fireplace while greatly improving the efficiency. While traditional fireplaces have a bad environmental track record, these modifications can help you enjoy a home heating luxury. Talk to your local chimney service and fireplace professional about the options for making your fireplace more environmentally friendly today.

5 TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR FIREPLACE SAFER

Fireplaces are a captivating home feature and a cozy source of warmth. But as eye-catching as a fireplace may be, it is often forgotten in the grand scheme of home maintenance and repair.

We recommend getting your chimney and fireplace inspected by a professional once a year but, in the meantime, there are plenty of proactive measures you can take.

Here are five useful tips to keep your fireplace safe in any season:

1. Keep Your Chimney Top Clean

First, make sure you’ve installed a chimney cap to keep mother earth outside. Because animals like to seek refuge in there, the Humane Society of the United States recommends using a stainless-steel chimney cap with wire mesh to prevent their access. Clean the cap if it becomes clogged. You can use a wire brush to remove debris from the mesh.

While you’re up there, examine the brick mortar for cracks or flakiness. Caulk is a great waterproof filler to patch any damage.

2. Contain The Flame

Gusts of wind from storms can shoot down the chimney and blow embers all over your favorite (and flammable) furnishing. Installing glass screens keeps your fire insulated and protects your home and loved ones.

These screens should be open during the full blaze to maximize airflow. Doing so will promote combustion and minimize the buildup of creosote. Make sure to clear the hearth space of furniture, Christmas trees and other flammable decorations to avoid igniting wandering embers.

3. Don’t Neglect Your Detectors

Check your carbon monoxide detector’s batteries and invest in a quality smoke detector.

The American Society of Home Inspectors suggests a photoelectric detector, which works by aiming light into a sensing chamber and detecting the entrance of smoke through the chamber via reflected light. A photoelectric detector works best for smoldering fires.

Also, don’t burn trash or old tree branches. They will produce more smoke than productive blaze and risk setting off your alarms.

4. Keep It Clean

Ensure your fireplace and your chimney are clean prior to your fire burning season.

To check if it’s time for a sweeping, take a flashlight and your fireplace poker and scratch the black surface above the smoke chamber. If the scratch in creosote is extremely thin, you can leave it a bit longer until your next sweep.

But if you have ¼ inch or more of creosote, do not light another fire until the chimney has been swept out. For a thorough job, we recommend calling a professional.

Pro tip: Ashes and creosote can be a source of calcium for your plants.

5. Install and Use Fireplace Dampers

Dampers are used to let smoke out during fires and keep heat inside when the chimney is not in use.

Ensure that the damper or flue is open for the entire duration of fire burning and wait until the embers have stopped burning before closing your dampers. The damper can also be checked by looking up into the chimney with a flashlight or mirror.

For a complete and comprehensive fireplace safety analysis, leave it to the professionals. Contact us for thorough inspections and cleanings if you think your fireplace is ready for a sweep.