Summer Tips for Maintaining Your Wood Burning Fireplace

A wood-burning fireplace is a cozy addition to any home. Perfect for warming up or just roasting marshmallows, wood-burning fireplaces are designed to retain heat in your home. Remember: proper safety measures are necessary to prevent chimney fires, structural fragility, carbon monoxide intrusion, and poor indoor air quality. Regularly scheduled maintenance and cleaning keeps a wood burning chimney and fireplace safe, functional, and beautiful.

Your fireplace may not be getting much use during the hottest months of summer, which is exactly why it’s an ideal time to schedule maintenance and cleaning. Here’s how to maintain your wood burning chimney and fireplace this summer:

  1. Cover the fireplace. Fireplace covers can keep a fireplace safe during the summer. When the weather is hot and humid, a low pressure system sucks warm air down your chimney. This can draw trapped, stagnant air back into your living space along with unpleasant smoky odors. It’s a commonly experienced phenomenon known as the reversal of the stack effect. The stack effect is when warm air is at a higher pressure than the cool air outside, which makes it want to rise and escape the house through the chimney and other openings. To maintain the pressure balance, low-pressure cool air from downstairs areas or the lowest floor rush up to replace the rising air, creating an upwards current of air.

In hot weather, the stack phenomenon reverses, causing warm air to flow downward through the chimney and into the home. Several measures can counteract this issue, including closing the fireplace damper during summer, using a glass door fireplace enclosure or cover, and removing debris from the chimney cap if applicable.  

2. Get your chimney checked. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends having chimneys inspected annually by a qualified professional chimney service technician. Annual checks reduce the risk of carbon monoxide buildup and chimney fires. Additionally, having chimneys cleaned annually is recommended to reduce creosote buildup and obstructions in chimneys (these pose several health and safety risks).

After a winter of lovely wood fires, with a long hot summer ahead, it’s the perfect time for a cleaning and an inspection of your wood-burning chimney and fireplace. 

3. Choose the right fuel. Best wood-burning practices are especially important during fire season. Mandatory no-burn days begin on November 1st of any given year and end on the last day of February the following year. All other no-burn days are not mandatory. Choose well-seasoned wood (wood that has been split and properly stored for at least six months so it has a low moisture content). Though softwood is usually the cheapest option, hardwood will give a hotter and longer burn. Choosing the right wood also reduces your chimney’s exposure to harmful acids, moisture, and chemicals from green or treated wood.

Schedule a Chimney Inspection Now

Our services at The Irish Sweep can help you maintain and enjoy your wood-burning fireplace for years to come. To schedule an appointment with an expert, call us at (510)521-4088, or use this simple contact form by clicking here.

Your Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

Ah, summer is here. The temperatures are soaring, the sun is blazing, and the days are long. It’s important that you take the time to maintain your home this summer and to prepare it for the extreme heat that you could be facing. If you’ve been scouring the internet for Alameda dryer vents cleaning, chimney services, or fireplace installation, look no further. Check out our ultimate checklist of summer home maintenance tips to help you give your home some TLC, and learn how our experts at The Irish Sweep can help!

Indoor Summer Home Maintenance

  1. Do a test of your smoke detectors. Replace the batteries if needed.
  2. Get your cooling system ready. Replace the filter in your air conditioner.
  3. Get your chimney cleaned. Yes, you might not use your fireplace again until fall or winter, but that’s exactly why this is the perfect time to call a chimney cleaning service. They won’t be as busy!
  4. Reverse the direction of the ceiling fan if necessary. During summer, use your ceiling fan in a counterclockwise direction – this directs airflow down to create a cooling effect. Take the time to dust the fan blades, too!
  5. Clean the garbage disposal. When’s the last time you tackled your garbage disposal? Exactly.
  6. Take on some decluttering. Why not take the chance to go on a Marie Kondo-style decluttering spree?
  7. Clean your dryer vents. Professional dryer vent cleaning services help your dryer work more efficiently, use less energy to do its job, and extend its lifespan. Clogged dryer vents are also a fire hazard.
  8. Be aware of material shortages due to the pandemic. Reduced fabrication of certain appliances due to restricted access to materials is an unfortunate side effect of the coronavirus pandemic. If you have considered installing a gas or wood burning insert to your fireplace, begin the process now! Retailers and installers recommend starting renovation now to avoid a long wait for materials.

Outdoor Summer Home Maintenance

  1. Clean your grill to prep for summer barbequing. Use hot water, dish soap, and a scrub brush to clean a charcoal grill. For a gas grill, close the lid, turn the heat to high, and let the grill cook for about half an hour. Let it cool, then use a grill brush to sweep the grill and clean the drip trays.
  2. Consider your watering schedule. If you’ve got plants, think about your strategy for watering them over the summer.
  3. Add a layer of mulch. Also, some extra mulch will help fight off weeds and help your soil retain moisture during those scorching summer months.
  4. Protect your home against unwanted guests. Caulking your windows and doors can help stop bugs and ants from infiltrating your home.
  5. Don’t forget the pool. If you have a swimming pool, take the time to give it a good clean so it’s all ready for the summer.
  6. Consider an outdoor clothesline. Take advantage of the warm weather and put up an outdoor clothesline so you’re not using your dryer as much.
  7. Put a sturdy mat at the door. Help your guests avoid tracking in dirt by having a good mat at your front door.

Need Alameda Dryer Vents Cleaning?

So, there you have it – our summer home maintenance tips. The above list will help you clean up and take care of your home this summer. Preventive home maintenance can even help you save money on home insurance, and it’s never too late to start!

Our services at The Irish Sweep can help you get your home summer-ready in no time. To schedule an appointment with an expert, call us at (510)521-4088, or use a simple contact form by clicking here.

How Do I Know if My Chimney is Safe to Use?

Building a fire when it’s cold outside can help you save on heating costs. It can also create a romantic and cozy atmosphere. But how do you know if your fireplace is really safe to use? Don’t ever assume that your chimney is functioning properly. As the cold season approaches, here are some things you need to know about chimney inspection.

The Importance of Chimney Services

Most of us look forward to this time of year when the leaves begin to change, and we can enjoy the holiday season with loved ones and wear our favorite sweaters. But before you light those logs in your fireplace, the chimney should be inspected by a professional.

In this age of DIY, you may be wondering if it’s possible to do your own chimney inspection. We love DIY projects at The Irish Sweep, but we don’t recommend them when it comes to the safety of your home.

An inspection can identify issues with your fireplace and chimney before they become dangerous. When a chimney isn’t functioning as it was designed to, the risk of fire increases. Another concern is that a blockage could cause harmful gas and smoke to build up inside your home. This can  result in serious illness, or even death.

Resolve Issues

If you have any questions about chimney and fireplace maintenance, it’s best to contact an experienced professional who knows the industry inside and out.

One of the benefits of scheduling a regular chimney inspection is that it can cut down on the need for chimney repairs. And, of course, no homeowner wants to pay for expensive repair work, especially when it could have been prevented.

If everything looks good, you’ll have peace of mind while using your fireplace. But if any issues are identified, you’ll be able to take care of them right away. Remember, don’t put off having minor chimney repairs resolved because they can turn into bigger problems. Or, even create risks for your household.

Schedule a Chimney Inspection

This is a great time of year to schedule an appointment with a Bay Area chimney cleaner to verify everything is working the way it should. Fall is ideal because it’s just beginning to get chilly at night.

So, if it’s been a while since your last chimney inspection, give us a call at The Irish Sweep. We’re here to answer all your questions. Contact us at (510) 521-4088.

Factors to Consider in Chimney Cleaning

Chimney cleaning is necessary to guarantee that a fireplace system remains safe to use. In fact, it’s a critical aspect of home maintenance, but the coronavirus pandemic has temporarily limited the availability of Bay Area chimney cleaning services. Still, these are some important factors for homeowners to be aware of before lighting the fireplace.

Key Points to Home Fire Safety

1. An inspection and cleaning are necessary at least once a year. If you haven’t had your chimney inspected or cleaned within the past year, it’s wise to hold off until you’re able to schedule an appointment.

2. Cleaning is also a good idea when animals or insects are found in your chimney. Some other signs it’s time to call your local chimney sweep include odors emanating from an unused system, or a fireplace the smokes. Smoky rooms often indicate a chimney blockage, or a buildup of creosote. Creosote has a dark, greasy appearance and it’s highly combustible, making it a fire hazard.

3. Lastly, be sure to seek professional guidance if you notice crumbling and/or missing fireplace or chimney bricks. Any damage to the system can cause poor airflow, and even prove hazardous to your health.

Hiring a Professional

Professional qualifications are another important factor to consider when thinking about chimney cleaning services. Always review the qualifications of a professional before you hire them.

Keep the following key points in mind… A chimney professional should have experience, as well as state certifications and licenses. Their knowledge should also extend beyond cleaning to include expertise in fireplace system inspection, repair, and installation. And finally, they should have a long-standing, positive history in the region. Don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials. A reputable company will be ready to provide new clients with this information.

Scheduling With Us

The Irish Sweep has provided premium Bay Area chimney cleaning and related services at an affordable price for nearly 40 years. Our team has the skills and experience to provide results in a fast, efficient, and safe manner. For more information, or to schedule a remote or future onsite appointment, contact us today at (510) 521-4088.

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.

HOW TO STORE YOUR FIREWOOD OUTDOORS

If you have a fireplace, then you have use for storing firewood. There is something rustic and cozy about having your own woodpile to feed winter fires. But the time to start saving wood is not winter! The time is now, so that your wood can dry and cure before you burn it.

STORING FIREWOOD

Curing happens when wind and sun are allowed to dry out moisture, preventing mildew and mold growth. This also creates ideal conditions for burning.

Whichever storage method you choose, pile your wood in a way that air can move between the logs and dry timber completely. To aid in this, it helps to split wood, but it’s not necessary to debark logs or to split small diameter branches. One of the best ways of piling wood is in alternating directions, so that each layer lies at a 90 degree angle to those above and below it.

There are several effective ways of storing firewood outdoors. However, they’re all designed for the same two key purposes: The primary objective when storing firewood is to keep it dry. Dry firewood is not only easier to burn but it also produces more heat and less creosote and smoke.  The second purpose is to protect the wood from weather that would re-wet it and from critters. Common firewood storage solutions include covers, storage sheds, and firewood storage racks.

WOOD RACKS

Firewood racks are raised log holders especially designed to increase airflow around and under your wood. Because of this, they allow sun and wind to more quickly and easily cure firewood. Since racks create space separating wood from the ground, they also help keep critters from making nests in the wood. However, racks have their limitations. They don’t provide protection against snow and rain. That’s why firewood racks are often used with covers.

WEATHER PROTECTIVE COVERS

The primary benefit of firewood covers is that they protect wood by keeping off wet weather. These waterproof covers aren’t designed for seasoning purposes, because they can restrict air flow. To get the most advantage from a firewood cover (or tarp) cover your woodpile right before rain, hail, or snow, and remove it when adverse weather has passed.

FIREWOOD STORAGE SHEDS

Firewood storage sheds can be both attractive and very functional! The structures can be built with 4, 3, or 2 walls, but always require a roof or overhang to protect wood from weather. If you’re creating a non-enclosed structure, make sure to place walls carefully to protect wood from inclement weather. A wood rack can be extremely useful in conjunction with a shed or structure, to keep protected wood off the ground.

Whatever tools or techniques you choose to utilize, the important focus is to dry your wood and protect it from threats like insects and mold. Be sure to split logs and choose a stacking technique that maximizes air flow, and you’ll do great.

If you have questions on the best way to store firewood, contact The Irish Sweep and talk to our experts.