The Irish Sweep is still accepting calls to answer questions and schedule any service needs. However, no on-site visits are currently being conducted pursuant to the government's stay in place order. Please feel free to contact us at 510.521.4088 to get answers to your questions or schedule a future appointment.
Did you know that there are products that actually maximize useful heat from gas and wood fires, while reducing the amount of fuel needed to heat your home with fire? Many don’t know about heat reflectors for the fireplace, so they accept the efficiency they’re accustomed to. Yet fireplace heat reflectors are a great investment! They not only maximize heat reflected into the home, but they also protect your firebox from any potential heat damage.
If you have a brick and mortar fireplace, it’s susceptible due to the constant cooling and heating from fires. Because of this, fireplaces will crack and shrink over time. Using a fireplace heat reflector or “fireback” will decrease how much heat is absorbed by the back wall of the fireplace, translating to less damage in the long run.
HOW TO INSTALL A HEAT REFLECTOR
Installing a heat reflector is fairly easy, and many chimney care companies will do it for you. You’ll want to first measure the back of the wall of the fireplace in inches, and measure the grate where logs rest. A heat reflector is made using a non-combustible metal and features feet that allow it to stand. Measuring your wall will ensure that the grate will either fit in front of or slightly under the reflector.
Once you have the measurements, you know what size heat reflector to get. At home, remove the fire grate and place the reflector at the back of the clean firebox. Do make sure to read the directions that came with the reflector. You’ll want to make sure that the reflector is upright and that it’s stable. When that looks right, replace the fireplace grate and then use your fireplace as normal. You’ll find yourself with a noticeably cozier fire.
Sometimes low tech solutions reap great benefits. If you haven’t invested in a heat reflecting fireback yet, ask us about them at the Irish Sweep.0
Chimney removal is often advised, but many homeowners put it off, not considering the benefits of full chimney removal. Many homes have been built with fireplaces for heating, and they also have chimneys. As time has provided the innovation of other, more efficient heating methods, fireplaces and chimneys may not be used so often. Here we look at 5 reasons that you should consider having your chimney removed.
If you have a chіmnеу, safety іnѕресtіоn is vital fоr a safe hоmе. Not to mention аn еffісіеntlу wоrkіng chimney! If уоu haven’t been getting regular chimney іnѕресtіоns, or сlеаnіngs, there are good reasons to call іn a рrоfеѕѕіоnаl сhіmnеу service that саn take care оf all уоur fireplace ѕаfеtу needs.
If you’ve rесеntlу mоvеd іntо a hоmе that hаѕ a fіrерlасе, іt’ѕ сеrtаіnlу аdvіѕаblе tо have a сеrtіfіеd technician соmе tо уоur hоmе аnd gіvе іt a thorough going through to еnѕurе thе ѕаfеtу оf уоur chimney аnd уоur fіrерlасе. Evеn if the рrеvіоuѕ оwnеrѕ ѕау іt hаѕ bееn inspected, unless you have a record of when it was, it іѕ bеttеr to bе ѕаfе thаn sorry. Sіmіlаrlу, if you hаvе lіvеd іn уоur hоmе for ѕеvеrаl уеаrѕ, аnd hаvе nоt hаd уоur сhіmnеу looked at, nоw is the tіmе! Birds can nеѕt іn chimneys, leaving flаmmаblе debris thаt саn be highly dаngеrоuѕ tо your home and уоur family.
THЕЅЕ АRЕ DANGERS YOU CAN AVOID BY HAVING A PROFESSIONAL CHIMNEY ІNЅРЕСTІON:
CHIMNEY FІRЕЅ CAUSED BY DEBRIS
Dіrtу сhіmnеуѕ саn саuѕе сhіmnеу fires, bоth drаmаtіс, flаmе-ѕhооtіng fires and ѕlоw-burnіng, quіеt fires. Luckily, this dаngеr саn bе еаѕіlу prevented bу hаvіng уоur сhіmnеу ѕwерt аnnuаllу. Yеаrlу сhіmnеу іnѕресtіоn is іmроrtаnt to ѕее іf аnу fire hazards rеmаіn in уоur chimney аftеr cleaning. Chіmnеу сlеаnіng is essential іѕ to rеmоvе animal nests, debris and creosote buіld-uр.
If уоu have a wооd-burnіng fіrерlасе, mоrе than lіkеlу уоu hаvе сrеоѕоtе іn your сhіmnеу rіght nоw bесаuѕе іt оссurѕ naturally іn thе wооd-burnіng process. It is the number one cause of chimney fires. Aѕ thе bу-рrоduсtѕ оf соmbuѕtіоn (smoke, wаtеr vapors, gаѕеѕ, unburnеd wооd particles, tаr fog, hуdrосаrbоn, etc) еxіt your fireplace аnd flоw out уоur chimney, condensation hарреnѕ, аnd its result іѕ сrеоѕоtе rеѕіduе fоrmаtіоn. Sticking tо thе interior walls оf уоur chimney, creosote varies іn appearance: blасk оr brоwn in соlоr, ѕtісkу аnd gummу, сruѕtу and flаkу, оr shiny and hаrdеnеd. Nо matter what it looks lіkе, thіѕ іѕ a dangerous, hіghlу соmbuѕtіblе соmроund. Whеn its build-up rеасhеѕ a certain аmоunt аnd your іntеrnаl fluе tеmреrаturе reaches hіgh еnоugh, a сhіmnеу fіrе саn easily rеѕult оn its оwn. Hаvіng сrеоѕоtе accumulation rеmоvеd frоm your chimney every year іn a сhіmnеу ѕwееріng is еѕѕеntіаl іn preventing a fіrе.
Creosote buіlduр саn аlѕо cause respiratory problems. It irritates thе lungѕ аnd can cause rеlаtеd dіѕеаѕеѕ if іt’ѕ rеgulаrlу іnhаlеd оvеr a significant time period. Gеnеrаl rеѕріrаtоrу іnfесtіоnѕ are another hеаlth rіѕk оf prolonged сrеоѕоtе аnd soot inhalation.
CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING
Another danger аѕѕосіаtеd with unсlеаn chimneys is carbon mоnоxіdе роіѕоnіng. Unfоrtunаtеlу, саrbоn mоnоxіdе poisoning іѕ оn the rise іn America. It mostly originates frоm hеаtіng ѕуѕtеmѕ which аrе nоt рrореrlу vеntіlаtеd. Like duе to hаvіng a dіrtу сhіmnеу. Dаmаgеd flue liners, soot buіld-uр, or аnіmаl’ѕ nests blосkіng thе passageway аrе fоund іn аnnuаl chimney ѕаfеtу іnѕресtіоns. These should bе соrrесtеd tо keep these toxic gаѕеѕ оut оf уоur hоuѕе. Yоur fіrерlасе nееdѕ оxуgеn іn order tо burn fuels соmрlеtеlу, аnd whеn thе оxуgеn supply іѕ lіmіtеd, саrbоn mоnоxіdе іѕ fоrmеd. This саn easily enter уоur hоmе, роѕѕіblу kіllіng уоur family.
Certified technicians and сhіmnеу ѕwеерѕ are there to еnѕurе you undеrѕtаnd the entire сhіmnеу safety іnѕресtіоn process. We can answer аnу quеѕtіоnѕ you may have. Bеfоrе уоu uѕе уоur chimney, let us mаkе ѕurе it’ѕ ѕаfе tо uѕе.
The reasons for removing an old chimney and fireplace removal may vary. Maybe the chimney is damaged, or you just do not use it often enough? A chimney and fireplace add character and warmth to a home, but there is more to these architectural features than cozy aesthetics.
Here are some reasons that some people choose existing chimney and fireplace removal:
LACK OF UTILITY
These fireplaces are often relics of a different time when fires were the only source of heat in a home. Modern families are increasingly less likely to use a fire. Fireplaces are often nothing more than an ornamental feature in a room, and the chimney is just a place for heat and cold to pass through.
FIREPLACE REMOVAL FREES UP VALUABLE SPACE
Maybe your home lacks storage, has cramped living space, or you just want more free room. Removing a fireplace can give you the space you want. You can often remove a fireplace inside the building, leaving the chimney stack intact above roof level. This can free up valuable floor space inside.
KEEPING IT MAY BE AS COSTLY AS CHIMNEY AND FIREPLACE REMOVAL
Removing an old chimney and fireplace is one way to avoid costs. Cost like repairing your current chimney, upkeep and future maintenance, and also save you on utilities by increasing your effective insulation.
Weigh up the cost of repairing and retaining a fireplace/chimney in working order. The cost of installing, repairing or maintaining new hearths, chimney linings or flues may well equal to or even more than the cost of removing an old one.
Older chimneys, especially brick ones, can pose an earthquake danger. For a family that doesn’t gain much joy from their fireplace, the risk of a falling chimney is not worth taking. To fulling understand the likelihood of your chimney falling in an earthquake, schedule a safety inspection with professionals like The Irish Sweep.
If you’re considering removing your fireplace or chimney, you have options. You can install a gas fireplace, have no fireplace, or build a new one, depending on the architecture involved. If you have any questions or concerns, call The Irish Sweep today.
In the spirit of the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s mission to advance public awareness while educating and certifying industry professionals, National Chimney Safety Week was created to specify a week
of outreach and education to the public about chimney and venting safety. Celebrate by scheduling your chimney inspection and cleaning today!
A chimney is designed to safely and effectively remove dangerous fire byproducts produced within the fireplace. When it becomes clogged, it can’t properly perform this important role. Birds’ nests, tree foliage, trash, and other debris can clog your home chimney, making it dangerous to use. Soot and crumbling bricks are also hazardous; if the chimney’s flue is not kept clean, your home is at risk every time you kindle the fireplace. Your home’s structure and age may also play a part in the overall health of its chimney. Determine if there is a blockage in your chimney, or if it needs flue repair, by looking at it yourself or hiring a professional maintenance company.
WARNING SIGNS OF A BLOCKED CHIMNEY
A blocked chimney may be hard to diagnose on your own but there are some telltale signs to watch for. These warning signs include:
• A smoky smell when burning a fire
• Falling debris inside the hearth
• Water streaks inside the flue
• Excessive soot
• White residue on the flue walls
WHAT CAN CAUSE A CHIMNEY BLOCKAGE?
There are three main causes of chimney blockages:
• An excessive build-up of soot or creosote (tar)
• Birds, squirrels, or other small animals nesting in the chimney
• The collapse of the internal chimney bricks
INSPECTING THE CHIMNEY
1. Wear a safety mask or goggles for eye protection. Don a pair of gloves and place a handkerchief over your mouth and nose to keep you from inhaling loose, falling soot. Wear a hard hat to protect your head. Chimneys that have not been periodically cleaned may have a lot of debris.
2. Open the chimney’s maintenance door. Typically, it is located outside the house, but check your home’s blueprints for the exact location. Hold the mirror through the maintenance door, facing upward. With your other hand, shine the flashlight on the mirror. Adjust the angle to allow you to see up into the chimney.
3. Inspect the chimney flue from the outside of the building and again from the inside of the fireplace. Open the damper, and shine the flashlight up the walls with the mirror. See if you can insert a broom handle or long stick through the fireplace opening.
4. Feel the heat. When a clogged fireplace is operating, heat and moisture will back up into the home. When the chimney is unused, during summertime, for example, soot from a wood-burning fireplace or rust debris from the metal hood of a gas fireplace can amass.
CHIMNEY FLUE REPAIR
Clearing a blocked chimney is a job best left for a professional. They have the tools necessary to reach and remove the debris clogging the flue. How quickly and easily the chimney is cleared will depend on how compact the blockage is. To prevent clogs in the future, an annual chimney cleaning is recommended. Regular cleanings will keep your flue clear while also warning you of any potential problems before they turn into costly chimney flue repairs. Installing a chimney cap onto the flue can also help limit the number of clogs your chimney experiences. Stopping debris from entering the system in the first place, caps can provide a proactive approach to chimney maintenance.
If you suspect a blocked chimney, contact a professional for assistance. We can diagnose and treat common chimney ailments both large and small.