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.
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.
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.
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.
If you’ve never had your chimney inspected, you might be wondering what exactly happens when the inspector comes. Annual inspections and chimney cleanings are recommended for safe fireplace burning. You’ll want to get it done between your last fireplace usage last year and your first fire this winter to ensure that it’s in good working condition.
At your scheduled chimney inspection, your chimney sweep will likely use a special camera to look inside the system, affording them a better view of what’s going on where your fire and smoke travel.
Here’s what they’ll look for:
1. STRUCTURAL ELEMENTS AND FLUE
The chimney sweep will first look at the exterior and interior of the fireplace and chimney, looking for any problems of wear and tear, including the fireplace, chimney, flue and hearth. These structural elements can affect whether your chimney stays standing after earthquakes or severe weather.
2. COMBUSTIBLES ARE SECURED
They’ll also look at the structure of the chimney. This is to be sure that combustibles can’t contact any other building materials, which would be a fire hazard. Your fire should stay within a completely secure firebox area. The risk of slow-burning fire within your walls is something to take very seriously.
Your chimney sweep will look for any obstructions. These could possibly block the venting of smoke, combustible byproducts and gas, such as animal nests, leaves and other debris. An obstruction could cause these gasses to build up dangerously inside your home instead of leaving like they should.
4. VOLUME AND KIND OF COMBUSTIBLE DEPOSITS
A chimney sweep will look at the volume and nature of any combustible deposits building up on the walls of the chimney to see if they pose a danger. Creosote can ignite within your chimney or flue and is highly flammable.
To see what a chimney sweep inspection looks like using a camera like we use here at Irish Sweep, watch this video:
While this winter has not been too wet, many are predicting some rain over the next couple months. We don’t anticipate it reaching last year’s levels, but it’s still important that you waterproof your chimney. Water can seep into a chimney and leaks may form. But how does this potentially expensive problem even happen?
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.
So you’ve decided to buy or sell your home. What an exciting time! In either case, it’s important to know the condition of the chimney and fireplace system you’re about to either buy or sell.
Buying or selling a home can be a stressful process for everyone involved. You need to know that the value of the property you’re buying aligns with
the amount you invest in it. Naturally, you’ll have the home inspected and you’ll likely have it appraised.
If you have a chimney, hiring a chimney sweep for an inspection and cleaning is something that needs to be done.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the CSIA recommend that you have a Level II chimney inspection performed when a property is changing hands. Level II real estate inspections make use of video scanning technology, which allows us to see things that a home inspector with a flashlight would miss.
During the inspection, they feed a camera into the chimney flue and scan the walls, checking for cracks, holes, buildup, blockages, and damage. With this equipment, we can see the interior of the chimney up close and focus on areas that look concerning. We’re also able to capture photographs to include in the report provided to you. This can be great for insurance purposes or negotiating purposes and can prevent you from getting stuck with a massive chimney repair bill or a fire or safety hazard that you were unaware of at the time of the sale.
4 REASONS TO INSPECT BEFORE YOU SELL YOUR HOME
1. A FAVORABLE CHIMNEY INSPECTION REPORT REFLECTS WELL ON YOU:
When selling, the prospective buyer will see the current inspection reports, and realize your home is in great condition. The home buyer will be more enthusiastic about putting in an offer on a home that is move-in ready. You’ll be able to command a higher price than a home that needs, or might need, repair.
If you’re buying, requesting the chimney inspection report allows you to know what condition of chimney you’re acquiring.
2. SATISFY THE REQUIREMENTS OF INSURANCE COMPANIES:
Today, many insurance companies require an inspection by a chimney certified technician before issuing insurance on a home that has a chimney system.
3. PROVIDE THE AMBIANCE ON HOME BUYERS’ WISH LISTS:
A fireplace is often an item on the home buyer’s “must have” list. There is no doubt that a functioning chimney system has great charm and aesthetic appeal. Knowing the chimney is safe and usable makes nights by the fire cozier.
4. CLOSE ON TIME:
Don’t be delayed by missing inspection reports, have the chimney inspected before listing to sell your home. The prospective purchaser wants confirmation that your beautiful chimney is in good working order. Having to wait until the chimney inspection is scheduled and performed delays the purchaser’s final decision. Make it easy to say yes.
In Conclusion, make selling a home a little less stressful by having your chimney inspection by a certified chimney sweep.
What many homeowners don’t know is that chimney fires can happen without anyone’s awareness. When you become aware that a chimney fire has been eating your home from inside the walls, it may not be the first time. This is part of why prevention is so important!
SOME SIGNS THAT THERE HAS ALREADY BEEN A CHIMNEY FIRE:
♦ ‘Puffy’ creosote, that’s cloud shaped and expanded beyond its normal form
♦ Creosote build up with rainbow colored streaks
♦ Any metal components that show warping (discoloring and distortion): the damper, metal smoke chamber, connector pipe or metal chimney, rain cap
♦ Flue tiles with large chunks missing, or that have cracks or evidence of collapse
♦ Flakes and pieces of creosote on the roof or ground nearby
♦ Burn marks on roofing material damaged by hot creosote
♦ Cracks in exterior masonry
♦ Evidence of smoke escaping through mortar joints of masonry or tile liners
If your home has already had a chimney fire, there is a reason it’s happened, and you’re in danger of it happening again until the cause is identified and addressed. Causes of chimney fires all have to do with structural safety and blockages or build-up in the chimney. The only way to be sure your fireplace is safe to use is to have regular chimney cleaning services.
HOW CAN CHIMNEY CLEANING SERVICES PREVENT THESE FIRES?
There are two main tasks chimney cleaning services can do for you: a chimney inspection and sweeping/cleaning your chimney. If you have concerns about fire safety, it’s best to do both. While inspection is important to identify evidence of previous fires and risk for future fires, it’s the cleaning that removes fuel for fires: creosote and debris.
Always be sure that you have working smoke alarms in appropriate places throughout your home, and that their batteries are fresh. With a little diligence and annual chimney cleaning services, you can minimize your risk for chimney fires.