How and Why To Install a New Wood Burning Fireplace Insert

In this article, we’ll discuss how to install a fireplace insert in your home and the many benefits of doing so.

If you’re like most people, you probably enjoy the warm glow of a fire during the winter. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying an open fire, did you know that installing a fireplace insert could improve your home’s heating efficiency by 70 percent or more? It’s true – a new fireplace insert is one of the best ways to improve the comfort and value of your home. 

What is a Fireplace Insert?

A fireplace insert is a type of wood (or gas) appliance without legs, and they are designed to be placed inside an existing wood fireplace. Fireplace inserts consist of a metal box that is inserted seamlessly into the fireplace opening. Because of their design, fireplace inserts are much more efficient than traditional wood-burning fireplaces. They dramatically increase heating capacity and wood-burning efficiency while still enjoying the unmatched warmth, ambiance, and nostalgia that only wood fireplaces can provide.

Choosing a New Insert

The first step to install a fireplace insert is to choose the right model. There are many different types of inserts available on the market, so it’s important to select one that fits your needs and lifestyle.

When choosing an insert, you’ll need to consider the following factors:

  • The size of your fireplace opening
  • The type of fuel you want to use (wood or gas)
  • Your desired heating capacity
  • The efficiency rating of the insert
  • The style of the insert

Once you’ve considered these factors, it’s time to start shopping!

How to Install a Fireplace Insert

Now that you’ve chosen the perfect fireplace insert, it’s time to install it in your home. This job is best done by a professional because it requires special tools and expertise. Our local technicians with The Irish Sweep take a unique approach to installing wood-burning fireplace inserts, incorporating the style and design of each individual fireplace.

If you’re interested in having a wood-burning fireplace insert installed in your home, be sure to contact The Irish Sweep. We’ll install it safely and efficiently. And don’t forget annual maintenance, which will keep your insert running smoothly for decades to come.

If you’re thinking about learning how to install a fireplace insert yourself, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and take the proper safety precautions. This is not a quick and easy DIY! 

The Benefits of a New Insert

There are many benefits to installing a new fireplace insert in your home. Some of the most notable benefits include:

  • Increased heating capacity with less smoke
  • A dramatic increase in wood-burning efficiency
  • Increased home value
  • The ability to zone heat your home
  • Reduced energy costs

If you’re looking for a way to improve the comfort and value of your home, installing a new fireplace insert is a great option.

Talk to Us

Our services at The Irish Sweep can help maintain and enjoy a wood-burning chimney and fireplace all winter and for years to come. We take great pride in offering our fireplace installation services to the resident community and the local Bay Area. To schedule an appointment with our team, call us at (510)521-4088, or visit our contact page.

How to Tell When You Need Fireplace Crack Repair

The fireplace is the centerpiece of your home. It should be a comforting and familiar focal point. But if you’ve skipped maintenance on your fireplace for a few years, then you might have begun to wonder if it’s really necessary.

Many homeowners just aren’t familiar with the signs of fireplace damage, so it’s all too easy to let it deteriorate. Investing in fireplace masonry repair early, however, can keep your fireplace looking and working its best for years to come. So if you’re wondering how to spot whether fireplace repairs are needed, here are the three most obvious signs that you need to repair your fireplace.

1. Cracks in the Mortar Joints

A definite sign that you need a fireplace masonry repair is that the mortar joints are beginning to crack. The stones or bricks used in the masonry will absorb moisture over time. This can eventually lead to crumbling and cracking if it’s not repaired. Once you start to see these cracks appearing, it’s time to think about calling a professional. A simple fireplace masonry repair doesn’t take long, and your home will look a lot nicer once the cracks are dealt with.

2. A Damaged Chimney

The moisture that damages the brick around your fireplace may come from rain. Your chimney exists to protect your fireplace masonry from this rainfall, but if it becomes damaged, then it won’t do its job. In particular, take a look at the chimney crown. This is a piece of concrete that shields the fireplace below. If this is cracked, then rain can easily get through. In this instance, a masonry fireplace repair is almost certainly required.

3. Chimney Fires

Has your chimney caught fire recently? Obviously, this shouldn’t happen. The flames are supposed to be contained within the fireplace, with only smoke going up the chimney. If combustion happens within the chimney itself, then it’s likely that there’s a buildup of flammable creosote, or that the fireplace isn’t working correctly. Something may be damaged, so you should have it looked into as soon as possible.

Fireplace Crack Repair

Don’t let your fireplace become damaged beyond repair. Schedule yearly maintenance with us at The Irish Sweep, and learn to spot minor issues before they become expensive repairs. This will keep your fireplace looking and performing at its best. Contact us at (510) 521-4088.

Fireplace Inserts and Maintenance Tips During the Shelter-in-Place

There’s nothing cozier than a wood-burning fireplace for warmth. But fireplace maintenance is vital to the health and safety of your home. In fact, improper upkeep is a common reason for house fires. Fireplace inserts are one solution to help safeguard your home, but here’s a look at some other steps you can take.

Sweep the Interior

Sweeping out your fireplace on a regular basis will make it look tidier, as well as cause it to work more efficiently. We suggest wearing a dust mask to avoid inhaling particles from ash and creosote. Sweeping out this buildup also helps to prevent it from catching on fire.

Watch For Smoke

A well-maintained fireplace shouldn’t fill your home with smoke. This is an important warning sign to pay attention to. It’s possible you could simply be burning the wrong wood. But it’s also very likely there’s a layer of soot or flammable creosote in your chimney that isn’t allowing it to properly vent smoke.

Burning the Right Wood

There are as many different kinds of wood as there are trees, but maybe you’ve never considered what you’re putting in your fireplace before. Hardwoods, such as ash and oak, are the best options because they’re denser and give off more heat. Avoid burning unseasoned “green” wood. Ideally, wood needs to be split and dried for 6-12 months in a covered area before use. Green wood just won’t burn as well, and it creates more creosote on your chimney walls.

Fireplace Inserts and Maintenance

Fireplace inserts can be installed with heat-proof glass to contain any burning materials, like stray embers. Most of them have a blower that circulates heat into the room. Fireplace inserts protect your home, while making your fireplace more efficient.

Scheduling With Us

Aside from DIY sweepings, it’s a good idea to have your fireplace and chimney professionally cleaned and inspected at least once a year. It’s less work to maintain your home than to let creosote buildup. Plus, it’s nice to know your fireplace is ready on cold nights. To schedule a chimney cleaning with us, or learn more about fireplace inserts, call (510) 521-4088.

What Does a Dirty Chimney Look Like?

When wood burns in a fireplace, there are natural byproducts that result. The chimney is the place where it all accumulates. Some of these byproducts are flammable and can ignite to cause a chimney fire if left unswept. So, it’s important to have a dirty chimney cleaned for safety reasons. Here’s what you need to know…

Creosote

Creosote is the most common buildup inside a dirty chimney. It’s a combination of tar and soot that accumulates in layers. Over time, the layers of creosote thicken and need to be removed.

It’s visible to both chimney technicians and the average homeowner. Using a flashlight, peek inside your chimney. If you see an accumulation of black material, it’s likely creosote. A service professional can remove this buildup to restore your chimney to a state of cleanliness and improved function.

Dirty Chimney?

How dirty the inside of your chimney is will depend on when it was last cleaned. According to industry standards, a fireplace and chimney are required to be cleaned at least once a year to remove the buildup of creosote and other debris. However, fireplaces and chimneys that are used more frequently require additional maintenance. Your technician will evaluate the inside of your chimney to determine the best method of cleaning.

A Dirty Chimney Is Dangerous

Having a large accumulation of creosote inside your chimney might also mean the spark arrestor mesh in the flue cap is clogged, creating a downdraft of smoke into your home and cause fires to burn less efficiently and effectively, creating less warmth and greater particulate matter into the environment. These are all inconveniences of a dirty chimney.

But it’s not just an inconvenience. It’s unsafe. The creosote that accumulates on the inner walls of the chimney is a flammable substance and, if not removed periodically, can ignite to cause a chimney fire that could spread to other areas of your home.

Service Appointment For Your Chimney or Dryer Exhaust Vent

For safety, efficiency, and convenience, make sure your chimney isn’t dirty. Call us at (510) 521-4088 or email our Office Manager, Sarah, at [email protected] to schedule an appointment today.  Once we are deemed to be an essential business, our expertly trained crew will be so happy to be back at work and address all of your service concerns.

DIY FIREPLACE UPDATES

Any home can achieve a warm and cozy feel throughout winter, while also setting the mood with a subtle romantic effect. A well-maintained fireplace can be a great focal point in the room, but an uncared-for one might be an eyesore. You wouldn’t want to hide this classic feature, would you? Fortunately, breathing new life into your fireplace doesn’t have to be a overpriced affair. There are many budget-friendly options.

Whether you’re just looking to make some minor changes, or you’re desperate to give that outdated fireplace a new look and feel that’s personalized to you, we’ve got some ideas for you.

ADDING OR MODIFYING A MANTEL

A mantel is the brick or wood surrounding the chimney opening. If there’s no mantel on your fireplace, consider building or installing one. It can tie together the aesthetic of the room. Adding a mantel can be easy to install yourself and doesn’t cost a large sum. If you have a mantel and it’s severely chipped, warped, or has irreparable damage, you might think about replacing it. However, some paint will do the trick if your only concern with your existing mantel is its unattractive appearance.

MAKEOVER THE SCREEN AND DOORS

As homes become more modernized, you may be wanting to update old styles. A good place to begin is with the screen and doors of the fireplace. If you adore the current design but want to easily change the look, paint it! You can repaint fireplace doors with high-heat resistant paint, available online or at your local hardware store. A less permanent way to change the look is by getting a new screen.

INSTALL A FLOATING BEAM

In lieu of a mantel, floating beams provide shelf space while keeping the area clear that surrounds the chimney opening. These are an excellent choice if there’s nothing surrounding your fireplace but the hearth.

You can find a new beam in most wood shops or online retailers, as well as salvage shops or even eBay. If you’re handy, you can even cut your own beam from a larger piece of wood and treat it.

ACCESSORIZE, ACCESSORIZE, ACCESSORIZE

The hearth is the area in front of a fireplace, usually a stone, brick, cement, or marble slab. It adds a layer of protection and can be used to store fireplace tools. You can include accessories around the hearth that give it a unique look. A large mirror, piece of artwork, or family portraits may be hung above the mantel to instantly change the aesthetic.

DECORATE WITH AN ARTISTIC TOUCH

Bring out your inner artist by placing a fabric runner on the mantel to complement the wall behind it. Adding small items like picture frames, vases, flowers, or candles are all accessories that can be easily changed out depending on the seasons or holidays. Whatever you decide to do to your fireplace, we’d love to hear about it. Show us your newly designed fireplace here!

PREPARING YOUR FIREPLACE FOR FALL AND WINTER

Nothing is more pleasing when the temperature drops than the soft amber blaze of a crackling fire. But before you light up that firewood, there are numerous steps you need to take to get your fireplace ready, and for excellent reason. Prepping your fireplace for fall can:

  • Improve the air quality in your house
  • Avert fires
  • Save energy
  • Keep your home warm

Chimney preparation steps are given below:

ARRANGE A YEARLY INSPECTION

All chimneys should be examined and cleaned by a chimney cleaning company at least once a year. A careful cleaning will eliminate any buildup of creosote, an oily and extremely flammable byproduct of burning wood, gives you a safer fireplace.

CLEAN THE FIREBOX

Eliminate and clean the grate and other accessories that are inside the firebox. Vacuum or remove the ash and store it in a metal container with a sealed lid. There are several ways you can recycle the ash. You can use it in your backyard as a fertilizer, to dissolve ice, and even clean the fireplace doors, for example. Be sure to keep a small amount of ash. It will help with starting your initial fire of the season.

CHECK FOR CRACKS AND DAMAGE

Check for cracks and wobbly joints of the firebricks inside the fireplace, and check the external masonry for damage. Hire an expert mason to do any repairs—never try to repair firebrick with ordinary mortar, as the blend cannot stand up to high heat.

EXAMINE THE CHIMNEY CAP AND DAMPER

Ensure the fireplace damper is working accurately and that there is no wreckage preventing it from opening and closing. Make sure that the chimney cap is firmly attached and in good condition. The cap should comprise protective screening to keep birds, squirrels, and other pests from entering the chimney.

CLEAR AWAY TREE LIMBS

While you are outside examining the chimney cap, trim any overhanging tree limbs that may be squeezing on the chimney. Tree limbs can restrict the proper draft of the chimney and spoil the cap.

CLEAR OUT ASHES

Clean out the firebox once in a week, or whenever the ash is more than an inch deep. Coals can stay hot for up to three days, so ensure everything is completely cold. Remove or vacuum the cold ashes and dispose it outside—wood ashes are just right for garden beds and compost piles.

HOW TO PREP A GAS-BURNING FIREPLACE

Clean the blower

Check your gas-burning fireplace to see if it has a blower. If it does, clean it. Distinct from furnace blowers, the blowers of gas-burning fireplaces do not have a filtering system to stop buildup. Dust buildup can cause early wearing of the bearings. Dust can insulate the motor, which prevents it from cooling correctly, eventually leading to motor failure.

Replace batteries

Before every season, change the batteries in any remote transmitters and receivers, if appropriate. Also, replace the batteries and examine any smoke or carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working properly.