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

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 staff@theirishsweep.com 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.

ALL ABOUT CERAMIC COATING

WHY CHOOSE CERAMIC COATING?

Your chimney plays a very significant role in the secure use of your fireplace or wood-burning heater. Many homeowners are amazed to hear that poorly-maintained flues and chimneys are in reality one of the common causes for home fires. When it comes to your firewood or gas-burning machine, there are plenty of parts that go into keeping your home safe, including the chimney liner.

HOW DOES IT GET DONE?

Ceramic coating sprayed within your chimney blocks and plugs any gap or cracks, and coats an even ceramic layer which provides the correct passageway for the smoke and any harmful emissions to disband from the fire directly out the crown of your chimney. It also controls any further acid corrosion and prevents damage being done to the flue which not only ensures your chimney is protected to use but also puts your mind at rest that no expensive repairs will be needed.

It is applied with a sprayer. On the vertical walls, i.e. most of the chimney, it should be applied from base to top because as the material comes out of the sprayer it runs down the chimney and gets absorbed into the chimney underneath the area is working on. The top requires extra attention or it’d only obtain one pass. Afterward than you come to an end about 15 minutes’ worth, do it another time just to make sure the entire structure gets a good soaking.

 BENEFITS OF CERAMIC COATING

  • Avoid Overheating of the Chimney and Lengthens Its Lifespan
  • Seals crack preventing heat loss, considerably saving heat energy
  • Excellent resistance to powdering
  • Forms gas-tight surface
  • Cost-Effective
  • Increases the security of a home, advance the operation of the fireplace and guard the smoke chamber

SEALING THE CHIMNEY BREAST

Since the chimney breast has a more brutal exposure to rain and particularly snow, it needs more coats of Ceramic coating. Most Ceramic coatings used these days are water-based material. This is for many reasons: First is that water-based materials cost significantly less than solvent-based materials. They are safer to dispatch, store and use and they are completely adequate to the task. The exception to the advantages is on non-vertical surfaces.

SEALING A CHIMNEY CROWN

The chimney crown is a nearly flat surface and it’s completely made of concrete or mortar. It shouldn’t be made of mortar, but there is a good possibility that it is anyway. Based on what you’ve just read about ceramic coating the chimney breast, you’d logically think that you’d just use a solvent-based waterproofing material there.

For Ceramic Coating services contact Irish Sweep today!

REASONS FOR A CHIMNEY DISMANTLE

You might be looking at your old chimney and thinking about its removal. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it first seems, and there are so many factors to think about before you begin. When you wish to get rid of the chimney for purely aesthetic reasons, the effort required may prove more than it’s worth.

There are numerous reasons for wanting to get rid of the chimney, including:

  • Poorly damaged stack
  • Local pollution regulation
  • No plans to use it in the future
  • State of disrepair
  • Roof leakage
  • Home insulation
  • Takes up too much space

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

There are five important factors to consider when it comes to a chimney dismantle task. Understanding these terms is essential for deciding on the suitable actions and calculating costs.

BREAST

The chimney breast is equally the most visible and fundamental portion of a chimney. The brick walls encase the flu and other functional parts, providing extra insulation and major structural support.

Regrettably, the breast tends to protrude into all the places it passes through. In the occasion you desire to repossess this space in a room, it is achievable to remove only that section of the breast instead of the whole chimney.

STACK

When people consider a chimney, this is the element they tend to picture. It is the part which protrudes from the peak, ending in a cap. Leaks and structural damage are the most familiar reasons for wanting to remove a chimney stack, and in this case, you will have the choice of simply covering over the rest of an unused chimney when you expand the roof over the gap left by the stack.

TIME INVESTMENT

Whether you do the task yourself or hire a contractor, be aware that removing a chimney is a time-consuming task, particularly traditional brick ones. A brick chimney must be cautiously disassembled one brick at a time to avoid structural damage.

DISPOSAL

Simply removing the stack may not generate a lot of garbage, but if your plans involve taking out the chimney breast in one or more areas, you may be looking at a large quantity of brick and tile. This is not only costly to dispose of, but may require special permits.

Be sure to fully investigate local disposal regulations and see if there are masonry companies who may be involved in salvaging the materials. In the latter case, the disposal may be low-priced or even free, depending on the company and state of the bricks you remove.

PERSONAL SAFETY

Chipping away at older masonry one brick at a time is a long and unsafe job. Be sure to have sufficient head and body protection, and be conscious of the high levels of dust you will be creating that could affect your lungs or vision.

Contact the Irish Sweep today to dismantle your chimney.