FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I plan on sharing some day-to-day experiences with you because I live in an awesome world, I get to be in nature all day, I meet some very interesting people and have some amazing adventures.

But first there is some information that I want to present so that this information can be found on the world wide “interweb” as we call it at my house.

Let’s start with the most frequently asked questions.

People ask me all the time,

“How often should I have my chimney and fireplace professionally cleaned?”

The rule of thumb is once every 75 fires or every cord of wood.

“How much is a cord of wood?”

It is a stack of wood 4 feet high X 8 feet long X 4 feet deep.

“Do I need my chimney cleaned if I am using a manufactured log instead of real wood?”

Yes, anything you burn will leave debris in your fireplace and on the walls of your chimney. All of that debris is a flammable substance known as creosote.

“What is creosote?”

Inside chimneys and stovepipes deposits originating as condensed wood smoke having three stages:
1st stage is soft soot
2nd stage is lumpy and crisp
3rd state is like roofing tar and is smooth as glass

“What is a damper?”

A damper is a moveable blade located in the throat of the fireplace that is designed to impede airflow in the chimney. During the colder months of the year, it is important to keep the damper closed when the fireplace is not in use because the damper will keep the exterior cold air from sinking down the chimney and entering your home and prevent your expensive PG&E heated air in your home.
If you live with air condition, the same is true when using that option to cool your home.

A glass fireplace enclosure also impedes airflow.

STRIKE WHILE THE IRON IS HOT AND YOUR CHIMNEY IS COLD…

Seize the moment!

Those with wood-burning fireplaces take note! Have you heard about the most recent new proposal to be mandated by the (BAAQMD) Bay Area Air Quality Management District? In a nutshell, there is a strong push toward the elimination of fireplaces.

As a result, if you are considering the installation of a set of artificial gas logs or a gas-burning fireplace insert, seize the moment NOW, especially if you are considering relocating in the near future.

The Time is NOW!

As we move toward September, Bay area retail stores and professional chimney installers will be overwhelmed and those dreams to have an installation completed by the Holidays may not become a reality. This is YOUR MOMENT to be pro-active. So before that little cold nip of fall air puts a shiver in your spine, start planning.

4 Guidelines to help with your Chimney decisions

  1. Any time a fuel source is changed in a fireplace, for example, wood-burning to a gas conversion, the chimney must be cleaned.
  2. If the plan is to install as set of artificial gas logs, an inspection of the interior surfaces of the chimney is required to determine the worthiness of the clay liners inside the chimney and their related mortar joints.
  3. If the chimney fails the inspection, you might want to consider your options which could include installing a stainless steel liner in the chimney that will support that set of logs or installing a gas-burning or wood-burning fireplace insert.
  4. It might also be time to consider the seismic liability of your chimney.

The BAAQMD is on the move. There is a proposed mandate coming down the pipeline and all Bay Area residents who love their open wood-burning fireplace should take notice. If the proposal is approved, this will be a requirement on all home sales; Please check our website www.theirishsweep.com regularly for updated information.

The Irish Sweep offers complete installation of artificial gas logs or fireplace insert. Contact us today to schedule your install at 510-521-4088.

UPDATE TO REGULATION 6, RULE 3, PROPOSED AMENDMENTS

Information gleaned from www. baaqmd.gov

Sole source of heat:
A wood-burning device may be used during a mandatory burn ban if the device is the only source of heat in a residential dwelling and the device is EPA certified. A person claiming

this exemption is required to register the EPA certified device in the District’s registration program and submit records to the District for verification.
(Effective November 1, 2016)

Non-Functional, Permanently Installed Heating Device:
Residential dwellings (excluding commercial and residential rental properties) that have a non-functional, permanently installed heating device may receive a temporary exemption from a mandatory burn ban if repairs are completed in 30 days and submission of all repair documentation is submitted to the District within 10 days of completion.
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Loss of Electric Power and/or Natural Gas:
The use of a wood-burning device is allowed during a mandatory burn ban when there is loss of electric power and/or natural gas as determined by the utility service providers.
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Mandatory Burn Ban:
A mandatory burn ban is declared to prevent regional wood smoke accumulation when a PM2.5 level is anticipated to exceed an unhealthy level within the next 3 days.

Update to the above:
A mandatory burn ban is declared when a negative impact upon public health is anticipated resulting from PM2.4 levels forecast to exceed 35 mg/m3. “Mandatory Burn Ban” will replace “curtailment period.” (name change)
Staff determined that Rule 6-3 already allows the District flexibility to declare Winter Spare the Air Alerts 2 – 3 day sooner to prevent unhealthy air from occurring and it is not necessary to amend the regulatory requirements of this section.

Sales and Manufacturing of Wood Heaters:
All new EPA certified wood-burning devices manufactured and sold must meet or exceed new NSPS standards:
• Effective 60 days after new NSPS standards are published in the Federal Register:
o 4.5g/hr for catalytic and non-catalytic stoves using crib test or cordwood test. If cordwood testing is conducted, the manufacturer must supply the emissions test method to EPA and the test method must be approved.
o Effective 5 years after the date of the final rule, the following new NSPS standards apply:
2.0 g/hr for catalytic and non-catalytic stoves using crib test.
2.5 g/hr for catalytic and non-catalytic stoves using cordwood test. The manufacturer must supply the emissions test method to EPA and the test method must be approved.
Wood stove retailers will be allowed to sell existing inventory of EPA certified devices rated 4.6 g/hr – 7/5 g/hr until December 31, 2015.

Sale or Transfer of Real Property has been changed to Disclosure Requirements for Real Property:
Real estate property may not be sold or transferred if it includes an uncertified wood-burning device. The seller may decommission the uncertified device or may replace it with gas-fueled, electric, or EPA Certified devices that meet or exceed new NSPS standards.
(Effective November 1, 2016)

Update to the above:
Removed Proposed “Point-of-Sale” Requirement
The “point-of-sale” requirement has been changed to require disclosure documents upon sale or rental of real property to disclose health hazards of PM2.5
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Fireplace or Chimney Remodels:
Upon remodeling a fireplace or chimney, an uncertified wood-burning device must be replaced with a device that is gas-fueled, electric or EPA certified that meets or exceeds new NSPS standards. This requirement is triggered by any fireplace or chimney remodeling activity that requires a local building permit.
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Update to the above:
Upon remodeling a fireplace or chimney, an uncertified wood-burning device must be replaced with a device that is gas-fueled, electric or EPA certified if the remodel cost exceeds $15,000 and requires a local building permit.
(Effective November 1, 2016)

Commercial and Residential Rental Property has been changed to Rental Properties with Natural Gas Service:
All commercial and residential rental properties must have an alternate form of heat that does not burn solid fuel and all wood-burning devices must be EPA certified or be replace with gas-fueled or electric devices.
(Effective November 1, 2016)

Update to the above:
Removed proposed requirement that all rental properties must replace wood-burning devices with gas-fueled, electric or EPA certified devices.
All rental property in areas with natural gas service must have an alternate from of heat that does not burn sold fuel.
(Effective November 1, 2018)

New Building Constructions:
New building constructions may only install gas-fueled or electric devices. Installation of devices that burn solid fuel is prohibited.
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Update to the above:
Only the date has been changed.
(Effective November 1, 2016)

Visible Emissions Limitation:
Following a 20 minute start-up allowance for new fires, visible emission of grater than 20% opacity and aggregate to 3 minutes in any hour is considered an exceedance of the standard.
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Registration:
Registration – All residential properties claiming Only Source of Heat Exemption must have a registered EPA certified device.
o Type of Device(s)
o # of Device(s)
o Make, Model and Serial # of Device(s)
o Manufacture Date(s)
(Effective November 1, 2016)

DRYER VENTS: THE DANGER WITHIN

*”Very few people realize the danger of clothes dryer fires. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an estimated annual 15,500 fires, 10 deaths and 10 injuries due to clothes dryer fires. Several hundred people a year are also subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning from improper dryer vent setups. The financial costs come to nearly $100,000,000 per year. In some cases faulty appliances are to blame,

but many fires can be prevented with proper dryer venting.”  If you notice that your clothes require a much longer drying time, maintenance of the dryer exhaust system is imperative.

Dryer fires occur when the lint accumulation and reduced airflow feed on each other to provide the condition that ignites a fire.  Most people don’t realize lint is highly combustible.

Once upon a time, dryers were always located in the basement of a home but today people have realized their ability to install a dryer closer to the dirty clothes source which is in the bedroom area of the home.  Often that remodel will put the dry between interior walls of the home instead of directly venting through an exterior wall and the venting material is installed in longer runs which means the dryer has to work harder to push the products of combustion farther.  The end results in a greater accumulation of lint, that highly combustible material.

It is important the lint is removed from the lint trap after every load that is dried.  Even with that good behavior lint can still wander into your appliance.  In our experience, lint screens located near the back of the dryer have less internal build up of lint than those with screens near the front door of the dryer.  We do our best to clean as much of that as possible but sometimes it is necessary to call upon the assistance of a dryer repair company that is qualified to disassemble the dryer and access the interior surfaces that collect lint.

If you are undertaking a remodeling project of this nature, try to make the exhaust run as short as possible, straighter is always better and avoid the use of too many elbows which restrict the flow.

Use only 26 gauge venting material and avoid flexible connectors that are constructed of flammable material.  Unfortunately, we see these flammable products sold in every local hardware store.

When pushing the dryer into position take care not to push the appliance so far back that it crushes the venting material.  If it is time to purchase a new dryer, measure the existing space and be certain not to purchase an appliance that is too deep and will compromise the vent connector.  If you notice a lot of “dust bunnies” in your laundry room, it could be because the venting connector has been crushed or has holes.

The dryer duct needs to vent to the outside atmosphere and not into an attic or crawlspace under the house.

Never use screws to put the venting material together.

For safety, never let your dryer run while you are asleep or out of the house and remember to read the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the safe use of their product and install as directed.

Need an appliance specialist?  We have a great referral for you whom we trust with our very own appliances:  Todd Anderson, Anderson Repair Services, 510-301-0223

*The source for this information is from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

DAMPER – WHAT IS IT?

DAMPER:  The Chimney Safety Institute defines this word as, “A valve, usually a moveable or retractable plate for controlling the flow of air or smoke.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines it as, “ A valve or plate (as in the flue of a furnace) for regulating the draft.”

Many fireplaces have a damper blade located at the top of the firebox that is opened when a fire is to be lighted or closed once a fire has been suppressed.  During the colder months of the year it is ideal to close the damper when the fireplace is not in use, as that closed damper will help to keep the cold air outside the home while helping to keep the warm air in the home.  This saves money for the homeowner and prevents the warm, heater air from rising up the chimney and out of the home.

Not all but most dampers operate like a drawer.  When the damper handle is pushed in towards the back-wall of the firebox the damper is closed and when the damper handle is pulled forward (like an open drawer) the damper is open.

Most top-sealing dampers open by pulling down on the handle and releasing it from the bracket that has secured it to the sidewall of the firebox.  To close a top-sealing damper, pull down on the handle and lock the cable in the bracket.