make a fire, making a fire, fireplace fire, building a fire

 

There’s nothing quite like relaxing with a warm fire at home. Whether you’re snuggling with someone special or just chillin with the family, a warm and cozy fire makes chilly winter nights so much more comfortable. But there’s an art to creating a great wood fire in your fireplace. And no, we’re not talking about electric fireplaces, either! We’re talking about the real thing, so if you’re wondering how to build a great wood fire in your fireplace, here’s how to do it:

 

Have a Clean Chimney

You’ve had your chimney cleaned each year so there are no blockages, right? Without a clean chimney you may end up with a smoky house, or even a chimney  fire. Having creosote buildup and any blockages removed is an important safety step, so if you’re behind on maintenance, schedule a cleaning before you build a wood fire.

 

Always Open the Damper

Don’t forget to open your chimney damper so smoke can exit the home. Smoke inhalation is dangerous, and can be deadly. Your damper is probably closed when not in use, to prevent heat loss from the home.

 

Prime the Chimney Flue

When you start, your flue will be cold. After opening the flue, cold air from outside will sink into the chimney. If you light the fire during this air sink, you’ll end up with smoke inside your home.

If you have a fireplace that uses a gas pipe to supplement the fire, turn it on and light the pilot without any wood in there. Let the flue warm up before adding the wood. To prime it, light a roll of newspaper and then hold it up the opening for a few minutes. When you feel the draft is now going up, the flue is primed!

 

Create an Ash Bed

You’ll want a 1” to 2” ash bed in the fireplace to help insulate it for a hotter fire. If you don’t use your fireplace often enough to have an ash bed already, you can use ashes from your outdoor grill.

 

Make a Fire Upside Down

An “upside down fire” will burn longer than other fire structures. Don’t put the tinder and smaller kindling on bottom and the bigger fuel logs in a teepee shape on top like you’ve seen on tv. Create a square layer of big logs on the bottom, and then a layer of medium logs perpendicular to those, and smaller ones across the top. Finish it off with bunched up newspaper or other tinder and light with a match from the top. This fire needs very little maintenance and may also burn cleaner since smoke won’t need to pass through logs.

Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy your cozy and comfy fire!

wood burning insert, firebox, fireplace upgradeEveryone loves the look of an open fire in a brick fireplace. It’s classic, familiar, beautiful. Did you know it’s also wasteful, inefficient and less clean than a wood burning fireplace insert would be?

The design of an open fireplace allows a large portion of the heat generated to leave through the chimney. Wood burning inserts allow you to have efficient design and classic good looks, both! They work as a more efficient burners in the setting of a traditional fireplace. Wood burning fireplace inserts release less smoke and emissions than open fire and provide even better heating results. Inserts are used to convert traditional stone and brick fireplaces, which are inefficient and polluting, into effective heating systems.

 

How Does a Fireplace Insert Work?

A fireplace insert is similar to a wood stove that’s been modified to fit within the firebox of a masonry fireplace. An insert consists of a firebox surrounded by a steel shell. Air from the room flows between the firebox and shell, taking heat back into the room. Heat distributor fans can be turned on to push heat into the home. They generally have glass doors for safety and you can see vents above, below, or next to the firebox for the circulation of air and heat.

 

Must You Sacrifice Form for Function?

In a short answer, no. Wood burning inserts are actually very natural looking in the setting of an existing fireplace. In fact, many homeowners build their original masonry fireplace with a Wood Burning Insert structure from the beginning because of their rugged good looks and great efficiency. Many people don’t even realize that fireplaces are outfitted with Wood Burning Inserts because the look is so familiar.

 

Why Choose a Wood Burning Insert over Keeping Your Old Fireplace

While it’s certainly possible that your old fireplace may have been dangerous, and a wood burning insert is the safest solution, most people choose them for their advantages.

 

Environmentally Friendly

Wood is actually very environmentally friendly because it is a renewable, sustainable resource and is considered carbon-neutral to burn by the Carbon Trust. Did you know that if wood were naturally decaying in the woods, it would release the same amount of carbon as it does burning in your hearth? Today’s wood burning inserts combust the harmful fire byproducts that a traditional fireplace releases into the atmosphere. They emit less than 1 gram of smoke per hour, which exceeds the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean air standards.

 

Energy Efficient

Some wood burning insert models have over 80% efficiency. The dual combustion system within a wood burning fireplace insert is what generates a hotter, longer lasting fire. The venting system prevents heat from quickly escaping up the chimney and fans push heated air into your home instead. With the right insert you can easily heat a large living space. You’ll go hours without having to add fuel to the fire.

 

Cost Effective

One load of wood can burn for up to 8 hours in the right fireplace insert, saving you on wood costs. Also, the heat provided to your home can allow you to zone heat through the cold months, instead of using a furnace system to heat the entire home. But the advantages are not reserved for winter! Insulation is placed around a fireplace insert during installation. This prevents cool air from escaping during the summer and hot air from leaking out during the winter. The glass doors of the insert also prevent downdraft problems, keeping your home well insulated.

 

Reduced Maintenance Costs

Fireplaces with a wood burning insert do need annual chimney cleaning, but an insert will reduce the cost of repairing and maintaining your fireplace through the years. With the installation of a fireplace insert, the integrity of a fireplace is fortified without the high price of rebuilding or renovating a masonry fireplace. Replacing or repairing a damaged insert is also significantly less expensive than repairing a masonry fireplace.

 

A Wide Range of Looks and Features

Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts come in styles from slick and sleek, to traditional and ornate. The aesthetic range of offerings is almost overwhelming! You’ll surely find something that fits your style in the available selections. Inserts can also offer features not available with traditional fireplaces, like thermostat control, heat distributor fans and self-cleaning glass.

If you have any questions about wood burning fireplace inserts, just ask us at The Irish Sweep.

 

 

 

 

carbon monoxide poisoning, hidden danger in your home, safety

 

Some call it the hidden poison. Many still don’t have a detector for it. It is the most common cause of poisoning death in the United States. It causes about 500 deaths and 15,000 visits to the emergency room annually due to unintentional poisoning. Seniors can be impacted the most due to other medical issues. It is preventable through a detector. Carbon monoxide is this danger in your home, and it can be avoided.

 

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause illness and death. CO is produced whenever any fuel such as natural gas, propane, gasoline, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. Devices that produce CO include cars, boats, gasoline engines, kitchen stoves and ovens, barbeques and heating system. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces.

 

How do your recognize CO poisoning?

At low levels, a person exposed to CO will notice headaches and trouble breathing after some moderate exercise. Regular or severe exposure to carbon monoxide will lead to flu-like symptoms. Some of these include but are not limited to severe headaches, dizziness, tiredness, nausea, confusion, irritability, and impaired judgment, memory and coordination. Should the above signs not be addressed, then it is possible for carbon monoxide to lead to death. This is why it is sometimes called a “silent killer”.

 

How to Tell the Difference between CO Poisoning and the Flu

While symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to those of the flu, you may not realize that CO is impacting you. The following are the ways you can connect the symptoms with carbon monoxide:

  • The symptoms are more pronounced when you are at home
  • Multiple people get the symptoms at the same time. The flu usually spreads it over time
  • Whoever spends more time at home has more severe symptoms
  • When any device that emits CO is used, the symptoms are worse
  • The impact can be on indoor animals too. The flu generally does not pass to pets.
  • Your body has no achiness.
  • You have no fever or lymph node swelling

 

Prevention

  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your home.
  • Have an inspection done of your heater and fuel burning appliances each year.
  • Do not burn fuels inside your home.

Should you have any questions or need your annual inspection done on your dryer vent by our certified expert, contact Sal at the Irish Sweep.

As winter approaches, you may be looking forward to cozy days around the fire. If you are lucky enough to have a wood burning fireplace, it can be easy to neglect through most of the year up until time to set up that first winter fire. Wood burning fireplaces do require chimney cleaning, inspections, and maintenance. Now you may be wondering, why should I have my chimney cleaned and when?

Advantages of Regular Chimney Cleaning

As wood burns in your fireplace it releases smoke and ash, and over time, creosote can build up. If you have not heard of creosote, it is a flammable substance that builds up like a glaze, coating the interior of your chimney. Creosote needs to be removed regularly so it doesn’t build up and prevent the flow of smoke leaving the chimney. Also, because creosote is flammable, it needs to be removed to prevent chimney fires.

You should have your chimney inspected at least yearly and cleaned as needed. If you recently purchased a home, have the chimney inspected before using the fireplace. Regular maintenance and cleaning help to prevent larger problems and more expensive repairs. Having your chimney inspected, cleaned, and maintained each year will help keep your home and family safe.

When professionals clean your chimney, they remove soot and dangerous creosote built up on the interior. They will also check for any blockages, which could cause smoke to build up in your home if not removed. A professional will make sure everything is in working order for safe and effective operation.

chimney cleaning, the right time to clean your chimney, get your chimney swept.Advantages of Spring or Early Summer Chimney Cleaning

Some say that spring is the best time to have your chimney inspected and cleaned. This is because winter weather might have damaged the masonry, which you would want to catch and repair right away during warm summer months. Additionally, a spring cleaning will get you ready for fall and winter fires, well ahead of the peak cleaning season, so you can avoid waitlists and have it done quickly.

Advantages of Late Summer or Fall Cleaning for your Chimney

Others would argue that fall is the better time to have your chimney cleaned. This is because when your fireplace has not been used in a while, such as during the spring and summer months, pests can enter and set up their homes. Rodents and birds can build nests that clog the chimney. This could be dangerous as smoke is then unable to flow through, and additional creosote could build up, increasing flammability.

Contracting a chimney cleaning company that will provide regular inspections and cleaning is your easiest option. They will remind you when it is time for your inspections. Given the advantage of both spring and fall cleanings, you may opt to have them both in order to maintain your fireplace if you use it often. During inspections, the professionals will look for any problems, clean as needed, and perform or recommend necessary maintenance on your chimney. This can all help to prevent more serious operational issues and maintain a healthy, efficient function of your fireplace all year round.

3201894-450pxFirst of all, let me be clear, artificial gas log sets can only be installed in a fireplace that is suitable for wood burning.  The only way we can determine the fireplace is fire safe is to clean the chimney and then look at the interior surfaces with our remote vision camera system.

These sets come in various sizes and include ceramic logs of your choice with a burn pan, decorative silica sand, volcanic cinders, dual effect embers, a pedestal grate and damper stop.

A plumbing contactor is required to install a gas valve on the floor or wall near the fireplace and a gas supply line into the firebox.

Vent-free artificial gas log sets are illegal in the State of California.

Proposal to phase out wood burning fireplaces in the Bay Area ended.  Full article available at Contra Costa Times – CLICK HERE.

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)

images-9Non-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)