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Chimney Maintenance: Don’t Risk Fire

Chimney maintenance and proper cleaning are key steps to keeping your family safe and warm as the temperatures drop. Chimney Maintenance should be done annually if you use your fireplaceNeglected chimneys accumulate creosote, a combustible byproduct of charred wood, along their walls. Add to that a high internal flue temperature and you’ve got a potentially dangerous chimney fire on your hands.

The best way to avoid a house fire caused by the fireplace or chimney is to hire a professional chimney sweep to inspect for cracks and loose bricks. He’ll also clean your chimney. Chimney inspections are typically broken down into three categories:

Level 1 is a standard, annual inspection for chimneys that have no major changes to investigate. The inspector will check the interior and exterior, as well as the chimney connection. The general soundness of the chimney will be checked, and any obstructions will be noted.

Level 2 is an inspection that follows a change in fuel type or changes to the shape or materials in the flue.

Level 3 is rare. These inspections are conducted when a hazard is suspected. Typically, part of the building or chimney is removed to examine the chimney thoroughly. Once your chimney gets the all-clear, you should follow some basic safety tactics when it comes to your chimney and the vicinity of the fireplace or woodstove.

Chimney Maintenance YOU Can Do:

  • If your fireplace doesn’t have a glass door, use a wire mesh screen.
  • Use seasoned hardwoods that have been split for six months to a year. “Green” wood creates more creosote. Don’t burn your Christmas tree (pine creates more creosote) or be tempted to throw wrapping paper, boxes, or trash into the fireplace.
  • If you have trees that hang over the house near the chimney, make sure branches and leaves are at least 15 feet away.
  • Cap your chimney. A top that has wire mesh along the sides will keep out rain and snow, birds, and other critters that might be running around on the roof.
  • If you try to burn too much wood, the chimney can crack and you run the risk of creosote build-up. Burn wood on a grate placed near the back of the fireplace.

While carbon monoxide poisoning can result from poorly functioning home appliances and heating systems, it can also come from poorly maintained chimneys. Make sure there is no debris of any kind blocking your chimney, as carbon monoxide can then accumulate inside the house.

Most importantly, when it comes to chimney maintenance, install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors inside and outside of bedrooms. Replace the batteries each season and test the detectors regularly. If the detectors are more than 10 years old, replace them.

Check here for more helpful tips on periodic home maintenance. Contact Brown and Reaves Services for any heating or plumbing problems you can’t solve on your own. 843-497-9867 or Contact Us Here.

*These Chimney Maintenance tips were courtesy of Popular Mechanics.com

Cozy Up With a Gas Fireplace

For centuries, homeowners have gathered around a fire to keep warm, chat and cook their meals. Today, most American homes have central heating, but the allure of a fire hasn’t diminished — whether it’s a wood-burning fireplace, a free-standing gas stove or, in a pinch, even the image of a burning log on a midnight television screen!

While there’s something to be said for the sounds and smell of a wood-burning fireplace, a lot of homeowners are opting for the ease of a gas insert. Wood-burning fireplaces provide great ambience, but they can’t beat the easy, no-fuss efficiency of gas. Today’s gas fireplaces look realistic, need minimal maintenance and can heat an entire room.

There are three kinds of gas fireplaces.

  • Gas inserts: This is gas fireplace that can be fitted into an existing wood burning fireplace.
  • Built-ins: A fireplace that can be installed into the wall where there wasn’t one previously
  • Log sets: Gas burners that sit in existing fireplaces and are more for aesthetics than heat

Gas Fireplace Costs: $2,000 to $5,000 for the fireplace and installation. This is not a DIY project and should be handled by someone who can verify that the fireplace is vented properly.

Ventilation:

Although a gas fireplace doesn’t emit the smoke or leave ashes like a traditional wood-burning fireplace, they do emit carbon monoxide and other chemicals. Many gas fireplaces and inserts are vented versions that recycle air and exhaust directly through an exterior opening.

However, a vent-free gas fireplace can be installed anywhere because they don’t require access to an exterior wall opening. They are required to be cleaner burning and have an oxygen-depletion sensor that will shut off the fireplace if the level of oxygen is too low in the room. Vent-free gas fireplaces are not allowed in California, New York City and a few other places.

Pros of Going Gas:

A gas fireplace can be built nearly anywhere in your home and provides a clean, low-maintenance look of a fireplace. You can control the temperature of the fire with a built-in thermostat and can start the fire with a switch or button. Unlike wood-burning fires, gas fireplaces are efficient and return as much as “75 to 99 percent of a fuel’s energy back as heat,” according to “This Old House.” Some gas fireplaces have built-in fans which can heat an entire room quickly.

Cons of Going Gas:

For most people, the cost of installation and the gas or propane to run it is a big enough turn-off due to cost. Additionally, there are some environmental concerns with gas fireplaces, specifically vent-free versions due to carbon monoxide output.

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