Every town has myths of their own. In many cases, those myths are born as a way to explain a particular situation. When it comes to fireplaces, people tend to have some interesting but wrong ideas about them. Maybe they’ve been told a myth by a trusted relative or well-meaning friend. Maybe they’ve heard these myths and believed them because it’s “common knowledge.” Let’s look at some of the most common myths about fireplaces and separate the fact from fiction.
You Don’t Need to Have Your Chimney Cleaned or Inspected if You Don’t Use it a Lot
Many people believe that just because you only have a fire in your fireplace a few times a year, you can skip having your chimney cleaned and inspected. That is a dangerous assumption to make. A lot happens over the course of the year. Just because you’ve only burned wood once or twice during the winter doesn’t mean you can skip cleaning and inspection. This also applies to situations where you never use your fireplace at all. The weather can take its toll on your chimney and fireplace, animals may build nests in your chimney, and your chimney may have cracks in the masonry or stovepipe due to overheating and extreme temperature changes over time. This is why chimney inspections are not only necessary but also mandatory in Howard County, MD and surrounding areas.
You Can Clean Your Chimney Easily and Do Just as Good of a Job as a Professional
If you’re a do-it-yourself (DIY) type of person, you may have read on the Internet that you can clean your chimney easily and skip the yearly chimney sweep cost. The reality is that unless you have the proper tools and experience to clean chimneys, you could still be leaving dangerous creosote in your chimney which requires a fair amount of scrubbing to get rid of and without the right equipment, you won’t get your chimney clean. You also may miss some problems with your chimney that a trained sweep will recognize. A trained professional will see small problems that need to be fixed before they become big problems by performing a chimney inspection. Finding problems early saves homeowners the headache of costly repairs. Trying to inspect and clean your own chimney is generally a bad idea.
Home Remedies Work Well to Clean Chimneys
This one is a particularly popula myth in Howard County. Some homeowners will search the internet a read about a “cool home remedy” for keeping your chimney clean. Maybe it’s burning a particular substance along with your logs to clean your chimney, or maybe it’s a new way to clean your chimney like tossing a burlap bag filled with rocks down your chimney instead of using the proper tools. These home remedies may sound attractive, but they don’t get your chimney clean and put you in danger. They also do nothing towards ensuring your fireplace and chimney are safe to operate.
Pine and Soft Woods Cause Creosote Buildup
You’ve probably heard the myth that creosote is caused by burning soft woods such as pine. While pine has a fair amount of resin, creosote is created regardless of what type of wood you use. There is no such thing as wood that does not cause creosote over time.
I had a Metal Liner Installed and Therefore Don’t Need Chimney Cleaning
People have metal liners installed to protect masonry chimneys and fireplaces from the heat and the weather. Although metal liners do help your chimney remain in good condition, they still need cleaning. Creosote will build up on metal liners just like it will on any other material.
Chimneys and Fireplaces Aren’t Safe
Chimneys and fireplaces are very safe as long as they are maintained and inspected annually. The danger comes when they aren’t serviced properly.
Burning Wood is Bad for Air Quality
With clean burn technology, fireplaces are cleaner than ever. The air both in the home and out the chimney is cleaner than ever due to new technology in fireplaces and woodstoves. Regardless of wether, you are using central heat or a wood fireplace, toxins are being emitted in the air. Fireplaces provide the benefit of using less energy to heat smaller spaces. Central heat uses significant amounts of fuel to heat your entire home. Fireplaces and stoves focus on heating specific rooms. They don’t waste energy heating unoccupied space. As a result, fireplaces have a much lower impact on the environment than central heating systems.
When it comes to your household safety and also if you try to keep your budget tight, trusting common myths about fireplaces can become more of a problem than a solution.
This time of year, we see signs of Spring everywhere we look. The birds are chirping, the grass is growing, and small animals can be seen running from place to place. Unfortunately, your chimney could be one of the destinations the animals seek. Animals of all kinds have been known to make their homes in chimneys. Animal nests in chimneys can lead to chimneys fires or carbon monoxide poisoning. We recently met a homeowner in Columbia, MD, who told us about a previous incident that occurred involving birds that nested in their chimney. The homeowner learned from experience that is always best to have their chimney inspected every year. Below is everything homeowners need to know about animals that nest in chimneys. We will also educate you on how to keep animals out of your chimney.
Why animals go into chimneys
Many animals look at chimneys as a place to den and make a nest. Chimney represent a warm place that is protected from rain and is safe from predators. It is that nature of all animals to provide a safe place for their offspring. Humans feel the same urge. In this case, animals have chosen a place that threatens your home.
Animals that Like living in chimneys
Different types of animals live in your chimney. These animals include:
- Birds, including chimney swifts, owls, sparrows, and starlings may build a nest in your chimney
- Rodents, such as rats and mice
Hazards created by animals nesting in chimneys
Chimney fires are an obvious danger of animal nests in chimneys. There are several other hazards that homeowners seldom consider.
- The nests can block off airflow, putting you at risk to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Rodents, squirrels, and raccoons can carry parasites. These parasites can leave their animal hosts and feed on the humans and pets within the home.
- Squirrels, rats, and raccoons may enter the home and damage wiring, furniture, and contaminate foodstuffs.
- Bats and raccoons can be carriers of rabies. Rabies is a disease that can be fatal.
- Rodents, squirrels, and raccoons can carry other diseases such as leptospirosis, hantavirus, plague, and other nasty bacteria and viruses.
What to do if you already have animals living in your chimney
Homeowners should contact their local animal control department to report animals living in their chimney. Animal control have the training and equipment necessary to safely remove wild animals from your chimney. Animal control can also determine if the animal inside of your chimney is part of a protected breed. Removing certain breeds or birds is a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Never attempt to remove the animals yourself.
How to keep wild animals out of your chimney
A chimney cap is the best tool to keep animals out of your chimney. It is possible for homeowners to install their own chimney cap. However, it is always best to hire a professional chimney service company like ours. The best option is to have a chimney professional conduct your annual chimney inspection. Looking for signs of animal nests is a standard part of chimney inspections. The chimney sweep will also show you how to keep animals out of your chimney.
Animals are a threat to every chimney. Installing a chimney cap and hiring a licensed chimney sweep to conduct an inspection is the best defense. Call your local chimney service company and schedule your annual inspection today. One nest can ruin your chimney.
Flower season is finally here. Everyone is getting started on their spring cleaning. It is essential to include your chimney in your spring cleaning routine. With winter dying down now is a great time to get a professional chimney sweep to look at your fireplace and make sure it’s in good shape after the harsh winter months. In addition to chimney cleaning, many homeowners decorate their mantle and hearth for the spring. We recently encountered a homeowner in Howard County that took great pride in her spring hearth decorations. Below are a few things that you can do to prepare your fireplace and chimney for the spring.
Clean & Paint Your Fireplace
Over the course of time, ash and debris can collect on your fireplace. Cleaning and repainting your fireplace can give a fresh look to an old fireplace. You have to start with cleaning the firebox and glass. Watch this video for an easy way to clean your fireplace glass.
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you also want to sweep out your firebox before you paint. Sweep the old ash and wood remnants. You can use a vacuum to clean up the remaining debris. After the debris is gone, give the firebox a good scrubbing and paint with high-temperature paint. Watch the video below for instructions on how to clean and repaint your firebox.
Decorate your mantle & hearth
Fireplaces tend to be the focal point of any room. Your fireplace and mantle provide an excellent opportunity to enhance the beauty of any place. Decorating your fireplace mantle and hearth is a fun way to add charm and flair to a room. You can find some great spring decorating ideas here.
Here is an exciting video with ideas for decorating your mantle with items from Dollar Tree and Walmart.
Schedule your annual chimney inspection and cleaning
Chimneys take a beating throughout the winter. It is crucial to have your chimney inspected by a professional chimney sweep company like ours. A professional chimney sweep technician will inspect your chimney, determine if it needs to be cleaned and identify any areas in need of repair. Catching problems early is the best way to prevent costly chimney repairs in the future. The chimney sweep will also make sure that your chimney cap is in good condition. Want to learn more? Read our previous article about why chimneys should be cleaned every year.
Important note: Some make the mistake of thinking only wood-burning fireplaces need annual inspections and cleaning. All chimneys should be inspected a minimum of every year. Even gas fireplaces require yearly inspections. Be safe. Get your chimney inspected.
Installing an outdoor fireplace can make quite a difference in the look and feel of your home. From providing a spot to hang out with guests to keeping everybody warm outside, there are many reasons to install a fireplace outdoors. We find that outdoor fireplaces are particularly popular in Howard County. Here are five benefits of installing an outdoor fireplace that you’ll experience right away.
Outdoor fireplaces help you entertain guests
Whenever you add something to your home that’s both stylish and comfortable, it makes for a great spot for guests. As far as entertaining goes, it doesn’t get much better than an outdoor fireplace. You and your guests can sit around the fireplace or custom firepit enjoying drinks and conversation without worrying about getting cold. You can also add extra seating and table space to accommodate more guests. Here are a few quick entertainment ideas:
- Fireside dinner
- Drinks and conversation
- Music by the fire
Outdoor fireplaces keep you warm on chilly evenings
Spending time outside gets considerably harder during the colder season. It’s a lot easier when you have installed an outdoor fireplace to keep you warm. If you love the winter weather but hate being out in the cold, you’ll enjoy relaxing next to your outdoor fireplace and reading a book or having a morning cup of coffee. And when summer rolls around, it’s a great way to keep everybody warm at night.
Outdoor fireplaces add resale value to your home
One of the most useful benefits of installing an outdoor fireplace to your home is the increase in resale value. Many homes are amazing on the inside but lack appeal on the exterior of the house. Installing an outdoor fireplace is among the best ways to increase resale value. Installing outdoor fireplaces is recommended in an article in US News & World Reports.
Smoke from outdoor fireplaces repel bugs
Acting as a bug repellant is a lesser-known benefit of installing an outdoor fireplace. You don’t have to worry about a bunch of bugs flying in your face so much with an outdoor fireplace. The smoke from your outdoor fireplace works as a natural insect repellant. Burning fire while you’re outside can help cut down on the number of bugs bothering you.
You can cook on your outdoor fireplace
Outdoor fireplaces are a great tool when it comes to outdoor cooking. A fireplace isn’t quite as easy to use or accurate as a gas grill, but they still provide an excellent heat source if you’re looking to do some outdoor cooking. You can cook simple things like marshmallows or hot dogs on sticks, or you can have a fire grate installed so you can do full-scale cooking in your fireplace.
No matter what you’re looking for out of your home, chances are you’ll find many benefits to installing an outdoor fireplace. Not only are outdoor fireplaces a great way to entertain guests and stay warm, but they are also an investment that adds a lot of resale value to your home.
Want an estimate for installing an outdoor fireplace?
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Many people wonder if chimney cleaning logs really work. The answer is yes and no. Chimney cleaning logs can reduce some of the creosote buildups. However, they are not a safe replacement for a professional chimney sweep and inspection.
How Chimney Cleaning Are Supposed to Work
Whenever you burn fuel in your fireplace, gas particles travel up and out of your chimney. Some of the gas particles fail to completely exit the chimney. These particles condense and stick to the inside of your chimney, forming a thick tar-like buildup called creosote. Creosote is highly combustible. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) identifies creosote buildup as a common cause of chimney fires.
In theory, chimney logs release a chemical that causes the creosote to become flaky and brittle and fall through the flue. Chimney cleaning logs only reduce some of the creosote. They do not clean to the professional standards required to reduce potential hazards within your chimney.
Why You Need A Professional Chimney Inspection And Sweep
A professional chimney sweep includes more than cleaning your flue. A professional completes an inspection, cleans the chimney and educates you on potential hidden hazards within your chimney. Creosote buildup is only one of many factors that can affect your chimney.
Whether or not chimney cleaning logs work depends on how you define “work”. Do they reduce some of the creosote buildups? Yes. Do they do a good enough job for you to be confident that your fireplace is as safe as possible? No. Are they an acceptable replacement for a professional chimney sweep and inspection? Never. A professional is the best option.
Are you ready to get your chimney cleaned by a professional? Be sure to read this article on how to choose the right professional chimney sweep company.