Our Company Blog

Carbon Monoxide Dangers

Your home is your safe place, where you and your family gather to spend time together and enjoy each other’s company. Because of this, you want to keep your home as safe and free from harm as possible. There are many dangers present inside a home, and a little due diligence, care and maintenance can help protect you and your family from harm.

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Carbon Monoxide: A Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide is a big concern for many homeowners, because they know it is something to fear but don’t necessarily understand what it is. Simply put, carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is extremely poisonous. Carbon monoxide is most commonly produced from fuels that have not been burned completely such as wood, oil, natural gas and charcoal. Appliances that use these types of fuel can leave behind carbon monoxide and should be handled with extreme care.

Carbon Monoxide And Wood-Burning Heaters

Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are of particular concern to many homeowners because they can emit carbon monoxide. This is of even greater concern during the winter months when wood-burning appliances are more frequently used to heat homes across the US. Luckily for homeowners, there are many things you can do to prevent dangerous carbon monoxide from entering your home.

Safe Wood-Burning Practices

With some simple safe practices, you can alleviate the risk of carbon monoxide. First and foremost, use your fireplace or wood stove according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and only use wood-burning heating appliances you are completely confident you know how to operate. Unsafe handling of any wood stove or fireplace is a surefire way to use it incorrectly and unsafely.

Additionally, always store your wood outdoors where it is protected from the elements because seasoned wood that is properly dried will burn hotter than other types of wood. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends a moisture content of less than twenty percent. You want to burn fires that are as hot as possible, and dry wood, as well as dry kindling is the first step to that. Never burn wood that is rotted, moldy or wet. Other safe burning practices include:

Making sure your fires are lit in a well-ventilated area.

Never burning painted, pressure-treated wood or particleboard because these will emit chemicals.

Never burn household garbage in your heating appliance.

Regularly remove ashes from the firebox.

Burn fires as hot as possible. Remember, a smoldering fire may not be a safe fire.

You also want to keep your fireplace/stove and chimney as clean as possible to allow fires to burn extremely hot. A professional chimney sweeping company like Chief Chimney Services, Inc in Suffolk County is committed to keeping your chimney clean, professionally swept and free of any harmful residue. We want your fireplace to work efficiently, but more important than that, we are passionate about keeping you and your family safe from harmful build-up and the potential threat of carbon monoxide poisoning. Take every preventative measure possible when it comes to keeping your home safe, and start with a clean, efficient fireplace or stove that your family can enjoy for years to come.

By John Pilger on March 27th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Carbon Monoxide Dangers

Recent Bad Weather Could Damage Your Chimney

It’s been a winter of record-breaking weather in the Northeast United States. The Weather Channel is reporting some of the worst weather in years, and New York City has experienced some of the coldest temperatures in ten years. With the month of March expected to come in like a lion, many homeowners are concerned about the potential damage all this weather could be causing.

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The Stack Effect

The cold weather could be affecting your heating bill, but beyond that harsh winter weather can also affect your chimney. During something called The Stack Effect, the cold air from the outside of your home battles with the warm air inside your home. When cold air is forced down your chimney and into your home (because of chimney leaks or a poorly capped chimney) this can force a back draft in your fireplace making lighting a fire almost impossible.

The Moisture Effect

Another major culprit of chimney damage is moisture. When there is an excessive amount of snow and/or ice like we’ve been experiencing in the Northeastern United States, this precipitation can make its way into your chimney. Not only can this make it very difficult to light a fire in your fireplace or stove difficult but it can also create a build-up of creosote. Creosote is a potentially harmful chemical build-up inside a chimney that occurs when a fire isn’t burning hot enough.

How You Can Protect Your Chimney From Winter Weather

Moisture and cold air are two of the main culprits causing chimney damage during the long and cold winter months. Luckily, there are certain precautions you can take to make sure you address chimney damage before it becomes a major problem:

After heavy snowfall, inspect the exterior of your chimney for any noticeable damage.
Inspect the interior of your home for water damage or peeling paint/wallpaper around your chimney or fireplace. This could signify a leak or other chimney damage.

Perhaps the best thing you can do to protect your chimney happens before winter sets in. Hire a professional chimney sweeping company like Chief Chimney Services in Suffolk County to inspect and sweep your chimney before the winter months. Your chimney sweeping company will make sure there is no major damage to your chimney and will keep it clean. Beyond that, your chimney sweeping company will:

Recommend a top-sealing damper
Re-line your chimney
Recommend and install a chimney cap

These easy add-ons can protect your chimney from harsh winter elements like cold air and moisture. After all, having an airtight chimney is the best way to protect against bad winter weather.

This winter has been one of the record books. Between the frigid temperature and immense amount of snow many homeowners can’t wait for spring to arrive. While you’re waiting out the storm, be sure to hire a reputable, professional chimney sweeping company to help you maintain your chimney and keep it in great working order. An airtight chimney will heat your home, as well as keep your loved ones safe while winter continues to rear its ugly head.

By John Pilger on March 8th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Recent Bad Weather Could Damage Your Chimney

Spring Into Action

Spring Into Action This Spring & Have Your Annual Chimney Inspection

The importance of having a yearly inspection and evaluation of your chimney cannot be stressed strongly enough. When your health and safety are at risk, it is important make sure you call a trained professional to evaluate and clean your chimney and its components on annual basis. Chief Chimney Services, Inc. has earned the prestigious credentials of certified chimney sweep from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) to perform a complete evaluation and inspection in order to keep your venting operating at peak capacity, controlling energy consumption and costs, and protect you from fire and toxic gas hazards.

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Spring is the ideal time to have your inspections performed.

Our mothers and grandmothers used the end of winter to signal time for their spring cleaning. A thorough cleaning helped make the transition from the demands of winter to the demands of summer. Springtime is an excellent time to also have a professional inspection of your chimney performed.

The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”

During the winter, you use your chimney more than other times during the year. The residue from your fires builds up in your fireplace and chimney. Not only that, the masonry of your chimney is subjected to temperature changes as the weather freezes and thaws. These temperature changes can cause cracks, leaks, and lose bricks which allow water, smoke, and toxic gasses to seep back into your home. In addition, since your chimney is warm, birds and animals may decide to make your chimney home for the winter and then may die or get trapped inside and cause dangers.

3 Levels of Inspection as described by the Chimney Safety Institute of America*

Level 1 Inspections –During a Level 1 inspection, your chimney service technician examines the readily accessible portions of the chimney exterior, interior and accessible portions of the appliance and the chimney connection. The technician will also verify the chimney is free of obstruction and combustible deposits.

Level 2 Inspections –A Level 2 inspection is required when any changes are made to the system. Level 2 inspections are required when property is sold or transferred. Fires, seismic events, and weather events are reasons for a Level 2 inspection.

Level 3 Inspection – Includes all the areas and items checked in a Level 1 and a Level 2 inspection, as well as the removal of certain components of the building or chimney where necessary. When serious hazards are suspected, a Level 3 inspection may well be required to determine the condition of the chimney system.

* See more here.

The Department of Consumer Protection echoes the recommendations of property experts, fire departments, insurance companies, and chimney professionals in all 50 states, “Have your chimney inspected and cleaned, preferably in late spring or early summer when heating season is over. That way, you’ll have enough time to schedule any repairs you may need before the heating season begins in the fall.”

The Importance Of Using A Company That Employs CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps

When you are a homeowner you understand you are taking on a certain set of responsibilities when it comes to maintaining your home. Making sure your appliances and heating/cooling systems are running efficiently and safely are necessary to ensure your home is operating in the best possible way. Having your chimney inspected and swept on a regular basis is one of the easiest and smartest things you can do when maintaining your home. Hiring a reputable company with CSIA certified chimney sweeps is also important in making sure your fireplace and chimney are in good hands.

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What Is The CSIA?

The CSIA, or Chimney Safety Institute Of America is at the forefront of education and public awareness for chimney safety. The CSIA strives to make sure every chimney and venting system is properly cared for. By training and certifying qualified professionals to perform chimney sweeping tasks and by educating homeowners on the importance of having your chimney inspected and cleaned, the Chimney Safety Institute Of America helps prevent chimney fires, creosote build-up and carbon monoxide exposure in homes across America.

Importance Of CSIA Certification

Chimney Sweep Institute Of America Certification is the gold standard for industry professionals. When hiring a CSIA certified chimney sweep you can rest assured that they:

  • Have met the highest level of certification for chimney sweeps
  • Have paid the annual certification fee
  • Meet the stringent credentials put forth by the CSIA
  • Can provide referrals for excellent work
  • Hold a certification recognized by builders, contractors and homeowners associations across the US

CSIA certified sweeps have attended training sessions as well as passed exams based on the most current chimney sweeping safety information. Additionally, when certified, all chimney sweeps agree and sign the CSIA Code of Ethics that ensures they uphold their duties according to the most current safety information.

Other Benefits of CSIA Certification Include:

  • Ongoing training opportunities
  • Education for home inspection and fire safety
  • Support after chimney fires
  • Support for military veterans

It’s not enough to have your chimney cleaned regularly. You want to look for a company that utilizes the best technology in the business, as well as the highest safety standards in the country. As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to hire a reputable company that cares enough about their employees and about the quality of their work to comply with CSIA certification standards.

Chimney sweeping professionals, like the ones at Chief Chimney in Suffolk, NY have been through the CSIA training course and strive to uphold the safety and quality standards this important organization promotes. When you understand the importance of hiring a CSIA certified chimney sweep you begin to realize that your fireplace heating system is quite literally the hearth of your home.

As a homeowner, you deserve the very best. Trust a company that wants to keep your family safe by making sure your fireplace and chimney are working efficiently and safely. By taking time to invest in a company that certifies its employees and maintains the rigorous standards set forth by the CSIA you can rest assured your chimney and fireplace will be maintained, cleaned and swept by the very best. For more information contact Chief Chimney today.

By John Pilger on February 10th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Importance Of Using A Company That Employs CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps

Advantages of a Top Sealing Damper

Around this time of year, the cost of the heating bills always spike wildly. No one wants to be cold during the winter, so sacrificing a few extra dollars to kick up the thermostat often seems worth it at the time. Yet when the bills come, a blanket suddenly sounds like a better choice. For those who rely on a fireplace to provide heat for the home, there are some options for cutting costs. One way to save some money is to utilize a top sealing damper.

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This clip is courtesy of Richie Baxley at Environmental Chimney Service in Asheville NC.

The damper in the fireplace is a mechanism that controls the flow of air through the chimney. It is generally made of steel or ceramic to stand up to the heat of the fire and it opens and closes with a handle, pull chain or lever. Most fireplaces utilize the damper in order to vent the toxic fumes from the fire. Therefore, the damper should be open while the fire is burning and until the fireplace has cooled once the fire has been extinguished. Any other time, keep the damper closed to keep the warm air inside the house.

One common type of damper is known as the throat damper, which is located just above the firebox at the bottom of the chimney. These install very easily, so they are very commonly found in many homes. The other type, known as the top sealing damper, sits high in the chimney, and is less frequently seen. However, the top sealing damper does have its benefits.

The way these two dampers differ is based on the draft, or how the air flows through the chimney. Warm air rises, so when the fire starts, the warm air moves up through the chimney. This draws out the smoke and other toxic fumes while also pulling fresh, oxygenated air into the fire from the home, creating a steady flow of air. In a throat damper, the chimney is primarily filled with heavy, cold outdoor air, so the hot air moves more slowly up through the chimney at first. If the initial fire is too large, it could end up filling the house with smoke. On the other hand, the top sealing damper allows the chimney to fill with the warm air from the house prior to lighting the fire. Thus, when the fire starts, the hot air and smoke can move quickly up the chimney. This saves time and fuel when first lighting the fire, making the top sealing damper an easy choice.

For more information on a top sealing damper, contact the professionals at Chief Chimney Services, Inc. If you live in the area of Suffolk County, the experts at Chief Chimney can even install a top sealing damper in your chimney to help you save money right away.

By John Pilger on January 28th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Advantages of a Top Sealing Damper

Oil Furnace Flue Cleaning

With the start of the New Year have come bitterly cold temperatures, especially in the Long Island area. Most have rightfully taken shelter indoors, huddling under blankets with the furnace running on high. In order to keep that furnace functioning at its best, it requires some regular maintenance. Experts recommend having a technician service it yearly, but these service calls do not always include cleaning the flue for oil furnaces. If a flue cleaning is not performed, it is important to have it done anyway, even if that means a separate appointment.

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When the furnace runs, the burned oil produces a variety of substances, not the least of which is soot. This soot is black and messy, and it is meant to be expelled out of the furnace through the flue. However, as the soot travels through the flue, it often clings to the interior of the flue. Over time, it builds up and can even close off the air flow through the flue. In turn, the toxic flue gases produced by burning oil are forced back into the unit and sometimes into the house. Breathing in these poisons can lead to long term effects like cancer from soot or short term issues like an irritated respiratory tract from carbon monoxide.

Another issue that arises from soot in the flue is the degradation of the flue lining. The carbon and sulfur mixture in the soot mixes with water vapor produced by the fire to form a highly acidic compound. If the flue lining is exposed to this compound for an extended period, it can cause damage. Ceramic flue tiles show damage by splitting, cracking or spalling, and stainless steel flue lining becomes riddled with holes after being eaten away by the acid. Damaged flue lining, no matter the material, can lead to flue gases leaking into the house or even structural damage to the flue. Fortunately, any issues related to soot in the flue can be avoided by having regular cleanings performed.

Not all of the soot vents from the furnace or clings to the flue lining. What does not ends up falling back into the furnace, sitting on vent. As soot is allowed to build up on the vent, the furnace must work harder to force air through the vent. In general, a clogged vent will cost the homeowner more money. It lowers the efficiency of the furnace, costing more in fuel consumption, and it shortens the life of the appliance, which has a significant replacement cost.

If your oil furnace flue has not been cleaned within the past year, or if it appears to need some extra servicing, contact a flue expert to schedule an appointment. For service in the Suffolk County area, contact Chief Chimney Services, Inc..

Reasons to Have Your Dryer Vents Cleaned

For most people, laundry is not a major part of the day. Perhaps it goes ignored for several days or a week, sometimes more. Life is filled with many tasks much more interesting, urgent, and exciting than doing laundry, so this mindset is understandable. For safety reasons, however, laundry should not be forgotten about for too long. The clothes dryer, in particular, needs special attention to keep it running safely.

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Everyday basic care for the dryer can help lengthen its functional life and keep the home and family safe. One good measure to take is to empty the lint trap before and after every load. Leaving one or more layers of lint in the trap limits the air flow through the machine, increasing the drying time and the risk of fire. In addition, avoid overloading the dryer because this reduces the efficiency. Some items may remain damp while others become extremely hot, even dangerously hot.

Another very important measure to take that can keep the machine safe and functional is to have the dryer vents professionally cleaned at least once every year. The dryer vent is the wide pipe running from the dryer to the outdoor vent flap that expels the hot, damp air from the system. Lint that does not catch in the trap is forced out through the vent, and over time, it can build up in the pipe. The lint can block the vent completely, or it may clog the vent flap, preventing it from opening properly. Schedule an appointment to have this vent cleared of lint, dust, and other debris every year. However, if the clothes seem to be drying more slowly or if the vent flap no longer opens while the dryer is running, stop using the machine and call for a cleaning right away, even if it has been less than a year since the last cleaning.

Having the dryer vents cleaned on a regular basis is important because neglecting to do this can result in devastating fires. The lint that builds up in the vent is continually exposed to very hot air. Since lint is very flammable, this intense heat exposure can result in ignition and a dangerous fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 16,800 home structure fires began in the laundry room across the country in 2010. Ninety-two percent of these fires started with the clothes dryer, and the leading cause was failure to clean the appliance.

Fortunately, you do not have to become one of these frightening statistics. Taking good care of your dryer on a day-to-day basis and having the vents cleaned at least once every year can make all the difference. If you need your dryer vents cleaned and you live in the western or central portion of Suffolk Country, get in touch with Chief Chimney Services, Inc. to schedule the appointment today.

By John Pilger on December 30th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Reasons to Have Your Dryer Vents Cleaned

The Importance of a Chimney Cap

The official start of winter is just a few days off, which means homeowners everywhere are lighting up their fireplaces and wood stoves to keep warm. The privilege of having a fireplace in the home includes cozy evenings curled up on the couch and creating the perfect holiday backdrop. However, having a fireplace also comes with a certain set of responsibilities for keeping it safe and functional. Most homeowners know the basic rule of having the chimney swept and inspected every year, but the knowledge usually stops there. The details about the fireplace and chimney often go unnoticed. One aspect of the chimney that often gets forgotten is the chimney cap.

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The chimney cap provides protection in surprising, cost-effective ways, in spite of its basic structure. Generally built with stainless steel or copper materials, the chimney cap guards the inside of the chimney from where it sits at the very top. A key function of the chimney cap is to stop critters from making a home of the chimney. With colder weather upon them, the animals that stick around for winter become very intent on finding a warm home out of the elements. Unfortunately, the warm chimney makes a pretty attractive home for little animals that do not know any better, and an uncapped chimney could end up blocked by a nest. With an obstruction like this, the fumes from the next fire cannot properly vent from the home. They start to back up into the living air, putting inhabitants at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and other harmful inhalations.

Chimney caps also act as an umbrella for the chimney by preventing water from freely pouring down the inside. If water is allowed to enter the chimney, it can leave some serious damage it its wake. First, the metal flue liner starts to rust, which exposes the interior of the chimney and the home to the acidic smoke and heat from the fire. Next, the water trickles down to the damper and rusts that out too. A rusted damper could prevent the fireplace from venting properly. Water damage may also show up inside the home, as evidenced by water stains on the walls and ceiling around the fireplace.

Luckily, by investing in the installation of a chimney cap, you can completely avoid expensive problems like this. Ask your chimney specialist if your home needs a new chimney cap. Your current chimney cap may be outdated or damaged, or it may be completely missing! Either way, a chimney specialist can safely determine this for you and help you choose the right new chimney cap. If you live in the Suffolk County area of Hudson Valley, contact Chief Chimney Services, Inc. for a professional consultation.

By John Pilger on December 19th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Importance of a Chimney Cap

How Winter Weather Affects Your Chimney

Weather experts have forecasted a winter just as frigid as last year’s, which has everyone thinking about ways to stay warm. For some, that means turning on the heat in the house or lighting a toasty fire in the fireplace. To help the fireplace and chimney continue keeping us warm, they need regular care themselves, particularly before the winter weather sets in. In fact, winter weather does more damage to the chimney than any other season.

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Many people believe chimneys are built to endure the winter elements and only need the occasional sweep to function properly. Chimneys do hold up remarkably well to the weather, considering they experience it 24 hours a day, but they cannot survive indefinitely without a little help. The main concern for chimneys in the winter actually comes from water damage, which often surprises people.

Masonry chimneys, in particular, can suffer extensive and costly damage as a result of water exposure in the winter. Materials such as brick, concrete, and mortar are used to build a masonry chimney and they all have a porous texture. This means these materials readily absorb any water that settles on its surface. Although water alone does relatively little damage, when winter weather drags temperatures below freezing, the trouble starts. In sub-freezing temperatures, water undergoes a freeze and thaw cycle in which it continuously contracts and expands. The water inside the masonry materials also goes through this cycle and expands the bricks and concrete right along with it. Water can cause severe and costly damage to a chimney, particularly during to masonry chimneys. After several seasons of this constant motion, the materials start to degrade and lose strength. The damage can even extend to cracking or collapse.

If water has a chance to seep inside the chimney, it will happily cause damage there, as well. A metal flue lining can rust after repeated water exposure, and this leads to cracks and holes in the lining. Damaged flue lining does not effectively protect the house from the heat of the fire and the water leaking into the chimney. Eventually, this can lead to an unintentional house fire or to further water damage in the house. Water damage may come in the form of a rusted damper, which inhibits the proper ventilation of the smoke, or may even appear as ugly water stains on the walls or ceiling around the fireplace.

Fortunately, some simple and cost effective fixes can prevent all of this expensive damage. At the next chimney sweep and inspection, ask the chimney specialist about the application of a special sealant to the outside of the chimney. A chimney cap or chimney crown repair or replacement can help keep water out of the chimney and house, too. The chimney specialist can provide and install these fixtures for you upon request. With winter closing in, the roof is going to start icing up, soon making it too dangerous for the chimney specialist to access the chimney, cap and crown. Therefore, you should call now to schedule an appointment to have your chimney protected this winter. If you live in the area of Suffolk County on Long Island, contact Chief Chimney Services, Inc. for a professional consultation.

By John Pilger on November 30th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on How Winter Weather Affects Your Chimney

Proper Use of a Wood-Burning Appliance

Winter is closing in fast, seeing as much of the country has already experienced the first snowfall of the season. With forecasts predicting a winter just as brutal as the last, people are thinking hard about how to stay warm. Jackets, hats, scarves, and gloves will suffice for being outside, but keeping warm inside requires something different. For homeowners utilizing wood-burning appliances, like stoves, fireplaces or furnaces, now is the time to start stocking up on fuel before it becomes too scarce.

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Types of Wood to Burn

Before even considering what species of tree you should choose to burn in the fireplace, the first trait of firewood to consider is its dryness. Dry firewood has gone through a “seasoning” process, meaning it has sat inside and been allowed to dry out for a set amount of time. Some wood only needs six months to season, while denser varieties can require up to two years to fully season. If the wood you bought was stacked outside, it likely contains a high water content, and that sets you up for cool, smoky fires.

The next factor to consider is the hardness of the wood. Do hardwoods or softwoods burn better? Naturally, that depends. Hardwoods, like oak, maple, and hickory, burn very hot and for a long time. These woods also create a hot bed of coals to increase the temperature and longevity of the fire. On the downside, they do not light very easily. Softwoods, on the other hand, light quickly and make good kindling. They do not serve well for long-term fires, though, because they burn fast and at lower temperatures. In essence, a good mixture of the two types of wood should meet your wood-burning needs.

Along with good types of wood to burn, you also need to know what not to burn. As discussed, wet wood is a poor choice. Much of the fires energy goes toward boiling the water instead of producing heat, which wastes your money. Also, do not burn paper or other thin materials because they burn very fast and hot, and this can damage parts of your appliance or chimney. Of course, avoid burning synthetic materials, including plastics and foams, because they release harmful materials into the air.

How to Burn Properly

Everyone with a fireplace has at least a general idea of how to start a fire, but many people do not know how to start a fire well and keep it going efficiently. First, you need to open your damper to allow the fumes to escape once the fire is lit. If the damper is low in the chimney, allow it to sit open for a few minutes before lighting up to let the flue warm up slightly. When starting the fire, start is small so it does not consume oxygen too quickly and extinguish itself. If the fire seems to sputter after burning for a few minutes, the oxygen concentration might be too low. Try opening a window or letting the fire shrink in size.

For more information and tips on proper use of a wood-burning fireplace, stove, or furnace, contact Chief Chimney Services, Inc.

By John Pilger on November 15th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Proper Use of a Wood-Burning Appliance