Our Company Blog

Build the Best Fire

Once you have a chimney and fireplace installed, it seems lighting the fire should be the easy part. Cave men did it, but there is definitely a learning curve involved, and many factors come to play that can make it extremely difficult to build the best fire.

Build the Best Fire - Suffolk NY - Chief Chimney ServicesThe Most Efficient Fire

If you depend upon a fireplace, stove, or appliance to heat or supplement heat to your home, you want the fire to start almost as easily as flipping a switch. This convenience is only possible in gas appliances, so if you depend on wood heat, you should learn to build and start the best fire possible.

Most of us learned to build a fire from small to big—kindling on the bottom, logs on the top. While this works fine, there is a better way!

The top-down burn is basically a fire built upside-down, with the logs on bottom, and kindling on top. This allows for the flame and cinders to fall as they burn, igniting the rest of the fuel. Once you have mastered the top-down burn you will better be able to light a fire in a cold fireplace/chimney. You will also be able to start the fire quickly, and with less kindling.

The kind of fire you decide to build is only the start.

Consider these tips to help you build your best fire:

  1. Proper fuel
    You should only burn properly seasoned wood in your wood fireplace or stove. Using wood that is seasoned raises the efficiency of your fire and chimney system. Using the proper wood also cuts down on smoke issues, creosote buildup, air pollution, and fire risk.
  2.  Never use starter fuel
    Starter fuels like kerosene, gasoline, and lighter fluid are dangerous and should NEVER be used to ignite your fireplace fire. Use of these fuels can be unpredictable and can cause injury, fire, and death.
  3. Use the system
    The chimney system is made up of many parts that work together. The damper, for instance, can assist while you light the fire, allowing oxygen to flow through the system. Making sure that these parts work properly is important to building the best fire.
  4. Choose proper kindling
    When choosing kindling for your best fire you should avoid using light branches with pine needles or leaves to light your fire. Not only do they create thick smoke, but they’re also very light, so they often rise up the chimney while ignited. When debris rises up the chimney flame, the creosote in the flue can easily ignite.
  5. Remember to schedule routine maintenance
    It’s important for homeowners to keep up with routine maintenance in order to build the best fire. It doesn’t matter how well you are at building a top-down burn if your chimney system is damaged. Your fire will lose efficiency, and flue fire risk will increase.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)  recommends annual chimney inspections and regular chimney sweeps. These service appointments are the best safety measures you can take for your chimney system. Schedule today, and get it done before the holidays.

Call Chief Chimney Services today at 631-863-2460 or schedule an appointment online for your convenience.

By John Pilger on December 9th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Firebox Repair

Your firebox is the space within the chimney system where the fire actually burns. Of all the parts of the chimney, the firebox withstands the most heat and abuse. Therefore, it can become damaged quickly. When the firebox is damaged, it becomes an extreme fire hazard and needs attention immediately.

Firebox Repair - Suffolk NY - Chief Chimney ServicesFirebox Damage

There are a few things that can cause the firebox to deteriorate faster than normal. The firebox is commonly constructed in a way that is heat-resistant and built-to-last. So, it’s important to discover the reason for the damage.

Common causes include:

  • Water Damage. Water wreaks havoc on masonry! When water mixes with soot it can deteriorate masonry quickly, leaving cracks, holes, and spalling masonry. Even a small amount of water can become trapped inside the masonry. This causes freezing and thawing, causing larger cracks, and allowing more water. The cycle is detrimental to even a well constructed fire box.
  • Poor Construction. An experienced chimney technician will use refractory bricks and materials to construct the firebox. These special heat-resistant bricks are designed to withstand a high concentration of heat. The kind of heat that exists daily when you use your fireplace regularly. If regular bricks are used, a homeowner may need chimney maintenance often. Consequently, a dishonest chimney sweep company will continue this cycle. Therefore, it’s important to find a chimney sweep that will fix a problem at its source.
  • Age. Overtime even a well-constructed and maintained firebox can deteriorate. Small cracks in mortar and bricks can quickly become bigger cracks. Plus, damage in the firebox, big or small, raises risk of fire!
  • Environmental Changes. Environmental occurrences can cause damage to the firebox that homeowners often don’t expect. Earthquakes are a common cause of damage to the firebox and masonry in general. In addition, heavy winds and storms can also cause water damage that leads to firebox damage.

Let Chief Chimney Services Repair Your Firebox

When it comes to firebox construction, repair, and restorations, count on Chief Chimney Services. We has the training, expertise, and experience to get the job done, and get it done right. We only use refractory bricks and materials. This is because we want you to be able to use your firebox for years to come. If your firebox doesn’t require a full restoration, we can repair it with a simple tuckpointing, using refractory materials to ensure a long life for your firebox.

Chief Chimney doesn’t just place a band-aid over the problem, we solve it at its root. We don’t just repair the damage, we find its source and fix that too. Even if your firebox damage is caused from water damage, our chimney sweeps are expertly trained and experienced. They will find the source of the leak swiftly and formulate a repair plan that works for your family and your budget.

Call Chief Chimney Services and talk to a certified chimney sweep today. For your convenience you can also request an appointment online.

By John Pilger on November 25th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

The Science of Combustion

Ever wondered how a flame stays lit? Many fireplace owners have problems keeping their fire burning because they don’t know the basics of combustion. Here’s what you need to know:

Understanding the combustion process can increase energy efficiency and promote safety in your home.

Understanding the combustion process can increase energy efficiency and promote safety in your home.

All About Chimney Liners

Your chimney liner will eventually wear down after years of usage. It is important to check its condition to know whether or not a relining or a replacement is needed.

Don't forget to have your chimney inspected. Call us today and schedule and appointment.

Don’t forget to have your chimney inspected. Call us today and schedule and appointment.

Creosote in the Chimney

Dealing with Creosote Build-up inside the Home

What’s that black, shiny, coal-like substance that’s starting to accumulate in your chimney walls? That’s creosote and it can get thicker and thicker if not removed by a certified sweep. It can lead to bigger problems like negative air pressure and worse, a house fire. Here at Chief Chimney, we take this very seriously and encourage homeowners to have their chimney inspected annually. The safety, security and stability of your home is at stake and we want to make sure that you and your family get maximum enjoyment without having to worry about chimney problems.

Creosote forms naturally when you burn anything. However, you need to ensure that it is removed regularly to keep it from building up.

Creosote forms naturally when you burn anything. However, you need to ensure that it is removed regularly to keep it from building up.

Creosote is the result of incomplete combustion of wood and coal products that eventually forms tar. The residue of smoke that comes out of it results in soot build-up or what we earlier identified as creosote.  It sticks to the chimney walls and in the chimney flues making it harder for air to exhaust out into the open via the chimney flue.

As experts we look out for these three things:

  • The length of time creosote has been inside the chimney
  • The thickness of the creosote
  • The color, texture and odor of the creosote

Through this, we can determine the level of creosote. Once we know what level your creosote has reached, we perform the task of literally scraping them out by use of a specific, unique kind of brush that can thoroughly clean the inside of your chimney. However, if creosote has already become too thick, we can do weekly scraping to somehow lessen the thickness but completely getting it out of your chimney, unfortunately, is not possible. That’s why it is always important to have your chimneys inspected and cleaned annually (and more often if you use your fireplace often) to see if creosote has started to build-up in your furnaces.

With regards to your health, creosote definitely poses a threat. It can cause toxic air or carbon monoxide to fill the room and poison you — make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector.

There are many ways for creosote to destroy your home but don’t allow it to happen. Call on us! We will remove and clean your chimney making it creosote-free. Our experts can help you understand the risks and damages of what creosote can do to your home and also to your health. We can assure you the money you invest in us is definitely worth it.

What’s Wrong with My Dryer?

Is It Time To Clean Your Dryer Vents?

At Chief Chimney Services, Inc., we’re known, of course, for chimneys — for more than 30 years, we’ve been sweeping, inspecting, repairing and installing chimneys of all kinds in Western and Central Suffolk County.

But your chimney isn’t the only system in your home that’s working hard to expel heat and dangerous byproducts. Your dryer vents perform a similarly important function, and Chief Chimney Services specializes in servicing dryer vent systems, too.

The lint trap isn't the only part of your dryer system that must be cleaned out. Your vents need regular maintenance as well.

The lint trap isn’t the only part of your dryer system that must be cleaned out. Your vents need regular maintenance as well.

Pay A Little Mind Now, Avoid A Lot Of Trouble Later

The systems that work behind the scenes in our homes can be something of an out-of-mind part of life for a lot of us, and that makes sense. If we were constantly focused on the inner workings of our electric system, our plumbing, our dryer vents, that’d probably be a fair indicator that those systems weren’t working very well. Ideally, if everything’s working right, we don’t have to spend a lot of time worrying about those systems. It’s when trouble pops up that they jump to the front of our minds.

The best way to avoid trouble with your venting systems is to give them just enough attention by keeping up with regular preventative maintenance. Having your chimney inspected and swept annually allows it to do its job in the safest and most effective way possible. And having your dryer vents regularly cleaned has the same positive effect.

Why Do I Need To Clean My Dryer Vents?

A chimney flue that’s covered in creosote deposits can be a serious fire hazard, and most of us take that very seriously, since fire hazards are a very front-of-mind concern as we’re building a fire inside our home. What you may not know, though, is that clogged or blocked dryer vents can create a serious fire hazard too.

The National Fire Protection Association compiles figures about home structure fires, and their 2010 findings showed nearly 17,000 home fires involving dryers or washing machines, resulting in more than 50 deaths, nearly 400 injuries and millions of dollars in property damage. And among those dryer-related home fires, the leading cause was noted as “failure to clean.”

Over time and with use, lint will build up inside your dryer vents, and if enough of it builds up, it can constrict or block those vents. Blocked vents allow heat to build up in the vents, too, and since lint is extremely flammable, that situation can quickly lead to ignition. Having your dryer vents professionally cleaned on a regular basis keeps that lint build-up to a minimum, and keeps that hot air moving through the vents and out of your home.

Avoiding a fire hazard isn’t the only reason to clean your vents, though. Blocked vents also force your dryer to work harder than it should to dry your laundry, wasting energy and making you waste money. If you’ve found damp clothes after running a normal load through the dryer, there’s a good chance lint build-up is hampering your dryer’s performance — and a good vent cleaning can clear that up!

Give Chief Chimney Services a call to schedule a dryer vent cleaning today!

Teaching Fire Safety

If your home were to catch fire, do you know how you would escape?  In the event of a fire, every second counts.  As such, everyone in your household must always be prepared.  Every home should have a fire escape plan.  Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly.  In less than 30 seconds, a small fire can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire.  It only takes minutes for a house to fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames.

Teaching Fire Safety - Suffolk NY - Chief Chimney Services (1)

Do the youngest and oldest members of your family know what to do in case of a fire?

Accidental home fires can catch people totally by surprise.  Without an escape plan in place, you are placing the lives of everybody in your home in jeopardy.  Plan your actions before a fire happens – draw your escape plan before it’s too late.  Prepare and practice your fire escape plan twice a year with everyone in your household.  It’s also a good idea to review your plan with overnight guests.

When preparing your escape plan, you should consider the following:

  • Draw a map of each level of your home and show all doors and windows.
  • Find two ways to get out of each room.
  • Make sure all doors and windows that lead outside open easily.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
  • Teach children not to hide from firefighters.
  • Practice your fire escape plan at night and during the daytime.

In the event of a fire, get out fast (you may have only a short period of time to escape safely).  Take the safest exit route; if you have to exit through smoke, remember to stay low (i.e., crawl out of the room).

As a part of your fire escape plan, designate a meeting location a safe distance in front of your home.  For example, meet under a specific tree or at the end of the driveway to make sure everyone has gotten out safely.  Make sure everyone in your home knows how to call 9-1-1 and/or your local emergency number.  Once you’re safely out of a burning building, never go back inside for any reason.  If someone is missing, or pets are trapped inside your home, tell the firefighters immediately.  They are trained and equipped to perform rescues safely.

We want to make sure homeowners are aware of the dangers associated with fires in the home.  What can begin as a small fire can quickly get out of hand, leaving you little to no time to think and react.  Planning ahead will enable you to react more quickly and can help to save your life as well as the lives of everyone else in your home.  Please just take a few minutes for this worthwhile cause.  It truly could be a life-or-death matter.

What Is the Chimney Safety Institute of America?

Many homeowners use their fireplaces and chimneys without giving them much thought. However, it is important to realize that both structures can be quite dangerous if they are not used properly. The mission of the Chimney Safety Institute of America is to educate both professionals and homeowners on the proper, safe use of a chimney. This information is vital is preventing dangerous house fires as well as exposure to poisonous gasses.

The CSIA provides homeowners with invaluable information about how to improve efficiency and safety.

The CSIA provides homeowners with invaluable information about how to improve efficiency and safety.

If a homeowner has a question about their chimney or fireplace, The Chimney Safety Institute of America will have the answer. They provide a number of resources for homeowners with regard to common chimney problems and proper maintenance for safe use of the chimney. The information is all arranged online, making it very easy for homeowners to find exactly what it is that they are looking for.

The CSIA also has many ways of providing general information for homeowners, even if they do not have a particular issue at the time. Their blog offers many different articles covering all aspects of chimney and fireplace maintenance. This is a great place to start for someone who wants to be better informed about their chimney for the purpose of keeping their home clean and safe. In addition to the blog, all of this useful information is available via a convenient mobile app.

After looking for information regarding a particular chimney problem, many people realize that they need to call in a professional to take care of it. If this is the case, The CSIA can help locate a certified professional in the area. Their website features a very easy to use tool that locates chimney sweeps and other local professionals. This allows homeowners to rest assured that the person taking care of their chimney is a trustworthy, trained professional.

The CSIA can confidently recommend chimney professionals because they have a major hand in their training and certification. In fact, it is the CSIA that offers the certification that qualifies these professionals to do their jobs. They offer classes both online and in person to give individuals and companies the best possible training. In addition, they offer a variety of workshops and online resources to help these professionals continue to develop their skills.

In addition to providing training and information related to chimneys, the CSIA also works with professionals who deal with clothes dryer vents. They provide the same training and certification as they do for chimney sweeps and have a variety of information on the topic available to homeowners. Even fewer people are concerned with their dryer vents than chimneys, but the truth is that they pose just as big a risk in terms of both fire and wasted energy.

Both the chimney and dryer vents need to be clean and well maintained in order to be used safely. Failure to take proper care of them could pose serious health and safety risks for everyone in the home. The Chimney Safety Institute of America provides resources not only for homeowners but also for professionals. They offer training and certification that makes it possible for all chimneys and dryers to function safely. They provide up to date information for homeowners and make it easy for them to locate trained professionals should the need arise.

By John Pilger on August 21st, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Is There Too Much Creosote In Your Chimney?

People who have chimneys in their home no doubt know about the obvious dangers that they come along with, including blazing chimney fires. However, creosote poses a serious risk if it is left to accumulate in the chimney and many homeowners are unaware of it. Understanding this chemical compound and what it can do is essential to maintaining a home that is healthy and safe for the entire family, even those who do not come into direct contact with the fireplace or chimney.

Creosote is a combination of chemicals that is used to treat wood and coal. When these materials burn in the fireplace, they leave a layer of the creosote behind on the inside of the chimney. Over time, the creosote will accumulate and then the family may have to face a number of different risks if they do not properly take care of it.

Creosote buildup can cause Chimney fires - Suffolk NY - Chief Chimney Services

Creosote buildup can cause Chimney fires – Suffolk NY – Chief Chimney Services

One of the biggest risk factors associated with creosote is that it is extremely flammable. It would take only a small spark from the fireplace to ignite the entire chimney. This can start a fire that will not only damage the structure of the chimney but that could potentially spread throughout the home. This is an especially significant risk in the event of negative air pressure, which sends material from the chimney into the home instead of out of the flue.

If creosote or smoke from burning creosote enters the air, everyone in the home will be at risk for health issues. Inhalation of creosote has been linked to a number of serious health problems, including respiratory illnesses as well as damage to various organs. These effects have been especially severe in the cases of children. Although some conditions can be treated, it is also possible that the effects of creosote could be fatal if left untreated over time.

In addition to doing internal damage, creosote can be dangerous for anyone who comes into physical contact with it. Just a bit of exposure can cause minor skin irritations and, in some people, severe rashes on the skin. The substance can also cause significant damage if it comes into contact with the eyes. Not only will it cause a painful irritation, but it has also been connected with a loss of sight.

Anyone who burns treated wood and coal in their fireplace should assume that they have at least some creosote inside of their chimney. There is no avoiding the residue when the treated material is burned. However, there are other signs that there is a significant accumulation of the material in the chimney. For example, when it burns, creosote will have a distinct smell that should come straight through the fireplace and into the home.

The best way to deal with accumulation of creosote is to have a cleaning by a professional chimney sweep at the end of each cold weather season. Since there are so many health dangers associated with it, the average, untrained person should not attempt to clean it up on their own. A chimney sweep has the proper tools and training to safely rid the chimney of excess creosote. An annual cleaning is the best way to keep the chimney safe and clear.

Creosote is a typical problem for anyone with a fireplace but it is a fairly easy issue to manage. Remember to have a chimney sweep come in each year to clear it out and to check for any damage to the chimney. Failure to take care of this could result in illness, physical injury, and devastating chimney fires. Let a professional bring peace of mind along with an efficient heating system.

By John Pilger on July 31st, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment