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Make the Fireplace the Center of Your Home This Holiday Season

The fireplace has long been a focal point of traditional holiday festivities. Gift-exchanges, holiday parties, dinners, and more have been situated at the hearth for many years. This could be because of the traditional folklore about Santa sliding down the chimney and enjoying milk and cookies next to the fireplace, or it could be that the family just loves the ambiance of fireside festivities. The fireplace is such a traditional backdrop for festivities that many television providers even have a fireplace channel for families without a fireplace!

Make the Fireplace the Center of Your Home This Holiday Season Image - Suffolk NY - Chief ChimneyYour Holiday Backdrop

You can have the perfect backdrop for your holiday festivities this season simply by using what you have. Odds are you have worked very hard to create the perfect fireplace in your home, so it really is the best backdrop for all of your parties, dinners, and Christmas movie nights with the family. With beautiful decorations and a clean hearth, your fireplace can also be the perfect backdrop for family photos.

At Chief Chimney Services we know the most important thing this season is family.

Because of our extensive training and experience we have some suggestions to keep your family safe and comfortable this season:

  1.  Decorate the mantel safely. Your certified chimney sweep is able to tell you if chimney decorations are safe above your mantel. This can depend on the original construction of the chimney (if the correct materials were used), and whether or not there is damage to the flue liner, which can allow dangerous heat to affect decorations.
  2. Don’t let your tree become a fire hazard. If you decorate with a Christmas tree it’s best to place it across the room from the fireplace opening, stove, or appliance. Positioned so that it won’t reach the flame in case of an accidental fall is the best place for it—especially if you have pets or small children that might pull the tree down.
  3. Keep stockings, lights, and garland away from the fire. It’s common for decorations to be placed on the hearth itself, as well as stockings hanging from the mantel. This is acceptable, but stockings should be removed from the mantel while the fireplace is in use. Also garland and other decorations should be secured so that nothing falls into or near the fireplace opening.
  4. Practice fire safety and set rules for children and guests in your home. Children should never be left alone while a fire is burning. Also, branches and needles from a live-cut Christmas tree should NEVER be put into the fireplace. These are often too light and can cause sparks and can possibly damage the chimney flue.

Stay Safe This Holiday Season

When you have your dream fireplace it makes sense to enjoy it through the holiday season. Make sure it’s ready to work for you! When your chimney is clean it will be more efficient and safe. Don’t put your family’s safety or comfort at risk by burning a fire in a dirty or damaged chimney. Chief Chimney Services has expert technicians available through the holiday season for chimney sweeps  and inspections.

Call us now and we can do our part to make your holidays merry and bright!

By John Pilger on December 23rd, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

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

Dealing with Draft Problems in Your Chimney

Perhaps you were never able to use your fireplace, or you used to, but it started backing up smoke into the house. When the smoke and hot air fails to escape through the flue, your fireplace and chimney are said to be experiencing drafting problems. A wide variety of issues can lead to drafting problems, and oftentimes, they completely baffle and frustrate homeowners.

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One easily resolved cause of smoke back up is a closed damper. The damper assembly acts as a door to allow smoke and hot air to escape through the flue when a fire is burning and to keep the furnace-heated air inside from escaping when the fireplace is not in use. If the damper stays closed during a fire, the smoke has nowhere to go except into the house.

Another common drafting problem is an obstructed flue. Animals like birds, raccoons, or squirrels seek out the warmth and safety of the chimney during cold, winter months. These animals and their nests will partially or completely block off the flow of smoke through the flue. A chimney service can install a chimney cap for an affordable price to prevent animals from nesting in the flue.

An obstructed flue can also be caused by the buildup of creosote, a tarlike compound created by burning wood. A health threat in and of itself, creosote also builds up inside the flue and may eventually seal it completely. To prevent this and the other dangers of creosote, have a mason sweep your chimney at least once every year.

Your chimney can also experience drafting problems when the firebox and flue do not fit together properly. The size of the flue compared to the size of the firebox should follow a 10:1 ratio, meaning that for every 10 square inches of firebox, there should be 1 square inch of flue opening. If the flue size cannot accommodate the volume of smoke produced by the fire, the smoke will back up into the house.

Additionally, the flue should be positioned deep inside the firebox, and the fire should be built as far back as possible. If the fire sits too close to the interior opening of the firebox, it will never have a chance to enter the flue before seeping into the house instead. This could become an issue if the firebox was installed improperly or if it was not manufactured according to fire safety codes. A mason can help you make the right choice in addressing this issue.

If you want to use your fireplace again and keep you and your family safe, get in touch with an expert to help you address any issues. If you live in the Suffolk County area of Long Island, New York, contact Chief Chimney Services, Inc. for a professional consultation. Get your fireplace back today!

HeatShield Ceramic Flue Sealant Can Save Your Fireplace and Home

A fireplace acts as a beautiful, sophisticated focal point in any home. It faithfully serves you every chilly New York winter, providing you with a source of heat and adding that special ambiance for holidays or get-togethers. In return, you lovingly address all of your fireplace’s maintenance needs on a regular basis by having professional chimney sweeps and inspections performed. Although regular maintenance can prevent many problems, it cannot always prevent everything. Specifically, if your inspector finds a hole or crack in the chimney lining or flue, this needs to be taken care of right away because it poses a serious safety hazard.

How is a Damaged Flue Dangerous?

heatshield-chimney-liner-suffolk-ny-chief-chimney

Hearing from your inspector that your flue has suffered damage is not something any homeowner wants to hear. Oftentimes, people may brush the issue off as minor and forgo repairing the damage. Unfortunately, ignoring your damaged flue can have disastrous consequences.

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, when an unlined chimney is used to vent a fire, the adjacent structural woodwork can catch fire within 3 ½ hours. When gases from the fire escape the flue through a hole or crack, or if no flue is present to begin with, the hot mixture of smoke, toxins and particularly embers will seep toward your house’s structure. After a certain amount of exposure to the emissions of the fire, the combustible materials in your home (wood, drywall, plaster) will catch on fire.

In addition, the gases that escape from your flue deteriorate the mortar of your chimney. This also allows gases to travel closer to your home and even enter your home. Dangerous smoke, containing carbon monoxide and the known carcinogen creosote, is not something that should be in your home. Also, as the mortar deteriorates so does the structural integrity of your masonry chimney. After extended exposure to smoke, the entire chimney structure could potentially collapse – dangerous and costly.

How Should I Fix My Flue?

Instead of replacing your entire chimney liner, which can be expensive, you have another, more affordable option to repair it. Even if the damage is extensive, the product called HeatShield Ceramic Flue Sealant can repair anything – from plugging small holes to resealing an entire flue.

Chief Chimney Services says that HeatShield has the durability of ceramic and cement, and the product comes with a 20 year warranty when it is installed by a certified technician. A blade customized to your chimney applies and smoothes the material to any damaged areas of your flue. The HeatShield company also requires a video inspection before and after the application to ensure the highest quality work.

Who Can Apply HeatShield Ceramic Flue Sealant?

Only certified technicians can apply HeatShield Ceramic Flue Sealant, because they are trained to properly assess the damage, apply the product and guarantee a long lasting seal. If you live in Suffolk County, New York or the surrounding area, call Chief Chimney Services for a professional consultation from HeatShield-certified technicians.

By John Pilger on August 10th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Types of Masonry Restoration

If your masonry and/or firebox needs so repairs, call us and our experts will have fixed in no time!

If your masonry and/or firebox needs some repairs, call us and our experts will have it fixed in no time!

Masonry restoration is the phrase used for working with any form of masonry on an existing building or home that doesn’t encompass actually building it. Restoration runs the gamut from tearing the masonry down and rebuilding it from scratch to cleaning and sealing. One of the most commonly needed restoration projects is masonry and firebox repair. Keep reading to learn what this job involves and why it’s so critical.

Masonry and Firebox Repair

The specific type of mortar used in fireboxes is called refractory mortar. However, don’t assume that your fireplace was built with this mortar. The chances of an older home actually having refractory mortar in the firebox are slimmer than the chances of a newer home. This is due in large part to changing building codes and the availability of the product. Many brick masons who constructed fireboxes in homes well into the 1990s used either a Portland-cement-based mortar or a self-concocted fireclay mortar (a mix of Portland cement, crushed fireclay, and sand).

Although both of these mortars were approved by building codes of the time, they haven’t fared well in homes in which the fireplaces are used regularly; the problem is simple: Portland cement doesn’t hold up well when subjected to the cycle of heating and cooling that occurs in a firebox. In an effort to combat this problem, most major building codes have added clauses requiring refractory mortar be used, as it doesn’t use Portland cement as a binder; instead, either calcium aluminate or sodium silicate is the binder. Over the long haul, refractory mortar performs far better than Portland-cement mortar and is more readily available than it was a few decades ago.

Approaches for Repairing a Damaged Firebox Mortar

In order to repair damaged firebox mortar, you can take one of three approaches. The first approach involves simply scraping out and repointing the joints between the bricks with refractory mortar. The second approach involves applying a thin coat of refractory cement over the floor of the firebox. The final approach involves removing damaged bricks and replacing them with castable refractory cement. No matter which approach is taken, scrubbing the surface clean and vacuuming any dust before making the repair is critical.

Along with any part of your home, your fireplace requires maintenance to ensure your family’s safety during its use. A damaged firebox can be a potential fire hazard and should be repaired or replaced before using the fireplace again. At Chief Chimney Services, we work hard and pride ourselves on doing outstanding chimney and firebox repair and restoration work. The level of expertise of our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps is unmatched by anyone else on Long Island. No matter what your question or problem, we’re here to help! Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

Removing Ash in Your Fireplace

How long has the ashes in your fireplace been sitting there? Make sure to remove ash the right way.

How long has the ashes in your fireplace been sitting there? Make sure to remove ash the right way.

Do you have the habit of leaving ash to sit and accumulate in the fireplace after use? It’s important for every homeowner to understand the consequences of leaving ash in the fireplace and to know what you can do to properly dispose of it. Our company, Chief Chimney Services will help you understand how you can remove ash safely and why it’s not a good idea to leave it there the whole year round.

What about Ash?

Fireplaces were built to put wood or any combustible material that will give out heat to warm the room or the entire house. The reason for its design is so that the fire will just be enclosed in that area, making sure nothing gets to it while it’s supplementing heat to the home. Then it is attached to the chimney so that the air is properly suctioned out into the open environment.

The ash that is left after open combustion needs to be properly disposed because it has harmful chemicals in it that are just not suitable for the sensitive noses of the people who live inside the house. It is great for your garden when cooled though.

The Process

Before anything else, make sure you have a metal dust pan and trash bin. The first thing you have to do is to let the ash cool first before attempting to sweep it. It still might have hot charcoal. Second, take out the firebox because that’s where all the ash resides. Then carefully put the ash into the metal dust pan. After which, place the cooled ash into the empty metal trash bin where it can continue to cool. After this process is done, make sure to put the trash bin outside, far from your home as a preventive measure in case some of the coals can still ignite a fire. Do this process at least twice a week or more when you constantly use your fireplace.

Knowing the basics of ash removal is a good first step to make sure you have a clean and heating system. However, in most cases, this might not be enough. That is why it is best to call CSIA-licensed chimney sweeps to do the annual cleaning and the regular inspection. Chief Chimney Services, Incorporated guarantees outstanding service and trustworthy chimney sweeps that are ready to maintain the performance of your fireplace and chimney.