Mr. Smokestack Blog

The Stack Effect: How Winter Affects Your Chimney

Winter Affects Chimney - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack Chimney ServiceHere in the Raleigh area, we have already seen the temperatures drop below freezing this winter, and the cold season is not over yet. The Farmer’s Almanac has predicted that this winter will be even colder than the past few brutally cold winters we have experienced. As the temperatures will drop, heating bills will rise, unfortunately. At Mr. Smokestack, we like to help our customers save money and heat their homes more efficiently. One of those reasons why heating costs can be so expensive has to do with the stack effect, or also known as the chimney effect. Involving the physics of air pressure, the stack effect causes a battle between cold outside air and the the warm inside air in your house. This effect can also be responsible for smoke entering your home as well as for difficulties even getting a fire started in your fireplace. We would like to answer some questions to tell you more about the stack effect and how you can avoid this from happening in your home.

What exactly is the stack effect?

As explained by the Wood Heat Organization, the indoor heated air wants to rise, especially when the temperature outside is significantly colder. The rising hot air creates differences in the pressure inside your home. When the air pressure on the lower level of your home is lower, or negative, and the air pressure on the upper floors of your house is higher, that is the result of the stack effect.

How is my chimney and venting system affected by the stack effect?

Cold air leaking into your home adversely impacts the air pressure balance inside your house, and your chimney is one of the main areas where air leaks occur. Creating negative air pressure, the cold air entering your home makes the stack effect strong enough to force a cold backdraft in a chimney that is cooler than room temperature. Additionally, attempting to light a fire in a chimney with a backdraft can cause smoke to enter the room where the fireplace is located instead of out the chimney.

What are the best ways to avoid chimney and fireplace problems related to the stack effect?

The Wood Heat Organization advises how you can avoid the two main chimney stack effect-related problems with the following solutions:

  • When No Fire Is Burning, Cold Air Is Leaking Into the Home Through the Chimney.When this problem occurs, the stack effect has caused a backdraft of cold outdoor air out of your fireplace. You may also notice smoky odors from the chimney exhaust air that has entered your home through the fireplace. To save space, many chimneys are designed with an exterior wall; however, one of the best ways to completely avoid the stack effect is to install the chimney inside your home. This design keeps your chimney in a warm environment with no exposure to cold outdoor air. Mr. Smokestack can show you various different designs and styles of interior chimneys we can install in your home that will add both warmth and beauty to your living space as well as utilize as less space as possible to give you more room.
  • When You Open Your Fireplace Doors, Smoke Blows Into the Room.When the stack effect restricts your chimney’s exhaust flow, opening the doors to your fireplace or stove may cause trapped smoky air to come out of the chimney. The best solution to this problem is having a straight chimney. If your chimney has 90 degree turns and offsets, your chimney has places where smoke can get trapped. A chimney with a straight vertical design makes it easier for the smoke to go directly out your chimney without lingering.

Want to learn more about the stack effect? Contact Mr. Smokestack to ask any questions you may have and learn about other winter-related chimney problems from our expert staff.

By Robbie Markey on January 26th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Why Is It So Important to Hire a CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep

Hiring a chimney sweep who has been certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) to perform your annual chimney cleaning and inspecting ensures you have a highly trained and qualified technician doing the job. A CSIA-certified chimney sweep can be entrusted to guarantee your chimney is properly cleaned, safe to use, and in excellent working condition. Our chimney sweeps at Mr. Smokestack have been through the CSIA certification process, which gives them further training, skills, and knowledge in this industry. Our customers often ask us what this certification means, and we would like to answer this by telling you more about the importance of this professional commitment.

What is the CSIA?

CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Importance - Raleigh, NC - Mr. Smokestack Chimney ServiceA non-profit, educational organization, the CSIA is dedicated to preventing and eliminasting of chimney fires, carbon monoxide leaks, and other chimney-related dangers that can result in injuries or death. To achieve this goal, a vast collection of resources is provided to educate the public, chimney and venting system professionals, and fire prevention specialists about the proper maintenance of fireplace, chimney, and venting systems. Most importantly, the CSIA offers the only national certification program in the chimney and venting system industry.

What are the responsibilities and commitments of a CSIA-certified chimney sweep?

When a chimney sweep completes the training for CSIA certification, he or she must uphold specific obligations, which include:

  • practicing CSIA-recommended chimney and venting safety techniques
  • improving skills, extending a knowledge base, and learning new techniques to stay updated on safety standards for the chimney and venting of fireplaces
  • knowing all applicable local building codes concerning chimneys and fully complying with these codes
  • following closely all manufacturers’ installation instructions for chimney and venting products
  • dealing honestly with customers, refraining from unfair and despective practices, and informing customers about essential chimney and venting safety procedures
  • behaving professionally and respectfully when performing chimney and venting duties.

What is the process of CSIA certification?

To become certified by the CSIA, one must do the following:

  • attend a one-day intensive review session in person or a one-week review session online
  • pass a one-hour exam based on the 2011 edition of the CSIA publication Successful Chimney Sweeping and the 2013 edition of NFPA 211: Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances from the National Fire Prevention Association
  • pass an open-book 90-minute exam using his/her copy of 2006 International Residential Code, published by the International Code Council
  • agree to pay the Annual Certification Fee
  • sign the CSIA Code of Ethics

What topics are covered in the certification process?

To receive CSIA certification, one must prove proficiency in the following areas:

  • technical aspects of chimney dynamics and construction
  • skilled performances of the best and current techniques in the industry
  • wood-burning physics and the formation of creosote residue, which is one of the leading causes of chimney fires
  • familiarity of and compliance with all applicable codes, regulations, clearances, and standards
  • care and installation of a variety of types of solid fuel appliances
  • requirements by the US Environmental Protection Agency

To hire one of our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, contact Mr. Smokestack today to schedule an appointment for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection.

By Robbie Markey on January 2nd, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: | Leave a Comment

The Luck of the Chimney Sweep

The Luck of the Chimney Sweeps - Raleigh NC - Mr Smokestack Chimney ServiceYou may have heard that chimney sweeps bring luck with them, and you wondered why a chimney sweep would be so lucky. At Mr. Smokestack, we are asked this question all of the time. Many Americans have not heard these legends as they all originated in Europe. In England, it is considered to be very lucky for the bride and groom to see a chimney sweep on their wedding day. Even more luck is passed along if a chimney sweep kisses the bride or shakes the groom’s hand. Our chimney sweeps have even more luck since we have the luck of the Irish with us to me, Robbie Markey, the owner of Mr. Smokestack and a native of Ireland. Luck is important to us, and we would like to share with you three legends of the luck of the chimney sweep for your reading enjoyment.

A Chimney Sweep Saves King George II of England

Dating back to the 1700’s, King George II was riding his horse in a procession down a London street. Suddenly, a growling dog appeared before the horse and scared the horse. The horse became out of control with fear, and during the horse’s frightened jumping, King George II lost his grip on the reins. A chimney sweep was the only man courageous enough to come out to help the king by grabbing the horse and calming the animal down. This act saved the king’s life. So grateful to the chimney sweep, King George II declared from this day forward all chimney sweeps were signs of future success and should be treated with respect. From then on in England, chimney sweeps have been a sign of good luck and fortune.

A Chimney Sweeps Saves the Life of King William of Britain

An even earlier legend than the one of King George II, in 1066 a chimney sweep saw a runaway carriage heading right towards King William of Britain, who was peacefully walking down the road. The chimney sweep rushed to push the king out of the way of the carriage and saved his life. In order to show his gratitude, he declared all chimney sweeps as good luck. King William even invited the life-saving chimney sweep to his daughter’s wedding. He wanted him as a wedding guest to be sure he would bring the bride and groom luck. This legend is why it is considered to be lucky to have a chimney sweep attend your wedding.

A Falling Chimney Sweep Also Falls in Love

In this undated tale that originated in Europe, a chimney sweep falls while working on the roof, but he is saved by his foot getting caught in the gutter, according to Good Luck Symbols. However, he is not completely safe as he is left dangling upside down. A young woman who lived in the house heard the commotion and looked out of her window to see the chimney sweep hanging upside down in front of the window. Extremely determined, she saved the chimney sweep’s life by pulling him inside through the window. Although this young woman was engaged to be married, she fell in love at first sight with the chimney sweep, as did he. She broke off her engagement and married the chimney sweep. They lived happily ever after, which started the legend of a chimney sweep being a lucky charm for love and happiness.

So we are chimney sweeps and Irish, a combination of double luck! We even use the shamrock in our logo. Contact Mr. Smokestack to find out more about these lucky legends.

By Robbie Markey on December 26th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

All About Proper Ash Removal

Whenever you have a wood or pellet-fueled fire, you will be left with ashes and ash residue left behind for you to remove. Without knowing the proper ash removal procedures, you could end up with a fire caused by the hot coals hidden within the ashes. At Mr. Smokestack, fireplace and chimney safety is one of our highest priorities as CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, so we thought we would share with you some answers to questions on removing ashes correctly to protect you from the possibility of a dangerous fire.

How Does Improper Ash Removal Lead to a Fire? Wood Stove Ash Removal - Raleigh NC - Mr Smokestack Chimney Service

Many times, people mistakenly think that simply storing ashes in a metal bucket with no lid is the correct way to remove ashes. However, when this unlidded bucket is sitting outside on your porch, winds can easily blow the bucket over, and this causes all of the ashes to fall out onto your porch or yard. When this happens, the ashes get stirred up, which causes the hot coals to become active again. If your porch has a wooden floor, you could have a dangerous porch fire on your hands caused by the wrong way to remove ashes. Similarly, if the hot ashes end up in your yard, you may have to deal with an out-of-control brushfire.

What Is the Best Type of Container to Use to Store Ashes?

The importance of using a proper ash container cannot be stressed enough. Mr. Smokestack strongly recommends using a pail or bucket made of sheet metal that has a securely fitted lid. The lid is the key for safety. For an even safer ash container, the bottom of the pail should be slightly offset so that the actual bottom will not make contact with flooring and char the surface.

Where Is the Best Place to Store My Ash Bucket?

Never place your bucket on a wooden floor as this can be a fire hazard even if the bucket has an elevated bottom. Always store your ash bucket outside on a non-combustible surface such as stone, brick, concrete, or slate. Be sure the lid is securely closed.

Do I Need to Remove Ashes After Every Fire?

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), you do not have to remove ashes every time you have had a fire. In fact, leaving a one-inch layer of ash on the floor of your firebox makes it much easier to build and maintain a fire. The hot coals within the ashes will add more heat to the fuel and reflect this heat back into the fire. A thin layer of ash also protects the floor of your firebox. However, you should never allow this layer of ashes to get too deep, If these ashes make contact with the bottom of your grate, it can cause the grate to burn out prematurely.

What If I Have a Wood-Burning Stove or a Pellet Stove? Do I Need to Store These Ashes Differently?

Ash Removal Safety - Raleigh NC - Mr Smokestack Chimney ServiceThe storage procedures are still the same for these stoves. If your stove is long and narrow and burns from the front to the back, it will benefit from removing the ashes that are just inside the door. Then, you can move the hot coals to the back of the stove to aid in the quick ignition of a fire. The incoming air from combustion will reignite those hot coals and rapidly heat up the entire firebox. If all of the ashes are removed, it will be difficult to start a fire because all of the bricks in the firebox must be heated to saturation before your fire can really get going. If you have any questions about how to remove and store ashes properly, contact Mr. Smokestack to ask our staff. We are happy to help you with all fire safety issues.

By Robbie Markey on December 17th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Wood-Burning Tips for the Perfect Holiday Fire

In our last post, Mr. Smokestack talked about what NOT to do with your fireplace during the holiday season, and we gave you some tips on fireplace safety during the holidays. In this post, we want to tell you what to do to ensure a beautiful, roaring wood fire during your holidays at home. Since wood-burning can have a bad reputation due to pollution and high emissions, Mr. Smokestack found some tips from Earth911, an online environmental news and green living resource, that can help you get the best out of your fireplace this holiday season in an environmentally-friendly way. We would like to share these tips with you to inform you of energy-efficient and safe wood-burning procedures.

Buy Locally and Store Your Wood Properly.Holiday Fireplace Tips - Raleigh NC - Mr Smokestack Chimney ServiceWe have told you previously about the importance of seasoned firewood. This type of firewood has been dried for at least six months. If you buy your firewood supply early or chop your own wood, you will want to store it where it will stay dry. Best stacked off the ground, you will want to stack the logs split-side down and cover the wood with a tarp. You should keep the sides of the tarp open to allow air to circulate, which helps the seasoning process. If you buy your firewood, you should request seasoned firewood from a local, trusted firewood dealer. Buying locally is the law in some states as moving firewood can lead to pest infestations.

Know How to Start a Strong-Burning Fire with Less Wood.

You really can create more warmth with less wood with three simple steps:

  1. Use dry kindling to start the fire and then add a few pieces of wood. To get the fire roaring, fully open all of the air controls to give the fire plenty of air.
  2. Before you add more wood, allow the fire to heat up the flue or chimney.
  3. Maintain space between logs as you add firewood, and tend to your fire so that it does not smolder.

Circulate the Heat from Your Fire.

You probably know that the warmth of your fire tends to stay in the area right around your fireplace. Circulating that air throughout your house with a blower or fan can make a huge difference in heating your home. If you have a ceiling fan in the same room as your fireplace, the easiest thing you can do is set the fan to run counterclockwise at low speed, which redirects the warm air from the ceiling down into the living area.

Take Care of Your Fireplace. 

Schedule your annual chimney sweeping and inspection with Mr. Smokestack before the holiday season arrives. You should always have your chimney cleaned before lighting the first fire of the year. Also, know when it is time to update your old fireplace. We carry a variety of EPA-certified wood fireplace inserts that will ensure you are burning wood more cleanly.

Have more questions about building the perfect holiday fire? Contact Mr. Smokestack to ask our certified staff any wood-burning questions you would like.

By Robbie Markey on November 28th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Holiday Fireplace Safety Tips

Holiday Fireplace Safety - Raleigh NC - Mr Smokestack Chimney ServiceIn many homes around the world, the fireplace is a central and traditional focus as a place to gather, as a part of seasonal decor, and as Santa Claus’ entry point. However, holiday decorations, including your Christmas tree, can easily become fire hazards if certain fireplace safety tips are not followed. Part of our duties as Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps at Mr. Smokestack is to educate our customers on fire safety practices and procedures. The last thing we want to happen during the holidays is a residential fire that could have been easily prevented. To inform you, we would like to share some holiday fireplace safety tips from the Upper Merion Township, PA Fire and Rescue Services to keep your holiday season safe from a house fire.

Never Hang Christmas Stockings in Front of a Burning Fire.

Mr. Smokestack knows how traditional it is to hang stockings from your fireplace mantel, but you should always move your stockings when a fire is burning in your fireplace. Plan a safe place to hang the stockings while you enjoy a blazing flame. We suggest small hooks on your staircase railing, on a bookcase, on the molding of an archway separating two rooms, or from your entertainment center.

Keep Your Mantle Free from Flammable Objects.

Of course, you can decorate your fireplace mantel during the holidays, but be sure to keep it clear of flammable decorations like greenery, ribbons, and paper. Sparks and hot embers can easily jump out of a fireplace and land on something nearby and ignite a fire. Placing glass fireplace doors or a metal screen in front of your fireplace also helps prevent this type of fire, and this can also protect small children and pets from coming too close to the fire and getting burned.

Remember the Three Feet Clearance Rule.

You should always keep anything flammable three feet away from your fireplace, and this includes your Christmas tree, presents, and other holiday decorations. Many people like to place baskets of pine cones and greenery around the hearth as they do add a nice decorative touch. However, pine cones are used as fire starters and should never be close to a burning flame as an accidental fire involving a basket full of pine cones can quickly become out of control. Since Christmas trees can still be fire hazards due to faulty electric lights, you can use the fertilizer ammonium sulfate to make the tree fire retardant (but NOT fire proof). You just mix nine pounds of ammonium sulfate with two gallons of water in a bucket and simply place your tree inside the bucket for 48 hours in a dark, cool place.

Never Burn Wrapping Paper in Your Fireplace.

Not only can burning discarded wrapping paper cause flash fires, it can also create toxic and hazardous fumes, including carbon monoxide, because of the dyes, inks, and coatings used in many kinds of gift wrapping paper. You should also refrain from burning your Christmas tree in your fireplace after the holidays as unseasoned pine can easily ignite a chimney fire.

You should also be sure your chimney has been swept to clean out combustible creosote deposits and to be ready for Santa’s visit. Contact Mr. Smokestack as soon as possible if you have not had your annual chimney sweeping and inspection yet.

By Robbie Markey on November 9th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

Why Hiring a CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep Is So Important

Known as the chimney industry standard setter, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) was founded in 1983 as an educational, non-profit organization to promote the safety practices and procedures in installing, servicing, and using chimney, fireplace, and venting systems. Not only is the CSIA committed to eliminating hazardous chimney-related incidents like fires and carbon monoxide leaks and dedicated to teaching homeowners, chimney professionals, and other fire safety specialists about the prevention and correction of dangers related to chimney and venting systems, but the CSIA also certifies chimney and venting professionals as a measurement of expertise in the field. Choosing a company, such as Mr. Smokestack, that employs CSIA-certified chimney sweeps is important for many reasons. We would like to share some information about CSIA certification to tell you why looking for this credential is so essential when hiring a chimney sweep.

The CSIA Certification - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack

Areas of Proficiency

As part of the CSIA-certification process, participants must show proficiency in different areas of the chimney and venting system industry. These areas include:

  • the technical aspects of chimney operation and construction
  • the skillful performance of the best and current techniques of the chimney and venting system trade
  • the physics of burning wood and the development of creosote deposits
  • all applicable codes, regulations, clearances, and standards
  • the care and installation of the different types of solid fuel appliances
  • the requirements of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Requirements for Certification

To be able to receive the CSIA-certification credential, candidates must:

  • attend a review session, either in-person or online
  • pass a one-hour exam based on Successful Chimney Sweeping 2011 and the National Fire Protection Agency 211 2013
  • pass a 90-minute open book exam based on the [italics]International Residential Code of 2006[italics]
  • agree to pay the annual certification fee
  •  sign the CSIA Code of Ethics

Obligations and Responsibilities

Once chimney and venting system professionals receive the certification from the CSIA, they must follow by its code of ethics, which include the following responsibilities and obligations:

  • constantly sharpening skills, base of knowledge, and safety practice techniques for fireplace, chimney, and venting systems
  • continually learning about and following the CSIA-recommended venting and chimney safety techniques and practices
  • working in compliance and familiarity with all applicable building codes regarding chimney and venting products
  • strictly following the manufacturers’ installation instructions when installing appliances and other parts of a chimney or venting system
  • educating consumers by providing them with essential information about chimney and venting safety procedures
  • always treating customers fairly and honestly and never engaging in practices that are unfair or deceptive
  • behaving in a professional and respectful manner at all times when serving as a chimney sweep, whether on the job or at an industry event.

The main reason to hire a CSIA-certified chimney sweep is being guaranteed that you will receive the best professional chimney and venting system services. As these services are essential to maintain a safe and functioning chimney, choosing a company such as Mr. Smokestack who employs these certified sweeps gives you peace of mind and security. Contact us today for any chimney-related maintenance issues you may have.

By Robbie Markey on October 29th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Help! There’s an Animal in My Chimney

Help With Animals in Chimney - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack Chimney ServiceAs winter approaches, animals begin looking for a warm, safe place to nest during the cold months of the year. Unfortunately, some animals mistake an uncapped chimney for a hollow tree without realizing the chimney is attached to a home. When animals take up residence in your chimney during the winter, it can be a dangerous fire hazard. In Raleigh and its surrounding areas, Mr. Smokestack sees a wide range of wild animals living in chimneys, including squirrels, birds, raccoons, opossums, skunks, rats, and other rodents. We understand the problems these animals can cause in your chimney, and we know the importance of removing these animals. If you ever hear scratching noises or chirping sounds, you can call Mr. Smokestack to ask for one of our technicians to safely remove the animal. We would like to share with you some information from the Wildlife Hotline about animal removal from chimneys.

The Most Important Thing to Consider When an Animal is in Your Chimney

You should NEVER attempt to smoke out an animal. This could not only result in burning and killing the animal, but trying to smoke an animal out of your chimney can also possibly cause a devastating house fire. Always call a professional animal remover like our technicians at Mr. Smokestack.

How to Tell if an Animal is Nesting or Stuck Inside Your Chimney

Listening to the noises the animal is making can tell you whether the animal is nesting or has gotten stuck inside your chimney. A stuck animal is generally frantic and will scratch on the damper in an attempt to escape. If your damper is open, the animal may fall into the fireplace and be inside your home. If the animal is nesting in your chimney, you will hear occasional movement and babies crying out for their mother. These sounds tend to follow a predictable pattern and will occur at the same times every day.

When Birds Are Nesting in Your Chimney

Birds usually build their nests on top of the damper, right above the fireplace. Chimney swifts, however, will construct nests on the sides of the flue liner. You can even have multiple bird nests inside your chimney. The problems with birds nesting in your chimney include the nests being a fire hazard, the nests blocking the flue, and the possibility of histoplasmosis, which causes blindness, being spread into your home. Additionally, it is against the law to remove birds from a chimney when they are nesting, so you must wait for the bird family to leave before using your fireplace and having your chimney cleaned.

How to Prevent Animals from Entering Your Chimney

The best way to keep animals out of your chimney is to have a chimney professional install a stainless steel chimney cap with wire mesh sides. A stainless steel cap is the most durable and can stand up to an animal like a raccoon that will try to tear it off. The experts at Mr. Smokestack can tell you which chimney cap is best for you, and then we can install that cap to prevent another animal invasion.

Hearing animal noises coming from your chimney? Contact Mr. Smokestack as soon as possible to arrange a visit from one of our animal removers.

By Robbie Markey on October 7th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

What Causes Chimney Odors?

smelly_chimney_mr-smokestack-chimney-service_raleigh_ncHaving a fireplace can increase your enjoyment and relaxation in your home; however, sometimes, unpleasant odors can invade your house from your chimney through your fireplace. No one wants to spend time in a smelly room, so chimney odors can be inconvenient. These odors can also signify problems existing within your chimney, so when you do notice stinky smells coming from your fireplace, be sure to contact Mr. Smokestack so we can look for the cause behind the odor. If you are smelling odors in your home, you may have an issue with air pressures in your home. Any foul odors present in your home will need to be addressed because it is affecting the air quality in your home.

What are some of the causes of chimney odors? We would like to tell you about a few of the culprits behind smelly chimneys as well as how we can solve your odor problems.

CREOSOTE

According to Chimneys.com, an online resource for homeowners and chimney professionals, creosote is the main cause behind chimney odors. With a strong, acrid smell, creosote odor tends to worsen in wet weather or in the summer when your chimney is less effective in drawing this stinky odor up and out of your chimney. Moisture makes the creosote odor even worse, so if your chimney is missing a chimney cap, you will most likely have to endure this unpleasant smell every time it rains. Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps at Mr. Smokestack can rid your chimney of deposits of creosote buildup during an annual chimney sweeping. However, you should keep in mind that creosote can penetrate your chimney lining so there may still be odors remaining after the sweeping. One thing you can do in the summertime to keep the creosote odor out of your home is disconnecting the stove pipe and sticking a metal cap in the thimble (the hole in your chimney). Blocking off your chimney during the summer helps greatly to keep odors from seeping into your house through the fireplace.

ANIMALS

Sometimes animals like birds, squirrels, and raccoons like to take up residence inside your chimney, and the debris and droppings from these animals can give off unpleasant odors. Even worse, an animal can become trapped and die within your chimney, and the stench of a dead animal can be unbearable. If you suspect your chimney odor is caused by either living or dead animals, call a professional animal remover to take care of this problem for you.

MOLD 

If your chimney is experiencing water leaks, there is a good chance mold could be growing inside your chimney. Not only does mold present a dangerous health hazard to you and your family, but it also causes that distinctive musty odor. Most people are familiar with the smell of mold, and if you do ever notice the tell-tale smell of mold coming from your fireplace, you most likely do have mold growing within your chimney. As breathing in mold can cause serious respiratory problems, you should contact Mr. Smokestack whenever you suspect mold growth in your chimney.

If you are experiencing unpleasant odors coming from your chimney, do not hesitate to contact Mr. Smokestack today. We can clean your chimney to get rid of those stinky smells.

By Robbie Markey on September 29th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Why is Using Local Seasoned Firewood So Important?

local_firewood_mr-smokestack_raleigh_ncYou may have heard that local seasoned firewood is the best kind of fuel for your wood-burning fireplace or stove, and, maybe, you do not even really know what seasoned firewood is. Even if you do know that this type of firewood has been dried for at least six months since it was cut, you may still wonder why it is so important to use. At Mr. Smokestack, we recommend our customers buy seasoned firewood from a local wood dealer or even cut and dry the wood themselves. We would like to share with you more about local seasoned firewood and its importance.

What is the Difference Between Seasoned and Freshly-Cut Wood?

Even though all wood contains water, seasoned wood has a 20% moisture content, which is significantly lower than freshly-cut wood’s 45% water content, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).

Why is It So Essential to Use Seasoned Firewood over Freshly-Cut Firewood?

Burning wood with a high water content can cause serious damage to your chimney and even to you and your family. Minor problems include smoke and odor issues, but the main reason why you should not burn wet, freshly-cut wood is because it leads to a rapid and large amount of creosote deposits. Creosote is a natural compound which is formed during the condensation process that occurs when the by-products of combustion, such as smoke, gases, vapors, tar fog, and other various minerals, exit the cooler walls of your upper chimney. Burning wet wood leads to creosote production because the heat of your fire must burn off all of the water in the wood, which uses a lot of energy. This causes less heat to your home as well as quickly creates a large amount of creosote to build up on your chimney walls.

Why Does Mr. Smokestack Recommend the Seasoned Firewood Be Local?

If you buy your firewood from a local wood dealer, you can generally trust he has cut and seasoned the wood himself or he knows who did cut and season the firewood. It is the best way to be sure you are not wasting money buying “seasoned” firewood that is still wet. Your best way of knowing your firewood is truly seasoned is to cut and dry the wood yourself.

What are the Best Ways to Properly Store Seasoned Firewood?

The most important thing to remember when storing seasoned wood is how essential it is to keep it dry. You do not want to ruin your good firewood by leaving it uncovered and exposed to rain and snow. The best storage area is a wood shed with a roof to keep the rain and snow away, a floor at least 6 inches above the ground to keep the wood off the ground where it will absorb more moisture, and open walls to let air circulate around the wood to help the drying process.

If you are interested in drying your own firewood and would like some tips, contact Mr. Smokestack today. We are happy to help you be sure you are using the best firewood you can.

By Robbie Markey on September 17th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment
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