Our Company Blog

Are You Using The Right Wood For Your Fireplace?

From time to time, we hear from homeowners who are concerned about draft issues or losing heat. They assume it’s due to a malfunction with their fireplace, but most of the time, these issues are caused by something else much easier to fix – unseasoned firewood. Using the appropriate fuel for your system is vital for burning more efficient and hotter fires. In this case, you need to invest in seasoned wood.

Unseasoned wood is not good to use in your fireplace, as it has lots of moisture that your fire has to burn through. This takes up a lot of energy, and it results in a lot of acidic water going into your chimney, which leads to build up and clogs quicker. It also leads to a smokier fire, and you won’t get as much heat, either. All around, seasoned wood is a much better option to use in your fireplace.

Identifying Seasoned Wood

pile of firewoodSo, what should you look for when purchasing wood for your fireplace? Here are some surefire signs that the wood you’re picking is well-seasoned. First of all, keep an eye out for pieces that are darker in color, shorter in length, and split at the ends. These are all good signs that the wood has been drying out for a long time and has been stored appropriately.

Looking for another test? Trying hitting two pieces together, then listen carefully. If they sound hollow, then this is another indicator that they are good firewood. The pieces should also feel lighter in weight since there is less water inside of them. Overall, the wood you use shouldn’t look or smell freshly cut, as these pieces likely haven’t being dried out for the recommended six month period.

Storing Your Own Fuel?

Now, if you want to know for sure that the wood you’re burning is going to burn well, then we recommend storing your own wood. Here’s the best way to get the results you’re looking for!

First of all, store the wood pile off the ground, so that the logs at the bottom of the pile aren’t left to rot. The shed you store it in should be well-protected, yet open enough that the logs can dry out effectively. A building with open sides and a strong roof is ideal! You’ll want to keep the ends as exposed as possible, so that water can effectively escape.

Finally, wood should be stored for at least six months before use. This ensures the moisture levels have enough time to escape significantly, so you’re not left struggling to build long-lasting and enjoyable fires this winter.

Need Some Help With Your Chimney? Call On Us

Having some great fuel stored up is a key part in guaranteeing a safer and cozier burning season, but you’ll need to ensure your chimney is in a good shape, too. At, Sirvent Chimney and Venting Service, we can help! Call us in to get your inspection and sweeping out of the way, so you know you’re good to go when the temperatures start to drop.

Own A Fireplace? Watch Out For Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide Fireplaces Image - Lake Norman NC - SirVent ChimneyHaving a fireplace is great, but only when homeowners use it safely. Improper fireplace use can lead to smoke back-up, chimney fires, and more. Staying educated on fireplace safety can make a huge difference in keeping your home and family out of harm’s way all year round.

There are many things to look out for. One of these things is carbon monoxide. If you have a fireplace, you are at a higher risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, which is why taking extra precautions is important in maintaining the health of your home and family.

About Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that will cause a lot of harm if gone undetected. Being invisible to the naked eye and free of any noticeable odor, many will not notice its presence until it is too late. If you are concerned that carbon monoxide has entered your home, keep a close eye on your loved ones and watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling Weak
  • Pain in the Chest
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Prevention

There are a number of steps you can take to prevent this gas from entering your home. A big one is to schedule an annual inspection by a professional sweep. This regular upkeep will ensure that everything is running well and that no blockages have formed in your chimney or fireplace. Blockages can cause fumes to back up, and any dirt, creosote, or other debris makes your entire unit function less efficiently.

Another important step is to have a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home. These devices will alert you if any fumes have entered the area, so that you can get your family out quickly. If you already have carbon monoxide detectors installed, be sure to check them on a regular basis and replace the batteries as needed.

Finally, if your chimney (or any other appliance) is in need of repair, call in an expert to address the problem. When your fireplace has cracks, holes, or any other damage, using it could put you and your family at a heightened risk for carbon monoxide exposure. Also, fixing the issue yourself is never the best option. If anything is repaired incorrectly, your home will still be at risk and no one may realize that a leak has occurred.

Call in an expert to ensure the job gets done right. Then, you will be able to enjoy your chimney and fireplace to the fullest all season long!

Turn To Us Now!

If you have any concerns about the safety of your home and fireplace, please let us check things out. The technicians at SirVent Chimney and Venting Service are trained and certified to ensure your chimney is cleaned, inspected, and ready for regular use. You deserve peace of mind. Kick the New Year off right by calling us in today!

Chimney Maintenance Is Important For Many Reasons

Chimney system maintenance and repairs are like death and taxes—they’re inevitable. Making those minor repairs as soon as issues arise will help you prevent (or at least postpone) major chimney system repairs. Some parts are exposed to the elements more than others and are adversely affected by them, while other parts are exposed to the heat of your fires, thereby causing them to wear out faster. Either way you cut it, these parts will inevitably need to be replaced at one point or another. Most homeowners never think about chimney maintenance until something goes wrong. Unfortunately, ignoring your chimney can cost you big! Problems that are addressed early on can prevent bigger issues down the road; small repairs are far less costly than larger ones. The CSIA-certified professionals at SirVent Chimney & Venting Service are here to handle your masonry repair needs.

Regular Chimney Maintenance - Lake Norman NC - Sir Vent

Annual Inspection and Sweeping

The most important thing you can do, if you haven’t done so already, is schedule an appointment with a CSIA-certified chimney sweep to have your chimney inspected and cleaned. The leading cause of fires in wood-burning appliances is creosote (unburned fuel) buildup in the chimney. Burning big, hot fires instead of small, smoky or wet ones will virtually eliminate the likelihood of creosote building up in your chimney, and scheduling an annual cleaning provides extra peace of mind that’ll help you sleep a little easier at night.

Crumbling Mortar Is Not to Be Ignored

Your chimney is exposed to the elements on the outside and the heat from your firebox on the inside. As a result of this two-front attack, the weathering process is sped up. As such, it isn’t atypical for your mortar to begin to crumble and/or break away. This leaves open areas between the bricks, which exposes even more surface area to these weathering agents and processes. Repointing your chimney might be recommended. During this process, the damaged, old and loose mortar on your chimney is removed from the joints between the bricks and replaced with new mortar.

Chimney Crowns Help Prevent Accelerated Weathering

Your chimney crown is a reinforced concrete cap placed over the top of your brick and mortar chimney. A properly constructed crown sheds water and serves as a protective covering for your chimney against harsh weather. Your chimney crown is exposed to the same elements that wreak havoc on your chimney itself. As such, it can eventually crack or break and need to be replaced. The replacement will either be cast-in-place (a form is placed on the top of your chimney and filled with cement to the exact specifications required by your particular chimney) or precast (a prefabricated unit that is placed atop your chimney).

Spalling Indicates a Moisture Penetration Issue

When chimneys spall, it’s a sign of severe moisture penetration. Spalling—the flaking off of a brick surface—is evident when the face of the masonry is missing. Pieces of bricks may be found on the ground or on your roof. Damage can be increased if your crown isn’t poured with an overhang/drip edge, as water that is diverted is allowed to flow straight down the face of your chimney. Spalled bricks can’t be repaired and must be replaced.

The central theme is clear: repairing minor problems in a timely manner will decrease the chances of them becoming major problems down the road. Chimney systems are comprised of many parts that depend on one another to function at optimal levels. A problem with one part of the system can lead to increased and premature wear and tear of other parts of the system. This can become a vicious cycle rather quickly if the initial problem isn’t addressed in a timely manner. Your chimney and fireplace play a large role in your home; when issues arise, we know you want them taken care of correctly, quickly and affordably. Our expert technicians are dedicated to making your system look and feel like new again. If your system is in need of repair, or you need a chimney inspection to determine the cause of a problem, call us today. We’re ready to help!

 

Why You Want to Use a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep

Every year, according to statistics from the NFPA, more than 12,000 Americans die in residential fires. Because of the risks associated with fires, it is important to take steps to prepare your fireplace for the fall and winter. Without taking the proper precautions, an accident can result in a devastating fire that could rob you of the things that are really precious to you, some of which could be irreplaceable.

CSIA Certified - Lake Norman NC - Sir Vent

Annual Chimney System Inspection and Cleaning Is Job #1

The most important thing you can do, if you haven’t done so already, is schedule an appointment with a qualified chimney company—say the pros at SirVent Chimney and Venting Service to have your chimney inspected and cleaned. The leading cause of fires in wood-burning appliances is creosote (unburned fuel) buildup in the chimney. Burning big, hot fires instead of small, smoky or wet ones will virtually eliminate the likelihood of creosote building up in your chimney, and scheduling an annual cleaning provides extra peace of mind that’ll help you sleep a little easier at night.

Choose a Quality, Qualified Chimney Company

When choosing a qualified chimney sweep to clean your fireplace, a few requirements may cross your mind; unfortunately for many, the CSIA certification status of the prospective chimney sweeps may not be one of them. However, the CSIA recommends that people take a few steps when considering which chimney sweep to do the job. In order to ensure your job is done right, you’ll more than likely want to ask the following questions of all prospective chimney sweeps:

  1. How long has your company been in business?
  2. Do you offer current references?
  3. Do you have any unresolved complaints filed with the city or state consumer protection agency or BBB?
  4. Do you carry a valid business liability insurance policy to protect my home and furnishings against accidents?
  5. Do you ensure that a CSIA Certified chimney sweep will be on the job site?

Asking these questions will usually guarantee that your chimney is cleaned correctly and that you don’t end up with a living room full of soot when all is said and done.

The Logo Says a lot Without Saying a Word

The Chimney Safety Institute of America is one of the only nationally recognized certification institutes specifically for chimney sweeps and chimney inspectors. They have classroom training and standardized testing requirements to receive the certification in the first place:

  • Complete a 1 week online review course covering chimney sweeping, inspection and documenting basics
  • Pass a timed 100 question exam based on the 2006 International Residential Codebook with a score of 80% or higher
  • Pass a timed 100 question exam based on the Successful Chimney Sweeping (2009) trade book and the National Fire Protection Association (2010) codebook with a score of 70% or higher

What’s more, the CSIA has certain requirements and a code of ethics by which their certified chimney sweeps must abide in order to remain certified. Certified chimney sweeps must also recertify annually and participate in continuing education courses.

When selecting a chimney sweep, there are obviously many things a homeowner must consider. Before you make that final decision, I implore you to heed these words: not all chimney sweeps are created equal. Choosing a chimney sweep with CSIA certification is of the utmost importance because you don’t want to leave anything to chance. We hope you’ll trust our team for your chimney and dryer vent needs. Your satisfaction and safety is our number one goal, and we look forward to serving you. Give us a call today!