Is a Chimney Inspection on Your Spring Cleaning List?

Is a Chimney Inspection on Your Spring Cleaning ListChimney Sweeps of America often asks customers, is a chimney inspection on your spring cleaning list? If it’s not, it should be! You might not think too often about your chimney, figuring that it is a sturdy piece of masonry. The good news is that it probably is. However, even the sturdiest of chimneys can develop a problem occasionally, and sometimes chimney problems can have devastating consequences.

 

Even if you are the type to have your chimney properly cleaned and checked every year, you probably start thinking about it in the fall when you are getting ready to start using it again. While that’s great, Chimney Sweeps of America suggest adding it to your spring cleaning list, for several reasons.

 

  1. Your pick of appointments

Since most don’t think about their chimneys until fall, chimney sweeps get busy around that time of year. With less competition in the springtime, you are virtually assured to get whatever appointment time works the best for you. Plus, you can be sure that when the technician comes, he will be more relaxed and more able to take his time to ensure a thorough job is done.

 

  1. Fresh and clean for the summer

During the winter a lot of creosote and other gunk builds up on the inside of your chimney. It might not be that noticeable, but there is a slight odor associated with this buildup. This smell gets progressively stronger with warmer weather. Having your chimney cleaned in the spring eliminates those odors for the summer and helps keep your home smelling fresh and clean.

 

  1. Helps prevent corrosion

In addition to the smell, leaving that gunk inside your chimney can create a favorable environment for corrosion to take hold, particularly if water or even humidity finds its way inside. Left unchecked, it could eventually lead to serious chimney damage that will be much more expensive than a simple cleaning.

 

  1. Time to make repairs

If the inspection shows that your chimney has suffered damage, a springtime checkup leaves more time to get the issue resolved. Trying to get repairs done in the fall can be difficult because chimney sweeps are often overbooked. You might not be able to get the repairs done in time so that you can start using your chimney with the first cold snap. Taking care of chimney repairs during the spring, or even early summer, eradicates that stress and leaves you with the peace of mind that even if fall rolls in early this year, you are ready for it!

 

Is a chimney inspection on your spring cleaning list? Hopefully, you now understand why we ask and why it’s so important. So, if you need an inspection, repairs or simply have chimney related questions, feel free to have a chat with one of our knowledgeable employees here at Chimney Sweeps of America. Our staff is always ready and willing to answer your questions and alleviate your concerns when it comes to heating your home and keeping everyone and everything safe while doing it.

10 Components of an Optimized Chimney System

10 Components of an Optimized Chimney SystemTo help educate our customers about their homes, Chimney Sweeps of America proudly presents 10 components of an optimized chimney system. Of course, we don’t expect you as our customer to be an expert on proper chimney function, that’s why we’re here! But, for the curious, it can be fun to know a little bit about your chimney and how it all works.

 

Back in the old days, it was somewhat of a given that your chimney was going to be drafty. In modern times, however, it’s a different story. Houses are buttoned up tight to help save on energy bills, and a properly built chimney falls in line. If you have a drafty chimney, you might be able to find the culprit on this list. One of our experts can also inspect your chimney to locate and address the issue for you.

 

  1. Changes in direction cause flow resistance and thereby drafting issues. Therefore, the flue lining should go in a straight line from the firebox to the chimney.

 

  1. If your chimney is outside the wall, it is easier for cold air to get into the chimney and cause a draft. A chimney stack constructed within the wall significantly reduces the chances of this happening.

 

  1. On the outside of your house, the chimney should be the highest thing. That doesn’t just mean higher than the house but also any trees or any other structures that could obstruct wind flow and interfere with the chimney’s ability to create a stable draft.

 

  1. To help prevent your chimney falling prey to strong wind pressures there should be a chimney cap or rain cap installed on the chimney.

 

  1. The house should be properly vented with a balanced system. If a house is buttoned up tight and only has an exhaust system, your chimney will not be able to function properly.

 

  1. The chimney flue should be properly sized by a professional. Any leaks around the flue connection can lead to issues with adverse wind pressures.

 

  1. Warm air rises quicker up the flue and is expelled more efficiently; therefore, your flue should be properly insulated for best results.

 

  1. When buying a wood stove, be sure to choose one that the Environmental Protection Agency has certified as a low emissions appliance. Alternatively, you can check to see if it is properly built to prevent smoldering, which is usually the cause of smoke spillage.

 

  1. Always follow recommendations when using the appliance and keeping it maintained. Just as a machine works best when it is well-oiled, a fireplace or stove works best when optimally used and maintained.

 

  1. Be sure to have the chimney professionally cleaned at least once a year. In some cases, you may need to have it done more often to keep it clear and functioning properly.

 

So now that you know the 10 components of an optimized chimney system you might be able to determine why your chimney isn’t working at full capacity. Or maybe you still don’t know or need the help of experienced professionals to fix the issue. Give us a call today at Chimney Sweeps of America, and we’ll get it taken care of quickly!

Why Hiring a Certified Chimney Sweep Is Important

Why Hiring a Certified Chimney Sweep Is ImportantThe professionals at Chimney Sweeps of America know that your chimney is an important aspect of your home which is why hiring a certified chimney sweep is important. Not only can it be one of the largest structures in your home, but it plays a critical function in keeping your home and family safe. A chimney that doesn’t work properly at the very least can cause damage to your home and at the very worst, can even cause injury, death, or destroy your home. So, let’s break down what it means to be certified.

Chimney sweeping is a largely unregulated industry, and as such, it can be hard to know if a company’s credentials are as legitimate as they claim to be. Customers must be wary of who they are entrusting with this job. An improperly cleaned or malfunctioning chimney can spell disaster for homeowners. This is why it’s important to have an independent third party controlling certification and offering consumers the peace of mind that one organization is measuring each company by the same standards. This is the best way, of course, to have a fair comparison between companies.

So, who is this organization, and what gives them the authority to hand out credentials? The Chimney Safety Institute of America, or CSIA, offers credentials that are now recognized as the industry standard. Of course, Chimney Sweeps of America along with virtually all other legitimate chimney cleaning businesses, have been certified by them.

Why are CSIA Credentials the Industry Standard?

Let’s take a look at the reasons behind what makes this organization a legitimate certifying one. First, the Indiana State Workforce Innovation Council, Office for Career and Technical Schools, regulates the CSIA and ensures that it meets the very strict educational standards. Here’s more:

It’s Been Around a While

Since 1983, companies have been seeking the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep credential or CCS. That means that for over 30 years, homeowners have been trusting this certification to help them find a qualified chimney sweep.

It’s Not-for-Profit

The CSIA is a non-profit organization which gives consumers the peace of mind that they are not out looking to make a buck. In fact, the governing body of the CSIA is made up of volunteer technical experts and industry professionals.

Ethical Code

In order to become CSIA Certified, each person must pass a very thorough examination. In addition, they have to agree to follow a strict ethical code laid out by the CSIA. This is one of the ways that the CSIA protects homeowners from potential scams and ensures the quality of work as well as service that a CSIA certified technician will provide. If a chimney sweep that has been certified by the CSIA is found to be violating this code, they could have their certification revoked!

Industry Leadership

In addition to issuing certifications, the CSIA is also actively involved in advancing the industry and keeping the public safe. They offer both public and professional education on a mission to decrease the occurrence of residential fires, the intrusion of carbon monoxide and any other threats or hazards that an improperly functioning chimney can contribute to.

Further Education

As with any industry, the CSIA realizes that the chimney industry is not remaining stagnant. To that end, they have requirements that each chimney sweep must fulfill in order to keep their certification. Every three years a chimney sweep must either take an examination or provide proof of continuing education credits. In this way, they ensure that all certified chimney sweeps are up to date on current information and able to provide the best possible service to their customers.

Maintains Relationships with Affiliated Trades

Your chimney is one part of your home, but it does not stand on its own, and neither does the industry. Being aware of this, the CSIA is involved with other professionals and groups such as realtors, home inspectors, and even homeowner associations. They maintain these relationships through traditional and social media channels in order to work together in the homeowner’s best interest.

Reputation

The CSIA has established itself as the place to go for correct chimney information. Over the years CSIA chimney sweeps have appeared in the mainstream media as well as many regional and local channels. The public needs to know that this is a trustworthy organization that can help homeowners choose the right chimney sweep to get the job done right and ensure the safety of their home and family.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

As a customer, you should always be aware of what you are getting yourself into when you are looking for chimney sweeps. Be mindful of the fact that there are unscrupulous individuals that will advertise themselves as “certified” even though it’s through an organization that has fewer requirements or lower ethical standards than CSIA. This makes it easier for them to pass the test and have something to hang on the wall. When checking out chimney sweep companies, find the name of the certifying organization.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that all other certifying organizations are disreputable, or not even that they are not as good. However, the CSIA is the industry standard and having this clear standard to go by makes it easier for homeowners to shop around without having to vet each company and or certifying agency they run across.

Here at Chimney Sweeps of America, we’ve earned our CSIA certification and are members of a few prestigious national groups like the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). We’ve been operating our family-owned and operated business in the greater Denver area for over 30 years, so we have years of experience backing our work. We also keep up with our education and have the right answers to your questions. Whatever the job is that you need done, our sweeps have the right qualifications to make it happen.

Now you that understand why hiring a certified chimney sweep is important we hope to hear from you the next time you are on the lookout for one. At Chimney Sweeps we are dedicated to offering excellent service and great work. That’s why we’ve been around for so long!

The Facts About Water Damage to Your Chimney

The Facts About Water Damage to Your ChimneyChimneys, especially big heavy-duty masonry types, are often seen as indestructible and without need for care or upkeep. While this is true for the most part, the experts here at Chimney Sweeps of America want you to know all the facts about water damage to your chimney. With this information, you can avoid any issues with your chimney or damage to your wallet.

 

Now, most chimneys are hardy and don’t require a lot of effort on your part to keep performing without any major issues. However, a chimney that’s improperly protected from the elements and doesn’t receive occasional maintenance can end up suffering expensive problems. Plus, some issues such as flue obstructions, loose masonry materials, and lining systems damaged by the weather can pose a dangerous threat to your home and everyone who lives under your roof. 

 

Masonry Chimneys

 

Let’s quickly clarify what we’re talking about when we say masonry chimneys just in case any of our readers are unsure if their chimney falls into this category or not. Masonry chimneys consist of masonry materials such as brick, stone, flue tile, mortar, concrete, concrete block, as well as a few metals such as cast iron and steel.

 

If you have a masonry chimney, it will have been built with some combination of these materials. As we mentioned, water under the right conditions is incredibly powerful and virtually all these materials will at some point or another succumb to its effects, often sustaining heavy and costly damage. 

 

The Force of Water

 

How does water cause thousands of dollars of damage to a fortified (or so it would seem) masonry chimney? Let’s think back to high school science. Water in its liquid form takes up a certain amount of space. When water freezes, it takes up more space and therefore must expand. Water is strong, and this process is remarkably challenging to contain, so if water has managed to penetrate even the strongest of masonry materials, start watching for cracks to appear when the temperature drops.

 

If water has gotten inside your masonry materials and begins freezing, thawing, and refreezing again, this constant expansion and contraction will cause the chimney to quickly begin deteriorating. The only exception to this is stone. However, keep in mind that stone is held together with large amounts of mortar so even if you have a stone chimney and think you are safe, the mortar is susceptible to the force of water so you are not out of the woods at all and still should think about proper weather protection.

 

Water also causes problems for the metal parts of your masonry chimney. Both cast iron and steel can rust in the extended presence of water which will begin weakening and eventually destroy any metal parts of your chimney.

 

Still not convinced that water can be so harmful? Here’s a handy list of things that water can do to your chimney. It can:

 

  • Cause the damper assembly to rust
  • Cause the metal or masonry firebox assembly to deteriorate
  • Leave water stains on the ceiling and walls
  • Clog up the clean out area
  • Cause any adjacent wood to rot
  • Ruin wall coverings
  • Cause the exterior mortar to decay
  • Stain the exterior or the chimney
  • Cause the flue lining system to crack or deteriorate
  • Cause the chimney to settle
  • Cause the hearth support to collapse
  • Or cause the entire chimney structure to collapse

 

As you can see, water is a heavy-duty force, and the dangers should not be taken lightly. One additional, annoying fact is that if you have a wood burning chimney, water can mix with the creosote and create a nasty smell that can fill your home.

 

Now that we’ve got all the bad news out of the way, it’s time for some good news. Water damage is preventable, and the steps you should take are not necessarily expensive, especially once you compare it to the cost of rebuilding or repairing your chimney. 

 

Chimney Caps

 

A chimney cap, sometimes called a rain cover, is a very popular and relatively inexpensive method for preventing water damage. As part of the basic design of a chimney, it has a large opening (the flue) at the top. Some chimneys have more than one of these. Rainwater can easily get into this opening and start wreaking havoc as soon as freezing temperatures arrive. A chimney cap is an effective method to prevent water from entering the flue.

 

It has some other great side benefits as well. Sometimes, small animals or birds will get inside during the summer. They can cause clogs and their own brand of damage, but a correctly designed chimney cap will keep them out also. Another important function is it prevents any live sparks from escaping your chimney and landing on your roof or any other nearby combustible materials.

 

There are a few requirements that chimney caps should meet to be effective and well-designed including a design to be easily removable so that it can be properly inspected and cleaned. Plus, for obvious reasons, it should be made of a corrosion resistant, durable, and sturdy material. 

 

Crickets

 

If your chimney is located on the downhill slope of your roof and water runoff is always being thrown against it, installing a cricket to divert water is a good idea. This deflector will direct runoff away from the chimney and help prevent any leaks into your home. If your chimney is over 30 inches wide or you have a very steep roof, a cricket is highly recommended. 

 

Waterproofing Products

 

Most masonry materials are very porous, which means they will quickly wick water and moisture into the interior of the chimney. To prevent this, there are several waterproofing products you can buy and apply to your chimney. Always use products specially designed for this and not paints or clear sealers. These products might block moisture, but they also prevent vapors from escaping. A product specifically designed for waterproofing a chimney will protect it without trapping vapors inside the chimney.

 

We hope that these facts about water damage to your chimney have been helpful. Of course, you can always ask one of our experts here at Chimney Sweeps of America if you have any other questions. If it has been a while since the last time your chimney had a checkup, give us a call today and we will make sure everything is in proper and safe shape!

 

Anatomy Of A Fireplace

Anatomy Of A FireplaceWhile closely understanding all the ins and outs of a fireplace is not required as a homeowner, having basic knowledge regarding the anatomy of a fireplace can come in handy. As a homeowner, if you take the time to educate yourself, you can better protect your family from an unfortunate, even devastating chimney fire. To get you started, our experts here at Chimney Sweeps of America has put together this handy guide to the basic anatomy of a fireplace. Read on to get acquainted with yours.

First, fireplaces are available in two general types. Masonry fireplaces are the impressive structures of brick, blocks, or stone and mortar that we often think of in reference to memorable family get-togethers around the holidays, or as magnificent centerpieces in stylish living rooms. Factory-built fireplaces are generally made of metal, including a lightweight metal firebox and round metal chimney.

Sometimes, the outside of factory-built fireplaces is decorated with stone or brick so it may take a bit of detective work on your part to figure out which type you have. However, it’s not all that difficult to determine the difference. Just check inside the firebox and chimney. If they’re made of brick, you have a  masonry fireplace. If they’re made of metal, it is factory-built even if the outside is decorated with stone or brick. There are also some hybrid varieties that usually consist of a metal box connected to a brick chimney, so be on the lookout for that as well.

Now that you know about the basic two types let’s look at each one a little bit closer. The basic premise is the same for both types fireplaces of course, but some differences are helpful to be aware of.

Masonry Fireplaces

As we mentioned earlier, masonry fireplaces are impressive structures. Because of their materials and size, these fireplaces can end up weighing 6 or 7 tons – not something to be trifled with! Along with looking fabulous, these fireplaces are very durable and will last for years with minimal maintenance. In fact, the general perception is that these fireplaces are indestructible. But don’t fall into a false sense of security. While masonry fireplaces are very durable, there are still a few things to keep an eye out for.

Because they are so heavy, masonry fireplaces need to have a very sturdy and extensive foundation to hold them up over the years. If the foundation is not built well, the fireplace will shift and crack over time, potentially allowing flames to escape and ignite nearby combustibles. Keep an eye out for cracks to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Inside the firebox, where the facing material comes together with the brick, is a common place for cracks so be sure to check there regularly.

Ensure that downspouts or any other type of water runoff runs away from the structure and consider a quality chimney cover. Protecting your material from water, rain, and the cycle of freezing and thawing will go a long way towards ensuring a long life for your fireplace.

The firebox is built to be strong as it takes the most heat abuse. However, eventually, all that expanding and contracting will beat up the joints. A chimney cover will also help with this so that rainwater doesn’t get inside and exacerbate the issue. You can also use a refractory mortar to protect the joints further.

Most masonry fireplaces have a tile liner in the chimney that you don’t have to worry too much about. However, one chimney fire can crack the tiles considerably so be sure to keep it clean. A good rule of thumb is to have it cleaned once there is barely a ¼ inch of soot built up inside. If a chimney fire does occur, do not use the fireplace until it has been inspected by a professional and cleared for use.

Factory-Built Fireplaces

These fireplaces are relative newcomers to the fireplace scene, only having been available for about 25 years or so. Instead of being built on-site like a masonry fireplace, these fireplaces come in a complete set with firebox, chimney and miscellaneous parts necessary to assemble the fireplace.

These parts are specifically tested and designed to go together, and the exact instructions from the manufacturer should be followed when installing. Minimum clearances should always be strictly observed to ensure that nothing eventually catches fire. You might think that nearby wood will be all right, but with prolonged exposure to high temperatures that wood will dry excessively and become combustible at a much lower than average temperature.

It is a good idea to have these fireplaces professionally installed, or at the very least professionally inspected before use. These types of inspections reveal that more than half of them are not correctly installed. As this can have dire consequences for your home and family, the peace of mind that comes with a professional installation is well worth it!

Birds can pose a hazard for factory built fireplaces–particularly those that have a fake brick housing. They find this to be an ideal nesting area. Virtually all their nest building materials are combustible and can catch fire directly or block essential airflow and cause the chimney to overheat. Either way, you end up with a potentially devastating house fire. Be sure to screen over any possible access points and regularly check your chimney for signs of these unwanted house guests to prevent this.

It is also important to be aware that factory built fireplaces are not as sturdy and durable as masonry fireplaces, and you cannot expect them to last as long. Repairs may be possible, but after many years, models are often discontinued, or manufacturers go out of business, and it becomes difficult to find the proper replacement parts. It is always safer and worth it to replace a factory-built fireplace before it gets to the point of being a serious safety hazard.

Of course, always keep in mind that you don’t have to be an expert in fireplace care and maintenance, that’s what we are here for! Knowing the basic anatomy of a fireplace and keeping an eye out for these signs is just a helpful aid. If you have questions or see something that you are not certain about, call us here at Chimney Sweeps of America, and one of our friendly professionals will be happy to help.

If it has been a while since your last inspection and cleaning, then it’s a good idea to schedule one today!

Creating a Unique Outdoor Fire Pit for Your Home

Creating a Unique Outdoor Fire Pit for Your Home  This time of year, we all love a good fireplace. It’s fun to snuggle up in front of the fire with a cup of hot cocoa and watch a movie with a loved one or read a good book. But what about enjoying that feeling all year round? Chimney Sweeps of America would like to take this opportunity to give you some ideas for creating a unique outdoor fire pit for your home.

An outdoor fire pit is a fun way to spruce up the look of your backyard and add a nice focal point. Plus, it’s a great place to kick back and relax with a group of guests while enjoying a beautiful summer evening. Even when the evenings get to be a bit chilly, a fire pit wards off the chill enough to that you don’t have to retreat indoors to avoid freezing fingers and toes.

There are a couple of things to consider first when creating a unique outdoor fire pit for your home. First, determine the best location, then move on to designing. Let’s break it all down.

Location

This is one of the most important factors for your fire pit. As you begin to think about where you want to place your fire pit, be sure to consider the following:

What kind of atmosphere do you want to create? A fun, party feel for large gatherings? A quiet, intimate space as a nice place to relax with a few guests? Something in between?

  • Where does it tie in best with your decor? A particularly a large pit or full outdoor fireplace will become a focal point that draws the eye, so think about where you want to focus attention.
  • How accessible do you want it to be? Directly on a deck or patio? Adjacent to it? Set off by itself? Again, this comes back to the type of atmosphere you want to create.
  • What kind of fuel do you want? Propane? Wood? Gas? Fuels burn differently, and each gives a little different feel to the fire pit.

When you’re planning your fire pit’s location, be aware that a gas line can’t go everywhere in your yard. Propane and wood are both very portable and give a more authentic campfire feel but require a bit more work, especially wood. So, you just have to decide what is more important to you.

Regardless of how you answer any of these questions, there is an outdoor heating product that will fit your needs, so the sky is the limit! Create, dream, plan and we’ll help you make it a reality.

 Design

Once you get the practical stuff out of the way and have chosen your location, now you get to do the fun stuff. Decide how you want your fire pit to look and how you want to decorate the surrounding area. There are three basic categories of outdoor fire pits to choose from:

Built-in: This type feels the most like a traditional indoor fireplace and is ideal for creating a stunning piece in a rather large area.

Freestanding: This variety is more like a stove and makes more efficient use of heat. They are generally smaller than built-ins and work well when trying to heat challenging areas.

Portable: A portable fire pit is, well, portable and gives you the option of taking it with you for a long weekend at a cabin in the woods, camping out under the stars, etc.

Of course, within these three categories, the design possibilities are virtually endless when creating a unique outdoor fire pit for your home. With the right advice and planning, you can easily create the outdoor space that you’ve always dreamed of. Here are a few ideas to get those creative juices flowing:

 Linear Fireplaces

This type of built-in fireplace is perfect for installing in a wall. You can have it double sided for double the seating area or stick with just one side if your space isn’t quite that large. You can choose from a variety of materials to create the look you want. Even inside the fireplace, you can change things up with different driftwood log sets, colored glass or even river rocks.

Wall Mounting

A fun addition to any patio, you can use wall-mounted fireplaces to create cool accents on posts and pillars or add some spectacular flair to your entryway.

 Patio Heaters

Highly portable and a bit more versatile, these work great for chasing away the cool of the evening when enjoying an early spring or fall barbecue. You can have it set up by the grill while you’re cooking or use it to reflect heat back down into the deck space where everyone sits.

 Fire Pits

A traditional fire pit gives you the most authentic camping feel. Units come in all types, built-in, freestanding and portable and you can choose whether they are propane or natural gas. Perfect for relaxing on your deck and enjoying campfire conditions, roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories, all within the comfort of your backyard space!

These are just some of the options available for outdoor heating. Be sure to check out our website or come on down to the store to see more great ideas. We haven’t even talked about colors or stonework designs! There’s a whole other set of personalization and design options to choose.

Whether you want a chic patio for hosting elegant parties or an intimate campfire experience, we can help you design just the right space and then install it for you.

Feel free to give us a call today, and one of the knowledgeable representatives here at Chimney Sweeps of America will be happy to get you started with creating a unique outdoor fire pit for your home. If you know what you want, but feel a little at a loss for how to create it, our design professionals know just what to do. Plus, we can help you with the practical, boring stuff like picking out the right materials and so forth. No matter what, don’t put off your dream outdoor space any longer. Give us a call today!

Fireplace Design Upgrade Ideas

Fireplace Design Upgrade IdeasDoes looking at your fireplace take you back to a time when bell bottoms and flower power was groovy? If it does, then it might be time to start thinking about changing things up a bit. Modernizing a fireplace is an easy way to quickly freshen up a room. To help get the idea train rolling, our experts at Chimney Sweeps of America would like to offer a few fireplace design upgrade ideas.

Some options you’ll find here don’t require a complete overhaul of your fireplace, so they’re a bit more easy and inexpensive. Others are helpful if your budget allows for a complete redo.

Whitewash your brick hearth

This one’s a great option for older homes that have a beautiful, sturdy brick hearth. You don’t want to rip it out because it is still in great shape and the texture is interesting, but that bright red just doesn’t quite flow with the rest of your décor anymore.

An easy method for preserving the original fireplace and just toning down the red a little (or a lot) is to whitewash it. The resulting muted tone is lovely and combines well with a variety of colors to set the mood in your living room. Plus, if you do it yourself, you can easily customize how it looks.

Whitewashing is super easy and doesn’t take that long to accomplish. You just need to know how to paint, and you’re set to create a new look in your living room. To do it, simply thin white paint with water until it is the right consistency. Making a perfect mixture depends on how porous your brick is, and how much of the brick you want to show through.

Note: it will look different as it dries, so it may require some trial and error to find the right ratio of paint to water initially.

Add some shiplap

Rustic wood is one of the most popular fireplace design upgrade ideas. If you don’t believe us, check it out on Pinterest! You’ll see all sorts of fireplaces incorporating interesting wood designs. Shiplap is a great way to add some interest to your unique fireplace design. It looks especially good when you build a mantel that goes all the way to the ceiling to give each piece room to shine. There are even do-it-yourself options that are relatively inexpensive and easy.

Of course, whenever you are planning to add combustible materials to a fireplace, carefully read the product manual to ensure the proper amount of clearance. You don’t want a classy new fireplace to literally, go up in flames because you put combustible material where it shouldn’t be. Also be sure to find out what the local building codes are and comply with them. If you are unsure, contact the professionals at Chimney Sweeps of America to help you plan a correct and safe design.

Add a twist to traditional brick

Brick is traditionally installed horizontally. But there is more than one direction that it can go! Turning your bricks vertical can add an interesting bit of pizzazz to an otherwise ordinary look. Or you can make a herringbone pattern. This style adds a lot of character and works excellently in outdoor fireplaces, where the materials need to be hardy and able to handle harsh weather. Don’t be afraid to get creative; you can easily have an interesting look, even with this very familiar material.

50 shades of gray

Interior designers are having a love affair with gray right now. It’s a versatile color that can be used in different shades, creating a wide variety of looks. Delicate shades can be used to lighten and freshen a space just like white but without the starkness. Darker grays can be used to accent and create a strong, dominating feel. It’s so versatile that some designers are even calling it the new beige.

Dust off your painting skills

This is one of the more unique fireplace design upgrade ideas.

Handmade tile is gorgeous, and sometimes, you can find the exact tile you want to make your hearth pop, in a perfect way. Unfortunately, the price tag is not nearly as desirable as the tile itself. Luckily there’s a viable way of getting around that price tag and still having a fireplace that will make your friends go wow!

If you’ve got a little creative talent, you can hand paint the ceramic tile yourself. The sky is the limit, as you can create whatever design you like. If you’re not that savvy with a paintbrush, you can still create beautiful looks with geometric patterns or well-placed stencils.

Shelving

Here’s a great option that remains versatile even long after installation. Flank your fireplace with custom shelving that runs the length of the wall. Doing so will make your fireplace stand out as a gorgeous centerpiece, and you can enjoy the flexibility of extra shelving space.

Now you can add original pictures, sculptures, artwork—whatever you want! Use bright accent colors to emphasize different moods in your space. The best part, easily swap out decorations for new ones to change up the room whenever you want. Adding shelving is the perfect design option for homeowners that get bored with their décor quickly and want to have a lot of versatility and options without a whole lot of work.

Of course, these are just a few of the options for fireplace design upgrade ideas. If you want to create a fresh and modern look for your fireplace, as well as add more pizzazz to your home, you can get a full rundown of design options by talking to one of our experts here at Chimney Sweeps. We’re experienced with fireplaces, inserts, gas stoves and everything in between. We can help you find the perfect solution for your space.

As a local, family-owned and operated business, we’ve been serving our neighbors in Denver, Colorado and the surrounding areas since 1982. We are proud to have served over 10,000 satisfied clients in the greater Denver area, we look forward to providing you with the expertise and customer service we’re knowing for providing. Call Chimney Sweeps of America today to learn more about what we can do for your home with fireplace design upgrade ideas.

About Chimney Liners

About Chimney LinersOkay, you’ve probably never heard about chimney liners. However, if you have a fireplace, gas furnace, wood burning stove – anything using a chimney in your home, you might be interested to know a little about chimney liners. Our professionals here at Chimney Sweeps of America in Denver, Colorado can help you with all the specifics and answer your questions. Read on a for a quick chimney liner overview.

First off, why are chimney liners necessary?
Research shows that unlined chimneys are much more likely to allow sufficient heat transfer to combustible parts of your home and cause fires. Liners also help to ensure that toxic byproducts of the combustion process (like carbon monoxide) are correctly funneled out of your home and not back into the room.

Liners not only keep your home safe, but they also protect and lengthen the life of the chimney itself. Those same gasses that you don’t want to be breathing can be tough on the mortar joints used to hold your brick chimney together. They can begin to erode rather quickly and jeopardize the integrity of your chimney and start letting those toxic gasses into your house.

Finally, liners can be used as a flue in conjunction with appliances like modern wood stoves and gas or oil furnaces. When the liner is sized correctly, it actually increases efficiency by allowing for both venting gasses and supplying the air that your appliance needs for combustion.

So, what are my options for chimney liners?
There are three main varieties of chimney liners. Clay tiles, metal and cast-in-place. Regulations concerning liners are different depending on where you live. That’s why talking about chimney liners with a local professional familiar with your particular regional rules can come in handy.

Each type of liner serves the same purpose but has slightly different benefits and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at these:

  • Clay tiles are the most common, probably because they’re the least expensive, easy to get ahold of and work well in a properly maintained chimney. Their main disadvantage, however, is that they cannot evenly absorb heat which can often lead to cracking and splitting apart over time.
  • The most commonly used are aluminum and stainless steel metal chimney liners. Stainless steel is rather versatile and used for wood, gas or oil. The less expensive aluminum option can only be used for certain gas stoves. A professional can point you in the right direction if you want to go this route.
  • Cast-in-place liners are created using a cement-like product that is installed directly inside the chimney for a seamless passage for gasses. They are great for helping with the structural integrity of an old chimney and work with all fuel types. 

If you have an existing chimney in your home but aren’t sure whether it has a proper chimney liner, call us here at Chimney Sweeps of America in Denver, Colorado. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about chimney liners and provide an inspection to ensure that your home is safe and ready for winter.

Safe Home Heating

Safe Home Heating Chances are, when the temperatures outside start to drop, you simply reach for your thermostat inside your home and set it to a comfortable temperature. However, Chimney Sweeps of America in Denver knows that safe home heating starts with a thorough, pre-winter inspection. By making an appointment with us now, you can rest assured that you and your family will be safe all winter long.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, around 200 people die each year from preventable carbon monoxide poisoning caused by inefficient venting of their home’s heating system. In addition, around 10,000 people are diagnosed each year with carbon monoxide related injuries.

Since the symptoms of low-level carbon monoxide poisoning mimic winter illnesses (nausea, headaches, fatigue or dizziness), it’s highly likely that there’s an even greater number of cases that go undiagnosed.

If you find yourself with persistent flu or cold-like symptoms, it’s a good idea to see your doctor for a blood test. Carbon monoxide slowly suffocates your cells by replacing life-giving oxygen with carbon monoxide molecules. This process will eventually cause permanent damage to your brain, heart, other organs, and tissues. There are treatment options available for low-level poisoning, and your doctor will discuss all of your options with you – if and when that discussion needs to take place.

So why is this such a problem in modern times? Haven’t people been heating their homes by burning gas and oil for years without much trouble?

Well, today’s houses are much more airtight than their older counterparts. With the focus on energy efficiency to keep heating costs down and help save the environment, homeowners have buttoned up their houses to the maximum. This reduction in airflow also means that any toxic gasses that escape your heating system and end up in your house aren’t vented quickly. And that means you and your family end up breathing them in for a longer period of time.

So, what can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones? Luckily, it’s relatively easy to prevent the issue before it even starts with safe home heating. Proper cleaning of your chimney or flue to ensure that there are no blockages is a great first step. During an entire summer of disuse, birds and other small animals can get inside and build homes, or there can be soot buildup. Other debris left over from last year should also be cleaned out before you begin using your fireplace again.

Proper airflow in the chimney ensures that heating system gasses have somewhere to go, instead of lingering in your house. It also provides a source of fresh air and oxygen for clean burning.

For a professional cleaning and inspection, you can always call us here at Chimney Sweeps of America in Denver. Our team of dedicated professionals provides the maintenance needed to help your system last longer and keep it functioning properly. It’s easy, inexpensive and worth being able to rest easy knowing that you and your family will be protected from carbon monoxide poisoning and its effects.

10 Reasons Why Your Fireplace Doesn’t Work

10 Reasons Why Your Fireplace Doesn't WorkFrom wet wood to flue size, there can be any number of reasons why your fireplace doesn’t work. The best way to find out what’s going wrong is simply to call for one of our experts at Chimney Sweeps of America Inc. to come and evaluate your situation.

By hiring an expert, you’ll be able to rely on someone with extensive knowledge of air flow, pressure differentials and the physical construction necessary for a chimney to work properly. Someone who can diagnose the most severe problems and figure out how to fix them. Plus, you will be a lot safer in the long run with an expert on the job rather than trying to do it yourself.

However, for those who would like to learn more or want to understand more about their fireplace, here is a list of 10 reasons why your fireplace doesn’t work.

  1. Improper damper position

Maybe it is as simple forgetting to open the damper all the way. Sometimes, though, soot and debris can build up, preventing it from opening correctly. Residue buildup is easily fixed with a professional cleaning.

  1. Green or wet wood

Firewood should be seasoned, that is, very dry when burned otherwise the wood will produce more smoke than heat and your chimney will not function properly.

  1. Dirty chimney

Even just half an inch of buildup on the inside of your chimney can have serious consequences on how fluidly air can flow and how effective your chimney will perform.

  1. Tall chimney

For a chimney to function properly, it must be tall enough. It should be at least 10-12 feet tall, 3 feet above the roof and 2 feet higher than anything within 10 feet. If the problem worsens when the wind blows, that is an indication that your chimney is too short.

  1. Wrong-size flue

A fireplace opening should generally be no larger than ten times the size of the flue. Otherwise, the smoke cannot funnel out fast enough and may spit back into the room. Obviously, you cannot change your flue size easily, but you can minimize your opening with smoke guards.

  1. Chimney location

Chimneys located on the outside of the house will be colder and will cool the gasses faster as they rise. They could actually cool them enough to force them back down – as we know that hot air rises, not cold. To combat this, you should keep a brisk fire going and not let it die down too much.

  1. Too much insulation

Nowadays, modern homes are buttoned up pretty tight to be energy efficient and to combat cold drafts, but the air that is exiting out of your chimney needs to be replaced from somewhere. If your fire is burning sluggishly or smoke is coming back into the room, try opening a window and see if that alleviates the problem.

  1. Not enough insulation

The opposite can also be true. If your home is too drafty, it can be overwhelming to your fire and put it out. Make sure that all windows are closed, particularly ones upstairs.

  1. Return grill for furnace near fireplace

If you have a furnace and the return air grill is in the same room as the fireplace, running both at the same time will cause them to compete for air.

  1. Everything else

Believe it or not, your fireplace could experience any number of other problems, such as poor construction, and can be identified best by a qualified professional.

As always, if you have any questions or need a professional diagnosis, simply give us a call here at Chimney Sweeps of America, and we will be glad to figure out and fix why your fireplace doesn’t work.