Our Current Blog Articles
November 21, 2017
Do Existing Chimneys Work with Wood Stoves?
Today, Chimney Sweeps of America sheds light on the question, do existing chimneys work with wood stoves? If you already have a fireplace but want to install a new stove, you may wonder if your existing system can be used instead of creating an entirely new hole to vent your wood stove. Take a look below at the information we put together and give us a call if you’re ready to get started on creating a whole new look together for your home.
Using your Existing Chimney
If you already have a masonry fireplace and want to install a wood stove or fireplace insert, why not use your existing chimney to vent the smoke? It makes the most economical sense, and it’s also just plain practical. However, for your new wood stove or fireplace insert to function best, you’ll need one with a vent pipe that closely matches the flue size in your existing chimney. This will ensure that it works both efficiently and safely.
The Right Fit Wood Stove or Insert
Two main types of wood stoves can work with your existing chimney, either a freestanding stove or a fireplace insert. One isn’t necessarily better than the other – it mostly depends on the look you want to achieve.
The chimney can be either a masonry chimney or a factory-built metal system. The primary requirement is that the height and position of the stove’s flue collar will allow the stove to be correctly attached to the chimney. You should also ensure that if you have a factory-built system, it has been listed as being compatible with a wood stove.
When the Stove or Insert Isn’t the Right Size
Mismatched fits may end up being unavoidable, so you’ll have to choose a wood stove or insert with a flue much smaller than that of your existing chimney. However, you can’t simply install it and call it good. Here’s why. The interaction of cold air with hot air is what causes chimneys to vent correctly. Flues of different sizes will end up causing some of the smoke to sink and even condense into a hard creosote on the walls of the chimney. This stuff is highly flammable and difficult to clean. It is also corrosive and can cause damage to the chimney if left for a time.
Though it’s best to choose one the same size (or as close as you can get), there is a way to make a different size work. You can have a professional install your wood stove, including a stainless steel liner connecting the top of the chimney with the top of the stove. This creates a safe, efficient construction and is easy to maintain.
There’s nothing quite like curling up in front of a crackling fire with a cup of hot cocoa and your favorite book or movie. So, if you’re thinking about switching to a wood stove, you may be wondering, do existing chimneys work with wood stoves? The true answer is to talk to the experts here at Chimney Sweeps of America. We’ll come take a look at your current fireplace and chimney and see how we can make the transition for you. Contact us today for details.
November 11, 2017
Having Problems with Your Gas Fireplace?
Are you having problems with your gas fireplace? With these tips from Chimney Sweeps of America in Denver, Colorado you may be able to figure it out yourself. Of course, always take care when working with your gas fireplace. Improper handling could result in injury to your person or damage to your home. If there is ever a strong smell of gas and you can’t quickly figure it out, we recommend calling a professional immediately. Safety first!
Let’s get to it! If you’re having problems with your gas fireplace, here’s a few things you can try based on the symptoms you’re experiencing.
This is a simple one and should always be the first thing you check if your gas fireplace won’t turn on. For the fireplace to ignite, it needs an ignition source which the pilot light provides by always having a tiny flame going. It’s a small flame, though, and can get blown out by accident.
Check inside to determine if you can see the flame going. If it’s not there, simply relight it with a match or lighter and you should be good to go. If the flame goes out again, that’s an indication of a deeper issue, and you may need to call an expert to investigate.
There is a small metal rod called the thermocouple that connects the pilot light to the gas valve. It has two functions, to sense the temperature and also to provide electricity when needed for igniting the gas. It’s a tiny part of the fireplace but provides essential functions.
Unfortunately, all it takes is for the thermocouple to be a touch out of place, a little unstable, or a bit dirty to not work correctly. If you’re having problems with your gas fireplace and it turns out to be the thermocouple, check it’s positioning and examine the wiring and tubing. If you this still doesn’t correct the problem or anything seems significantly amiss, call for gas fireplace repairs.
A thermopile is also a sensor that generates electricity. It basically performs the same function as the thermocouple, just in more recently built gas fireplaces. If you have a burner that is slow to start or won’t come on at all, it could be an issue with the wiring surrounding the thermopile. The thermopile has a generator function that you can use to see if there is enough energy being provided. This can help you determine if a loose wire or something similar is the problem.
It can be pretty complicated to fix or replace a thermopile, so instead of attempting to deal with this issue, it might be best to call in gas fireplace professionals for help.
These are not the only things that could be wrong if you’re having problems with your gas fireplace. Just the most common issues. If you didn’t find any help in this troubleshooting guide, contact us here at Chimney Sweeps of America. One of our experts will be happy to come out, then diagnose and fix the problem for you. This is much safer as more complex troubleshooting can be dangerous when working with gas fireplaces.
October 19, 2017
Basics of Starting a Fire in Your Fireplace
If you’re new to using a fireplace, these basics of starting a fire in your fireplace from Chimney Sweeps of America can come in handy. Even if you’re a natural when it comes to outdoor fires, the technique is different when you’re working with an indoor fireplace.
Clean the chimney
After a long summer break, and before using a fireplace, you should at least check the chimney to ensure nothing is blocking it. Animals in chimneys love to build nests and homes, even leaves can build up in there and cause blockages.
Calling a professional to clean your chimney is always a great idea!
Open up the damper
The damper is there to prevent cold air from entering your home by way of the chimney when the fireplace is not in use. It also regulates the draft when in use. If you don’t open it up while you are lighting the fire, your house will fill with smoke.
Ready the flue
This is especially important if your chimney is built on the exterior of your home, as the flue will most certainly be cold. Cold air sinks, right? So, logically, when you open the damper, all the cold air sitting in your chimney will sink down and start seeping into the home. If you light a fire while this is happening the smoke will blow back into your home.
To combat this issue, simply light a long match and hold it up to the opening of the damper for several minutes until you feel the draft switch directions. When you do, that means that the flue is ready to get to work.
Maintain a bed of ash
Overzealous fireplace owners may thoroughly clean out ash in their fireplace, but this isn’t the best approach. About 1-2 inches of ash will help insulate the fire and even promote burning hotter. If your fireplace is barren because you’ve never built a fire in it, a good tip is to use the ashes from an outdoor grill.
However, there can be too much of a good thing. Too much ash will smother your fire and make it hard to start. So don’t take this tip as an excuse never to clean your fireplace.
Use the “upside down” technique
There is a myriad of methods for fire building. Each technique has its merits. If you’re looking for hours of clean burning in your fireplace, the upside down technique might be right for you.
It gets its name from the fact that it is literally upside down from the traditional fire. Instead of piling tinder, kindling and big logs in that order, do the reverse. Largest logs at the bottom, then smaller logs, with layers of tinder, kindling and crumpled paper on top. When the smoke doesn’t have to pass through all the cold logs to escape, the fire will naturally burn cleaner.
We hope these basics of starting a fire in your fireplace come in handy this season. As always, the experts at Chimney Sweeps of America are here to help with expert fireplace installation and repair. Have a wood stove? We repair and install those, too.
October 5, 2017
Chimney Problems During Winter
Here at Chimney Sweeps of America in Denver, we’re all too familiar with chimney problems during winter. Once the cold weather, rain and snow arrive, this exterior structure is exposed to the harshest conditions. So, we’ve written up this handy guide to point out what poses a danger and how to prevent chimney problems during winter as much as possible.
At the top of the list of for chimney problems during winter is prolonged contact with moisture. The bummer about winter is that lots of moisture come with the territory.
For example, if you have snow piling up on your roof and are using your fireplace, it will melt the snow and cause puddles around the chimney. Couple that with all the expanding and contracting as the materials react to temperature change and you have a recipe for disaster.
If left unattended the mortar will begin to crack and crumble because of the moisture content. Don’t ever keep using a chimney that you know (or even suspect) is in bad shape. House fires and other dangerous events occur because people keep using their chimneys. They think that it won’t hurt to use the fireplace just one more time before calling a professional to inspect the chimney and make the appropriate repairs.
When moisture has entered into the bricks or mortar or a chimney, it can cause damage to other things as well, not just the chimney. For example, moisture can get inside the home and stain or ruin a wall. The other parts of the fireplace can also get damaged. The metal firebox can start to deteriorate; the damper assemblies might even rust and stop working. Water can also mix with creosote inside your chimney and perpetuate a nasty smell that could permeate your home.
The best way to deal with moisture problems in your chimney is to prevent them from happening altogether. Now, obviously, you can’t keep it from raining or snowing all winter, so instead, you must find a way to keep moisture from getting into the chimney somehow.
Chimney caps are an inexpensive and remarkably practical way of doing that. They serve more than one purpose as well. In addition to keeping water from entering, they also prevent small animals and birds from setting up nests and causing blockages inside the chimney.
Another practical method to keep water away from your chimney is installing a cricket. The design of some roofs causes water to flow continually against the chimney. The cricket is a device designed to divert that water away from your chimney.
It may also be beneficial to waterproof the chimney. The professionals are not necessarily in agreement on its effectiveness or the best way to waterproof your chimney, so be sure to have a chat with us first before taking this step.
We hope this information about chimney problems during winter is helpful for you. You can direct any further questions to one of our friendly staff members here at Chimney Sweeps of America. We provide the insight and services needed to keep your chimney in tip-top shape!
September 21, 2017
Choosing an Efficient Wood Stove
There are a few things to be aware of when choosing an efficient wood stove. Chimney Sweeps of America in Denver offers this great resource so you’ll have an idea what to be on the lookout for. A wood stove is a great, efficient way to heat your home, but choosing the right unit is key.
Check the Emissions
Wood stoves have been significantly improved upon since their introduction years ago as a better alternative to indoor fireplaces. Modern wood stoves require less firewood to heat the same square footage, produce very little ash and almost no smoke.
For comparison, newer EPA certified stoves have to meet the current 4.5 grams or less of smoke per hour standard, but older stoves give off anywhere from 15-30 grams per hour. When choosing an efficient wood stove, keep in mind that the EPA is planning to lower their emissions standard to 2 grams per hour in 2020. You’ll want to consider buying a stove that meets this emissions standard, particularly if you plan to sell your home in the next few years.
Choose a Stove Type
There are two categories of wood stoves, catalytic and non-catalytic. They are both effective in meeting EPA emissions standard but have slight performance differences. Non-catalytic stoves are simpler and therefore are more common. Catalytic stoves require a stricter maintenance regimen but are favored in many of the popular high-end stoves.
How Big of a Stove?
A critical aspect when choosing an efficient wood stove is size. When talking to professionals about what size stove to get, be sure to bring not only the square footage of the space to be heated but also the type of home. Newer, more energy efficient homes (or older homes to which the relevant improvements have been made) require a smaller stove to heat the same amount of space as an older, more drafty home. Also, keep in mind our Colorado climate. With your home in a colder area, you may need a bigger wood stove to heat the same amount of space.
To give you a rough idea, smaller stoves are generally good for zone heating, warming just a portion of a larger home or a small cottage. A medium size stove is good for either a small home or an energy efficient medium sized home. The largest sizes of wood stoves are ideal for large homes with open floor plans or for older, less energy efficient homes.
You can check out the EPA’s list of certified stoves to help when you are choosing an efficient wood stove. However, no amount of research can replace the expertise offered by experienced professionals, such as the Chimney Sweeps of America. We can provide answers to questions you don’t even know to ask. If you are thinking about installing a new wood stove (or upgrading your current unit), you’re welcome to give us a call. We can help you pick out the perfect unit to meet your needs, fit your home and appease your budget.