Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

Selecting the Right Firewood

Have you ever had to buy a present for someone and wanted it to be just the right thing? Or have you had to buy clothes for a very special event, and wanted it to be just the right outfit? And when you’re picking a new vehicle, you definitely want it to be just the right one, because you’ll be driving it for quite awhile. But did you know that there’s also a trick to picking just the right firewood to burn for the cleanest burn with the littlest amount of smoke?

Clean Burning WoodSelecting the Right Firewood Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney Sweep

When you are selecting wood, it’s a good idea to evaluate what your purpose is. If you’re looking to enjoy a long night in front of a nice, warm fire, consider using oak. Oak produces just this kind of slow, steady burn. But you don’t want to do this all the time, or at least make sure that you burn hot, quickly burning fires frequently in between; this type of fire will help burn out small amounts of creosote build up. Birch wood makes a quick-burning, hot fire and would be excellent for this purpose.

Hardwoods produce a long-lasting, low maintenance fire, which means you can spend more time with your family enjoying the fire. Some hardwoods you might consider burning would be maple, hickory, elm, or beech. These will make excellent fires, but they may take a little time to get started. The fire you get for the work is definitely worth the time it takes to get the fire going.

Smokeless Fire

Another thing to be concerned about is the amount of smoke that is produced by your fire. Although different types of wood produce different amounts of smoke, the biggest factor when it comes to smoke production is how dry the wood is. Most woods need a considerable drying time in order to get down to a low enough moisture content to burn a fire that produces a small amount of smoke. Freshly cut wood has a very high moisture content; the first water to leave the wood after it has been cut is the “free water” which is stored in the tiny fibrous tubes of the tree. Once this water leaves, the water content of your wood will be at around 30%; ideally, the water content of the wood should be at around 20% in order for it to be at its optimum burn. This process can take at least six months; longer dry time ensures dryer wood. Not only with this produce less smoke, it will also produce less creosote, so you won’t have to worry about this build-up as soon.

Cleaning Your Chimney

Although burning the right wood will make creosote build up less quickly, there’s really no way to stop creosote from building up. The only way to ensure that your chimney is creosote free is to have your chimney cleaned on an annual basis by a qualified company like Pozzi Chimney Sweep. Call them today to schedule before the fall rush!

Schedule Your Chimney Sweeping Today

Schedule Chimney Sweeping Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepThere are some thing that take lots of time and planning. If you’re planning a lengthy vacation, for instance, it’s best to start planning early. You’ll want to find a destination, map out the best route and places to stop along the way, call ahead for reservations so you have someplace to stay along the way, and decide which attractions you’re going to visit once you get there. Or how about a wedding? You set the day, pick the venue, ask the bridal party if they’ll do you the honor of standing up for you, buy the dress, send out the invitations, and so much more before the big day finally arrives. There are some things, however, that take almost no planning at all. Do you want to take a walk? Go for it! Getting a drink of water? No problem. Another thing to add to that list? Calling Pozzi Chimney Sweep to schedule your annual inspection and chimney sweeping. Pozzi’s friendly staff makes this the easiest call you’ll make all summer.

Why is an Annual Inspection Important

You might think that having your chimney cleaned isn’t really that big of a deal. How dirty can a chimney get, after all. The answer? Really dirty. Over the course of the winter of using your fireplace on a regular basis, lots of a highly flammable substance called creosote can build up. Depending on several conditions, this buildup can occur more or less quickly. The type of wood you burn, how cured the wood is, how restricted the air supply is, or even the temperature of the chimney itself can all affect how quickly creosote builds up in your chimney.

Can You Do it Yourself?

You may think that this is a do-it-yourself job. You’re a handy person, right? You can hang your own pictures, fix the loose tile, tighten up a leaky faucet. Perhaps this is a job you could tackle on your own. But do you really want to? There are a couple of reasons that this is best left to the professionals. For one, there are things that you will need to look for that only a professional really has the knowledge and experience to recognize – such as signs of structural deterioration or damage. Also, there are tools that can be used that make the process much easier and more efficient. And do you really want to deal with the mess and smell? It is much safer to leave this job to Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified professionals.

How to Pick a Company

The first thing to look for when hiring a chimney sweep company is their credentials. CSIA certification is important, as is certification from the National Chimney Sweep Guild. Pozzi Chimney Sweep has both of these, as well as being recognized by Angie’s List with the Super Service Award several years running. If you want expert service, give Pozzi a call today!

Invest In A Wood Burning Stove

Remember last winter on those cold, snowy nights? You’re trying to stay warm, while keeping the thermostat turned down to save money? Maybe you tried burying yourself under a pile of blankets. Or maybe you tried to convince your teenage children to snuggle up beside you to keep you all warm! How about buying a dog to lay across your feet just to keep your toes from feeling so icy cold? There’s a better way. Just make a phone call now and when winter hits, you’ll be warm and cozy beside a toasty warm wood burning stove!

Invest In A Wood Burning Stove Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepPros to a Wood Burning Stove

When you think of a wood burning stove, you might think of an inefficient, smoky mess. But that was then; this is now. Today’s wood burning stoves are much more efficient, and they also meet U.S. EPA emission guidelines. So if you’re looking to cut your heating bills while staying cozy and comfortable, think about investing in a wood burning stove.

One good thing about a wood burning stove is that the fuel source is readily available. Even if you’re not into the idea of spending time in the great outdoors, burning energy while you cut piles of firewood, it’s easy to find places to buy firewood – check out your local home improvement store. It is much cheaper to chop your own, however – and think of how great you’ll look after using those muscles to build up a big stack of firewood!

Install Them Anywhere

Because wood burning stoves can use prefab chimney pipes, they can be installed virtually anywhere. If you already have a fireplace, you can even install your wood burning stove right there – and fans can be used which will help circulate the warm air, making your wood burning stove even more effective in heating the room.

Many Styles and Sizes Available

Another good thing about wood burning stoves is the fact that there are many styles and sizes available. If your goal is to have a small stove to add warmth and ambiance to a small family room, you can install a smaller stove; if, on the other hand, your goal is to heat a larger area, you can find a stove that will be more efficient and effective. Also, the type of wood you burn will have an effect on how effective your wood stove is in heating a larger area. Part of the fun of owning a wood burning stove is that different types of wood can give off different smells as they burn – so you can enjoy a sweeter smell or even fill the room with a more cheery-type aroma when the holiday season rolls around.

Pick the Right Stove for Your Needs

If you are looking to purchase a wood burning stove, give Pozzi Chimney Sweep a call. They can advise you on which stove will best suit your living area and your expectations. Their expert technicians can have a cherry wood stove installed before the cold weather arrives so you’ll be comfortable and relaxed in front of a cozy fire by the time the first snow of winter hits!

The Benefits of a Gas Fireplace or Insert

Fireplaces are an amazing source of comfort and coziness. Unfortunately, many old-style wood burning fireplaces are not efficient. Unless you’ve had your dampers replaced, if you have an older fireplace system, chances are you aren’t getting a tight seal when you close your dampers. This means that the warm air from your room could be blowing right out the chimney.

Gas Fireplace or Insert Benefits Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepNot only this, but older wood burning fireplaces can create more dust in your home, more creosote buildup over time, and aren’t as good for the environment. Over time, this type of heating can cost homeowners a lot of money in energy costs. Luckily, there are some great alternatives that can heat more efficiently and save on fuel costs. Not to mention, causing less damage to the great outdoors!

Gas Fireplaces and Inserts

There are two ways to go if you’re looking to heat your home with a gas appliance. First, you can choose to have a gas fireplace installed. Do you already have a fireplace? If so, you can add a gas insert to that existing fireplace. So, now you can enjoy the convenience of gas heat without changing the fireplace you already have!

What makes a gas fireplace or insert such a good purchase? First, let’s talk convenience. When you want to add a crackling fire and you have a wood burning fireplace, you need to start up to a year earlier by cutting wood and letting it cure. You’ll also have to bring in the firewood, arrange it so that you know you’ll get a good burn, and then get it lit. In addition, as the fire burns down, keep adding more wood. However, if you have a gas burning appliance – just flip a switch! There you have it, a beautiful crackling fire!

Next, let’s talk efficiency. A gas burning appliance is more energy efficient than a wood burning appliance. According to the HGTV website, “(U)tility bills are lower when they can turn down the thermostat on a central furnace and use the gas fireplace as a supplemental heat source. Highly efficient natural gas fireplace inserts, for example, can heat up to 1,000 square feet of living space at low cost.”

Another consideration are the effects of a wood burning fire on the environment! Gas has been found to burn cleaner than wood, which is known to put unhealthy gases into the atmosphere. This happens as smoke goes out your chimney.

Installation

Whether installing a gas fireplace or gas insert, it is recommended that you have a CSIA certified chimney service company install your new appliance; just like your friends at Pozzi Chimney Sweep. You’ll know your new appliance is safe and correctly installed when you trust their expertise. It’s a job too important to leave to anyone other than the experts!

The Importance Of Hiring A Certified Chimney Sweep

Certification is a big deal. Going to the doctor for a particular ache or pain? It’s a great feeling to see the document on the wall that states that his or her education is complete. If you send your kids to a school that is state accredited, you know that the teachers are required to practice a certain level of proficiency. You want your teeth fixed by a certified dental professional, right? So, why would you trust your chimney inspection and repair to anyone that didn’t have the proper training? The safety of your family and home may well rest in the hands of the person you hire for your annual chimney sweeping!

Hiring A Certified Chimney Sweep Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepDifferent Certifications

The most important certification that comes to mind is from the Chimney Safety Institute of America. To obtain CSIA certification, a professional must study a variety of publications and materials. These materials thoroughly cover aspects of chimney inspection, cleaning, and repair. Candidates can take advantage of review sessions or a six day training session, as well. When a candidate is prepared, they are then required to take a 90 minute exam to prove their understanding and knowledge of the chimney sweep industry. CSIA certification is the first thing you should look for when hiring someone to take care of your chimney!

Make Sure You Hire Certified Chimney Sweeps

Chimney inspection, cleaning, and repair is important. Not only do you want to avoid the possibility of a chimney fire, you also need to think about the quality of the air inside your home. A breakdown of the makeup of your chimney structure can have a direct effect on your family’s health and safety. The professionals at Pozzi Chimney Sweep are CSIA certified! This means they’re knowledgeable about all the latest in chimney service and repair.  Remember, when you hire Pozzi to take care of your chimney system needs, you can rest assured that the job will be done right.

How Often Should I Have My Chimney Cleaned?

It is the dream of most people to own their own home. Being able to decorate however you want, take out walls, put up new walls, and do your yard work. All of these things bring with them a certain sense of pride of ownership. Not to mention, the fact that owning your home can be a great investment. However, home ownership also brings many responsibilities.

How Often Should I Have My Chimney Cleaned Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepIf something breaks, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to fix it. When the grass gets long, the homeowner is responsible to mow it. Also, if the home has a fireplace, it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to have that chimney inspected and cleaned to ensure the safety of the family. So, this brings up the question of how often that chimney needs to be inspected and swept. It would seem that if you don’t use the fireplace very often over the course of the winter, you probably won’t need to have it cleaned, right? Not necessarily.

What Do the Experts Say?

Do you have a question about something as important to the safety of your family as getting your chimney inspected and cleaned? If so, it’s best to ask the experts! In this case, that would be the Chimney Safety Institute of America. The CSIA website is very clear about this topic: “The simple answer is: The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, ‘Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.’ This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem.” Even if you don’t use your chimney very often during the previous winter, you can experience blockages from birds or other animals. In addition, have debris that gets blown into your chimney. This must be removed to avoid a dangerous chimney fire!

Chimney Repairs

Even if you don’t use your chimney very often, there are other factors to consider. These include weathering and precipitation that can cause breakdowns to occur. Some of this wear and tear is easily observed, even by an untrained person. Other damages aren’t as easily detected, however. An annual inspection by a CSIA trained professional will give you peace of mind; knowing that any damages that might cause instability in the structure of your chimney have been discovered and repaired.

Creosote

Even if you didn’t use your fireplace very often over the past winter, creosote can still build up. In fact, there are some conditions that cause creosote to build up more quickly. If the temperature in your chimney is cooler than normal, or if you burn unseasoned firewood, creosote will build up more quickly. Also, if you don’t open your damper wide enough to allow for a good airflow, you will find that creosote will form more quickly.

Annual Inspection and Cleaning

Call Pozzi Chimney Sweep today to schedule your annual chimney inspection and cleaning. Even if your chimney didn’t receive much use over the past winter, you’ll want to make sure that everything is clean and in good working order so that it’s ready to go next winter. Give them a call today!

Benefits of a Top Sealing Damper

Ever wonder what it is that keeps the cold air from rushing into your home through your chimney on a cold winter day? Maybe even what keeps the air conditioned air from leaving your home on a hot summer day? The answer to that question is the damper in your chimney. According to Homesaver, the damper is usually located in the throat of your masonry chimney, right above the firebox.

Benefits of a Top Sealing Damper Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepIt actually does two things:

  • It stops the cold air from coming down your chimney, when you’re not using your fireplace.
  • Also, it stops the heated or cold air in your home from exiting through the chimney.

Is your damper is open when it’s not supposed to be? If so, you could be adding hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling costs!

How Your Damper System Breaks Down

Over time, your damper is susceptible to wear and tear, just like anything else you own. Even in the process of simply opening and closing your damper during fireplace season makes it less effective. Also, when this little metal piece is exposed to precipitation or the moist air in smoke, it can rust. This will make it harder to open and close. Exposure to heat and ashes can also cause problems with the damper over time, causing to to become warped or sticky.

The reason your damper system works is because there is a tight seal between the damper and the chimney. So, if this little mechanism gets warped or rusted, that seal is going to be compromised. Unfortunately, this can cause you to pay higher heating and cooling bills. Also, some dampers are made of steel or cast iron. These materials make it more difficult for a tight seal to be formed as well.

Top Sealing Dampers

Does all this talk makes it seem as though there’s no way to avoid a higher heating and cooling bill? Well, that assumption is wrong! Just look into the idea of buying a top sealing damper. A top sealing damper fits on top of your chimney rather than being inside the chimney. In addition, it has a rubber gasket that seals it to the opening of your chimney when it is in the down position. This assures that you will always have a tight seal; so the cool air from your house (in the summer) or the cold air from outside (in the winter) will not be allowed to go where it shouldn’t be going. Plus, this type of damper has a cable attached that hangs down within easy reach, so it’s easy to operate from inside your home. It’s a simple idea that can save you lots of money!

Call Pozzi Chimney Sweep

Are you tired of paying higher heating and cooling bills because of faulty dampers? Then consider giving Pozzi Chimney Sweep a call. They will be able to determine whether a top sealing damper is right for your chimney system, and their friendly professionals will help you find just what you need to kiss those high electric bills good-bye!

Summer is the Best Time for Masonry Repairs

Remember last fall? You took the time to really look at your chimney. Finally, you noticed that some of the mortar was beginning to look a little cracked and flaky! That probably made you a bit worried about the structure of the chimney. Also, about whether it was safe to use for another winter fireplace season. So you did just what you should do; you called a chimney sweep company to do some inspection, repair, and cleaning.

Summer is the Best Time for Masonry Repairs Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepThe trouble was, you had called too late in the season! So, chances are that chimney technician probably made recommendations for repairs. Afterwards, they then told you you’d have to wait until next summer to do those repairs. The truth of the matter is, he was right. There are many chimney repairs that work best when they are done in warm weather, and that’s why it’s important to give Pozzi Chimney Sweep a call as soon as you can to set up another inspection and cleaning and to have any recommended repair work done.

Causes of Mortar Breakdown

Your mortar and brick chimney is a very solid structure. Even so, it is still susceptible to wear and tear over many years. When snow, rain, and other precipitation hits your chimney, it causes deterioration to occur, especially to the mortar. Over time, leaks can appear in the chimney itself and the metal parts of your fireplace system can start to show rust. The damage that occurs goes beyond ordinary wear and tear. However, the freeze/thaw cycle can also have a damaging effect on the mortar and bricks that make up your chimney!

Repairs

When your chimney specialist recommends work to your mortar, most likely he will recommend tuckpointing. This process involves removing the old mortar and then replacing it with new mortar. This is done using special tools and making sure that the colors match up to your existing chimney mortar. The mortar needs several days to cure, which is one reason that it is a job best left for summer time.

Once your chimney is repaired and cured, you may want to consider waterproofing it. This will prevent the moisture from entering your new masonry as quickly. In addition, gives you protection from the deteriorating effects of precipitation. Waterproofing is another job that is best done while the weather is warm. Plus, when properly applied by a CSIA certified professional, can give your chimney up to ten years of waterproofing protection!

Call Pozzi

When it comes to taking care of your chimney, it’s clear that sooner is better than later – especially when you’re talking about early summer vs. late autumn. Call Pozzi Chimney Sweep soon to make sure that you can get your chimney inspection and cleaning done now, in the late spring. That way any necessary repairs to your mortar can be completed and cured by the time the weather starts to get cooler. Beat the rush and secure your place on the early summer schedule by giving Pozzi Chimney Sweep a call today!

Dryer Vent Blockage May Be Increasing Your Dryer Time

You’re getting ready to go out on a fun night. Whether it’s a night out on the town, meeting up with your family, or just a romantic supper with that someone special. You’ve been looking forward to it all day, and you’re just waiting to pull your #1 pair of jeans out of the dryer and you’ll be ready to go. So, you run into the laundry room, pull the jeans out, and – no! They’re still too wet to wear. I think everyone has had this happen and it’s so disappointing. You may think that you need to start looking for a new dryer. However, before you start looking, have your dryer vent checked instead!

Dryer Vent Blockage May Be Increasing Your Dryer Time Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepProblems Caused by a Full Vent

When your dryer runs, it is basically pulling the leftover water from the wash cycle out of the clothes. Additionally, with that water comes tiny particles, or lint. This lint is carried out of your house through the dryer vent. Over time, some gets stuck. Consequently, as more damp, warm air continues to carry more lint through that dryer vent, more lint clings to what is already stuck there. Eventually the path gets so small that it’s harder for your dryer’s motor to work the air through. This can cause your dryer to not work as efficiently. So, that means more dryer time per load of clothes, which is frustrating as well as expensive!

Dry time isn’t the only problem; in fact, it might not even be the biggest problem that lint buildup might cause. That blockage of lint particles is highly flammable. If a spark hits, it can instantly turn into a dryer fire. In fact, according to a report by the U.S. Fire Administration, “2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss.”

Prevention

So, what can you do to prevent a clogged dryer vent? The first, and easiest, solution is to hire a qualified cleaning company. This should be done on a yearly basis. Also, look at your dryer vent to see if it is the plastic or foil accordion style of duct material. If it is, consider replacing it with rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct. This type of duct doesn’t catch the lint as easily. Also, when you have your dryer vent cleaned, have your dryer appliance cleaned as well, as this can also be a place where lint can build up.

Who To Call

Are you noticing that your dryer is taking longer and longer to dry a load of clothes? If so, you may need a new dryer. Before you look, though, call in professionals to check out your dryer vent for blockages. Who should you call? Pozzi Chimney Sweep, that’s who! Not only are they CSIA certified chimney inspectors and sweeps, they also are experts at cleaning your dryer vents. Let them take care of clearing out your dryer vent and soon you’ll be having dry clothes in a fraction of the time!

Tuckpoint or Rebuild: Which Does Your Chimney Need?

Your masonry chimney was built to last for years – 100 years or more! Unfortunately, the mortar that is holding the bricks together isn’t made to last quite that long, and it will, from time to time, need to be replaced. But if you wait too long, you may be in for a bigger repair job than you are asking for. So…to repair or rebuild – that’s the question.

Chimney Damage

As strange as it may seem, one thing that can really cause damage to your chimney is precipitation. Heavy rains can wear away at the mortar that holds the bricks or block together. In an Illinois winter, the freeze/thaw cycle can wreak havoc by causing larger cracks in the mortar as well. As stated by the Chimney Safety Institute of America website, “(M)asonry materials deteriorate quickly when exposed to the freeze/thaw process, in which moisture that has penetrated the materials periodically freezes and expands causing undue stress.”Tuckpoint or Rebuild Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney Sweep

Tuckpointing

Every homeowner knows that it’s very important to have your chimney inspected and cleaned on an annual basis. Your chimney inspector will have kept a close eye on the condition of your mortar. If this is the case, then you can be pretty confident in going with the tuckpointing procedure.

Tuckpointing is the process of taking out the old, crumbling mortar joints and replacing them with fresh mortar. The fresh mortar has to be pressed into the cracks between the bricks. The tools that are used to do this are called points, lending to the term “tuckpointing”.

This may not seem like too complicated of a process. However, the balance.com website is quite clear in stating that this is a job that needs to be left to the professionals.

Rebuild

Perhaps, you neglected to complete this repair job in a timely manner, you may be looking at a bigger repair job. One strong indication that you may need to go the rebuilding route rather than the tuckpointing route is if there are bricks that are actually loose. If this is the case, you’re looking at a rebuild rather than a tuckpointing procedure. This is a more complicated, more costly repair job which involves actually taking down the existing wall and rebuilding it back up.

Signals that Repair is Needed

If you are an observant home owner, it may be apparent by looking at your mortar is in need of repair. If your mortar looks soft and crumbly, it’s a pretty sure bet that some tuckpointing is required. However, it’s a good idea to bring in the experts to determine exactly how much work needs to be done. If you’re looking for expert advice, give Pozzi Chimney Sweep a call. Their technicians are CSIA certified and will be able to give an honest, expert assessment of the repairs that are necessary to get your chimney up and running. Spring is the perfect time to get this assessment done, so you have the summer to make any necessary repairs.