Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

Fall Weather is Not Optimal for Masonry Work

In the fall, there are many things that you look forward to getting done. It feels good to get ready for winter by getting the leaves raked, the gutters cleaned out, and the windows washed, inside and out. If you have some areas that need added insulation, fall is a great time to get it done before cold weather hits. If you have windows or other seam areas that need to be caulked, make sure you get that job finished before the snow falls as well. Additionally, you will want to have your fireplace and chimney system inspected before starting your first fire.

Unfortunately, if you’ve been waiting to have your chimney masonry repair work done, you may have to wait until next spring, because that is one job that is definitely better done when the weather is warmer.

Why Wait Until It’s WarmFall Weather is Not Optimal for Masonry Work Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney

If you happen to live in a warmer climate, you’ll be fine having your chimney masonry work done anytime. But if you live in a colder area of the country, like northern Illinois, it’s important to wait until the weather will be warm for a more extended period of time to have mortar work completed. The problem with working with mortar in colder weather comes from the freeze-thaw cycle. When a mason is working with mortar, the mortar needs to be kept at a certain moisture level. When the weather freezes and the mortar contains more than a 6% water content, the expansion that occurs because of freezing may cause the mortar to crack.

Can Work Be Completed In The Winter?

There are some masons that may take on mortar repair in the winter, but this is risky. For example, it may be possible to work under an insulated tarp or to use heat lamps in order to keep the mortar from freezing. Also, if you did decide that this was the route you wanted to take, it would be necessary to have your chimney wrapped after the job was completed to make sure that it stays warm enough for your chimney work to dry properly. Most contractors, however, will probably recommend that you just wait until the weather warms up to make sure that the job can be done without these special procedures.

Call A Top Rated Company for Expert Advice

If you’re looking for advice on whether to get your chimney repaired now or wait until warmer weather, give Pozzi Chimney Sweep a call today. They are certified with the National Chimney Sweep Guild, and have received numerous service awards because of their excellent customer service. You can count on them to give honest advice and expert service. That’ll be one more thing to check off your autumn to-do list!

Using the Correct Firewood for your Fireplace

Burn the Right Firewood - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepWhen you use the correct oil in your car, it’s going to run better. Using the correct sized measuring cup will ensure that your recipe will turn out right. If you’re taking a college class, you’ll definitely want to buy the right book so that you can pass the class. And using the right firewood will make sure that you have a fire that burns clean and hot so that you can enjoy a safe fire that doesn’t get too smoky and that doesn’t contribute to a big buildup of creosote in your chimney.

What to Look For

One of the most important things to look for when you are buying firewood is how dry (seasoned) it is. The dryer the firewood, the hotter the burn. If you try to burn wet firewood, a couple things will happen. First, you’ll get a lot of smoke. When you burn wet firewood, you are basically burning water – and everyone knows that water doesn’t burn, so it’ll be tougher for you to get a fire going and keep it going. Probably one of the most important reasons to make sure you use dry firewood is that using wet firewood will encourage a bigger buildup of creosote, which is a highly flammable substance that can coat the inside of your fireplace.

So, how will you know if firewood is dry? If you cut your own firewood, you can ensure that your firewood is dry by splitting the wood and storing it on pallets, stacking it loosely and leaving it to dry for at least six months, and longer if possible. If you’re buying firewood, look for wood that is grayer in color and that has a less intense wood smell. Also, many times wood that is dry will have cracks in it, especially in the ends. Try hitting two pieces of wood together; dryer wood sounds more hollow than wetter wood and will make a cracking sound rather than a dull sound. Dry wood will be lighter in weight, as well.

Types of Wood

Does the type of wood you burn make a difference? You bet your boots it does! Different types of wood burn differently, so it depends on what type of fire you’re looking for when you’re deciding which type to burn. Harder woods burn longer, so if you’re looking to spend a long evening relaxing in front of a hot fire, you’ll want to burn a hardwood like oak, locust, or hickory. If you don’t have as long to relax but still want to enjoy a short time in front of a nice fire, burn a softer wood, like birch or maple. Softer woods are also good to burn in the spring and the fall, because they won’t burn as hot so you don’t have to worry about overheating your home in the cool, not cold, months.

Ask for Advice

If you have questions about what type of firewood you should be burning, give the experts at Pozzi Chimney Sweeps a call. They can give great advice on just which firewood you should be using.

What is Creosote and Why is it Harmful?

Creosote Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepThe Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that you have your chimney inspected and cleaned on an annual basis, and there are many reasons why this is a good idea. They will be looking for things like obstructions in your chimney, such as birds nests or dry twigs and leaves, that could catch a spark and cause a chimney fire. A good inspector will look for any structural damage that may be occurring, and will also be keeping an eye out for damage to key components of your chimney, such as the chimney cap or the damper system. All of these things are very important because they help make your chimney and fireplace system more efficient and your fire burning experiences more pleasant. But one of the most important things that your inspector will be looking for is creosote buildup.

Creosote Composition

One of the problems with burning a fire in a fireplace is smoke production. No one wants to sit in a smoky room, and that’s where your chimney comes into play. A chimney has two main functions: to help create a draft, which helps your fire burn, and to pull smoke out of the chimney. When wood burns, several chemical elements are released and carried up and out on the water vapor, which is also released during the burn process. When this chemical-laced vapor rises and hits the relatively cooler surface of the upper interior of the chimney, it condenses and forms a layer of crusty, flaky, dark-colored gunk: creosote. Creosote is extremely flammable, so if it is allowed to build up into a thick layer (an eighth of an inch is thick enough to cause problems, you are looking at a dangerous situation waiting to happen. To avoid this problem, you’ll want to hire a CSIA certified chimney sweep like the ones at Pozzi Chimney Sweep to come in and clean your chimney.

Ways to Cut Down on Creosote Buildup

There are some things you can do which will help cut down creosote buildup between those annual inspections and cleanings. One of the most important things to do is to make sure that the wood you burn has been properly seasoned. When you cut a tree into firewood, it can initially have at least a 45% water content, and usually much more. The higher the water content, the harder the wood is to burn and the greater the creosote buildup. Therefore, using dried (seasoned) firewood is a good way to reduce creosote buildup over the course of the year. It’s a good rule of thumb to let your firewood sit for at least six months after cutting, and more is better. Also, burning a hotter fire will help decrease the amount of creosote that collects.

Annual Inspection and Cleaning

Most important, however, is that annual cleaning. Call Pozzi Chimney Sweep to set up an appointment today, before the cold winds of winter start to blow.

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 certified professionals.

Schedule a sweeping with us

Pozzi Chimney Sweep has certification from the National Chimney Sweep Guild, 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!