Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

Chimney Cleaning Logs Don’t Replace A Professional Chimney Sweeping

Trust the certified pros at Pozzi Chimney Sweep for complete peace of mind with your chimney and fireplace.

Trust the certified pros at Pozzi Chimney Sweep for complete peace of mind with your chimney and fireplace.

Chimney cleaning logs are not a bad product to use in your fireplace. They are made with certain chemicals inside of them that are then dispersed into your chimney as you enjoy your fire. This process is thought to help reduce the amount of creosote build-up in your chimney, as well tar and other materials. These substances are typically sticky and hard to clean, but the logs are known for turning them into more flaky and brittle substances making the cleaning process a lot easier. Some of these products are even CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) approved, ensuring that they will not damage your chimney.

Yet, many are deceived by the misleading name of these logs. While chimney cleaning logs can offer some assistance in terms of debris build-up, they should never replace a yearly cleaning done by a professional. Note the following precautions when using chimney cleaning logs in your fireplace.

– Chimney cleaning logs do not remove creosote: Although they can break down the sticky substance, the now flaky bits of creosote do not disappear. Rather, they disburse throughout different parts of your chimney, still making cleaning necessary. Also, remember that creosote is highly flammable so these flakes could cause hazards as they fall back into your fire.

– Chimney cleaning logs cannot advise: When it comes down to it, nothing can replace the insight offered by a CSIA certified professional. While the CSIA does not discourage the use of these logs, they maintain that a yearly cleaning is still necessary to ensure proper functioning throughout the fireplace. Professionals are trained to note any repairs that may be needed before burning season begins and can advise you on proper procedures to take when approaching chimney care.

– Chimney cleaning logs do not do the full job: There is a lot more to cleaning and inspecting a chimney than addressing creosote build-up. Many things can accumulate within a chimney throughout a year, such as animal nests or leaves. These need to be physically removed. These things, along with many other types of soot and debris that accumulates over time, should always be addressed by a professional who knows how to properly remove then clean them.

– Chimney cleaning logs cannot repair: Should any cracks or other issues start to occur in your fireplace, a professional will need to come in to address these. Often these can go unseen by the homeowner, which is why having that regular inspection is so important and why these logs are not a sufficient replacement for an actual cleaning. If repairs go unaddressed for too long, the overall costs involved with getting your chimney back into working order can be devastating.

Pozzi Chimney Sweep prides itself on being up-to-date with their CSIA certification and is happy to help with your chimney needs. Call us today to schedule an appointment!

Advantages of Gas Fireplaces

When the colder months start to arrive, the idea of having a fireplace becomes more and more appealing. The extra heat brought in by a fireplace, along with the cozy atmosphere it offers, makes it an idyllic addition to anyone’s home.

Gas Fireplace Advantages - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney

Yet, the search for the right fireplace in today’s modern world can be a challenge. There are a variety of options and styles and reading on the pros and cons of each type can be overwhelming. With society becoming more fast-paced, the best option would be something convenient and requiring little maintenance. Most people want something that allows the ability to get home from a work day and simply relax in front of the fireplace, without having to haul logs or track down kindling. If that sounds like what you are looking for, a gas fireplace is the choice for you.

Less Mess

One of the biggest reasons why people go with gas fireplaces is the low amount of mess created when using them. While wood fireplaces are more traditional, they can be very time-consuming between splitting and storing wood, cleaning out ash, and trying to decrease creosote build-up. Gas fireplaces require no kindling or stored up fuel and little maintenance as far as clean up.

Less Work

Chopping wood, finding a suitable place to store it, then cleaning up after yourself can end up making a relaxing fireplace more work than anyone ever set out for. You must also be skilled in starting and maintaining a fire, often needing to run back to your wood pile for more fuel. After the fire dies, ash needs to be scooped out and stored properly, and throughout the year the creosote and other debris must be scrubbed clean by a professional. This all seems like a lot of work for what is supposed to offer a relaxing atmosphere for your home. A gas fireplace simplifies this process for an equal result, turning on with simply the flip of a switch or push of a button.

Increased Safety

A big issue with regular wood-burning fireplaces is that they make a family more vulnerable to house fires. The fireplace is open and if anything flammable is near it could very easily catch on fire. The risk of someone getting burned is increased, as well. A gas fireplace has no open flame, making both of these risks less of an issue.

There is also an increase in safety in the amount of toxic airs being emitted into one’s home. Because of all of the soot and ash involved in a wood-burning fireplace, fumes and smoke can be a big issue and can end up affecting the health of your family. The amount of toxins produced from a gas fireplace is significantly less, as they heat without needing wood or similar fuel.

Installing Your Gas Fireplace

Installing your gas fireplace is easy with help from Pozzi Chimney Sweep. Call us today to set up an appointment and we can work towards finding the right fit for you and your home.

Valor Gas Units

Many people today are choosing to put gas fireplaces in their home, gaining the cozy atmosphere often associated with a fireplace, without the hassle of maintaining and building a fire. Today’s gas inserts look and feel like a real fire, but require much less of a commitment. There are no logs, no smoky smells, and no need to constantly tend to a fire. Many families simply do not have the time to maintain a wood fireplace, making the gas option a perfect fit.

Pozzi Chimney Sweep recognizes the importance of providing safe, affordable, and easy to maintain products and is working with Valor to offer you the best gas fireplace for your home and needs. Valor has been in business since 1890 and strives to design modern products that will help your home run as efficiently as possible [valorfireplaces.com].

Valor History

The products Valor has produced throughout its history are ones meant to provide a more efficient way of heating one’s home. Through extensive research and by bringing awareness as to what their products can offer, Valor made a name for themselves and quickly became a leader in their industry. They then worked on producing various styles and designs to provide products that not only function well, but look great in one’s home. Today, they are still selling modern and efficient gas fireplaces that make a perfect addition to anyone’s home.

Valor Styles Valor Gas Units - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney Sweeps

Whether you are looking for a zero clearance fireplace, a gas insert for a pre-existing fireplace, or something freestanding, Pozzi Chimney Sweep and Valor have various options for you. Finding the right product for your lifestyle is important. There are many different styles offered for each type of gas unit, so you can rest assured knowing you will not only purchase a product that runs well, but looks good in your home.

Valor Safety

When purchasing a fireplace, safety is the biggest issue to consider, especially in a home with small children. Valor’s products are designed with safety in mind. Each unit contains protective screens for your fireplace that help prevent unwanted contact with the glass surface, while it is still hot. Valor also offers a variety of accessories that will help in maintaining fire safety.

Pozzi Chimney Sweep Guarantee

Pozzi Chimney Sweep can guide you in purchasing the right Valor product for your home. Call us today to set up an appointment to find what works best for you. We offer advice and guidance to ensure that you are purchasing the right unit.

To keep up with fireplace safety, be sure to schedule a yearly cleaning and inspection for your fireplace to avoid any build-up of hazardous materials. Making sure your gas unit is running efficiently will offer peace of mind and will allow you the ability to relax with your family and enjoy the comfort of a low-maintenance fireplace throughout the cold months.

Disposing of Fireplace Ash

It is getting close to the time of year where you will want to enjoy your fireplace more often. After all, nothing beats the feel of a warm fire on a cold evening. If you think your fireplace will be undergoing more frequent use in the upcoming months, be sure to make a plan of action for regular maintenance and ash disposal, to ensure it stays safe and clean.

Why Remove Ash? Ash Disposal - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney Sweep

Removing ash is important for many reasons. Ash attracts moisture which is not good for the masonry and metal aspects of your fireplace. If ash builds up too much, it can damage the grate in your fireplace, requiring you to replace it. On top of the damage it can cause, it may also make your fire more difficult to start, as it limits space for wood and other fuel.

How to Remove Ash

A common question with fireplace maintenance is how exactly one should dispose of ashes. As a fireplace owner, it is important to become educated on this topic as it is not uncommon to hear of fires starting from improper disposal.

Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Wait at least one full day before removing ash from your fireplace, as it may be hot. You will not want any of the ash to contain live embers, so be sure that the ash has cooled down before handling it in any type of way.
  2. Use a non-flammable container for transporting the ash (preferably some type of metal bucket). Once the ash is in the bucket, throw some water on it as an extra safety precaution, ensuring that no heat sources got trapped and could combust.
  3. Once the ashes are safely in the bucket, it is best to wait a few days before disposing of them. Keep the bucket away from any objects that may be flammable while the ashes are given sufficient time to cool. Another suggestion is to put a non-flammable cover over the bucket to keep out any oxygen that could fuel an unwanted fire.

What to do With the Remains

So, now that your ashes are cooled down and free of any flammable materials, what should be done with them? Here are some suggestions.

  • Put them in your garden. Ash is great at enriching soil and contains potassium that will help plants grow. It also aids in repelling slugs and snails, which is an added bonus. Research which plants best thrive from ash and which levels are appropriate. Tomatoes are one that are known for thriving on wood ash.
  • Control algae growth. If you have a pond, putting in 1 teaspoon of ash per 1000 gallons of water will help to reduce algae, keeping your water cleaner and your pond life healthier overall.
  • Use it to clean. Ash can be made into soap that can be used to polish silver and clean other things around the home. It can also be used for laundry when mixed with the right components or as a bleaching tool when on its own.

If you have any questions regarding your fireplace, chimney, or ash disposal, call the experts at Pozzi Chimney Sweep.

Preparing Your Chimney for Winter

Winter - Pozzi - Aurora ILWinter weather is often deemed ideal for chimney use. As the weather becomes colder and snow moves in, sitting in front of a warm fire in the comfort of your home becomes more and more appealing. It is important to prepare your fireplace for the winter months ahead and ensure that all safety measures are met before frequent use.

Why Inspect My Chimney?

There are numerous factors that can affect your ability to fully enjoy your chimney. If certain preparations are not made before burning season, it will affect the fireplace’s overall functioning. This could cause disappoint all around when the cold weather hits and everyone is asking for a warm fire to cozy up to.

There are also numerous safety issues in not maintaining a chimney properly. Continue reading to find out what to look for when preparing for winter and why these things are essential in keeping your home and family safe, while enjoying the comfort of your fireplace.

What To Check

Here are some things to look into before the winter months hit.

  • Chimney Cleaning: One of the most important things in chimney maintenance is getting it professionally cleaned on a regular basis. The higher the build-up of soot, creosote, and other hazards, the higher the risk for house fires. These factors also influence the structure of the chimney which will eventually make costly repairs a necessity.
  • Weather Preparations: Chimneys undergo typical wear and tear, especially in areas where the weather changes more dramatically throughout the year. A regular inspection will keep your chimney more resistant to weather fluctuations, making large repairs never needed.
  • Venting: Making sure your venting systems are working properly is also vital to safe and proper chimney use. Without proper venting, your chimney will not function as it should, increasing safety risks and encouraging damage to occur.
  • Replace Old Brick: Now is the time to replace any brick that may be deteriorating in your chimney. If brick is loose or cracked, the heat from the fire will move into to it, causing serious internal damage to your fireplace. It is always best to stay on top of any needed to repairs, especially before a burning season.
  • Chimney Cap: Always check your chimney cap for repairs. If you do not have one, be sure to purchase one before the cold weather sets in. A well-functioning chimney cap will help weather-proof your chimney, decreasing the amount of water entry as well as wear and tear that the winter months often bring . It also aids in keeping out animals, such as birds and squirrels, who often seek out warmer spots in cold weather.

Keeping your fireplace prepared for any type of weather is part of being a responsible homeowner. Also, this time of year would be a great opportunity to let your children join in the chimney inspection and cleaning process, noting the importance of keeping things up to code for Santa’s arrival. A well-run chimney will make a safer and more enjoyable holiday season, so be sure to get yours inspected today!

Pozzi Chimney Sweep is familiar with the cold weather Aurora, IL experiences and can ensure your chimney system is ready to go once the cold weather arrives!

Firewood Stacking & Storing Tips

Recently, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) touched on something that doesn’t garner a lot of attention, and that is the topic of properly stacking and storing firewood. Using some very simple techniques for stacking and utilizing proper storage requirements can ensure that your fire burns at its very best and full potential.

firewood-stacking-and-storage-aurora-il-pozzi-chimney-sweep-251x300

Methods for Stacking Your Firewood

When you want your fire to burn at its best, there are some very important things to keep in mind. The first, and most important thing, is oxygen. Proper oxygen flow is important for a burning fire, so always be sure your flue is open so air can freely flow through. One of the other important things to remember is the “core of heat” which is ideally located in the bottom and middle of your burning wood pile. It starts off as a pocket of heat, but develops as embers fall onto it, making it burn hotter. The core is maintained by embers falling from new wood that is placed on top as the fire burns. The best way to achieve proper oxygen flow and a strong core of heat is simply in how you stack your firewood. You can find information about quite a few firewood stacking methods here. The CSIA, however, recommends something called a “top down burn” method for stacking firewood and a three step process to achieve it:

  • Begin stacking firewood with the largest pieces at the bottom.
  • Continue to stack smaller layers until you’ve filled about half of the open area (the fireplace, fire pit, etc.). Then begin to stack kindling which will jump start the process of getting the fire going.
  • Never stack above the fireplace opening.

Storing Your Firewood

The other important component for having the best fire possible is proper firewood storage. After all, wood that isn’t dry won’t burn very well, so it’s best to keep that in mind when you plan on storing firewood. Some great tips include:

  • In the summertime, stack wood in separate rows in an open location where the sun can warm it and breezes can provide airflow to carry away and prevent moisture.
  • Don’t allow firewood to lie on the ground for more than a couple of days before stacking it. This will prevent mold and rot from setting in.
  • Stack wood off the ground on poles or pallets.
  • Cover the top of the pile to keep off rain, but remember to keep the sides free for airflow.
  • In the wintertime, be sure to move the wood to a place that is fully sheltered from the elements (preferably a woodshed). Large amounts shouldn’t be stored in the home in order to reduce the risks of mold spores getting into the air.

If you’re wanting to add that extra spark to your fireplace or simply needing answers to questions about your firewood, contact Pozzi Chimney Sweep. Not only can our CSIA certified technicians take look around your woodshed and give you some tips on your firewood, but they can also inspect your fireplace and chimney. Call us today and keep your fires burning bright!

Use and Disposal of Fireplace Ash

A common inquiry for those with a fireplace is what should be done with the ashes? If they are not properly disposed of it will not only be damaging to your fireplace, but can also be a safety hazard. Depending on the nature of your fire (what was burned, for how long, etc.), ash has the potential to stay hot for days, which could lead to fires occurring wherever the ash was disposed.

Leaving Ash in the Fireplace

While leaving some ash in the fireplace is often beneficial in building new fires, this should only be done in regulated quantities. A small layer of ash will cause no major issues throughout the burning season and helps maintain the longevity of the new fire that was built. Yet, a build-up of ash will be harmful. If the ash is high enough that it makes contact with the grate, the grate will suffer and need to be replaced earlier than usual. Also, once you have reached the end of your burning season, all of the ash should be cleaned out, as moisture is attracted to ash and is known for causing major damage to one’s fireplace and brickwork. Despite the type of fireplace you have, the acid in the ashes combined with this added moisture will always have damaging effects.

Disposing of AshAsh Disposal Pozzi Chimney Sweep Aurora IL

When the time comes to dispose of the ash, it is recommended to wait until the ash is completely cooled, which may take days. Once the ash is cooled, use a metal container to transport it out of the fireplace. The use of metal is important, as is keeping this container away from any flammable objects. Wetting down the ashes is another safe tip for reducing potential fires.

Other Uses of Ash

  1. Gardening – By placing ash in the garden, many plants can be given more opportunity to thrive. If adding compost to the soil, putting limited amounts of ash into it beforehand is known to enrich it. Also, for plants that are known for soaking up calcium, some recommend adding a quarter of a cup of ash to each plant while putting them into the ground in hopes of keeping them healthier.
  2.  Outside Uses – If you have a pond near your garden, ash will help aquatic plants grow stronger, thus fighting off unwanted algae. Also, placing ash around your gardens and outside plants will help to repel snails and slugs, which are known for causing harm to many plants.
  3.  Cleaning – If your fireplace doors are dirty and building up residue, ash works as a great cleaner. By dampening a sponge, adding ash, and scrubbing away, you are given an easy and affordable cleaning technique. Ash can also be used in making soap. Lye is often combined with animal fat then boiled into soap. Lye can be created by soaking old ashes with water, offering the groundwork for homemade cleaning products.

There are many techniques and uses involved when disposing of ash, but the main thing to remember is to be safe when going through these processes. By following proper procedures and finding out-of-the-box uses for ash, you can enjoy your fireplace to its fullest, while maintaining other areas of your home, as well.

Stinky Fireplace Odor Solutions

The heat and humidity of the summer can create some stinky odors in your chimney that may affect your living space through the fireplace. Every summer Pozzi Chimney Sweep gets calls from customers asking for help dealing with unpleasantly smelling fireplaces. A few different things can be behind these strong smells, and our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps have the experience to find the source of the smelly fireplace odor. We can take care of your stinky fireplace problem to make your house smell as great as it should. We would like to share with you a couple of the culprits behind smelly chimneys.

Stinky Fireplace Odor Solutions - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepCREOSOTE

The main cause of stinky fireplace odors in the summer, creosote is a natural compound that is formed during the condensation process of a burning wood. The toxic byproducts of combustion turn into this residue as they exit the cooler walls of the upper chimney. This residue sticks to the inner walls of your chimney and can accumulate into large deposits. Not only is creosote the main cause of smelly chimneys because of its strong, acrid scent, but, according to the CSIA, creosote is also the main cause of chimney fires because it is highly flammable. For these reasons, removing creosote is an important task in keeping your home safe from a chimney fire and in keeping your home from smelling badly. Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps are experts at getting rid of accumulated creosote deposits when they clean your chimney during a professional chimney sweep. If you have a stinky fireplace, contact us to schedule a chimney sweeping so that we can remove the smelly creosote deposits.

DRAFTING PROBLEMS

When your fireplace smells smoky, the odor problem may involve your drafting system. Blockages in the flue your chimney can be one of the causes of drafting problems. What happens with drafting problems is the smoke that needs to be pushed out of your fireplace cannot exit completely, and this smoke combined with air gets pushed back into the living areas of your home. You can be certain that drafting issues are the cause of your stinky fireplace problem when you light a fire in the fireplace and the room fills with smoke. To take care of these drafting problems, contact Pozzi Chimney Sweep for a professional chimney inspection and sweeping.

Have a stinky fireplace? Contact Pozzi Chimney Sweep to schedule a professional chimney sweeping and inspection so that we can locate the source of the odor and have your home smelling great again.

Signs of Seasoned Firewood – Buy Now For Fall

There are several signs of well seasoned firewood. Learn more here!

There are several signs of well seasoned firewood. Learn more here!

When the weather starts to cool down and heaters start to click on those of us with wood burning fireplaces start getting ready to enjoy the warmth of a crackling wood fire. Most fireplace owners understand the importance of having a yearly chimney inspection and cleaning performed but a surprising number of them still don’t understand the importance of choosing the right kind of firewood. If you’re burning wet, green, or improperly seasoned wood it can be undoing all the work your chimney sweep has done and will make your fires less efficient and less enjoyable as well.

What Is Seasoned Firewood?

Seasoned firewood is wood that has been cut more than a year and stored in a cool dry place to allow for the majority of the moisture and saps to evaporate. If the wood was cut over a year ago but not stored properly it is not properly seasoned wood. The point of allowing wood to season is to let it become as dry as possible. This decreases the production of creosote and other byproducts that are created during combustion. If you burn green or wet wood in a fireplace these byproducts will be deposited on the inside of your chimney as the smoke rises up the flue and cools. These byproducts are organic material so they are flammable. If enough creosote builds up on the inside of your chimney it can cause a dangerous chimney fire.

How Can I Tell If The Firewood I’m Buying Is Seasoned Properly?

The easiest way to ensure that your wood is properly seasoned is to season it yourself. Buy it a year in advance and store it in a cool dry place away from rain and snow. Do not store wood under a tarp to keep it safe from precipitation because it can prevent the moisture that is already in the wood from properly escaping, especially if this tarp sits in direct sunlight.

Of course if you don’t have the space or resources to properly store and season your own wood there are some tell-tale signs that you count on to ensure that the wood you are purchasing has been seasoned.

The Bark

If wood has been seasoned the bark will begin to lose its hold on the wood and may have fallen off all together. If there is still bark it should be completely dry and (depending on the type of tree it came from) may be crumbling off to the touch.

The Coloration

The ends of a piece of seasoned wood are usually darker in color and will have begun to develop cracks. These are not cracks from the process of splitting or cutting the wood but rather cracks that have formed during the drying process.

The Sound

If you knock 2 pieces of seasoned wood together at the ends they should produce a slightly hollow-sounding “thunk” sound as opposed to green or wet wood which will be very solid and not produce that particular sound.

Burning the proper fuel is part of the responsible operation of your wood burning appliance. When it comes to the safety and efficiency of your appliance it can make all the difference. If you ever have questions about your wood supply or the appliance it is being used in contact Pozzi Chimney Sweep! We’re here to help!

 

Prevent Winter Chimney Damage This Summer

Act now to prevent chimney damage this winter!

Act now to prevent chimney damage this winter!

If you live in an area where the temperatures rise and fall, and you have freeze and thaw weather cycles your masonry chimney can be suffering more damage than meets the eye. Here in Aurora and the middle of northern Illinois, each of the four seasons brings new challenges and take their toll on chimneys in the area. But winter takes the worst toll. Pozzi Chimney Sweep knows all too well the consequences of winter’s weather abuse and we have perfected our techniques to minimize the damage and correct any potential problems that do occur. If repairs are needed before we are able to waterproof and protect your masonry, our skilled technicians can perform them for you.

Summertime is one of the best times to tend to your chimney maintenance. It’s always preferable to go on top of your roof when it is not covered with ice and snow. The warm weather allows our skilled technicians the access and ability to inspect, safely maneuver on your roof, and make the necessary repairs. The professional products we use to seal and waterproof are also temperature sensitive and best applied in dry temperate weather.

Here are chimney basics every homeowner should know. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) explains, “Chimneys are far from the passive black holes that most people assume them to be. They perform several vital functions, and their simple appearance misrepresents their complex construction and performance requirements. A chimney deteriorated by constant exposure to the weather can be a potential safety hazard. Weather-damaged lining systems, flue obstructions and loose masonry materials all present a threat to residents.”

The CSIA site goes on to explain, ”All masonry chimney construction materials, except stone, will suffer accelerated deterioration as a result of prolonged contact with water. Masonry 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. Water in the chimney also causes rust in steel and cast iron, weakening or destroying the metal parts.”

Chimneys in the Snow Belt suffer more damage than anywhere else due to the temperature variations which cause more instances of spalling brick damage.

Conscientious homeowners are aware that their chimneys, retaining walls, and brick paving are susceptible to water damage and have seasonal inspections by a chimney professional; they also invest in preventative measures to ensure that the risks of water penetration and damages are mitigated. If there is damage, it is important to have the repairs completed before the sealant and waterproofing materials are applied. Otherwise the water and dampness will become trapped and further moisture damage and mold accumulation will occur.

The ideal approach to prevent damage from freeze/thaw cycles is to be pro-active rather than reactive. And summertime is the best time to call your local chimney professional to inspect, repair, and waterproof your chimney. If you live in around Aurora, IL, then Pozzi Chimney Sweep is your chimney sweep of choice. Contact us here for your next appointment!