Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

Winter Fireplace Preparation

Some things are pretty easy to maintain. Get new carpet and vacuum it to keep it looking good. Plug in your microwave and you’re good to go. Run vinegar through a coffee pot every once in awhile and you’re set. Your fireplace? Taking care of it from use to use will help ensure that you’ll be able to use it all winter long without worrying about something going wrong. Here are some things that you can do to make sure that you get the maximum enjoyment from your fireplace all winter long.

Preparing Your FireplaceWinter Fireplace Preparation Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney Sweep

Of course, the number one most important thing to do to prepare your fireplace is to have it inspected and cleaned by a CSIA certified chimney sweep company like Pozzi Chimney Sweep. They will make sure your chimney is clean and free of obstructions so that you can be worry-free about the possibility of a chimney fire all winter long. There are other things you can do to make sure that you’re set for a long winter of cozy nights in front of a snapping fire, as well.

Gather the Right Wood

Another thing to do is to make sure you have an ample supply of properly cured firewood. Different types of wood burn differently, so make sure that you get the proper wood for the burn you’re looking for. Generally speaking, you’ll want to use hardwoods when you use your fireplace; this will give you a fire that burns hot and that will last as long into the evening as you want it to. Not only this, but a hot burning fire will create less creosote buildup than cooler burning fires that are created using softer woods.

Another thing to understand is that you really don’t need to clean your fireplace after every fire. When you burn with wood, you’re going to end up with ash, and it may be tempting to sweep the firebox clean – but don’t do it! Ash is actually a good thing when it comes to building a fire. If you can have about an inch of ash on the bottom of your firebox, you’ll have more success in building and maintaining your fire. A good ash bed gives the hot coals a place to rest, which keeps the fire burning hot

Safety First

Remember, the most important thing to remember when using your fireplace is that safety must come first. Check the area around your fireplace to make sure that any combustible items are nowhere near the actual fire. You’ll also want to make sure that your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and that the batteries are charged.

Call Pozzi Chimney Sweep

If you have questions or concerns about running your fireplace this winter, give Pozzi Chimney Sweep a call. They’ll be happy to answer your questions and help ensure that your family is kept safe and snug all winter long!

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.

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.

Legend of Chimney Sweeps’ Good Luck

Dating back several hundred years, the chimney sweep has been considered a symbol of good luck, particularly to brides and grooms on their wedding days. As more people learn of the luck associated with chimney sweeps, more and more chimney sweeps appear at weddings and other occasions where luck is desired. The reason behind the chimney sweep’s good luck is still debated but seems to have been narrowed down to three legends.

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The most common legend involves King George II back in the 18th century. As told by this legend, the King was riding his horse in a procession when a growling dog appeared. His horse, spooked by dog, became unruly, and the King lost control. Out of the crowd walked a chimney sweep that caught the horse and calmed it down, essentially saving the King from falling to the ground. Thankful for being saved, the King declared all chimney sweeps to be good luck. Allegedly, this message spread across Europe and has stuck around ever since.

Another legend proposed to be the origin of the chimney sweep’s good luck takes place in 1066 with King William of Britain. Peacefully walking down a quiet road, the King fell into the path of a runaway carriage, which put him in grave danger. A chimney sweep happened to foresee the accident and pushed the King out of harm’s way. In return for saving his life, King William invited the chimney sweep to his daughter’s wedding. He wanted his daughter to experience the luck of the chimney sweep as well. The King also declared chimney sweeps were good luck and allowed them to wear top hats while working. Reserved for the distinguished, permitting the top hats was a sign of great respect. Ever since, chimney sweeps at weddings have been considered lucky, and their presence could even negate bad luck.

The third legend is not linked to a specific date or person, but it contains an entertaining story. While working one day, a chimney sweep fell from the roof. Fortunately, the chimney sweep was saved from falling to the ground when his foot became caught in the gutter. Dangling from the gutter, the chimney sweep was completely helpless. Upon hearing the ruckus, the maiden who lived in the house came to the window to investigate. Seeing the poor chimney sweep in such a sad state, she quickly pulled him inside through the window. They quickly fell in love with each other, resulting in the maiden breaking off her engagement to a man she disliked. She and the chimney sweep married and lived happily ever after.

Whether you believe one of these legends or choose to believe a different story, history has shown that generation after generation believes in the good luck brought by chimney sweeps.

Solving a Chimney Draft Problem

With the official start of winter just a few days away, most homeowners with fireplaces or wood stoves have at least burned a couple logs. Fireplaces are not all fun for everyone though. Perhaps you do everything right – the annual sweep and inspection, asking all the right questions, burning all the best wood – and you still cannot seem to build a strong fire. Stop feeling bad because it may not be you. Your chimney may have draft problems.

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Chimneys work because hot air rises. The hot air produced by the fire has a low density, so it moves upward through the chimney. Most fires are burned during the colder months of fall and winter, so the hot air from the fire usually meets comparably cold air from the outside sitting in the chimney. When the hot air meets the cold air, the difference in pressure between the two portions of air creates a vertical pull that draws air up the chimney. This movement of air is known as the “draft,” and it pulls air rich in oxygen from the house to help fuel the fire, and then the smoke and other harmful gases safely escape through the chimney. If the air fails to flow this way, the issue is called a draft problem.

The most common draft problem homeowners experience is a chimney that is too large for the firebox. Old fireplaces in particular often have oversized chimneys that result in draft problems. A wide chimney gives the hot air more room to spread vertically, which then slows its vertical progress. When the hot air moves more slowly up the chimney, the upward pull becomes weaker. Thus, the draft weakens and the air moves inefficiently through the system. Creosote also condenses easier when the flue is too large and the draft is too weak. This can be deadly as creosote is highly flammable and can cause a chimney (or house) fire. Signs of this problem include a small, cool fire or even a fire that refuses to stay lit. Fortunately, this problem can be easily remedied with the help of a chimney specialist. With a few measurements, the specialist can determine the proper flue width the fireplace requires and install a flue lining with the corresponding size.

Another cause of draft problems is a short chimney because the draft is more powerful in a taller chimney. Short chimneys are common in aged bungalows and ranch style houses, and they can lead to cold, smoky, or inconsistent fires. Although adding height to the chimney is not a welcomed expense, it can save money in the long run by preventing a reverse draft in which the cold air from the outside actually flows into the house.

You should not have to worry about draft problems while you simply want to enjoy your home and fireplace. If you live in the area of Aurora, Illinois, get in touch with Pozzi Chimney Sweep for a professional consultation. These experts can diagnose your draft problem and guide you in making the most informed decisions when addressing it.