The Risk Involved with Neglecting Chimney Cleaning

December 11th, 2014 by David Pixley

We are at the time of year when a toasty fire adds both warmth and ambience to your home. However, if you haven’t had your chimney properly swept, you could wind up with a room full of smoke or worse. Chimneys aren’t used just for fireplace enjoyment; they are also used to vent the toxic byproducts of combustion heating systems. So, if you use your chimney for both your fireplace and heating system, having a clean chimney is critical to the safety of your home and proper functioning of your fireplace and heating system.

Risks Associated with a Dirty Chimney

Here are some of the potential problems that can develop from a neglected chimney:

  • Flue corrosion – the combustion byproducts that your chimney and flue sustain are highly acidic in nature; as such, they can eat away at both metal and masonry, causing corrosion to develop. Excessive corrosion can lead to cracks and holes, as well as problems between the joints; these are potential dangerous situations, as the toxic byproducts can backdraft into your home.
  • Potential problems with home insurance – many home insurances require that homes with an active chimney schedule annual cleaning to ensure safety. Should you have a chimney fire, and you haven’t had your chimney cleaned, you may not be covered for damages.
  • Reduced efficiency – when soot and creosote are allowed to build, the resulting layer inside your chimney can reduce drafting, which reduces the efficiency of your fire.
  • Chimney fire – creosote and soot are highly flammable and can catch on fire right inside your chimney. Creosote build-up should never be more than 1/8th of an inch; scheduling annual cleaning helps ensure that the creosote build-up in your chimney will stay low.
  • Check of firebox, etc. – a chimney cleaning also involves the inspection of your fireplace’s firebox, or if you have a gas or propane fireplace, the inspection of the valves, doors and components. The top of your chimney will also be inspected for animal nests, etc., and that chimney tiles are secure.

Winter is so much more inviting with a warm fire.

If it’s been more than 12 months since your last chimney cleaning in Circle Pines, call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., today and schedule an appointment with one of our experts!

What Happens During Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning?

December 4th, 2014 by David Pixley

One of the biggest fire hazards to your home comes from an appliance you might never suspect: the clothes dryer. Dryers contain a vent that exhausts water vapor and other by-products of clothes drying to the outdoors. Unfortunately, this necessary outlet is also responsible for 15,600 structure fires every year according to the U.S. Fire Administration. When the exhaust vent becomes clogged with lint, fire is a distinct possibility, and while cleaning the lint trap is a good habit for dryer use, it cannot prevent lint from lining the inside of the vent as well.

Some trained technicians offer professional dryer vent cleaning so that you can rest easy knowing this is one component of your home you won’t have to worry about for years to come. This is a service best left to a professional with the proper tools and trained eyes to recognize problems and keep your vent clear.

The Dryer Vent Cleaning Process

Dryer vent cleaning, when performed by a professional, involves a set of steps that the average homeowner may glaze over or be ill-equipped to handle. There are actually several ways one can go about cleaning a dryer vent, one of which involves simply using a flexible rotating brush that connects to a vacuum. The brush angles to reach every nook and cranny of the dryer vent while a powerful vacuum collects any debris therein. This is important because it not only prevents fire hazards, but your dryer also performs better when there is less blockage, improving efficiency and reducing the need for repairs or replacement parts.

Finally comes the inspection. This is another portion of the process that can be done incorrectly if you examine the vents with an untrained eye. A skilled technician measures the airflow of the dryer vent with a digital airflow meter before and after the cleaning to make sure that the airflow has increased. These tools are often unavailable to amateurs or can be costly and difficult to use.

Don’t trust the fate of your home to just anyone.

Put your confidence in dryer vent cleaning experts, like the people at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. For dryer vent cleaning in Ramsey, Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS

Will Thanksgiving Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?

November 27th, 2014 by David Pixley

We’ve all heard it before: you feel so sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal because of the main event: the turkey. For years, people have credited extraordinary levels of tryptophan in turkey as the reason we all feel the need to nap after the annual feast. But contrary to this popular mythology, tryptophan is probably not he largest responsible party for your post-meal exhaustion.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means it’s something that our bodies need but do not produce naturally. Your body uses tryptophan to help make vitamin B3 and serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that sends chemicals to the brain to aid in sleep. But in order to get this essential amino acid, we have to eat foods that contain it.

Turkey has somewhat high levels of tryptophan, but so do many other foods, including eggs, peanuts, chocolate, nuts, bananas, and most other meats and dairy products. In fact, ounce-for-ounce cheddar cheese contains a greater amount of tryptophan than turkey. In order for tryptophan to make you feel sleepy, you would have to consume it in excessive amounts, and serotonin is usually only produced by tryptophan on an empty stomach.

The truth is, overeating is largely responsible for the “food coma” many people describe post-Thanksgiving. It takes a lot of energy for your body to process a large meal, and the average Thanksgiving plate contains about twice as many calories as is recommended for daily consumption. If anything, high levels of fat in the turkey cause sleepiness, as they require a lot of energy for your body to digest. Lots of carbohydrates, alcohol, and probably a bit of stress may also be some of the reasons it feels so satisfying to lay down on the couch after the meal and finally get a little bit of shut-eye.

If you feel the need to indulge in a heaping dose of tryptophan this year, go ahead! Turkey also contains healthy proteins and may even provide a boost for your immune system.

Here at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., we hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy and contentment this year. Happy feasting!

Do I Really Need Professional Chimney Cleaning for My Pellet Stove?

November 17th, 2014 by David Pixley

Pellet stoves have become very popular, and for good reason. They offer great supplemental heat, burn with very little soot and emissions, and have long burn times. Because they produce so little ash and combustion byproducts, some people think that your chimney doesn’t need to be swept when using a pellet stove. This is not correct. Any type of wood burning you do with your fireplace and chimney results in the generation of creosote, soot and other combustion byproducts that need to be removed. As such, it is recommended, even with a pellet stove, that your pellet stove chimney in Savage is swept annually. Pellet stoves can be great additions to your home and help significantly with home heating. But like any other combustion stove, the chimney needs to be cleaned annually. If you need a chimney sweep, call us today!

Why Is Chimney Sweeping Important?

Here are a few reasons why it’s important to have your chimney swept each year:

  • Prevent a chimney fire – this is probably the most important reason to have your chimney swept. Creosote, soot and ash are all highly flammable, and can easily catch fire in your chimney, causing a chimney fire. Removing these contaminants significantly reduces the chances of this occurring.
  • Prevents corrosion of your chimney – not only are combustion byproducts flammable, they are highly acidic and eat away at both masonry and metal. Corroded chimneys can allow the release of toxic combustion fumes and gases, which can potentially dangerous.
  • Prevents drafting problems – if soot, ash and creosote are allowed to build, they can restrict the airflow in your chimney, making your stove less efficient and reducing its capacity to warm your home.
  • Allows for inspection of your chimney – a lot can go on inside a chimney that can cause myriad problems: animal and bird nests, cracked masonry, loose flue tiles, etc. Without a proper chimney cleaning, you won’t be able to see these problems and address them.

Chimney sweeping should only be handled by trained professionals, so if it’s been more than a year since your last chimney sweep, call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., today.

What to Consider before Installing a New Wood Insert

November 10th, 2014 by David Pixley

Wood-burning fireplaces are the oldest way to provide heat for homes. Although people rarely rely on wood fireplaces to provide overall warmth to a house any more, the old fashioned wood-burning hearth is still around because it is an unbeatable source of cozy ambience and beauty for a home. Wood burning fireplaces may not be whole-house comfort solutions any more, but few installations will add as much to your home life.

A wood fireplace insert is a way to keep your old masonry fireplace around but upgrade it so it’s more efficient, losing far less of its heat up the chimney and sending more warmth into your home. This will help make your old fireplace an addition to your heating system that will help keep down your bills. Even for one of the smaller wood inserts, a single load of wood can provide up to eight hours of warmth.

Call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. today to find out more about our services for wood inserts in Eden Prairie, MN and the surrounding areas.

A few things to consider before installing a wood insert:

  • Do you need to upgrade your fireplace? Before you even consider having a wood insert put in, you need to know if your fireplace will even work with one. Wood inserts are designed to fit into pre-existing wood-burning masonry fireplaces. If you don’t already have a fireplace, you should consider a free-standing wood stove instead.
  • Perhaps you should upgrade to gas logs? When it comes time to installing any kind of insert for a fireplace, you will have to consider whether you should upgrade to using gas logs rather than continuing with a wood-burning model. Gas logs do not have the same beauty as a traditional fireplace, but they come with some significant advantages in convenience and maintenance. If you have an available gas line, you should give some consideration to having a gas insert put in.
  • What size insert do you need? You can’t simply go to a store and pick out any fireplace insert and put it in yourself. A new insert must be properly sized for the space and to make sure that it is compatible with the chimney itself and will vent correctly. It’s crucial to have professionals handle this work, as well as to check to see if your chimney is in good repair and if it needs cleaning before the insert is installed.

At 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., we install wood inserts in Eden Prairie, MN from Regency Fireplace Products. All Regency inserts are EPA-certified and environmentally friendly and clean-burning. We offer a variety of inserts and will find the right size for your current hearth, as well as take care of any necessary cleaning and repairs the chimney may require before the insert goes in. We also install wood stoves and gas logs.

For more information on wood inserts for your fireplace in Eden Prairie Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS

The Importance of Cleaning Your Factory-Built Chimney

November 3rd, 2014 by David Pixley

Factory-built, or pre-fabricated, chimneys allow people to use a fireplace in their homes even if a fireplace wasn’t part of the original architecture. It is no secret that masonry chimneys and fireplaces need annual cleaning, and this is the same for factory-built chimneys. There are thousands of chimney fires each year in the US; properly cleaning your factory-built chimney in Inver Grove Heights can go a long way toward eliminating this possibility. If it’s been more than a year since your last chimney cleaning, call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., and schedule a cleaning today.

What Is a Factory-Built Chimney?

A factory-built chimney is typically a single unit, and is usually made of metal (although there are some masonry ones as well). Because a pre-fabricated chimney is one unit, it cannot be used with an existing chimney or flue. Pre-fabricated chimneys are thoroughly tested with their fireboxes at the factory, and they have very specific installation requirements that need to be adhered to in order to ensure safety and proper function.

Why Does a Pre-Fabricated Chimney Need Cleaning?

  • Remove creosote and soot build-up – soot and creosote can accumulate quickly in your chimney, especially if you use yours frequently. Soot and creosote are flammable; with a large enough buildup, they can catch fire inside your chimney. Chimney fires are dangerous in any type of chimney, but prefabricated chimneys are not built to withstand great amounts of heat; as such, it is very important to have the creosote and soot removed by a trained professional.
  • Helps prevent corrosion – combustion byproducts are very acidic. As such, they can corrode the metal and/or masonry of any chimney. Corrosion in the metal of your pre-fabricated chimney can lead to cracks and holes, which can be very dangerous.
  • Increase efficiency – a large creosote buildup in your chimney can restrict the flow of air in the chimney. In turn, this can reduce the efficiency of your fireplace.

Factory-built chimneys are well-insulated, safe and offer homes without a chimney the ability to have a fireplace. However, it is just as important to clean your factory-built chimney in Inver Grove Heights as it is to clean a masonry one.

Contact 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., and schedule a cleaning appointment with one of our certified experts. Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS

What Happens During a Level 3 Chimney Inspection?

October 27th, 2014 by David Pixley

Your fireplace adds warmth and décor to your home and is a wonderful source of heat that keeps you feeling cozy and content. But without proper maintenance, any type of heating system—boilers, furnaces, and fireplaces alike—becomes a safety hazard. It’s important to schedule chimney inspection every year to ensure your fireplace has proper ventilation and that there are no serious problems that need to be addressed. The National Fire Association and the Chimney Institute of America have established three levels of inspection which all inspectors now use. Level 1 is the most basic type of inspection while Level 3 is used only in rare instances. We’ll go over all of the levels in this guide.

Chimney inspection and chimney cleaning are jobs for professional technicians who know what specific types of problems to look out for. At 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., we’ve been in the business for two generations, so we know the proper way to perform a chimney inspection in White Bear Lake.

Level 1 and 2 Inspections

Level 1 and Level 2 inspections are the most common types that homeowners schedule. A Level 1 chimney inspection is part of your yearly chimney cleaning service. If your contractor does not inspect your chimney along with cleaning service, you should hire a new contractor. This is a routine inspection, during which an inspector checks all of the exposed portions of the chimney to make sure construction is stable.

You will need a Level 2 inspection whenever you make a change to your fireplace. You may, for example, switch to a different fuel source or decide to reline a chimney flue. A technician will need to access your roof and crawlspace, and may require video cameras for inspection.

Level 3 Inspections

Level 3 inspections are only performed when you or your inspector suspect a problem. For this type of inspection, the inspector may need to remove some components of your chimney, such as the chimney crown or parts of the interior chimney wall. In this case, technicians should limit removal only to areas where a problem may be present.

Trust the safety of your home to the trained and certified experts at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. for chimney inspection in White Bear Lake. Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS

Can I Do Annual Chimney Sweeping on My Own?

October 20th, 2014 by David Pixley

There are certain tasks around your home that are good for doing yourself; there are others that are better left to professionals. One task that is better left to a professional is chimney sweeping. It is recommended that your chimney is swept every fall to ensure safe and efficient use during the winter months. Creosote builds up fairly quickly, especially if you use your fireplace often, and chimney sweeping in the Twin Cities helps keep your chimney functioning as it should. There are several reasons why it’s important to hire a trained professional to sweep your chimney, as we’ll discuss below. If you are ready to start using your fireplace again, contact 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., and schedule a chimney sweep today.

Reasons to Hire a Professional for Chimney Sweeping

Here are a few reasons why it’s important to hire a professional for chimney sweeping instead of doing it yourself:

  • Safety – one of the main reasons it’s important to sweep your chimney is to remove the creosote, soot and ash that can build up therein. These materials are flammable, and if not properly removed, can catch on fire.
  • Specialized tools – there are a number of specialized tools a trained chimney sweeper will bring to the job that you probably don’t have, including chimney brushes and rods, chemical soot and ash removers, cleaning tools and specialized chimney cleaning systems.
  • Protection of home goods – your professional chimney sweep will cover the floor and all home goods in close proximity to your chimney to ensure that everything stays clean.

Benefits of a Professional Chimney Sweep

As we mentioned above, having your chimney swept is very important to you and your home’s safety. Here are some other reasons why you’ll want to get your chimney swept before winter:

  • Energy efficiency – not only is the build-up of creosote, soot and ash dangerous, it can also restrict the air flow in your chimney, which can decrease the efficiency of your fireplace.
  • Longevity – the materials that can build-up in your chimney are highly acidic; as such, they can eat away at the masonry of your chimney, which will wear it down and eventually cause it to crack and break.
  • Bad for your flue – if you have a combustion heating system that requires a flue, a build-up of creosote, soot and ash will corrode your flue just as it does your chimney.

A fireplace can offer great supplemental heat during the winter – but not if it isn’t professionally cleaned.

Call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., and schedule an appointment for professional chimney sweeping in the Twin Cities today.

Choosing the Right Wood Stove for Your Home in Carver County

October 13th, 2014 by David Pixley

A wood stove can offer both additional heating and wonderful ambience to your home. But it’s important to install a wood stove that is right for your home in order to gain the benefits. Today’s wood stoves are much more energy efficient than ones from a couple of decades ago, but because of the combustion involved with a wood stove, it’s important to hire trained professionals for both sizing and installation. If you are ready for wood stove installation in Carver County, call the people who have been doing it for two generations: 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc.

Types of Wood Stoves

In 1988, the EPA started requiring certification of all wood stoves to help reduce safety issues and make wood stoves much more efficient. In addition, the EPA also started requiring minimum emission limits for wood stoves. The result is that there are two types of wood stoves based on combustion approach:

  • Catalytic
  • Non-Catalytic

Catalytic wood stoves have a catalytic converter inside them that helps to recycle exhaust gases. The catalytic converter changes the state of the exhaust gases, which helps reduce the amount of harmful gases and allows them to burn at lower temperatures. Being able to operate a wood stove at lower burning temperatures allows for longer burn periods while also reducing your overall level of emissions; this fact can make a catalytic wood stove great for being a major source of heat in your home. Catalytic wood stoves can be as much at 10% more efficient than non-catalytic wood stoves due to lower burning temperatures.

Non-Catalytic

Non-catalytic wood stoves use the combination of a large baffle, insulated firebox and pre-heated combustion air to heat. By injecting air into the stove, a non-catalytic wood stove burns at a much higher rate, including the ignition of smoke and creosote. Non-catalytic wood stoves are mostly equal to catalytic wood stoves when it comes to high burning, but not when it comes to low burn rates. As such, the fires in a non-catalytic wood stove do not last as long as those in a catalytic wood stove.

A new wood stove installation in Carver County can be a great supplement to your home’s heating this winter.

Contact 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., today and schedule an appointment with one of our experienced wood stove installation experts. Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS

The Significance of Chimney Dampers

October 6th, 2014 by David Pixley

When you’re getting ready to start a fire in your home’s hearth, what is one of the first things you should always check? You should see that the damper is open so the exhaust fumes from the fire will escape up through the flue and out of your home. (The damper is sometimes erroneously referred to as “the flue”; the flue is actually the opening that allows exhaust to escape, and the damper is what controls whether the flue is open or closed.)

The damper is an essential part of the efficient and safe operation of your home’s chimney. To make sure it continues to work well, you will occasionally need repairs and even a new chimney damper installation in St. Paul, MN. Technicians will locate damper problems during regular inspections, and should you encounter trouble with venting from the chimney or notice that the damper is failing to fully close or is stuck open, you must contact experts like those at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. right away. We offer many services to protect your chimney venting and interior, including cleaning, chimney liners, and services for the damper.

The job of the chimney damper

There are several kinds of chimney dampers. The primary damper is the one located near the hearth which you can manipulate by hand. This damper is important during cold weather since it blocks warm air from escaping up the chimney when there is no fire in the hearth. Heat rises, making the chimney one of the easiest places for heat to escape from a home during the winter. The damper keeps your home energy-efficient, and only needs to open when you have a fire in the fireplace.

The damper is also important for keeping out musty smells and moisture from your home. A top-sealing damper is also helpful for this job. In addition to aiding the control moisture, a top-sealing damper will help trap heat in your home and keep out rain and animals that sometimes try to nest inside chimneys. A qualified technician can install a top-sealing damper (which you can then operate easily from a handle placed down near the hearth).

Aside from chimney damper installation in St. Paul, MN and the surrounding areas, we also install chimney caps, screens, vent covers, and single flue rain covers to help keep your chimney protected and your home energy efficient.

If you need a new damper or repairs for your current one, make sure to call on 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. for the work. Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS