What Are Chimney Fires?

August 19th, 2014 by David Pixley

Although you expect to have fires blazing inside your fireplace, you don’t want those flames to go any farther than the hearth. You may think that a fire moving up into a chimney isn’t necessarily a problem, but a chimney fire like this can be extremely destructive and require that you have special repair work done to avoid causing a house fire.

2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. is a full-service chimney and fireplace company with the training and certification necessary to handle any chimney restoration in Wayzata, MN that you may need. If you believe you’ve experienced a chimney fire, call our technicians right away for an inspection.

Chimney fires and their dangers

Conventional wisdom holds that chimneys are essentially invincible and maintenance-free. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If a chimney becomes dirty and filled with creosote, the trouble it has venting can cause a chimney fire to break out: an intense fire that ignites the combustible material collected inside the flue. Chimney fires can be extremely loud and create cracking, popping, and rumbling sounds—sometimes even audible from outside a home! But they can also go undetected if they are slow-burning. Either kind of chimney fire is destructive: they can reach 2000°F, enough to cause severe damage to any material inside the chimney.

These high temperatures are enough to cause mortar to melt, tiles to crack, and liners to collapse. This will lead to a dangerous situation, since it will permit the heat that vents through the chimney to escape to the building material surrounding it. A damaged chimney can cause a fire to start on the second floor of a home or up on the roof.

Watch for the following signs that can warn you a chimney fire has broken out: excess creosote, a warped metal damper, fallen tiles, a discolored rain cap, damaged roofing material, cracks on the outside masonry, and marks of smoke escaping through mortar joints and tiles.

If you think you have experienced a chimney fire in your home, you should schedule a Level 2 chimney inspection from a technician certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). This thorough inspection will determine what repairs and restoration work are necessary. In most cases, the fireplace restorationists will need to replace the chimney liner to ensure that heat cannot escape through broken tiles and clay liners to reach the combustible material outside.

You can have all your chimney problems taken care of through one contractor: 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. We are certified with the CSIA and can take care of all your needs for repairs and chimney restoration in Wayzata, MN.

Call us today to set up an appointment, and keep us in mind for your regular inspections and chimney sweeping that will help you avoid chimney fires in the future.

How to Prepare for Chimney Sweeping in Minneapolis, MN

August 12th, 2014 by David Pixley

Your fireplace chimney should have annual sweeping service from certified chimney sweeps (certification is from the Chimney Safety Institute of America) to keep it clean and safely venting exhaust fumes out of your home. Your chimney sweeps will also check for any safety issues from damaged components, such as a faulty chimney damper.

When you receive chimney sweeping in Minneapolis, MN from the certified team at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., you will receive a Level 1 chimney inspection along with the cleaning. This visual inspection will make sure that you do not have potential trouble from creosote, debris, or flue damage. We are a full service company for fireplaces and chimneys, and you will have a hard time finding more experienced technicians for caring for your home’s hearth.

When you schedule a chimney sweep visit, there are some ways you can prepare that will make the cleaning process easier and faster:

  • First, clear away the area around the fireplace, in particular the mantle. You don’t want to have any valuable decoration you have on the mantle to receive any damage.
  • Second, clean out the fireplace itself of any unburnt wood or fuel that is still in it. Remove excess ashes as well. It is advisable that you do not use the fireplace for 24 hours before the sweeping appointment.
  • Third, to protect your furnishings that are near to the fireplace (sweeping can produce a large amount of soot) you should either cover them or remove them from the area. The chimney sweeps will take care of laying down floor coverings that will protect your carpet, rugs, floorboards, etc. from damage.
  • Fourth, if you are concerned about other parts of your home, you may wish to lay down papers from the door to the fireplace. However, if you have hired a quality company with proper certification, the chimney sweeps will do everything they can to respect your home and wear protective, disposable covers on their shoes.
  • Fifth, contact your chimney sweeps if you have additional questions regarding the service or what you can do to help prepare.

The actual sweeping service will go speedily and will create minimal disruption on daily activities. If you have 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. performing your chimney sweeping in Minneapolis, MN, the technicians will provide you with the findings from the Level 1 inspection. They will recommend whether you need a Level 2 or 3 chimney inspection, as well as recommendations for any repairs you may need.

Make us your first choice when it comes to any service you may need for your fireplace and chimney. Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS

When Would I Need a Level 3 Chimney Inspection?

August 5th, 2014 by David Pixley

A home fireplace is a source of both warmth and beauty for your household. However, the chimney of your fireplace requires routine maintenance and sweeping to keep it safe and properly venting the smoke, heat, and other exhaust. Regular maintenance from certified chimney sweeps involves chimney inspections that will see that your chimney does not have damage or blockages inside it that can lead to safety issues.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) handles the certification of chimney sweeps to perform these inspections. The CSIA categorizes the inspections into three levels. In most cases, a chimney will only require a standard Level 1 inspection to see that it is in good shape and not in need of relining, masonry repairs, or other services. But there are times with a chimney must have additional inspections.

Contact 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. when it is time for your annual chimney inspection in St. Paul, MN. We are fully certified with the CSIA for all three inspection levels, and we can provide any repairs you need to keep your fireplace and your home safe and cozy.

When the Level 3 inspection is necessary

Level 3 is the most extensive of the inspections, and most chimneys will not require one except in extreme cases. The Level 1 inspection covers the chimney basics and any examination that does not require tools to reach unexposed parts of the chimney interior. Level 2 inspections are needed when you make a change to your fireplace, such as switching to a new fuel source or relining the flue. Level 2 inspections are also appropriate when the chimney has suffered a fire or if a storm may have caused damage to it.

A Level 3 inspection is necessary when either a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection indicates that there are hidden problems in the chimney or that special tools are needed to reach concealed areas. These inspections may require accessing the chimney through construction material around it, such as tearing out drywall. In any situation where the certified inspectors suspect that there are potential serious safety hazards within the chimney, they will recommend a full Level 3 inspection.

When a Level 3 inspection is completed, the technicians will be able to tell you what work needs to be done to keep the fireplace safe. You should not use your fireplace until you have had the work completed and another inspection has checked that the chimney no longer presents immediate safety concerns.

Never trust chimney inspections to anyone who lacks CSIA certification. The issues of safety are too important for you to allow amateurs to work on your fireplace or its ventilation system.

Call on professionals like the trained and certified technicians at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. for your chimney inspection in St. Paul, MN.

Why Upgrade Your Old Fireplace with a Gas Log Fireplace Installation

July 29th, 2014 by David Pixley

An old fashioned wood-burning fireplace can bring tremendous joy to a home: there really is no way to duplicate the odors of burning wood or the pleasing crackle of the flames. However, wood-burning fireplaces create a tremendous amount of work, not only to load them with wood and keep them burning, but also to maintain them and keep them clean. If you have wondered about the possibility of retro-fitting and older wood-burning fireplace with gas logs, there are some good reasons to make the transition.

At 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., we are supportive of wood-burning fireplaces as an attractive option for homes. But we also know the major advantages of installing gas logs; in many cases, families will benefit from this upgrade. Here are reasons to think about gas log fireplace installation in St. Paul, MN to replace your wood-burning hearth. Call our fireplace and chimney professionals to learn more about the process.

Heating efficiency

There’s an ineffable pleasing feeling to the warmth from a wood-burning hearth… but that heat isn’t even or efficient compared to a gas log fireplace. In fact, burning wood is one of the least efficient ways of creating heat. With a gas log fireplace, you will have a more effective adjunct to your heating system, and can save as much as 25% from your heating bills.

Convenience

Wood-burning fireplaces are a lot of work. Once you replace an older fireplace with gas logs, you no longer have to worry about storing wood, hauling it inside, or purchasing new logs/chopping logs. The cleaning work is far easier as well, with no ash to scrape up and remove. A gas log fireplace can turn on with the flip of a switch, and when you turn it off there’s no more work to do.

Safety

The lack of sparking from a gas fireplace means your home will be at less risk from fire damage—and this is also safer if you have small children or pets in your house. A gas log fireplace will not threaten to create creosote inside the chimney, which means reduced chances of a dangerous chimney fire occurring.

Easier maintenance

Without the residue that comes from burning wood, the gas log fireplace needs less intense maintenance to keep it clean and safe year after year. Although you will still need maintenance for the fireplace and chimney on a regular basis, the work is simpler because it won’t have to deal with the effects of creosote and other build-up.

Installing a gas log fireplace requires experts to make sure that it vents safely and works its best at generating warmth and fitting in with your décor. Our staff at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. handles comprehensive services for fireplaces and can deliver you a high quality gas log fireplace installation in St. Paul, MN.

To find out more about your options for a wonderful gas log hearth in your home Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS.

Why Consider a Top Sealing Damper for Your Chimney

July 21st, 2014 by David Pixley

The damper is a key part of your fireplace. It is located at the bottom of the chimney, right above the firebox, where you can access it to open and close it. The damper prevents heat from escaping out of your home through the chimney when you aren’t using the fireplace, and this stops a major loss of heat that would otherwise lead to elevated bills for your home and unpleasant drafts.

You can also have a second damper placed in your chimney: a top sealing damper located at the chimney crown outside. Although not a necessity, there are some excellent reasons to have your chimney fit for a top sealing damper. You can’t handle this job on your own, however. Call on an experienced company like 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. to handle chimney damper installation in Minnetonka, MN. We offer numerous fireplace services from installation to sweeping, and our technicians are certified with the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

Why a top sealing damper is a good idea

A top sealing damper for a chimney is similar in many ways to a chimney cap. It mounts onto the crown of the chimney, and like a chimney cap it prevents rain, debris, and animals from entering the chimney and causing damage. Unlike chimney caps, which have open sides that allow air to flow past them, a top sealing damper goes beyond simply keeping unwanted objects (and creatures) from entering the chimney and helps prevent heat loss. They are easy to operate: a long cable goes down the flue from the damper and attaches to a handle you can move to open and close the device just as for the bottom damper. Even when the top sealing damper is open, it has a screen will help keep animals from entering it.

Tests have shown that the improved heat sealing power of a top sealing damper can contribute to more than $100 in heating savings during a winter. These additions to a chimney will rapidly pay for themselves.

Top-sealing dampers can be combined with chimney caps to double their protection. (One drawback of top sealing dampers is that they are not as effective at keeping out the rain as caps.) The Chimilator is a top-sealing damper model available from 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. that includes a stainless steel animal and rain cap, plus a multiple setting handle.

We carry the top brands in dampers and caps so that your home receives only the highest quality chimney protection and energy savings.

Call the chimney and fireplace professionals for more information about chimney damper installation in Minnetonka, MN. Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS

What Are the Benefits of Masonry Chimney Cleaning?

July 14th, 2014 by David Pixley

When people think of chimneys, it is almost inevitably the masonry chimney that springs to mind: a tall tower of sturdy red bricks mortared together. Masonry chimneys have existed for centuries because they are durable and can stand against tough weather conditions. However, they still need regular care and cleaning to protect them from damage and long-term wear and tear. For this service, you need qualified chimney sweeps.

2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. is certified with the Chimney Safety Institute of America to perform chimney cleaning and Level 1–3 chimney inspections. For your masonry chimney cleaning in Coon Rapids, MN, make us your first call.

Why you should have cleaning for your masonry chimney

  • Reduce the chance of a chimney fire: A major danger for a chimney is the development of creosote, a shiny black substance that is the result of poor venting and inefficient wood burning. (This is one of the reasons you should not put green wood in a wood burning fireplace.) Creosote is highly combustible, and if enough develops inside your chimney it could catch on fire and do damage to the chimney and possibly the upper floors or roof of your home.
  • Allow for proper venting: If the interior of your chimney becomes too dirty, it will vent improperly. This can lead to exhaust like carbon monoxide entering your home and inefficient heat emanating from the fireplace. As mentioned above, it will also lead to the development of creosote. Cleaning will also take care of major blockages like animal nests.
  • Allow for a thorough inspection: Before a chimney can receive a full inspection to see that it isn’t suffering from chipping and cracking along the masonry or other structural damage, it must have sweeping. We advise that mortar chimneys have cleaning once a year to make inspections easier.

After we have completed cleaning, we provide a Level 1 inspection so you will know that the chimney is safe for use.

At 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., we combine both chimney cleaning and safety inspections. For masonry chimney cleaning in Coon Rapids, MN Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS

The Difference Between Exterior and Interior Spark Arrestors

July 7th, 2014 by David Pixley

We often emphasize this fact with customers: “A fireplace in a home poses no more danger than any other natural gas heating system.” We then add this caveat: “…provided it receives maintenance and has the proper safety precautions installed.”

If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace, a key safety device is the spark arrestor, which helps prevent embers that can cause fires inside your home, or in combustible material (scrubs, brush) right outside your home. If your home’s fireplace lacks spark arrestors, you need to have them installed as soon as possible to keep your hearth and home safe. Call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., where we offer full installation of a variety of fireplace spark arrestors in St. Paul, MN.

There are two types of spark arrestors, interior and exterior, and your home needs both.

Interior spark arrestor

These are often known as “hearth screens,” barriers that prevent embers from leaping from the fireplace and igniting flammable material. These screens can consists of sliding glass doors, metals screens and curtains. Arrestors can be designed to be part of the attractive décor of the fireplace, but they must also be carefully fit and installed for the type of wood that will be burnt in the fireplace, and to make sure the chimney receives proper ventilation. These arrestors are also important for the safety of children and pets in your home. Make sure that you receive professional installation for your interior spark arrestor so that it does the multiple jobs that it needs to do, while still adding to your home’s beauty.

Exterior spark arrestor

The big difference between the interior and the exterior spark arrestors is that the exterior arrestors serve no decorative purpose at all. For the most part, you will not actually see the exterior arrestor. These safety features are attached to the chimney cap or rain cover, and take on the combined tasks of preventing the escape of embers from the top of the chimney, stopping animals from entering the flue, and keeping out rain that will create moisture inside the mortar leading to cracking. If you already have a spark arrestor installed for the chimney, make sure that you schedule regular inspections to see that it is in good condition.

If you are unsure about your fireplace spark arrestors in St. Paul, MN (for example, you don’t know if you have an exterior spark arrestor or not), call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. today. We can examine your fireplace and chimney to see if you need installation, replacements, or repairs.

2nd Generation Chimneys will see that you have a fireplace that will keep you warm and cozy with minimal risk of danger to your house or your family. Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1—888—PIXLEYS.

Denmark Also Celebrates the Fourth of July

July 4th, 2014 by David Pixley

Maybe an elementary school teacher tried to trip you up with this test question: “Do other countries have a Fourth of July?” If the teacher had phrased the question as, “Do other countries celebrate the Fourth of July?” you would be less likely to slip up and answer “no.”

Except… and your teacher probably didn’t know this at the time… there is another country that celebrates the Fourth of July. They don’t celebrate a holiday that happens to fall on July 4 (there are quite a few of those spread across the globe), but the actually celebrate U.S. Independence Day.

That country is—Denmark.

Every July 4, in the Rebild Region in the north of Denmark, thousands of people gather in Rebild National Park to hold the largest Fourth of July celebration outside the U.S.A., an events known as Rebildfesten. This tradition has continued for over a hundred years now, starting in 1912. The origins of this unusual celebration is that in 1911 a ground of Danish Americans purchased the 140 acres of the parkland between the woods in Rold and the Lindenborg stream. The next year, they deeded the land to the Danish King and people of the country as a memorial to Danish Americans, under the condition that the place remain undeveloped, open to the public, and used to celebrate U.S. holidays. Today, the park also hosts a museum on the history of Danish immigrants to the U.S., housed inside a log cabin.

This display of solidarity with the U.S. is because of the country’s warm welcome of 300,000 Danish settlers who were among the earliest to migrate across the seas. The celebration continues as sign of the long friendship between the two nations.

Since its inception, the celebration has hosted famous speakers such as the members of the Danish royal family (the queen and princess both attended for the 100th anniversary), Walt Disney, Keith Carradine, and Richard Chamberlain. The festivities actually start two days earlier, but on the fourth is when the major parade is held (which marches over 3 miles from the train station) and the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra performs a selections of music from both countries.

Although we doubt you will be celebrating your Fourth of July in Denmark this year, we at 2nd Generation Chimneys hope you have a fantastic Independence Day.

How Does Chimney Video Inspection Work?

June 27th, 2014 by David Pixley

Your chimney requires yearly sweeping and inspections to make that it presents no possibility of danger to your home or family. A fireplace should always be a source of warmth and joy, not worry, and regular cleaning with make sure that your fireplace will not turn into a source of safety concerns.

Sometimes, you will need to go beyond the annual chimney sweeping appointment and bring in chimney inspection specialists. You should do this whenever you experience a chimney fire, damage to the chimney, or make significant changes to the heating system such as changing fuel source. One of the key parts of these inspections is special video scanning equipment.

2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. is a full-service and certified fireplace and chimney company that provides chimney video inspection in Wayzata, MN. From regular sweeping to complete Level 3 inspections, we will take care of making your chimney and fireplace safe. Contact us today to set up an appointment for your chimney.

Chimney video inspection

A video inspection is part of a Level 2 chimney inspection as defined by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA): “A Level 2 inspection shall also include a visual inspection by video scanning equipment or other means in order to examine the internal surfaces and joints of all flue liners incorporated within the chimney.” Using this equipment is part of the mandate of a Level 2 inspection that no “removal or destruction of permanently attached portions of the chimney or building structure or finish shall be required.” They are also part of the extensive Level 3 inspection. One or both of these inspections is necessary in the case of a chimney fire, transfer of property from one owner to another, suspicion of a crack or other major damage, and flue relining or other major upgrades to the fireplace.

To perform video inspection, a certified inspector inserts the camera on a “starter rod” through the damper. (In some cases where it is easier, the camera will go down through the top of the chimney.) The camera then moves up the chimney, with new rods attached to it to stabilize it as it moves farther. The camera rotates as it travels to offer a clear look at the liner so the inspector can view the surface and joints. The image provided allows technicians to see aspects of the flue that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye. The inspection looks for cracks down to hairline fractures in the liner, loose or missing mortar joints, broken or missing tile liners, and signs of improper construction.

A Level 2 inspection will tell the technicians what work needs to be done to keep a chimney safe (or if a Level 3 inspection is necessary). Without the aid of video inspections, the job would be far more difficult and the details harder to ascertain.

You can trust all your chimney safety needs to 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. We are certified with the CSIA and use chimney video inspection in Wayzata, MN to give you the best safety inspections possible.

What Are the Benefits of a Chimney Liner?

June 20th, 2014 by David Pixley

Since the inside of your chimney isn’t something you see often, you may not be aware of how essential the chimney liner is to keeping your fireplace hearth both safe and pleasant. The liner is responsible for helping combustion material from the fires in the hearth escape up the chimney and prevent the development of dangerous residue such as creosote.

Not all chimneys have liners; if you live in an older home, the chimney may have originally been constructed without a liner. If this is the case for your home, you should definitely contact 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. and have us help you choose and install a chimney liner in Maplewood, MN. If your chimney has a damaged liner, you should also contact us for a replacement.

2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. is one of the most trustworthy sources for chimney repair services, and have upheld our standard for quality through two generations.

Chimney liner benefits

  • Protects your home from fire damage: One of the essential functions of a chimney liner is to keep the heat inside the chimney from reaching the combustible material outside it. For older chimneys with cracks in their masonry, it’s easy for heat to escape to areas such as the second floor or the roof and start a conflagration. In fact, the majority of house fires in the U.S. start this way. A liner keeps the heat inside the chimney where it belongs.
  • Prevents creosote and moisture: Creosote is the #1 enemy of chimneys everywhere. This shiny black substance is the unburned wood energy that gathers due to poor venting or wood that doesn’t burn thoroughly. It is highly combustible and a leading cause of chimney fires. A liner prevents creosote from building up by helping with proper venting. The liner also stops water moisture from becoming trapped in the chimney, which is a significant danger because it will cause cracking when it freezes during winter.
  • Increases a home’s energy efficiency: Liners form a layer of insulation inside a chimney that reduces the downdrafts that can come down it during times when there is no fire in the hearth. This means less cold air getting into your home and forcing you to run your heater more often. It also means more efficient burning of fuel inside the fireplace.

Chimney liners are usually made of clay or stainless steel. Both have advantages and disadvantages; your re-lining professionals will determine which one will work best for your chimney.

If you have any doubts about the integrity of your chimney liner or any other part of your fireplace, contact 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. and we will perform a CSIA-approved inspection. Based on our findings, we’ll recommend how best to proceed with making your chimney as safe as possible, whether through restoration, repair, or a new chimney liner in Maplewood, MN.