Efficiency and Safety Tips for Wood Stove Owners

January 22nd, 2015 by David Pixley

While wood stoves were once reserved for outdoor use, today’s indoor wood stoves are better than ever, with advanced ventilation systems, safety features, and an attractive and vintage look for a great addition in any home. Many homeowners still have their reservations about wood stove installation, but there is plenty you can do to make sure your unit continues to run efficiently and safely.

Work with 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. in order to make sure your new wood stove installation in Minneapolis goes smoothly and that your unit runs as safely and efficiently as possible.

Saving Money and Benefitting the Environment with Your Wood Stove

  • Only Purchase Stoves Built after 1990: According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, stoves built before 1990 were 50% less efficient than modern EPA-approved stoves.
  • Find Wood with a High Heat Value: The heat value of wood helps you to determine how efficiently it will burn, though you may be limited to a few specific types due to your location.
  • Weatherize Your Home: Weatherizing your home by sealing any cracks and leaks helps monitor the indoor temperature and keeps you from running your stove for long periods of time.
  • Only Allow Professionals to Service Your System: A professional knows where to install a system for peak efficiency as well as the proper maintenance and repair procedures.

Safety Tips for Wood Stoves

  • Professional Service is Key: Again, one of the most important things you can do is choose professionals for installation, service, and yearly maintenance to keep everything running as safely as possible.
  • Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions: Check your unit’s manual for the most accurate safety information or ask your technician for further advice.
  • Burn Dry, Seasoned Wood: Wet wood cannot burn efficiently, and drier wood helps to protect against creosote, a buildup of which can be a fire hazard.
  • Never Leave a Wood Stove Unattended: Always put out your wood stove before you leave the home to prevent the risk of fire.

We use industry standards for installation and ventilation and have years of experience with Minneapolis wood stove installation.

For professional service and more information about keeping your home safe, call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS

Why Fireplace Repair Is Always a Job for Professionals

January 15th, 2015 by David Pixley

If there is a problem with your fireplace, you want it fixed quickly. Whether your home is recovering from a fire, your broken fireplace cannot provide adequate heat, or it is at risk of catching fire in the future, you’ll need a professional trained in the standards of chimney repair and safety to ensure that the problem is fixed and to keep any safety hazards from occurring in the future.

Fireplace repair is not a job for the average do-it-yourselfer. While you can challenge yourself by doing some home projects on your own, such as assembling or repainting furniture, these jobs don’t generally come along with any high risk. Chimney fires are one of the leading causes of home fires in the U.S., and you risk a chimney fire any time a component of your fireplace is in a state of disrepair. There are professionals trained specifically on the best methods for repairing, relining, or sealing your fireplace, and you should always make sure you’re working with an expert.

As an example, the flue liner must be the proper size and it has to be in top shape in order for the fireplace to remain in good shape. If you call a technician for a routine inspection and they discover that the flue liner needs replacement due to cracks and holes or any other threat to your safety, the technician may decide that it needs replacement. And you’ll want to make sure you have a certified professional to make measurements and choose a fire resistant material that is fitted properly.

Be sure to call for repairs as soon as you notice anything unusual, such as excessive smoking, visible cracks and holes in the chimney, or a cracked firebox. You should only trust professionals certified in chimney repair and cleaning, as they are better able to assess any potential danger and recognize repair needs throughout the structure. The experts at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America, which means they’ll make sure your new repairs are safe and sound.

Contact 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. today for thorough, quality fireplace repair in Wayzata. Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS

How Will Professionals Restore My Chimney after a Chimney Fire?

January 8th, 2015 by David Pixley

You may simply see your chimney as a decorative addition to your home that also requires little maintenance to make your living space warm and welcoming. But according to the National Fire Protection Association, chimney fires are one of the leading causes of home fire deaths. Most of these fires are caused by a buildup of creosote, a preventable issue in most cases. After a chimney fire, it takes an expert to figure out the next steps that should be taken, which is why you should always contact professionals for chimney restoration in Minneapolis, MN.

First, the technician will need to assess what may have led to the fire in the first place. It would be irresponsible for a technician to begin repairs without first determining what can be done to improve your chimney and firebox and keep the problem from occurring in the future.

Next, the technician will repair or replace components that were damaged by the fire. Any severe masonry damage will need replacement, as will a cracked chimney liner. Sometimes, the masonry must be replaced because of the extensive damage. However, a technician may instead use a process tuckpointing to correct any issues with the masonry and crown. Trained tuckpointing specialists do their best to fill in any gaps with mortar that is as close as possible in design and texture to the original.

The technician will most likely need to install a new chimney liner after a fire as well. Many homes are equipped with clay tile liners as they are easy to install, relatively inexpensive, and readily available. But these so a poor job of absorbing and distributing heat, which can cause them to crack during a chimney fire, exposing the masonry to damage. Most professionals advise replacing clay tile with a steel or aluminum liner instead.

After a chimney restoration, a technician will recommend that you continue to schedule chimney cleaning and inspection on a regular basis. The most common source of chimney fires is creosote buildup, something that a technician can clean with the proper tools and know-how.

When you call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. for chimney restoration in Minneapolis, MN, you’ll get expert advice, assessment, and repairs from specialists in the industry only. Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS

How Can I Tell if There Is Too Much Creosote in My Chimney?

January 5th, 2015 by David Pixley

There are a number of toxic byproducts produced by combustion, and one of them is creosote. Creosote is a sticky, highly-flammable substance that forms when the gases from combustion combine and cool, and if you have a fireplace, creosote will cling to the inside of your chimney. Any amount of creosote can cause a problem for your fireplace, which is one of the reasons why it’s so important to schedule annual chimney cleaning in St. Paul. We are officially in fireplace season, and if you have started to use yours but haven’t had your chimney swept in more than 12 months, call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. today.

Creosote Stages

There are 3 stages of creosote that can develop with a fireplace and chimney. These stages are known as Stage One, Stage Two and Stage Three and each is used to describe how heavy the creosote build-up is:

  • Stage One – creosote in Stage One is the easiest to remove as it is comprised mostly of soot. A thorough cleaning with a chimney brush can remove Stage One creosote and restore the chimney to a clean state.
  • Stage Two – Stage Two creosote typically consists of hard, black flakes. This is because this type of creosote contains tar that has hardened. Stage Two creosote can be removed, but it requires the use of a tool known as a rotary loop. Because Stage Two creosote is hard, it can start to restrict the air flow in your chimney, which will affect how your fires burn.
  • Stage Three – the heaviest and most difficult of all creosote build-up, Stage Three creosote is very hard to remove and may require replacing your chimney liner. This type of creosote build-up looks like a coating of tar on the inside of your chimney, and it can easily catch on fire.

Signs of Creosote Build-Up

  • Reduced drafting in fireplace
  • Less ash and more wood in fireplace after a fire
  • Black soot in and around fireplace
  • Very dark smoke from chimney
  • You can visibly see more than 1/8 of an inch of soot build-up

Any amount of creosote can cause you problems, so if you are seeing the signs of build-up, call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., and schedule a chimney cleaning in St. Paul.

The History of “Auld Lang Syne”

January 1st, 2015 by David Pixley

There are numerous different traditional songs associated with Christmas—but there is only one song that comes to mind immediately when people think of New Year’s Eve: “Auld Lang Syne.” It is hard to find a New Year’s Eve party where people won’t leap into singing “Should old acquaintance be forgot…” as the first stroke of midnight sounds. This tradition encompasses the globe, with almost every culture that celebrates New Year’s on January 1st breaking into song with the same set of lyrics.

Where did this song come from? And what do the words “auld lang syne” actually mean? The best place to ask these questions is Scotland. The Official Gateway to Scotland website calls the song “one of Scotland’s gifts to the world, recalling the love and kindness of days gone by, but in the communion of taking our neighbor’s hands, it also gives us a sense of belonging and fellowship to take us into the future.”

The melody of the piece originates from Lowland Scots folk song tradition. It was legendary Scottish Romantic poet Robert Burns (1759–1796) who created the words we know today, however. During the later years of his life, Burns dedicated much of his work to collecting Scottish folk tunes and giving them new life. The first mention Burns makes of “Auld Lang Syne” is in 1788, when he calls the song “a glorious fragment.” Burns wrote new lyrics to the old melody, and used the words “auld lang syne,” which is Scottish for “old long since,” and which can be translated into standard English as “long, long ago” or “days gone by.” The phrase was already known in earlier Scottish poems and folk songs, and appears to be the equivalent of “Once upon a time…” for Scots fairy tales.

Soon after Burns introduced the song to the public, it spread across Scotland as a New Year’s custom, and then to the rest of Great Britain. Scottish immigrants took the song with them as they moved across the globe, and by the middle of the 19th century it was a holiday tradition throughout the English-speaking world. By the close of the 20th century, it was a global phenomenon to ring in the New Year.

We imagine that you’ll end up singing or hearing “Auld Lang Syne” at some point this New Year’s (maybe you’ve already heard it while watching It’s a Wonderful Life).

All of us at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. would like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy coming year in the tradition of the song.

5 Facts about Santa Claus

December 25th, 2014 by David Pixley

Many holiday traditions involve the story of Santa Claus, the lovable old man who spends most of his time at the North Pole taking a single evening to deliver presents and candy to children everywhere. But since Santa Claus is so elusive (unless he happens to be visiting your local shopping mall), how do we know so much about him? Where exactly does his journey begin? Our holiday guide details 5 of the most common traditions associated with Jolly Old Saint Nick.

  1. The Origins of Santa: The name “Santa Claus” comes from St. Nicholas (a name which became Sinter Klaas for short in Dutch), a Christian Bishop from 4 A.D. who was known for giving his fortune away to those in need in Turkey. Santa Claus’ first associations with gift-giving comes from Holland’s St. Nicholas’ feast day, during which children would leave out their shoes overnight and find presents waiting inside the shoes on the next morning.
  2. The Stocking by the Chimney: While many people associate Holland’s shoe tradition with the origins of hanging a stocking, this isn’t entirely accurate. Hanging stockings instead comes from the legend of a time St. Nick helped a man afford to marry off his daughter by throwing a bag of gold down the chimney, which landed in a stocking that was hanging up to dry.
  3. St. Nick’s Outfit: Santa got his fashion sense from a wooden cutout handed out during a meeting of the New York Historical Society in 1804. But it wasn’t until a 1930s Coca Cola advertisement that his traditionally blue, white, and green outfit was transformed into a big red suit.
  4. Leaving Cookies out for Santa: Food was traditionally used as ornamentation during the holidays in medieval Germany as apples and cookies commonly adorned the home at wintertime. When the Christmas tree became a common symbol of the season, edible treats began to vanish, a phenomenon which became attributed to Santa Claus’ snacking habits.
  5. Why Santa Drives a Sleigh: Santa gets his sleigh from a tale spun by Washington Irving, the same author who brought us the Headless Horseman. He wrote down an account of a dream in which Santa Claus drives a weightless wagon through the sky, and the stories became so popular, they stuck around.

Here at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. we hope that you have a joyful and safe celebration, no matter what holiday traditions you engage in this year. Happy holidays!

Why Is Firebox Cleaning an Important Part of Chimney Service?

December 18th, 2014 by David Pixley

‘Tis the time of year for warm fires, but you could be in for a lot more if your firebox isn’t as clean as it should be. From all appearances, your chimney looks like one large component, but the truth is, your chimney can consist of up to 22 parts, one of which is your firebox. Chimney sweeping should be performed annually by a trained professional, so if you are getting ready to warm some chestnuts by an open fire, make sure you’ve had your chimney swept first. If you haven’t, call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., today and schedule an appointment for fireplace cleaning in Wayzata, MN.

What Is the Firebox?

The firebox is the part of your fireplace where the fire actually burns. Because of this, it is the part of your fireplace that sustains the most heat. Many fireboxes are made of some kind of masonry, like bricks, but some are made of metal, as you’ll find with a pre-fabricated chimney.

Why Is It Important to Clean the Firebox?

During a routine chimney sweep appointment, your firebox isn’t just cleaned, it is also inspected. Due to the high temperatures the firebox sustains, it isn’t unusual for wear and tear to set in. Combustion byproducts can be very acidic, so both masonry and metal can crack; the mortar in the masonry can erode, and metal can corrode over time. If these problems have developed with your firebox, they’ll be detected during your annual chimney sweep and repaired as necessary.

Maintaining Your Firebox

An annual chimney sweep helps you to maintain your firebox through the years, but cleaning out ash after every use is also important. Ash and soot accumulate quickly and can be corrosive; if left to sit in your firebox, you can prematurely age the masonry and/or metal work in the firebox. Cleaning out the ash from your fireplace after every use helps to significantly reduce the potential effects of the soot and ash while keeping your firebox clean for the next warm fire.

Warm fires and winter go hand-in-hand. Keep your winter fires healthy and safe with a clean firebox and chimney.Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS

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!