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.

What’s Involved in Chimney Resurfacing?

June 13th, 2014 by David Pixley

Chimneys suffer from wear and tear, just like every other component of your house, and here in Minnesota, they see a lot of use in the winter. That can leave the chimney quite damaged over time. The flue can become cracked, fissures can show up along the bricks, and rain and snow can get in. The solution is to have a chimney resurfacing session from a qualified professional. They restore the lining to its full functionality, which takes less time and costs less money than having to replace the entire chimney. And when it comes to chimney resurfacing, Twin Cities residents should take advantage of warm summer weather to schedule the operation, rather than waiting for winter snows to make it all that much more difficult. This goes for any chimney repair or maintenance service as well. So what’s involved in chimney resurfacing? We’ve included a quick description below.

The first stage is to weigh down coverings and tarps around your fireplace, to protect your home and furnishings from dust and detritus that may be dislodged. The chimney sweep then sends a video camera down the chimney to ascertain where the damage has taken place. Mortar can be applied in places that need it and tiles reset to address any that are broken or missing.  Then the chimney sweep sends an applicator blade – sized to fit your chimney precisely – down the chimney to apply sealant and keep the interior of the chimney secure.

Outside the chimney, the question becomes one of simple resurfacing. The chimney sweep uses safety lines to ascend, then carefully removes the bricks one by one to expose the chimney’s interior. She can then seal any cracks and apply sealant before rebuilding the outer surface of the chimney to repair any damage.

We’ve served the whole of the Twin Cities since 2001 and we have emergency services available for times when repair or resurfacing operations to be performed quickly. Give us a call today to set up an appointment, and let us show you what we can do!

For more on what’s involved in chimney resurfacing, Twin Cities residents can call upon the chimney professionals at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc.

Do Fireplaces Really Need Maintenance?

June 6th, 2014 by David Pixley

“Fireplaces are maintenance free!” This is one of the most unfortunate misunderstandings about fireplaces that homeowners have. Because fireplaces and chimneys are usually made of the sturdiest material available, like stone and brick, and have construction that can stand the test of decades, they give the sense that they are essentially invincible and do not need any regular care.

But nothing could be farther from the truth. You need regular inspection and fireplace maintenance in Minnetonka, MN not only to make sure the fireplace consumes fuel and vents properly, but also to avoid possible dangers from chimney fires. For the necessary professional maintenance for your fireplace, make sure you rely on licensed chimney sweeps like those at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. We are proud members of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).

Why fireplaces must have maintenance

A fireplace offers cosmetic beauty to the inside of your home, and the chimney to the outside, but they do have the basic function of funneling combustion gases away from the interior of your home and into the outside air. Without regular care, this job will become more difficult for the fireplace.

One particular section of a fireplace that needs regular care is the damper, which opens and closes the fireplace to the flue. A rusty or stuck damper can turn into a significant danger and make your fireplace essentially unusable.

Then there is the problem of creosote: this is the unburned wood energy that will begin to coat the fireplace and the flue, and it will increase in a fireplace that is dirty and not allowing combustion product to easily escape. Creosote is easy to spot: a shiny, tarry black substance. Aside from looking unattractive, creosote is highly combustible, and this leads to the most serious safety concern for a fireplace: chimney fires.

Without regular maintenance, creosote will build up in the flue and fireplace, and when the heat rises high enough, a fire will break out inside the chimney. According to the CSIA, these fires can melt mortar, crack tiles, cause liners to collapse and damage the outer masonry material. Worst of all, this damage can allow heat to reach the combustible building material around the chimney, causing fires to break out on upper floors or the roof.

The CSIA recommends an annual maintenance inspection from a certified chimney sweep to see that the fireplace is venting safely and there is no creosote danger.

To sign up for an excellent program for fireplace maintenance in Minnetonka, MN, contact the team at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. today. Make your fireplace a source of joy, never a source of danger.

Fireplace Maintenance Tips for the Summer

May 30th, 2014 by David Pixley

We don’t have much call for our fireplaces in the summer, when temperatures are high and your air conditioner tends to see a lot more use. That actually makes this the ideal time to perform some maintenance and upkeep on your fireplace. Since you don’t have need of it, the technician can perform the operation whenever your schedule is open (as opposed to the fall or winter, when the weather is cold and the need for your fireplace is much higher). Summertime upkeep also means that your fireplace is ready to go the minute the mercury starts to drop. Any service that offers fireplace repair in Eden Prairie can usually perform maintenance services as well. Here are some fireplace maintenance tips for the summer.

  • Schedule a creosote cleaning. Creosote is a sticky substance, a little like tar, that builds up in your fireplace and on the sides of your chimney. It’s flammable, which means it constitutes a significant hazard unless it’s cleaned up. A professional chimney service can do the job safely and effectively, leaving your fireplace ready when the fall arrives.
  • Check for cracks. Old-fashioned fireplaces with brick or stone chimneys can suffer the full brunt of our Minnesota weather – summer and winter alike – and after time, fissures can form in the surface. A chimney inspection can spot those cracks while they’re still small and fix them before they become a major headache.
  • Test the fireplace. Every few months, it pays to start a small fire in your fireplace and just check to see if there are any problems or blockages. If the smoke comes back into your home, or you notice smoke emerging somewhere it shouldn’t, it’s probably a good idea to call a repair service and get the problem properly sorted out.

The experts at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. can help you out with fireplace maintenance tips for the summer. We handle fireplace repair in Eden Prairie, and we have the skills and experience to perform a full-bore maintenance service with confidence and pride.

We’ll leave your fireplace clean and ready to go when the temperatures start to drop again. Pick up the phone and give us a call today. You’ll be glad you did!

Why Dryer Vent Cleaning Is Important

May 23rd, 2014 by David Pixley

Whenever you place laundry into a clothes dryer, what’s one of the important steps to take? Clean out the lint trap, of course. Without this air passage kept clear in the dryer, the machine will heat far less efficiently and end up making clothes damp instead of dry, all while draining the same amount of power.

However, the lint trap isn’t the only part of your clothes dryer that requires cleaning. The dryer has a ventilation system to the outside to prevent extra heat from entering your home, as well removing other debris plucked from the clothes. The dryer vent needs to stay clean, and with regular visit from specialists, you’ll have a dryer that runs without draining power, gets your clothes dry, and… most important of all… won’t create a fire hazard.

2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. does more than chimney sweeping and restoration. We handle dryer vent cleaning to take care of lint and the exhaust hose. When you’re looking for top people for dryer vent cleaning in the Twin Cities, MN, make us your first call.

Why dryer vent cleaning is necessary

Before we get to anything else, we want to share a frightening statistic: According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 15,000 house fires occur every year because of obstructions inside dryer vents. The lint from clothing is highly combustible, and once enough gathers in the vent hose between a dryer and the outside of a house, it doesn’t take much heat to cause it to ignite. It’s vital for the safety of your home and family to have the dryer vent clean of flammable material.

The safety issue is enough reason to schedule dryer vent cleaners, but there are other advantages as well. Basic energy efficiency increases with a clear passage, the same way that a clean air filter makes for a more efficient air conditioning system. Lack of venting of moist air from the dryer means the moisture trapped inside with the clothes makes it harder for them to lose additional heat. You can expect your clothes to keep coming out damp, no matter how high you run the dryer. (Damp clothes are a good warning sign that you must have the dryer vent cleaned.)

How often should I clean the dryer vent and how do I do it?

The frequency that a dryer vents needs cleaning varies. When you notice damp clothes or the need to run the dryer for longer, or if the top surface of the dryer becomes extremely hot, then you are due for cleaning. If you don’t recall ever cleaning the vent before, then it’s definitely time to take care of it. In general, get into the habit of having cleaning twice a year.

Instead of spending hours trying to access and clean your dryer vents, call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. and schedule a dryer vent cleaning in the Twin Cities, MN.