The Advantages of Gas Fireplace Inserts

September 8th, 2014 by David Pixley

As we head into another fall, our thoughts begin to turn toward heating. Last winter was a doozy, hitting us with incredibly cold temperatures and a lot of snow – and the forecast for this winter is looking similar. A great way to keep your home warm and improve your indoor heating experience, without blowing your monthly budget, is with the installation of a gas fireplace insert in your Minneapolis home. With a wide range of product offerings and two generations of experience with installation, 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., can help you stay warmer this fall and winter with a gas fireplace insert.

Two Choices in Fuel Type

Gas inserts can work with either natural gas or propane. Natural gas can be less expensive than propane and can produce about 5% more heat, but natural gas may not be available in some areas. We will help you to determine which fuel is best suited for your home.

Advantages of a Gas Fireplace Insert

There are several advantages to installing a gas fireplace insert into your home:

  • Versatile – inserts are made in a variety of sizes and colors to fit many different fireplaces and types of décor.
  • Energy efficient – fireplace inserts have efficiency ratings ranging from 65% to over 90%.
  • Clean burning – there is no ash or creosote to clean with a gas insert.
  • Adds additional heating – depending on its size, a gas insert can heat 1,000 to 3,000 square feet. This allows you to add extra heat to the area in which your fireplace is located, offering you zone heating for that area.


One of the great advantages of using a clean-burning fuel is that your fireplace and chimney won’t require as much maintenance as before. But, it is important to schedule annual maintenance for your insert to keep its components in great working condition.

Always Hire Trained Professionals

To ensure that your gas fireplace insert is correctly installed and maintained, it’s always important to hire trained specialists. Look for certification from either CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) or NFI (National Fireplace Institute).

A gas fireplace insert in your Minneapolis home can offer you great energy efficiency and clean burning this fall and winter.

Call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., today and schedule an appointment with one of our chimney and fireplace installation experts.

The History of Labor Day

September 1st, 2014 by David Pixley

The official end of summer and the beginning of fall lands on September 23rd, which marks the Autumnal Equinox, when the plane of the Earth’s equator passes the center of the sun and the length of day and night are roughly equal. However, for most people in the U.S., the summer really concludes with Labor Day, the first Monday in September. Labor Day and Memorial Day (the last Monday of May) together serve as the bookends of the summer.

The Labor Day Holiday is a time that people in this country associate with a last summer blast: another reason for an outdoor picnic, a chance for a three-day vacation, family trips to amusement parks, and of course, taking advantage of numerous sales that retailers always offer. (Labor Day is often the second largest shopping day of the year after Black Friday in November.) It’s also the point when school traditionally goes back in session, although some schools start a week earlier and some a week later.

Labor Day’s origins lie in the 1880s. In 1882 Matthew Maguire, a machinist in New York City who was secretary of the Central Labor Union (CLU) at the time, and Peter J McGuire of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), first proposed a celebration of the hard working men and women of the United States. However, five years would pass before the first state made it an official holiday, Oregon. Other states quickly followed this example, although not all selected a date in September.

By 1894, thirty states had started Labor Day celebrations. President Grover Cleveland signed the law that made Labor Day a federal holiday only a week after Congress voted unanimously to approve the legislation. The date chosen for the holiday was the same one that Maguire and McGuire had originally proposed.

The U.S.A. is not the only country that celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of September. Canada observes the holiday as well, although they spell it “Labour” Day. In fact, Canada celebrated the occasion earlier than the U.S., and was an early inspiration in this country for the development of the holiday.

All of us here at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. hope you and your family—whether at work or at play—enjoy a relaxing and memorable Labor Day weekend and have a fantastic start to the fall.

What Problems Can a Chimney Cap Prevent?

August 26th, 2014 by David Pixley

We may still be enjoying summer, but fall is right around the corner, and with it comes a new season of heating with your fireplace. Your chimney is the outlet for your fireplace’s smoke and burning embers, so keeping it clear and safe is a priority. One of the easier ways to help keep your chimney safe is with the installation of a chimney cap to your North Oaks property. For over a decade, 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., has installed chimney caps for a multitude of customers, and we can help you with your installation.

What Is a Chimney Cap?

A chimney cap is a small cover for the opening of your chimney. Chimney caps come in a variety of styles to both protect and compliment your chimney and home.

What Are the Benefits of Installing a Chimney Cap?

There are several important benefits to installing chimney cap:

  • Block animals from nesting in your chimney – there are a variety of animals, including birds, squirrels and raccoons, that like to nest in chimneys. By covering the top of your chimney with a cap, you prevent these critters from making a home there.
  • Reduce water damage from wet weather – chimney caps significantly reduce the amount of water that enters your chimney. Rain, snow, sleet and ice can easily enter your chimney through its opening. When water gets into your chimney, it can get into the masonry, and as the water freezes due to winter temperatures, can crack the masonry. If left unattended, water damage can eventually weaken your chimney’s structure.
  • Block hot embers from the roof – burning embers from your fireplace can make their way up the chimney and onto your roof, potentially causing a fire. A chimney cap can prevent these hot embers from escaping.

Why Hire a Professional?

An improperly sized, designed, or installed chimney cap can reduce a chimney’s backdraft, which can lead to the poor burning of fuel and/or smoky rooms in your home. The best way to avoid this is to hire trained professionals, like the ones at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc.

Chimney caps can protect your chimney and your home from some potentially serious damage. Call Us Today! 612.922.9600 or 1-888-PIXLEYS

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.


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.


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.