2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. Blog: Archive for April, 2012

Mendota Heights Wood Burning Tips: How to Select and Store Firewood

Monday, April 30th, 2012

If you have a wood-burning fireplace insert in Mendota Heights home, selecting the right type of wood and storing it properly will help keep your chimney clean and increase the efficiency of your fireplace or wood stove. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Selecting Firewood

Unless you have a pellet stove, there are many types of wood to choose from. While most people opt for premium hardwoods, lighter woods—such as maple or elm—are more plentiful and will burn faster, which makes them good for shorter, hotter fires or for kindling. Regardless of what type of wood you burn, make sure it is well-seasoned. Properly seasoned firewood is wood that has been cut and dried out as much as possible. Trees retain moisture even after they’ve died, so you want to make sure your firewood is cut at least 6 months to a year before you use it. The shorter the pieces are cut the better seasoned your wood will be.

If you have purchased seasoned wood instead of cutting your own firewood, there are a few ways to tell if it has been properly seasoned. First, look at the ends of the pieces. Are the ends darker, or do they have cracks and splits? Those are good indicators of well-seasoned wood. Secondly, check the weight. Seasoned wood is a lot lighter than green wood, which is dense because of the water retained inside the wood. Lastly, you can always buy the wood well in advance, and properly store it for several months before you plan to burn it.  If you end up burning slightly damp wood there will be a significant amount of smoke and you should consider getting your chimney swept and cleaned

Storing Firewood

Even if you’ve bought well-seasoned firewood, you will want to store it properly to prevent it from getting wet. Burning green wood creates more creosote buildup and, therefore, more potential for chimney fires. If the wood is too saturated, you may not get it to burn at all. Always store wood off of the ground and underneath a protective cover. If you are storing it on a porch, make sure there’s a roof over it or that it is in a sunny location and that you cover it with a tarp in inclement weather.

Ideally, you should store wood in a shed with a sturdy roof but that has openings or loose sides to allow air flow and help the wood stay dry should any moisture get trapped in the wood through the openings. A tightly-closed space could promote mold growth if the wood has retained any moisture. If you are trying to season the wood, proper air circulation is an important part of the drying process. Properly seasoned wood should last up to four years if it is stored correctly.

Feel free to call one of the chimney specialists at 2nd Generation Chimneys if you have further questions about choosing or storing your firewood for the wood-burning appliance in your Mendota Heights home.

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Thank You For Your Feedback

Friday, April 27th, 2012

We want to hear from you! In an effort to always provide the most outstanding service, 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. invites you to take our online Satisfaction Survey and let us know how we are doing.

Here is a recent comment from a happy customer:

“My experience with 2nd Generation Chimneys has always been exceptional. As far as I know, they are the most knowledgeable people in the chimney business. There is a reason I keep going back, I am a customer for life.”

– Don C.

Thank you, Don!

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Safety Tips for Fridley Residents: Clothes Dryer Ventilation

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

It’s important to perform air duct cleaning in Fridley for many reasons. Increasing the efficiency of your HVAC system and lowering your utility bills are a few of them, but safety is the best reason to keep your vents clean, particularly your clothes dryer vent.

Clothes dryers are one of the leading causes of house fires each year. Homes that do not perform dryer vent cleaning or receive improper installation are usually the cause. Protect your home with these maintenance and safety tips.

Even if you clean out the lint trap after each use, lint can still get trapped in the exhaust vent and cause a fire hazard or a potential carbon monoxide leak with gas dryers. Maintaining proper ventilation for a clothes dryer includes cleaning out the exhaust duct and hose. To do this, you just need to unplug your dryer and detach the hose, which can be removed with common household tools. If you already do this regularly and find an abnormal amount of lint and debris, call an HVAC technician to inspect it. There could be something in the duct system blocking the ventilation for your dryer.

At least once a year, you should also have a qualified technician inspect and clean your exhaust duct and make sure you have the proper style hose. If you have a foil or vinyl hose, you should replace it with a flexible metal one that is fireproof. You might want to consider installing a dryer box, which protects the flexible hose and saves space.

Dryers that aren’t properly installed or put in areas that could create hazards are often found in older homes; however, some newer homes are built with designs that create longer ventilation paths and more potential for debris to get trapped inside the ducts.

Don’t wait until a hidden safety issue turns into a fire or carbon monoxide hazard in your Fridley home. Call 2nd Generation Chimneys to inspect and clean your exhaust hose and duct today!

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Spring Newsletter

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Check out our Spring Newsletter for informative articles, along with promotions, a highlighted client testimonial, a “did you know” fact, and a delicious spring recipe for you to try!


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Why Should You Have Water Repellant on Your Minneapolis Chimney?

Monday, April 16th, 2012

In Minneapolis there are a lot of myths about water repellants and when they are useful or not useful for a chimney. The truth is that almost all chimneys should have some sort of chimney sealant and resurfacing applied to them to avoid easily preventable water damage that can not only destroy the chimney face but pose a danger to you and your family.

What Water Repellant Does

Water repellant is used to seal up the masonry on the outside of your chimney. This is necessary because of the constant freeze and thaw cycles that a chimney goes through each winter. Water is absorbed by the mortar and bricks and then freezes in cold temperatures. This weakens the bricks and when it thaws, the bricks crumble or break free. It might take months or even years, but eventually extensive chimney repairs will be needed.

A properly selected water repellant stops this from happening by blocking up to 99% of the moisture that enters the mortar joints and bricks and keeping the chimney dry both inside and out.

The Problem with Some Water Repellants

The problem and the reason many people are hesitant to use water repellants is that they can also trap water inside the chimney if the wrong ones are applied. Sealers that form a film on the masonry, bond to the masonry or don’t allow enough air to breathe through the masonry risk sealing moisture inside the chimney and causing even more damage.

The right ones will penetrate deep into the chimney and bond with the masonry on a chemical level, blocking moisture without blocking everything, thereby stopping water from entering and leaving.

Water Repellants are Important

Chimneys will be subjected to all forms of weather – from rain to snow to sleet and wind – and that means they will deteriorate over time if not treated. To give your chimney the protection it needs and reduce the need for repairs, make sure you have someone you trust use the right kind of water repellant for your chimney.  Call 2nd Generation Chimneys with any questions.

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Types of Chimney Liners For Minneapolis

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Many homeowners are shocked to find that there are so many different kinds of chimney liners for Minneapolis homes on the market. Each type of liner is designed and optimized to provide protection for your chimney and home from different types of gasses released at different temperatures. That is why it is so important to have a full chimney inspection completed whenever you upgrade or change your heating system. Here are some of the liner types and what they offer.

  • Clay Tile – Clay tile is the most common and inexpensive of flue liners. However, clay tiles are only effective for wood fires and fireplaces as they are not effective in containing the liquid byproducts of high efficiency gas appliances and fireplaces. Additionally, if there is a chimney fire, clay tiles will shatter.
  • Stainless Steel – Stainless steel can be cast in multiple shapes, is very flexible and is effective for almost any type of wood furnace or stove. Rarely used in new chimneys, stainless steel is often used for upgrading existing wood-only chimneys.
  • Aluminum – Aluminum can be cast to varying degrees of thickness to make it flexible or rigid depending on your needs.  It is commonly used to vent gas appliances as it is does a better job of removing liquid byproducts without allowing them to cool since it conducts little heat.
  • Cast in Place – Cast in place liners are made from cement-like material that is cast inside the chimney to provide a natural passageway for the gasses being released. Cast-in place liners are good for repairing chimneys that are deteriorating naturally or that have had fires. It works with all types of fuel as well and can add many years of life to a chimney.

As you can see, the type of liner you choose will depend largely on the type of fuel you burn and how you choose to use it. The best option is to talk to 2nd Generation Chimneys about the best option for your particular circumstances and learn what they have to offer.

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Happy Easter!

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Wishing you a Happy Easter Weekend from all of us here at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc., serving the Minneapolis and Wisconsin areas. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, it’s never a bad time to spend time with family and loved ones and get a little crafty.

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Minneapolis Chimney Sweep Q/A: Do I Need to Have My Chimney Cleaned if I Use Gas Logs?

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

In recent years, gas logs have grown in popularity. They allow you to have a comfortable, warm fire in your living room without having to deal with cutting cord after cord of wood to fuel it. However, there are some misconceptions about the maintenance needed to keep your Minneapolis chimney and gas log fireplace operational and safe, especially in the cleaning department.

Is Cleaning Necessary?

If you have a traditional chimney and are considering having a gas log fireplace installed or your existing fireplace retrofitted for gas logs, you will need to have a new flue liner installed and probably a number of other upgrades made.

Beyond the changes, you should have your chimney cleaned on a regular basis. While it is true that there is less soot and debris from a straight gas fire that produces a blue flame, most gas logs are designed to burn yellow to simulate a real fire. A yellow flame is not as hot and therefore does not burn as completely as a blue flame.

For this reason, the fire produces gasses such a carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide as well as soot. Those gasses and soot will build up in your chimney over time and just like a traditional chimney, will soon require cleaning by a Minneapolis chimney sweep.

If you opt for a blue flame gas log fireplace, you can have your chimney cleaned far less frequently, though it is still recommended to have periodic inspections to ensure the flue liner remains clean.

Keeping Your Home Safe

While gas logs produce less soot and debris than wood fireplaces, they still burn incomplete and produce enough components that you need to have someone inspect your fireplace on a semi-regular basis. Even if the need for cleaning is less or not as frequent, you’ll find yourself glad you did it, if nothing else, for the peace of mind.

If you have any questions about gas log fireplaces or chimney cleaning, give 2nd Generation Chimneys a call!

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