2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. Blog: Archive for November, 2013

Can a Mason Fix My Cracked Fireplace?

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Fireplaces often cause unnecessary worry in homeowners: they feel concerned about the safety of having open flames in their house, whether from burning wood or gas logs. However, a fireplace is no more or less safe than any other heating system you can have in your home. As long as you take care of it and have repairs done as soon as they are necessary, your fireplace should pose no major hazard to you or your family and instead do its job of creating a cozy setting for the winter.

An important part of fireplace safety is sealing up cracks. Cracks will not only lead to dangerous conditions—especially if they occur in the firebox—but they will also prevent your chimney from burning fuel effectively. These gaps and holes allow heat to escape, and they expose other construction material to the high temperatures inside the hearth.

To take care of this job, you should seek out masonry services in Eagan, MN that specialize in fireplace and chimney repair. 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. has many years of experience with installing, repairing, cleaning, and maintaining fireplaces throughout the Twin Cities area.

Masons are experts with sealing up damage in stone work. They have knowledge of how bricks are made and which types work best for heating insulation inside a fireplace. They can properly mix the kind of mortar that your fireplace needs to seal up the cracks and then layer it on with the correct tools. Masonry is a specialized skill, and requires training to do it properly. Make sure you entrust your fireplace repairs to technicians with the appropriate masonry skills.

When you have a mason over to repair cracks in your fireplace, you should also have him or her inspect the fireplace and the chimney for additional damage, such as repair needs for the damper or an excessive build-up of creosote. If you hire a company with a wide range of chimney inspection and repair experience, you can find out all the potential troubles and have them fixed before the heavy winter snows sweep in.

As our name states, 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. has two generations of experience working on all kinds of chimneys: standard wood burning hearths, fireplace inserts with gas logs, freestanding wood and pellet stoves. If you need chimney repairs in Eagan, MN, or if you are thinking of having an insert put into your old hearth, call 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. today to schedule an appointment.

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Do I Really Need to Clean My Fireplace?

Monday, November 18th, 2013

No matter how often you use your fireplace—every day, or only a few weekend evenings during the holiday—you need to have it cleaned regularly. People often think that fireplaces don’t require regular cleaning because they are accustomed to the idea of a chimney and hearth having soot all over them. It seems almost… natural. However, it isn’t—and it can lead to hazardous conditions for you and your family. Fire safety experts recommend annual cleaning for fireplaces and chimney in order to avoid potential dangers.

We’ll explain a bit more in this post why it’s important to schedule yearly fireplace cleaning in St. Paul, MN. For comprehensive cleaning for fireplaces and chimneys, as well as installation, repairs, and inspections, call the experts at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. today.

Why You Need Your Fireplace Cleaned

The number one reason fireplaces need regular cleaning is creosote. You’ve seen creosote before: it’s the shiny black substance that starts to appear on the bricks of the hearth and chimney after burning wood. Creosote is unburned energy from wood, and it is highly combustible. Only a small flame can cause creosote to ignite. This is a major safety hazard, as it can lead to fires getting into the upper floors of your house and your roof.

Cleaning will also take care of problems with the flue and its lining. The flue does the job of channeling smoke from the fireplace to the outside, and the inside lining of the flue serves as a thermal barrier between the heat inside the flue and the building material around it. A layer of creosote along the flue will increase the heat and lead to dangerous conditions.

But what if I don’t burn wood logs or wood pellets in my fireplace?” some people may ask. Well, you still need fireplace cleaning if you use gas logs, because problems with the ventilation can lead to smoke or gas getting into your home. The vents can become blocked with animal nests (a common issue in St. Paul) or outside debris.

Finally, a clean fireplace is a beautiful fireplace. Aside from all the safety benefits you’ll receive from fireplace cleaning, you will also have your fireplace looking its most inviting for the winter season.

Hire Professionals Fireplace Cleaners

Most homeowners know very little about the proper care of fireplaces and chimneys. They may seem simple, but modern chimneys are designed with numerous safety measures that require care to make sure they protect you and your home. Make sure that you hire only experienced chimney cleaning technicians to take care of your keeping your family’s hearth beautiful and safe. Trust to 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. and our many years of experience with fireplace cleaning in Saint Paul.

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Benefits of Chimney Sweeping

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Chimney sweeping evokes images of cockney street urchins, stovepipe hats and Dick Van Dyke. But the principles involved haven’t changed in 150 years, and while today’s chimney sweeps use modern equipment and techniques, the work they do isn’t all that different from those of their predecessors. Chimney sweeping in St. Paul is a particular necessity, owing to our numerous older homes with fine brick fireplaces.

The benefits of chimney sweeping are numerous and obvious.

  • Safety. Smoke from your fireplace carries creosote into the chimney, which can coat the walls and ultimately become a fire hazard (it will ignite very easily). Creosote build-up can also prevent carbon monoxide from escaping your home, constituting another hazard.
  • Comfort. Build up inside the chimney can prevent smoke from escaping as quickly as it should, meaning that more of it could back up into your home. Clean chimneys also improve the amount of heat your fireplace projects into your home, making it more efficient as well as comfortable.
  • Longevity. Over time, the acidic qualities of soot and other debris can damage your chimney, forcing expensive and unnecessary repairs. A regular cleaning session can prevent that damage and extend the life of your chimney.

A good chimney sweeper understands the benefits of chimney sweeping, but also knows who to deliver them safely and effectively. That means paying close attention to new methods and techniques. Qualified chimney sweeps are licensed, bonded and insured to protect against accidents. They also work with the cleanliness of your home in mind, and guarantee their work once it’s completed.

For chimney sweeping in St. Paul, the professionals at 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. are ready to help. We’ve served the Twin Cities area since 2001 and offer complete programs for inspecting, installing and maintaining your chimney. We’re available 24 hours a day in the event of emergencies, and our trained experts have earned the trusted of over 52,000 loyal customers. If you understand the benefits of chimney sweeping and want to set up a regular maintenance session to help keep yours clean, pick up the phone and give us a call today.

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All I Know About Chimney Sweeping I Learned from Mary Poppins: What Else Should I Know?

Friday, November 8th, 2013

The romanticized image of the chimney sweep comes to us from the Disney movie Mary Poppins, where we learn that chimney sweeps are always coated from head to toe with soot, know fantastic dance moves, and say “guv’ner” at the end of every sentence. That’s all good to know if you live in a fantasy version of Victorian London. But if you live in contemporary Minnesota, you need to know the more practical side of keeping a chimney clean so you can enjoy it all through the winter in comfort and safety.

At 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. we have decades of experience with chimney sweeping in St. Paul, MN. When you want to go past thinking about getting your chimney cleaned and actually get it clean, contact us.

Here are some jobs that chimney sweeps—well, chimney technicians—perform that you won’t learn about from Disney movies:

Creosote cleaning

The black shiny substance that will start to cover the bricks of your chimney after burning wood and coal in the hearth is called creosote. Basically, it’s unburned wood or coal energy. It is highly combustible and poses a serious fire hazard to your home because it can cause flames to vault up the chimney to the upper floors of your home and the roof. Thick creosote (level 3 creosote) requires special equipment and techniques to remove. You need chimney technicians armed with more than brooms to take care of this problem.

Chimney flue cleaning

The flue serves an important safety and comfort function: it allows smoke from a fire to escape out the chimney when it’s open, and it keeps drafts from entering your home when closed. Damage and soot build-up can become a major issue for the flue, and so it’s one of the important components that technicians inspect when they come to clean your chimney.

Animal removal

Mary Poppins has some adorable animated animals in it: remember the penguins? However, you don’t want animals getting inside your chimney. Penguins shouldn’t be an issue, but birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and raccoons can create serious hazards. You don’t want to try to “smoke out” animals from your chimney (especially raccoons; this just makes them mad). Rely on technicians to do this job safely. You should also have the technicians install a chimney cap to help prevent this problem from returning in the future.

Here’s something else Mary Poppins won’t tell you: how often you should have your chimney inspected and cleaned. We recommend you schedule annual cleaning, even if you don’t use the fireplace often (cracks and animal infiltration can occur regardless of how much use the chimney gets). Contact 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. when you want quality chimney sweeping in St. Paul, MN. We can’t sing and dance as well as Dick Van Dyke, but you’ll have a clean and safe fireplace in your home after we leave.

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Problems Caused by a Dirty Fireplace

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

Fireplaces are both decorative and functional. Although your home in St. Paul will almost certainly have a modern heating system installed in it (such as a boiler, furnace, or heat pump), a fireplace is a tremendous asset for getting cozy warmth during the winter, and it adds cheer and that special glow that you can’t get from any other source.

However, a dirty fireplace will cut into many of these benefits. A fireplace choked with soot and debris is not only a visual eyesore, but it can present serious dangers to your home and your family. Make sure you have a clean fireplace before the winter season arrives. Contact 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. for quality fireplace cleaning in St. Paul, MN.

Here are some problems you might encounter because of a dirty fireplace:

Creosote fire hazards

Creosote is the shiny black residue left over from burning wood; basically, it’s unburned wood energy. It is also the No. 1 enemy your fireplace faces. Creosote will gather on the bricks of your fireplace as well as on the inside of the chimney. It looks unattractive, but worse, it’s highly combustible. It can lead to sudden bursts of flame in places you don’t want fire to appear, such as an upper floor. Regular cleaning will remove this common hazard.

Smoke dangers

When you forget to open the flue in your fireplace, the smoke will start to pour into your living space, and you know how unpleasant that can be. But if you neglect cleaning your fireplace, then the chimney will become clogged on its own from creosote and soot buildup, making it harder for smoke to escape. Even a small amount of smoke drifting into your home presents a safety hazard.

Carbon monoxide

If you have a gas fireplace, an accumulation of soot or creosote can create blockages that cause carbon monoxide to enter your home. Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless but highly toxic. Even a small amount can cause bad headaches, breathing problems, and nausea.

The National Fire Protection Association Standard recommends that you have an annual inspection done on your fireplace and chimney in order to see that they meet safety guidelines. Although the NFPA doesn’t provide a specific timeline for fireplace cleaning, based on our experience in the business, we think you should schedule annual cleaning to accompany this inspection.

Keep your family safe and your home beautiful this year with a thorough fireplace cleaning in St. Paul, MN from 2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc.

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