Total Chimney Care's Blog

Upgrade Your Drafty Fireplace With a Wood Insert

A fireplace is a welcome addition to any home. It provides a focal piece, a sense of style and a beautiful, glowing warmth in the winter. Warmth, that is, unless you have a traditional, open-hearth fireplace. These fireplaces can actually be a drain on your home, allowing cold drafts to blow down the chimney and as much as 8 percent of your home’s heated air to flow out up and out of the chimney on cold days. Fortunately, there’s a compromise between the beauty of a traditional wood-burning fireplace and the desire to efficiently heat your home: A wood-burning fireplace insert. In fact, installing an efficient wood-burning fireplace insert in your existing open-hearth fireplace can reduce your home’s heating bills by 40 percent.  Here’s how.Upgrade Your Fireplace With a Wood Insert - Fairfield CT - Total Chimney

Sealing the gap

One of the most basic ways a wood-burning fireplace insert lowers your energy bills is by sealing the gap of your fireplace. An open-hearth fireplace creates a giant hole in your home. Even with a damper, warm air from your home fills the fireplace and flows up the chimney. An open-hearth fireplace is comparably to having an open window in your home in the coldest temperatures. A fireplace insert seals the gap of your fireplace. With an insert, the heating system is entirely closed, and the door seals tightly, making it impossible for the air from your home to enter the fireplace and leave through the chimney.

Heat-generating technology

Wood-burning fireplace inserts are high-tech heating equipment. Over the last 25 years, manufacturer’s have put a lot of time into researching ways to make wood-burning inserts, fireplaces and stoves burn more efficiently and generate more heat. Some models include catalytic converters to increase the intensity of the fire and the heat output of the fireplace. The units also contain a series of blowers to ensure that the heat that’s generated from the fire is pumped back into your living space.

Radiation

One of the simplest ways a wood-burning insert can increase the heat output of your fireplace is the concept of radiation. The glass doors of a wood-burning fireplace are made to absorb as much of the heat from the fireplace as possible. That glass then radiates the heat out to the nearby air, helping your home to capture even more of the cozy warmth of your wood-burning insert.

If you’re ready to transform your open-hearth fireplace from an energy drain to an energy generator, stop by the Cozy Flame, the retail branch of Total Chimney Care! Our fireplace experts can help you pick out the perfect wood-burning fireplace insert for your home, which can then be installed by one of Total Chimney Care’s trained and certified fireplace technicians. Total Chimney Care can have you enjoying more warmth — and lower energy bills — this winter.

By Steve Sobczak on September 17th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

The early bird gets the worm — Schedule your chimney appointment now!

Fall is just around the corner. As soon as the leaves turn and the temperatures begin to drop, homeowners throughout the northeast will call their chimney sweeps to schedule their annual chimney sweepings and inspections. When it comes to having your chimney swept in a timely manner and fully prepared for fall, the early bird really does get the worm.

Get the appointment you want, faster

The early bird gets the worm — Schedule your chimney appointment now - Fairfield & New Haven CT - Total Chimney Care In the fall, our schedules fill up fast. You may have to wait weeks for a chimney sweeping and inspection, which can delay the enjoyment of your fireplace. To get an appointment in the fall, you might even have to rearrange your schedule for when your sweep is available. By calling to schedule before the fall rush, you can get an appointment faster! Schedule an appointment with us right now, and your chimney will be swept, inspected and ready for all the fires to come.

Leave time for repairs

Most chimney sweepings and inspections are routine maintenance. Your sweep clears away creosote and performs a quick inspection to make sure your chimney is damage free and safe to use. Unfortunately, chimney inspections sometimes reveals needed repairs. When repairs are necessary, they should be addressed immediately. Having your chimney swept early leave plenty of time for needed repairs, and then your chimney will be ready for fall.

Make the improvements you’ve been thinking about

Have you been thinking about making improvements to your hearth or chimney? Fireplace and chimney improvements are often put off, until homeowners are ready to use their fireplaces again in the fall. By then, it’s often too late as our schedule is usually filled up. When you schedule your annual chimney service early, you can consult with our chimney sweep about the improvements you’ve been considering. By scheduling your sweeping early, you can spend this winter enjoying the fireplace of your dreams.

When it comes to annual chimney sweepings and inspections, the early bird really does get the worm! Don’t wait! Call Total Chimney Care today at 203-874-6772 to schedule your annual chimney sweeping and inspection now!

By Steve Sobczak on August 30th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Chimney swifts and your chimney

Do you hear chirping and rustling in your chimney? Do you notice birds flying in and out of your chimney around dusk each evening? Then chances are you have chimney swifts inside your chimney.

Chimney swifts are migratory birds that spend summer in the northeastern United States before flying to Peru for the winter. Chimney swifts build their nests on protected vertical surfaces. Their preferred nesting location — hollowed out trees — is a scarcity in many areas. So they have adapted to make their homes on the inner walls of masonry chimneys, which is the perfect surface for constructing nests from twigs.

How can you tell if you have chimney swifts?

Chimney swifts and your chimney - Fairfield & New Haven CT - Total Chimney CareChimney swifts are really noise. You will hear the rustling of wings and movement in your chimney as adult birds construct their nests. That noise will eventually be followed by chirping of baby birds. If you think you’re hearing chimney swifts in your chimney, the best way is standing outside your home near dusk. This is when they leave their nest to feed on insects. They have dark gray cigar-shaped bodies, squared-off tails and a wingspan of about a foot.

Chimney swifts don’t cause any damage to your chimney, as long as you take precautions while they are inside your chimney. You should also make sure to clean your chimney thoroughly once they leave.

What do you do if you have chimney swifts in your chimney?

If chimney swifts have taken residence in your chimney, they are staying for the summer. They are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Act, which makes it illegal to remove them or harm their nesting. If you have swifts in your chimney, close your chimney damper to prevent them from entering your home or becoming trapped. Once they leave their roost for the winter, which usually happens around November, have your chimney swept and inspected to remove the nest and debris left behind by them.

How can you help chimney swifts?

Many bird lovers look for ways to protect and aid chimney swifts. Some homeowners will even have their chimneys swept in early spring to create a welcoming habitat for chimney swifts. If you’re not willing to throw out a welcome mat for chimney swifts, there are still things you can do to help nurture chimney swifts.

First, you should install a chimney cap surrounded by a wire cage. This will keep swifts out of your chimney. You can also install a chimney roost to provide an alternative home to swifts. Look for swift roosts in your area and work to make sure those roosts are protected during the nesting season.

If you’ve had chimney swifts in your chimney this fall, call Total Chimney Care at 203-874-6772! Once the swifts have left, we can clean and inspect your chimney to make sure it is safe for use this fall, and we can also install a chimney cap to prevent future nesting.

By Steve Sobczak on August 16th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Breathe easier this summer with cleaner air ducts

Many people close their homes to turn on the air conditioners each summer as they try to beat the heat and keep out the outdoor allergens. If your home has dirty air ducts, however, being indoors with the air conditioner might actually expose you to inferior air quality. With air duct cleaning from Total Chimney Care, you can breathe easier this summer.

How do air ducts get dirty in the first place?

The HVAC system in your home “breathes” in the air from your home, which then cools or heats to circulate through the duct work. When your furnace or air conditioner intakes the air from your home, it takes in any of the particles that are lurking around your home including pet dander, mold spores, dust, bacteria and outdoor allergens that have been tracked inside. If you don’t have your air ducts cleaned, all of that debris builds up within your air ducts.

Benefits of air duct cleaning

When your HVAC system runs, all the dirt particles in your air ducts go air born and blow out of your air vents into your home’s living space. Cleaning those particles out of your air ducts has many benefits including:

  • Better indoor air quality – Clean air ducts lead to cleaner air within your home. In addition, the improved air quality can provide relief for people in your home who suffer from asthma, allergies or other ailments that are caused by airborne matters.
  • A cleaner home – The dust and debris that comes out of your air ducts has to land somewhere. Dirty air ducts can cause dust to accumulate quickly on your furniture, floors and décor. Cleaning your air ducts will lead to a cleaner home.
  • A more efficient HVAC system – When your air ducts are clean, your HVAC system can work more efficiently. Some homeowners even reporting to run their furnaces or air conditioners less frequently because the increased airflow from their HVAC system.
  • A longer life for your HVAC system – The dust and debris in your air ducts can get sucked into your furnace or air conditioning unit. There, it can cause parts to stick or vents to become clogged, which can cause your HVAC unit to malfunction or break down. Cleaner ducts are easier on your HVAC system and can also help to extend its life.

If you’re ready to breathe easier this summer, call Total Chimney Care to schedule your air duct cleaning today! We’ll use our specialty, high-powered HEPA filtration vacuums in your duct system and vacuum out all of the debris, which we will bag up and haul away. You’ll be left with increased indoor air quality and a healthier HVAC system, so you can breathe easier this summer

By Steve Sobczak on July 31st, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Give Your Fireplace a Fresh Look With Cultured Stone

A hearth upgrade can vastly improve the look of your home. A hearth sets the tone for your living space, and investing in a new look for your hearth can give your home a whole new atmosphere. One way to make a dramatic change to your fireplace — or to install a new hearth to dramatically change your home — quickly and relatively inexpensively is with cultured stone.

Cultured stone – what is it?

Cultured stone is manmade to look like natural masonry products. Concrete creates a stone-like texture after molding. The molds include stones of different sizes, shapes and shades. One panel appears to be constructed out of several different rocks. Cultured stone comes in different colors and rock textures to create a variety of different looks, from broad fieldstones to stacked river rocks.

Why choose cultured stone?

More and more people are turning to cultured stone to achieve masonry accents on fireplaces, outdoor firepits, home exteriors and indoor accent walls. That’s because cultured stone offers many benefits over real quarried stone. First and foremost, cultured stone is considerably cheaper, costing as little as one-quarter of the price of natural stone. It’s also lighter, so it doesn’t require the foundation and infrastructure needed to support heavy stone structures. The paneled construction of cultured stone makes it quick and easy to install. For those looking to lessen their environmental impact, manufactured stone comes without the heavy environmental damage that quarries cause. Finally, cultured cement stone is easy to clean and durable.

What are your cultured stone options?

Despite limitations on the available stone types in your area, cultured stone comes in different varieties. First, the stones are molded into a variety of shapes. Next, the final molds are hand painted with iron pigments. This helps achieve a variation in color and appearance. In all, you can easily find cultured stone in more than 20 textures and 100 colors. With cultured stone, you can find the look you want for your hearth.

How can you make over your fireplace with cultured stone?

At Total Chimney Care, we are happy to provide our customers with cultured stone options for rehabbing the look of their fireplaces, or for installing a brand new fireplace in their home. Therefore, if you love the rich look of stone and want to find the perfect cultured stone for your hearth, call Total Chimney Care to schedule a consultation. Our hearth experts can show you all of your cultured stone options and help you create the look you want.

By Steve Sobczak on July 17th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment