Total Chimney Care's Blog

Don’t Forget Your Chimney’s Oil Flue This Fall

Most homeowners know the importance of having their fireplace chimneys and furnaces inspected, but many homeowners forget the cleaning and inspection of another vital chimney system: their oil flue. Just like fireplaces and furnaces, oil flues require regular cleaning and inspection to keep them running safely. Many homeowners with chimney flues assume that their annual furnace maintenance will include a cleaning of the chimney flue, but the reality is that it rarely does. While furnace technicians will often shovel out the base of the chimney and brush the furnace’s connector pipes, the furnace technician usually will not clean and inspect the chimney from top to bottom. A full oil flue cleaning and inspection requires the services of a certified chimney sweep.

Many homeowners with chimney flues assume that their annual furnace maintenance will include a cleaning of the chimney flue, but the reality is that it rarely does. While furnace technicians will often shovel out the base of the chimney and brush the furnace’s connector pipes, the furnace technician usually will not clean and inspect the chimney from top to bottom. A full oil flue cleaning and inspection requires the services of a certified chimney sweep.

The Importance of Oil Flue Cleaning

Just like the chimney flue that vents your fireplace, your oil furnace’s flue should be swept and inspected at least once a year, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America. That’s because the oil combustion within your furnace leads to a buildup of soot within the chimney flue. Over time that soot can build-up and prevent your oil furnace from running safely and effectively. A buildup of soot can lead to a buildup of carbon monoxide in your home, or to a chimney a fire. At the very least, the soot that builds up in your oil furnace flue is highly corrosive. It can cause the chimney flue liner to break down. Flakes from the liner can fall onto the furnace and cause it to malfunction, or the liner can break down to the point where it’s no longer safe. Signs your oil flue needs to be cleaned

Signs Your Oil Flue Needs Cleaned

One of the worst-case scenarios we see is neglected oil flues causing furnaces to malfunction in the middle of winter. This leaves homeowners to deal with emergency repairs to keep their homes warm. An oil flue cleaning can help to prevent mid-winter furnace breakdowns. Even if you have your oil flue cleaned, you should be on the lookout for these signs of a dirty flue:

  • Black smoke billowing from the combustion chamber
  • Excessive heat coming from the combustion chamber
  • Strange odors coming from the furnace
  • Burning through more fuel than usual

If you notice any signs that your furnace flue could be clogged — even if you had your flue cleaned for the fall — call to have your flue inspected and cleaned, if needed.

Call Now!

Don’t wait until you have a problem; schedule your oil flue cleaning today!

The biggest mistake you can make is to wait to have your oil flue cleaned and inspected after a clogged chimney causes a malfunction with your furnace, or worse, a chimney fire. To ensure your oil furnace is ready to safely heat your home this winter, call Total Chimney Care to schedule your oil flue cleaning today!

By Steve Sobczak on October 2nd, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Use a Wood or Pellet Stove for Efficient Heating

When temperatures plummet, homeowners almost universally begin complaining about how much it costs to heat their homes. And nearly all homeowners begin looking for ways to reduce their home heating costs. This winter, consider adding a wood or pellet stove to your home for more efficient heating.

Pellet Stoves Save Money

Heating your home with oil is expensive. And it’s even more expensive if you live in an older home or a large home. You can reduce your home heating costs anywhere from 40 to 50 percent by installing a free-standing wood or pellet stove in your home, or by installing a wood or pellet insert into your open-hearth fireplace. That’s because wood and pellets are relatively inexpensive, and EPA-certified heating stoves or inserts burn hot and clean to convert your wood or pellet fuel into an efficient source of heat.

Wood Versus Pellet

When it comes to deciding between a wood or pellet stove, the choice is largely personal. They are fairly close when it comes to operating costs and appearance, but here are the primary differences between wood stoves and pellet stoves:

  • Fuel. A wood stove, of course, depends on wood for fuel, and that means burning wood logs to heat your home. Most pellet stoves burn compressed, dehydrated sawdust pellets, though some burn biofuel, such as corn.
  • Cost. The average cost of fueling a wood stove for a winter is less than fueling a pellet stove. The average pellet stove requires 7.3 tons of pellets each winter, which costs around $1,825. The average wood stove burns about 6.5 cords per wood. Purchased, that would cost $1,300, though many homeowners cut and cure their own wood to fuel their wood stoves. Either is cheaper than heating a home with oil or electricity.
  • Care. Pellet stoves have the advantage over wood stoves when it comes to care. Woodstoves require nearly constant tending, while pellet stoves feature large hoppers to hold pellets and an automatic feeding system. That means pellet stoves can continue to heat your home while you’re sleeping, at work or even gone for a weekend.
  • Maintenance. Both pellet stoves and wood stoves require annual maintenance. Chimneys and stoves should be professionally cleaned and inspected at least once per year to ensure their safe operation and reduce the risk of a home fire.

Choosing a Pellet or Wood Stove

If you’re ready to lower your home heating bills this winter with a wood or pellet stove, visit Total Chimney Care’s online fireplace store or stop by in person at Total Chimney Care’s hearth store counterpart, The Cozy Flame. Our fireplace experts can help you pick the right heating stove to fit your home heating needs and lower your home heating bills this winter!

By Steve Sobczak on September 18th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

It’s Almost Burn Season; Find the Best Firewood!

As summer draws to a close, homeowners are beginning to make their preparations for fall and winter. If you have a wood-burning fireplace or heating stove, that means that you’ll be investing in fuel for your hearth. The right firewood can make all the difference in a wood-burning fireplace or stove. For homeowners looking to heat their homes with wood, the right wood will burn hotter and more efficiently, meaning you will need less of it to keep your home cozy. For homeowners who want to enjoy the ambiance of a wood fire, the right firewood means less smoke and less dangerous buildup within your chimney. So what makes good firewood? And how can you be sure that’s what you’re getting?

So what makes good firewood? And how can you be sure that’s what you’re getting? Make sure the wood has been seasoned.

Make sure the wood has been seasoned.

The most important consideration when looking for firewood is that wood has been properly seasoned. That means the wood has been stored for a minimum of six months so that the natural water content of the tree has had time to evaporate out of the wood. Seasoned firewood burns hot, cleanly and efficiently. When the wood hasn’t had time to dry out adequately, the water trapped inside the logs will boil and steam. That cools down the temperature of your fire and creates a lot of smoke, which leads to an excess of creosote buildup within your chimney.

Look for hardwoods.

Hardwoods — like maple, ash, elm, birch, hickory, and cherry, to name a few — are favored by people who are serious about heating their homes with wood. That’s because these hardwoods are dense, and they burn hot and for longer periods of time. As you look for wood, aim to fill your woodpile primarily with hardwoods. Softer woods can be burned, but it’s generally recommended that they are mixed in with hardwoods.

Ask about storage.

Choosing the right hardwoods and making sure that the wood has been thoroughly seasoned isn’t enough; you have to make sure the wood also has been properly stored. When wood isn’t protected from the elements or elevated off of the ground, it can reabsorb moisture and begin to mold or rot. If you are purchasing or accepting wood from someone else, make sure they have properly stored the wood to make sure you’re not going to be stuck with wet, decaying firewood that won’t burn well.

Inspect the wood.

A quick inspection of the wood should let you know whether you’ve found the right firewood. Wood that has been properly seasoned and stored with be a dull, gray color; the bark will be pulling away from the wood; and the wood might be cracked in places. When struck together, the wood will make a hollow noise. When you do burn the wood, it should ignite quickly and make a pleasant crackling sound as it burns.

Finding the right firewood means you’ll have a successful wood-burning season, full of warm, crackling fires that heat your home safely and efficiently. Make sure you find the right firewood this fall so you get the most out of your fireplace! And as part of your preparation for the fire-burning season, don’t forget to schedule your chimney sweeping appointment with Total Chimney Care!

By Steve Sobczak on September 1st, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Check Out Our Fireplace Store

Fall’s chill soon will be setting in, and that means one thing: Fireplace season. If your fireplace needs to be updated or accessories, or if you’re looking to add a new fireplace or heating stove to your home, check out our fireplace store — The Cozy Flame — now to prepare your hearth for fall! At The Cozy Flame, you’ll find everything you need to improve and tend your hearth, including:


At The Cozy Flame, we carry top-of-the-line fireplaces from Regency Fireplaces and Superior Fireplaces. We offer wood-burning fireplaces that will fill your hearth with the crackling warmth and gentle glow of a traditional hearth, as well as convenient and efficient gas fireplaces that allow you to fill your home with warmth and ambiance at the push of a button.

Fireplace Inserts

If your fireplace has become unsightly, if it’s starting to fail or if you would like to increase its efficiency, The Cozy Flame can help! We carry gas and wood-burning inserts that will instantly transform your fireplace. With a new fireplace insert, your hearth can become an attractive centerpiece in your home, as well as a clean and efficient heating source.

Gas Logs

Do you love your open-hearth fireplace but hate the work it takes to build, tend and clean up after a wood fire? You can continue to enjoy your open-hearth fireplace by outfitting your fireplace with gas logs from The Cozy Flame! Gas logs provide the look and feel of a traditional wood-burning fire, but without the work.

Heating Stoves

A heating stove can help you to lower your wintertime heating bills by providing heat where you need it the most. When you install a gas, wood-burning or pellet stove in the heart of your home, you can concentrate your heat on the rooms you spend the most time in while turning down the thermostat for the rest of your home. Or, you can even rig your heating stove up to provide heat to your entire home! At The Cozy Flame, we carry an array of heating stoves so you’re sure to find one that fits your needs and your home’s style.

Fireplace Accessories

Fireplace accessories can make your hearth more beautiful, more functional and more efficient. At The Cozy Flame, we carry all of the fireplace accessories you need, including fireplace doors, mantels, tool sets and other accessories.

If you’re ready to prepare your home and your hearth for the chilly days of fall, stop by The Cozy Flame today! Our hearth experts can help you find the heating appliance or fireplace accessories that are right for your home and your hearth. Our showroom is conveniently located at 116-Q Research Drive in Milford, Conn. We’re open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

By Steve Sobczak on August 17th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Keeping Animals Out of Your Chimney

If your chimney isn’t protected, you could find it playing home to an animal. Whether they enter the chimney by accident or are tempted into building a nest by the warmth and shelter of the chimney, birds, bats, raccoons, and squirrels are common intruders in chimneys. Those intruders can cause some serious problems, which is why you should take measures to prevent animals in your chimney.

Keeping Animals Out is Important

Once inside your chimneys, animals can bring a host of problems. At the very least, you can’t use your fireplace if the chimney is blocked by a trapped animal or an animal nest. And having animals removed from your chimney by a professional can be expensive. Some of the other problems animals in chimneys can cause include:

  • Chimney damage. A trapped, frantic animal can damage your chimney with clawing and scratching. A nesting animal can damage the chimney as it enters and exits, and as it builds the nest.
  • Fire hazard. Animal nests are usually constructed of flammable materials. If you have a nest in your chimney that you’re not aware of and you light a fire, the nest could ignite and start a chimney fire.
  • Carbon monoxide hazard. If your chimney is blocked by an animal or an animal nest, gases generated by your fireplace, including carbon monoxide, can’t exit the chimney. That can cause the gases to build up to dangerous levels within your home.
  • Foul odors. If a trapped animal can’t escape the chimney, it can die and decay, filling your house with a horrible smell. Nesting animals can leave behind smells from droppings, rotting food or rotting nesting materials.
  • Diseases. Animals carry diseases. When they enter your chimney, they carry a risk of spreading those diseases to your family or your pets.

Prevent Animals From Entering Your Chimney

There are three primary ways to protect your chimney from animal intrusions:

  • Chimney caps. Chimney caps are perhaps the most common method for keeping animals out of your chimney. Chimney caps cover the chimney opening, and a proper chimney cap is surrounded by a metal cage to keep out animals and debris.
  • Top-sealing dampers. Top-sealing dampers close off your chimney entirely when the chimney isn’t in use, keeping out water, animals, and debris. When the chimney is in use and the damper is open, the damper opening should be enclosed with a wire cage to keep animals out.
  • Chimney sweepings and inspections. A chimney sweeping and inspection won’t keep animals out of your chimney, but a chimney sweep can spot a trapped animal or signs of an animal nest. A chimney sweep can clear away any signs of an animal nest or animal droppings, and he can help with any repairs needed due to damage caused by animals.

If your chimney isn’t protected from animal intrusions, call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! We can install a chimney cap or a top-sealing damper to keep animals out. If an animal does enter your chimney, we can clear out a nest, clear away droppings and debris left by the animal, and make sure that your chimney is safe for use.

By Steve Sobczak on August 3rd, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment