Total Chimney Care's Blog

Close Your Fireplace and Chimney For Summer

Close Your Fireplace for the Summer - Fairfield New Haven, CT - Total Chimney CareEveryone who has a swimming pool knows if you live in a colder climate you must prepare your pool for the winter and close it properly to prevent damage. Did you know that the same principles apply to your fireplace and chimney during the warmer months? Total Chimney Care encourages you to add chimney and fireplace maintenance to your list of spring cleaning rituals. While it takes a professional chimney sweep to provide you with a yearly knowledgeable and comprehensive chimney cleaning and inspection, there are some relatively simple tasks homeowners can also perform once the cold weather has left.

As part of their Spring Cleaning Countdown, Woman’s Day magazine offers guidelines to homeowners regarding basic soot removal:

Before you begin make sure you have plastic goggles to protect your eyes from the ashes, a strong scrub brush, rubber gloves, a plastic drop cloth and bucket, and old newspapers. Be sure your children and pets are out of the room.

  1. Using a plastic liner or garbage bag, line the floor in front of your fireplace to protect any bordering rugs or carpeting.
  2. Remove the grates; bring outdoors and polish clean.
  3. Sweep loose ashes from the floor of your fireplace and collect them in a plastic bag.
  4. Next, line the fireplace floor with old newspapers. Scrape the chimney walls with a soot brush. Dispose of the newspaper and collected debris in a plastic bag, along with the previously gathered ashes.

After you have cleaned the fireplace, we recommend using a mixture of vinegar and water to wipe out the fireplace and hearth. The vinegar and water mixture helps clean and also reduces any lingering odors from past fires. If you have a wood burning stove, be sure to shut the damper. If you have a gas fireplace, the damper should always be open to prevent toxic gas seepage into your home. Additionally, if you have a gas fireplace, turn off the pilot light.

These steps will help the superficial buildup of soot and ash from a long fall and winter of use. However nothing replaces the professional cleaning and inspection for your entire venting system and those places that homeowners would never be able to see or reach. According the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) homeowners should have a yearly inspection and professional cleaning performed by a CSIA certified technician. CSIA not only provides comprehensive training programs for chimney technicians, they also provide recommendations and resources for homeowners regarding proper chimney and fireplace care and guidelines as to which maintenance tasks can be done by the homeowner and which are best left to the chimney professionals.

Properly maintaining your fireplace and chimney has more than aesthetic value. Dirty, blocked, and/or leaking chimneys and fireplaces mean your home and family are at risk for fires and toxic gas poisoning. Total Chimney Care is here to keep you safe. Call us today for a consultation regarding your fireplace and chimney needs.

By Steve Sobczak on May 27th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Save Big: Be Energy Efficient

Be a wise homeowner and opt for an energy efficient household. You'll not only save energy, you'll save your hard-earned money as well.

Be a wise homeowner and opt for an energy efficient household. You’ll not only save energy, you’ll save your hard-earned money as well.

Simple and inexpensive actions can help you save energy and money. If you haven’t done so already, the first step to saving energy and money in your home is to conduct a home energy audit. This will allow you to find out where you can save the most. As with all of our customers, we want to ensure that when you contact us, you are able to get the biggest bang for your energy buck. Keep reading for a few ideas on how you can save big, too!

Heating and Cooling

Small adjustments can lead to big savings when it comes to heating and cooling your home. Choose efficient furnaces and air conditioners when it’s time for replacement. Furnaces and air conditioners are expensive to operate and replace. If you need a new one, do not assume the size of the current unit is appropriate. Look at the unit’s efficiency rating. Furnaces with an AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating of at least 92 and an electrically efficient blower motor (ECW or variable speed) are best. If you use your central air conditioner a lot, look for a model with a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) of 14 or more for the best efficiency.

Scheduling regular tune-ups for your heating and cooling systems is also a wise idea. Seasonal maintenance keeps equipment running safely and efficiently, and saves money in the long run. For those homeowners with a fireplace, keep your damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping it open is like leaving a window wide open. When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if you have them) or open the nearest window slightly—an inch or so should do it—and close doors leading into the room. It should then be safe to lower your thermostat to between 50 and 55°F. If you have a fireplace that you never use, plug and seal the chimney flue.

Appliances and Household Electronics

Every load of laundry and every appliance and electronic gizmo provides an opportunity for efficiency and savings. Look for the ENERGY STAR label. The most efficient computers, TVs, washers, dryers, kitchen appliances and even fans have the label right on the box. To put it plainly, they save money! Using power strips for your electronic equipment can help save money as well. Many electronics consume energy even when you are not using them, hence the reason they’re often called energy vampires. These devices use about $100 of energy a year. Plugging chargers, computers and printers into a power strip lets you turn them off with one switch. Better yet, use a smart power strip. It turns off automatically when devices are not in use.

We know that the only way to achieve the goal of complete customer satisfaction is to establish procedures that ensure the job is done right the first time, every time, and at every customer’s home. In addition to establishing these procedures, we also know that having the right people to do the job is tantamount to our continued success. It is our mission to assure you that we will get the job done right, in a timely manner, and for a fair price. Our goal is to exceed your expectations. We are “Connecticut’s Chimney Experts”, and we are here for all of your chimney and fireplace needs.

Saving Energy = Saving Money

Get Better Performance And Savings With Energy Efficient Appliances

It’s easy to get attached to an old wood-burning stove or fireplace — there’s so much character and history confined inside these appliances, and, at their best, they bring such an unmatched, eye-grabbing charm to a space. But they do bring some serious drawbacks, too.

Open fireplaces and older wood stoves (meaning ones that were manufactured before 1990) just weren’t designed to be terribly efficient, in terms of heating power or fuel use. They waste fuel, waste heat and create higher levels of dangerous byproducts and deposits like creosote (which is what your Total Chimney Care technicians are working to get rid of during chimney sweeping appointments.Saving Energy = Saving Money - New Haven Fairfield CT - Total Chimney Care

Those old appliances also contribute more pollution to the air outside, and higher levels of particulates to their air inside your home. And if you really want to warm a room, your old wood fireplace isn’t going to offer a lot there — by design, a massive share of the heat created just gets sucked right up the flue. So while it’s understandable to be attached to that old unit, they’re not always the most practical.

Upgrading To Energy Efficient Appliances

Newer fireplaces and stoves on the market now were explicitly developed with energy efficiency and savings in mind. According to figures from the Environmental Protection Agency, newer, EPA-certified appliances are 50 percent more energy efficient (a new wood-burning unit can produce the same amount of heat as an old appliance using a third of the wood). Particle pollution is decreased with EPA-certified appliances too, by as much as 70 percent, and creosote build-up in the flue is dramatically reduced. The benefits here are broad, from the warmth in your home to the bottom line in your checkbook.

Gas Brings Convenience And Efficiency Too

If you have a wood-burning unit and want to really maximize efficiency and convenience, consider switching to gas, with the installation of gas logs or a gas insert. Gas units on the market today are highly efficient — direct-vent appliances show around a 70 percent efficiency rating, and ventless ones are often shown to reach efficiency rates in the 90s. You’re getting a lot of bang for your fuel buck with modern gas appliances.

If you have any questions about boosting your energy efficiency or upgrading to a new energy-saving appliance, Total Chimney Care is always here to help. Just give us a call!