Total Chimney Care's Blog

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

Why hire a professional for your fireplace installation?

Countless homeowners love a good DIY project. It can be a fun and rewarding challenge to improve the look, feel and value of your home. If there is one project you shouldn’t try to do yourself, however, it is a fireplace installation. So why should you hire a certified professional to install your fireplace?

A professional will make sure your chimney fits your fireplace.

If you are installing a new fireplace or heating stove unit into an existing fireplace space, it might seem like an easy job to hook your new heating appliance into the chimney. But not all chimneys and fireplaces are a perfect match. Chimneys need to be properly sized to the fireplace, fireplace insert or heating stove to draft and vent properly, or you risk filling your home with smoke or carbon dioxide when you light your unit. Also, some types of chimney liners are not made for certain types of heating fuel. That means if your chimney was built for a wood-burning fireplace or stove, you absolutely should consult with a professional before hooking in a gas fireplace or insert.

A professional will follow all building codes to make sure your fireplace will burn safely.

There are countless building codes that apply to fireplaces and chimneys. The fireboxes and chimney liners require proper clearance of surrounding wall supports and home materials to avoid fire risks. A heavy masonry fireplace or metal fireplace insert might require additional foundational support. A certified fireplace professional has been trained in building codes that apply to fireplaces. Having your fireplace installed by a professional means that your fireplace will be installed following all building codes and manufacturer’s recommendations so that your fires will burn and exhaust safely.

A professional will ensure that all necessary infrastructure is in place for installation.

For all but open-hearth wood-burning fireplaces, there is additional infrastructure that goes into installing fireplaces, fireplace inserts and heating stoves. A gas fireplace, insert or fireplace fitting with gas logs will need a properly run gas line. Electric fireplaces and even wood-burning, pellet and gas inserts and stoves require electrical hookups to power pilot lights, fans, blowers and augers. A professional fireplace installer will make sure you have electrical and gas hookups to install a fireplace properly.

If you are ready to upgrade your home with a fireplace, don’t do it yourself; call the professional fireplace installers at Total Chimney Care! We can help you design your hearth, pick the perfect fireplace for your home-heating needs. At Total Chimney Care, we install fireplace in newly constructed homes and existing homes. We install gas, wood-burning and pellet fireplaces, heating stoves and fireplace inserts, as well as gas logs and outdoor fireplaces. Whatever your fireplace installation needs, you can be confident that the professionals from Total Chimney Care will install your new fireplace the right way.

By Steve Sobczak on February 22nd, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Are you ready to light your fireplace?

Lighting Your Fireplace Image - Fairfield & New Haven CT - Total Chimney Care LLCTemperatures are dipping, and the holidays are almost upon us. This time of year has many homeowners lighting their first fires of the season. Before you use your fireplace for the first time this fall, you need to follow this checklist to determine: Are you ready to light your fireplace?

Have your fireplace swept and inspected.

If your fireplace hasn’t been swept or inspected since your last fire of the spring, you aren’t ready to light your fireplace. Your annual chimney sweeping removes dangerous creosote deposits, which can ignite a chimney fire or block smoke from exiting your fireplace if left unchecked. Your annual chimney inspection checks for any weaknesses, damage or blockages in your chimney that could pose a hazard when your fireplace is lit. Don’t light your first fire if you haven’t had your chimney swept and inspected!

Perform any recommended repairs.

If your chimney inspection turned up any needed repairs, don’t ignore them, no matter how small they seem! Even the smallest chimney issue can put your fireplace or your home at risk. Small cracks in your firebox or chimney liner can allow heat and smoke to enter your home, causing damage or a fire or sickening your family with carbon monoxide. Cracks in the chimney crown or exterior masonry can allow water to penetrate your chimney and your home and do damage. As tempting as it is to ignore recommended repairs when it comes time for the first fire of the fall, make sure you take care of chimney repairs before you use your fireplace.

Make any improvements.

Did last winter have you thinking about fireplace improvements? Did you consider a new damper to replace one that no longer sealed out cold air? Would you like to install an efficient gas fireplace insert to your existing hearth? Could your hearth’s masonry use some cosmetic work? It’s not too late to make improvements to your fireplace or chimney! You could still have a new fireplace insert, fireplace or heating stove installed to enjoy all winter long, or you could replace dated or aged chimney or fireplace parts that are no longer working optimally to improve the function of your fireplace and chimney this winter.

Waterproof your chimney.

Water is your chimney’s greatest enemy. It erodes your chimney’s masonry and can compromise its structure. It can rust your damper, fireplace grate and fireplace doors. It can even seep into your home and cause structural or cosmetic damage. You can save your chimney from water damage this winter by having your chimney waterproofed!

Call Total Chimney Care to Schedule an appointment today!

If your fireplace and chimney aren’t quite ready for fall, call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! We can clean and inspect your chimney, perform any needed repairs or desired improvements, or waterproof your chimney to protect it from moisture this winter. With Total Chimney Care, you can be sure that your chimney and fireplace are ready for the first fire of the fall!

By Steve Sobczak on November 25th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Total Chimney Care Embraces The CSIA

At Total Chimney Care, we believe in taking good care of our customers. To us, that means ensuring that our sweeps are well educated and trained in installing, maintaining and repairing fireplaces, heating stoves and chimneys. The best way to do that, is by embracing the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).

total chimney care embraces the csia - new haven ct - total chimney careWhat Is The CSIA?

The CSIA is the leading education and training organization for chimney sweeps in the United States. The CSIA works to educate chimney sweeps and the public about safe operation and care of fireplaces, heating stoves and chimneys. One of the primary functions of the CSIA is to train and certify chimney sweeps. These primary functions include:

  • The science of wood-burning and creosote formation
  • Proper chimney sweeping inspection and repair techniques
  • Codes related to constructing chimneys and vents
  • Installing fireplaces and heating stoves
  • U.S. EPA regulations related to home-heating appliances

Under CSIA guidelines, sweeps have to renew their certification each year. In addition, they must retake the CSIA certification exam every three years.

How Does Total Chimney Care Uphold CSIA Standards?

At Total Chimney Care, we honor the high industry standards of the CSIA by making sure that our chimney sweeps are CSIA certified. We are proud to announce that Edward Andriaccio, Robert Baker, and Justin Gonzalez have earned their CSIA certifications. They did this by undergoing their CSIA training programming and passing the CSIA certification exam.

We at Total Chimney Care also believe in adhering the to the CSIA industry code of conduct. Under the code of conduct, we promise to:

  • Follow industry best practices
  • Know local codes and manufacturer’s guidelines for fireplaces, heating stoves and chimneys
  • Always treat customers professionally and with respect

These are things that Total Chimney Care strongly believes in!

Why Else Are Total Chimney Care Sweeps The Best?

At Total Chimney Care, we not only uphold CSIA training and guidelines, we go beyond them! We have an in-house training facility. So, now all of our employees can learn and practice proper chimney care and maintenance. We hold regular in-house training, bringing in industry experts and factory technicians. It would be hard to find another company that trains their sweeps as well as we do!

When you call on Total Chimney Care, we promise to send well-trained, professional sweeps who will take good care of your home. We use drop cloths, gloves and high powered vacuums. This way we won’t make a mess of your home while we clean your chimney. Our technicians will always be on time, will introduce themselves, and produce their photo ID. So, as you prepare your fireplace and chimney for the upcoming fire-burning season, call on Total Chimney Care’s CSIA certified technicians to care for your home!

By Steve Sobczak on October 12th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

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