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What Is Creosote?

Has it been a while since your chimney has been professionally swept? If so, you could likely have a dangerous fire hazard in your home! One of the main reasons why national fire safety organizations like the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend scheduling a professional chimney sweeping at least once a year? To have deposits of creosote removed from the inner walls of the flue.

What Is Creosote Image - Chicago IL - Aelite Chimney SpecialtiesSince the hazards are involved with creosote, you want to hire an experienced chimney sweep to do this important maintenance service. You can trust our sweeps at Aelite Chimney Specialties. We have years of experience with making sure that every bit of creosote has been removed from every chimney we sweep. In addition, we have also received certification from the CSIA as professional chimney sweeps. We would like to tell you more about creosote and why it is so dangerous.

What exactly is creosote?

Creosote is a natural compound that develops during the combustion process of burning wood. When smoke, gases, and the other byproducts of combustion exit the chimney, condensation occurs. This is because the upper chimney walls are so much cooler. Therefore, this causes the byproducts to leave behind deposits of creosote, a residue that sticks to the inner walls. Over the months of winter, these deposits can build up to the point of becoming a dangerous fire hazard.

Why is creosote such a fire hazard?

This substance is extremely flammable and can easily ignite into flames, if the internal temperature of your chimney gets hot enough. In fact, the CSIA has named creosote as a leading cause of chimney fires.

What can I do to reduce the development of creosote?

One of the best steps to take that will decrease the amount of creosote accumulating inside your chimney? Only burn seasoned firewood! This is wood that has been allowed to dry for at least six months after it has been cut. Burning freshly-cut wood will produce a large amount of this hazardous compound. This is due to the energy that’s used to burn away all of the moisture within the wood, which causes more condensation.

Restricted air supply is another cause of a larger than normal production of creosote. To avoid this situation, you should keep your glass fireplace doors open. Also, make sure your damper is completely opened every time you light a fire in your fireplace. This should provide enough make-up air to enter through your fireplace to speed up the exhaust process. The longer smoke remains inside the chimney, the likelihood of accelerated creosote production increases.

To avoid this dangerous fire hazard, you should have your chimney professionally swept every year. Contact us at Aelite Chimney Specialties today to schedule an appointment for your annual chimney maintenance services!

Add Your Annual Chimney Sweep to Your Spring Cleaning Routine

Here in the Chicago area, we have been seeing and hearing the first signs of spring: the birds chirping, the flowers blooming, the sun shining. To many people, spring is the season for cleaning and maintaining your home. The new signs of rebirth that come with spring make many of us want to ensure our homes are clean with properly working systems. One of these systems involves your chimney, and it makes sense to include the cleaning of your fireplace and chimney along with your other spring cleaning tasks. And, since professional chimney sweeps like our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps at Aelite Chimney Specialties will be the ones who actually clean your chimney, the only thing you as the homeowner has to do is schedule the time for us to sweep your chimney. The CSIA, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and other national fire safety organizations all recommend that you have your chimney professionally swept and inspected at least once a year, and we would like to tell you more about why this chimney maintenance service is recommended and what you can inspect from a visit from the sweeps at Aelite Chimney Specialties. Annual Spring Chimney Cleaning Image - Chicago IL - Aelite Chimney Specialties

Why do I need my chimney professionally swept and inspected every year?

As the CSIA clearly states, dirty chimneys cause chimney fires. Creosote, a natural residue that forms during the combustion process of burning wood, is extremely flammable. After a long winter of using your fireplace every day, the amount of creosote accumulation inside your chimney can be dangerous. When Aelite Chimney Specialties sweeps your chimney, our CSIA-certified sweeps will be sure to remove every bit of creosote that has stuck to the walls of your chimney. After your chimney has been cleaned, our sweeps will inspect your chimney to look for damage that should be repaired to be sure your chimney is safe to use. We will look for blockages that could lead to hazardous situations.

What can I expect from my appointment with Aelite Chimney Specialties?

When our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps arrive to your home to clean and inspect your chimney, we will begin the process by laying down tarps around your fireplace and sealing off the area to protect your home from soot. We do ask that it would be extremely helpful if you can move all the furniture within an eight feet radius of your hearth before we get there. To professionally sweep your chimney, we use rotating brushes on rods and high-powered vacuums to get all of the creosote and soot out of your home. After your chimney has been cleaned, we will inspect the interior and exterior of your chimney to look for any damage or blockages. We will be recording the entire inspection on video, so you will be able to have a copy of the entire inspection. We will also give you a written evaluation once the inspection is finished.

Get started on your spring cleaning routine! If you live around Chicago and Northern Illinois, contact us at Aellite Chimney Specialties to schedule an appointment for your annual professional chimney sweeping and inspection today.

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Schedule a Spring Chimney Sweeping and Inspection

Make a chimney sweep part of your spring cleaning!

Make a chimney sweep part of your spring cleaning!

We know it may be difficult to believe, but spring is here, and fireplace season will be slowing down. To be sure your chimney is safe after a heavy usage during a long and cold winter, scheduling your annual chimney sweeping and inspection now is essential, especially if your chimney is in need of important repairs. At Aelite Chimney Specialties, one of our least busiest times of the year is the spring, so you can easily make an appointment for our certified technicians to visit your home to clean, examine, and repair your chimney. According to fire safety organizations such as the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), it is recommended you schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection once every year. We would like to share with you the important chimney maintenance steps our chimney technicians will take to find essential repairs needed to make your fireplace and chimney system safe.

CHIMNEY SWEEPING

When the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified sweeps at Aelite Chimney Specialties clean your chimney after winter, our main concern is removing all of the creosote deposits that have accumulated on the walls of your chimney. Forming naturally as the by-products of combustion (smoke, gases, tar fog, vapors, etc) exit the cooler walls of your upper chimney, creosote is the highly combustible result of the condensation that occurs. Creosote can be either black or brown, and its appearance can vary. Whether it is sticky and gummy, crispy and brittle, or shiny and hard, creosote, especially in large amounts, is extremely flammable, which makes it the cause of a majority of chimney fires. Getting rid of these creosote buildups after winter’s heavy fireplace usage is essential to the safety of your chimney.

CHIMNEY INSPECTING

Aelite Chimney Specialties takes pride in performing detailed post-winter chimney inspections because we want to find any damage that needs repairing to ensure the safety of your fireplace and chimney. Of course, we seriously examine every part of your chimney; however, there are specific repairs we are looking for, including the following:

Damaged or deteriorated masonry

Loose bricks and chipped mortar on the exterior of your chimney are sure signs of water penetration damage, and this alerts us to the possibility of water leaking inside your chimney that creates even more damage to its interior. If this masonry damage goes unrepaired, you will end up with costly repair work, including a possible rebuild of your entire chimney.

Cracks in the chimney cap

Your chimney cap serves as protection from both water and animal intrusions of your chimney. A deteriorated chimney cap serves no help at all to your chimney. We can repair cracks and other damage to chimney caps as well as install new caps if the existing caps are beyond repairing.

Cracks and holes in the chimney flue liner

Water leaks can cause serious damage to the liner of your chimney that can endanger your family’s health. A deteriorating flue liner allows toxic gases like carbon monoxide to leak into your home. Repairing or replacing a damaged chimney flue liner will keep those gases exiting out of your chimney instead of infiltrating the interior air of your home.

Get your chimney cleaned after the long winter by contacting Aelite Chimney Specialties now. We are happy to schedule an appointment for your annual sweeping and inspection as well as perform all necessary repairs.

By Nick Wagner | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

The Importance of Proper Ash Removal and Storage

If you have a wood-burning appliance, you know that after a fire, you will be left with ashes and ash residue left behind that will need to be correctly removed and stored. If you are unaware of the proper ash removal and storing procedures, you could end up with a fire ignited by the hot embers insulated within the ashes. At Aelite Chimney Specialties, fireplace and chimney safety is one of our highest priorities as CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, so we want to share with you some answers to questions on removing and storing ashes correctly to protect you from the possibility of a dangerous fire.

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How Can Improper Ash Removal and Storage Lead to a Fire?

Often, people mistakenly think that simply storing ashes in a metal bucket with no lid is the correct way to store ashes after they are removed. However, when this bucket is sitting outside on your porch, strong winter winds can easily blow the bucket over, which causes all of the ashes to fall out onto your porch or yard. If this does occur, the ashes get stirred up, and the hot coals and embers could be reactivated. If your porch has a wooden floor, you might also possibly have a dangerous porch fire on your hands caused by the improper storage of ashes. Similarly, if the hot ashes end up in your yard, you may have to deal with an out-of-control brushfire.

What Kind of Container Should I Use to Store Ashes?

Aelite Chimney Specialties cannot stress enough to our customers the importance of using a proper ash container. We strongly recommend using a pail or bucket constructed from sheet metal that has a securely fitted lid. The lid is the essential key for safety. For an even safer ash storage container, the bottom of the pail should be slightly offset so that the actual bottom will not make contact with flooring and char the surface.

Where Should I Store My Ash Bucket?

Do not ever place your bucket on a wooden floor as this can be a fire hazard even if the bucket has an elevated metal bottom. Always store your ash bucket outside on a non-combustible surface such as stone, brick, concrete, or slate. Ensure the lid is securely closed.

Should I Remove Ashes After Every Fire?

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), you do not have to remove ashes after every fire. In fact, leaving a one-inch layer of ash on the floor of your firebox will make it much easier to build and maintain a fire. The hot embers within the ashes will add more heat to the fuel and reflect this heat back into the fire. A thin layer of ash can also protect the floor of your firebox. However, you should never allow this layer of ashes to get too deep. If these ashes should make contact with the bottom of your grate, it can cause the grate to prematurely burn out.

What If I Have a Wood-Burning Stove or a Pellet Stove? Do I Need to Store These Ashes Differently?

Ash storage procedures are still the same for these stoves. If your stove is long and narrow and burns from the front to the back, it will benefit from removing the ashes that are just inside the door. Then, you can move the hot coals to the back of the stove to aid in the quick ignition of a fire. The incoming air from combustion will reignite those hot coals and rapidly heat up the entire firebox. When all of the ashes are removed, it will be difficult to start a fire because all of the bricks in the firebox must be heated to saturation before your fire can really get going.

If you have any questions about how to remove and store ashes properly, contact Aelite Chimney Specialties to ask our staff. We are happy to help you with every issue involving fire safety.

Let Us Answer Your Vent-Free Gas Logs FAQ

An increasingly popular, economical, and environmentally-friendly way to enjoy a fire, gas logs are available from Aelite Chimney Specialties in two different types: vented and vent-free (also known as ventless or unvented). If you are shopping for gas logs, you may hesitate from choosing vent-free gas logs because you have heard they are are not safe to use because they can leak poisonous gases like carbon monoxide into your home. However, this information is not completely true. Recently, The VentFree Organization, discovered in a study of vent-free gas logs that their emissions are well within the recommended standards for good indoor air quality. Our staff at Aelite Chimney Specialties can help you decide which type of gas logs are best for you, and we would like to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about vent-free gas logs to put your mind at ease.

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What are the dangers of carbon monoxide leaking into my house from vent-free logs?

Including households with the elderly, pregnant women, and small children, vent-free gas logs passed every test comparing their carbon monoxide levels with the recommended maximum levels as set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Vent-free gas logs passed all of the tests with flying colors and are well within the CPSC indoor air quality guidelines. Of course, for safety reasons, your home should have several carbon monoxide detection alarms installed on each level of your home and outside every bedroom because the toxic gas is odorless and tasteless.

Can I heat my entire house with vent-free gas logs?

No, all major building codes recommend that a primary heat source, like a furnace, be functional in the home before installing vent-less gas logs. These gas logs are only approved as a strictly supplemental heat source.

Can I use vent-free gas logs in every state?

No, vent-free gas logs are illegal to use in California. However, in the other 49 states, the International Residential Code (IRC) accepted the use of vent-free gas logs as a supplemental heating source in January 2006.

Will vent-free gas logs produce too much heat in tightly constricted homes?

This issue is solved by controlling the heat output of your vent-free gas logs and setting the heat to your desired temperature. Although, if your home is tightly constricted without much ventilation, Aelite Chimney Specialties will follow the manufacturer’s instructions and all building code requirements to provide the needed ventilation and combustion air. In some cases, however, we may also have to install additional mechanical ventilation.

Will I be able to use my ceiling fan in the same room as my vent-free gas logs?

Yes, a ceiling fan can be used to distribute the heat around the room, but you must be sure that the fan does not blow directly into the fireplace or cause drafts that alter the burner’s flame patterns, or you could end up with soot inside your house.

How should I maintain my vent-free gas logs?

Once a year, you should have your vent-free gas logs professionally cleaned and serviced. Aelite Chimney Specialties can inspect and adjust the oxygen and carbon monoxide monitors for safe and efficient performance.

Do you have more questions about vent-free gas logs? Contact Aelite Chimney Specialties to ask us more about this safe and efficient supplemental heating source.