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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!

By Nick Wagner | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Comments Off on What Is Creosote?

How to Build an Efficient Fire in Your Fireplace

Forming an Adequate Fire Image - Chicago IL - Aelite Chimney SpecialtiesWhile many love the sensory experience of a wood fire, not everyone loves the chores involved with burning wood. Having to bring in more firewood from outside to keep a fire going can be tiring, especially when the weather gets freezing cold. Knowing how to build an efficient fire allows you to spend more time enjoying the cozy flames instead of trudging outside to get more fuel. Aelite Chimney Specialties loves helping our customers learn how to build better fires, and we would like to tell you how to build a top-down fire, which is recommended by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). This method of building a fire will give you longer lasting and warmer fires without spending a lot of time maintaining the flames.

Start with the largest pieces of firewood.

Although you may have learned to place your largest logs on top of the fire, a top-down burn build starts with those pieces on the bottom. Do not place the firewood parallel to the opening of the fireplace. Instead, place the ends of the logs facing the front and back of the fireplace.

Add layers of smaller logs.

Once you have your base of larger pieces of firewood, you can then stack layers of smaller pieces on top until you have reached half of the height of the firebox. You want to make each level smaller as you stack higher.

Place kindling and wood shavings on the top.

You will want to build a mini-version with your kindling of what you just built with the firewood. At the very top of your kindling stack, place wood shavings. You will want to stop building just below the fireplace opening.

Light the fire!

If you have struggled with lighting wood fires in the past, you will appreciate how simple it is to get a top-down burn fire started. Typically, you will only need a single match or the flame from an automatic lighter to ignite the wood shavings. You can also roll up a newspaper and light the end to start the fire.

A top-down burn will give you a fire that produces less smoke and creosote. You will also notice fewer ashes on the floor in front of the fireplace because you will not have larger logs falling on smaller pieces of firewood. Aelite Chimney Specialties also recommends that you only burn seasoned firewood. Contact us to learn more tips for building the best and most efficient wood fires this winter.

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Firewood Tips for Optimal Burning and Storing

Winter is quickly approaching, and before you know it, you will be sitting in front of your fireplace enjoying a warm, beautiful fire. However, using the right firewood can make a huge difference on the efficiency of your fireplace. We at Aelite Chimney Specialties would like to share with you some tips on how to choose and store your firewood to help you achieve the best fires possible this season.

Plan Ahead.

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Thoughtful preparation of your firewood supply is crucial. You have many decisions to make in advance of the fireplace season, including obtaining your firewood (Will you cut the wood yourself, or will you be buying your firewood?), storing your firewood, and properly drying your firewood. A lot of people get a late start on gathering their wood fuel supply for the winter and end up having to use inferior firewood. Thinking about this important task in the spring and summer ensures you will have the best wood supply you can when you need it.

Investigate the Best Source for Your Firewood Supply.

If you plan on cutting your own wood, be sure you have the correct permits to do so on state-owned land if you do not own a woodlot. If you would rather buy firewood, ask your friends and family for recommendations for reliable wood vendors. Never order firewood over the phone or online as you need to see the vendor’s wood supply in person to be sure the wood is clean, dried, and properly sized.

Season Your Firewood.

The most important characteristic of good firewood is that the wood is dry and seasoned. According to Michigan State University, your firewood must be dry to burn efficiently and to maximize heat values. Burning wet, green wood is a waste of energy as the fire must evaporate all of the moisture before it can provide sufficient heat. Using green wood can also lead to the rapid development of large creosote deposits when the chimney stack temperatures are not hot enough, which leads creosote to condense. A highly flammable compound, creosote deposits are one of the main causes of chimney fires.

Stack Your Firewood Correctly to Aid the Seasoning Process.

The stacking method you choose to store your firewood will affect how quickly it dries. Never dead-pile your wood closely together as this prolongs seasoning. Using criss-crossed and open-spaced stacking methods will allow your wood to season faster. Also, know that the size of each piece of wood also makes a difference on how quickly it will dry.

Store Your Firewood Properly.

Your firewood should be protected from the weather by storing it off the ground and covering it with plastic or another weatherproof material, if you do not have a woodshed storage area. Seasoned wood can be ruined by exposure to rain and snow since wood easily absorbs and retains moisture.

Want to know more firewood burning and storing tips? Contact Aelite Chimney Specialties to ask our expert staff about more ways you can be prepared with the best supply of firewood.

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Maintaining Your Prefabricated Fireplace

The Basics of Maintaining Your Prefabricated Fireplace

A prefabricated fireplace is a great option for someone who does not have a masonry fireplace included in the structure of their home. However, some homeowners do not realize that these structures require just as much attention and maintenance as their counterparts. In order to safely enjoy a prefabricated fireplace, it is absolutely necessary to follow a few important guidelines for maintenance.

When purchasing a prefabricated fireplace, it will be essential to also purchase a chimney and a cap. What people must keep in mind is that the manufacturers create all three of these pieces to be used together. It is absolutely necessary to only use the chimney and cap that are intended to go with the particular fireplace. Mixing and matching will affect not only the efficiency but also the safety of the entire system and should be avoided at all times.

Picture of: Fireplace Insert

A prefabricated fireplace is a delight to the senses, but still needs regular maintenance.

As with any fireplace, it is necessary to keep a prefabricated fireplace clean in order to have it function properly. Be sure to remove any excess material left in the fireplace, but you will need to leave about one eighth of an inch on the bottom for proper insulation. It is best to double-check the cleanliness of the fireplace before starting a fire and then to clean it thoroughly after putting the fire out.

Some people think that their prefabricated fireplace is not vulnerable to the same type of problems as a masonry fireplace. However, this is not the case and it is important to provide some of the same maintenance. For example, birds are just as likely to make their nests in a prefabricated chimney as they are in a masonry one. Be on the lookout for these issues and resolve them as quickly as possible.

In general, it is necessary to monitor normal wear and tear on a prefabricated fireplace a bit more closely than a masonry option. Since they are made out of materials that are not quite as durable as, for example, brick, they will not stand up to as much stress. In order to make sure it is functioning properly at all times, inspect the fireplace regularly and call a professional immediately if there are any unexplained changes.

Although a prefabricated fireplace differs structurally from a masonry fireplace, many of the same safety and maintenance rules apply. For example, it is important to only burn properly dried wood and to not put any foreign material into the fireplace. It is also important to make sure the chimney is clear of obstructions to avoid smoke in the home. Failure to follow these simple rules can cause serious safety hazards.

A prefabricated fireplace is a great option for anyone who does not have a fireplace attached to their home. In order to use it safely, it is important to remember that many of the same safety and maintenance rules apply to a masonry fireplace. In fact, they require a bit more attention because they are not built to withstand the same normal wear and tear as masonry fireplaces. Be sure to only use them with the appropriately compatible pieces, such as the chimney and cap. Keep the fireplace clean at all times and keep in mind that it can have the same issues as other fireplaces, such as dangerous obstructions in the chimney.

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