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Proper Wood Choice, Storage, and Burning

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Spending money on firewood can be a seasonal or year-round investment and, can be for recreation or needed for cooking and heating. The first thing to know is that it’s important to choose the proper wood especially when cooking over an open flame or burning in an indoor fireplace. After you purchase or self-harvest and chop up firewood, there is a recommended practice for storing and burning it. Here is some insight to help you get started with that process.

Wood Choices

Different types of wood serve different roles when they are burned. Most people select a type of hardwood as these varieties burn the longest and hottest, producing the most BTUs. Hardwoods include red or white oak, birch, hickory, dogwood, ash, pecan and hard maple. If you are in search of a crackling fire that sets a cozy ambiance, then a softwood is the right choice. Fir and pine are both softwoods that give off the aroma of a Christmas tree and are also simple to split. The crackles from that wood creates more sparks so it is a good idea to keep the glass door on your fireplace closed. When searching for a sweeter-smelling wood, look for the varieties of fruit trees. Cherry, pear and applewood give off pleasant scents when burning.

Storage

To get the most out of your firewood, there is a certain protocol to follow when storing your logs. Keep in mind that airflow is important when stacking. Placing all the wood on top of each other without any air flow will create moisture, which will dampen your logs and make them tougher to burn. There is a log-cabin method of stacking in which the direction of each row is altered. And if there is a way to store your wood under a covering, then go for it. A simple tarp will not have the same effect as it will be vulnerable to leaks. Also, make sure to ventilate the bottom of the stack of wood.

Burning

The process of burning wood inside your fireplace involves more than just lighting a match. It is important to know that treated wood should not be burned in the fireplace. Wood should be seasoned for about six months after it has been split. And when building a fire, use the top-down method, which places the logs on a grate in the back of the fireplace. Always use a fire screen and keep all furniture at least three feet beyond the fireplace. Burning a fire also means making sure tree branches are away from the top of the chimney. A safe distance is about 15 feet away.

 

Note: If you plan to cook by wood burning, whether a wood oven or smoker, additional research should be done to ensure safety and proper wood selection.

Why to choose a CSIA certified chimney sweep?

When it comes to hiring anyone to service any part of your home, it is important to find a company who truly knows what it is doing. That holds true when hiring a chimney sweep service. Some chimney sweeps may offer discounted rates, but price is not the only thing homeowners should consider. There are plenty of reasons why it is advantageous to choose a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified chimney sweep.

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First, it is important to understand the function of the CSIA. The Chimney Safety Institute of America has been in existence for more than three decades and offers certifications for chimney sweeps. To earn this certification, a chimney sweep must attend a review session and pass a certification exam.

Selecting a CSIA certified chimney sweep service allows homeowners to have quality trained technicians working on their chimneys. Here is what comes with hiring a CSIA chimney sweep:

Higher standards

Those who earn a CSIA certification are not only well-versed, but they are also obligated to adhere to the standards set forth by a CSIA certification. These standards include the following:

• Recommended practices for safety venting
• Building code compliance and manufacturer instructions
• Offering expert insight to customers
• Performing duties in a respectful and professional manner

CSIA certified chimney sweeps are given a patch upon passing their certification requirements. This will show customers proof that a technician is certified. If they require further proof, there are documents available for presentation.

Superior knowledge

CSIA certified chimney sweeps have attained a higher level of industry knowledge. This is something that is tested during the exam. Chimney sweeps are required to achieve a higher level of proficiency in a number of areas, which includes the following:

• Most optimal practices and chimney technicalities
• Physics of wood burning and creosote formation
• Building codes that are applicable
• Established requirements set by the EPA

The CSIA offers a host of recommendations to homeowners looking to hire a chimney sweep service. And when hiring a CSIA certified chimney sweep company, customers can ask for references and to see proof of insurance. CSIA certified chimney sweeps have no reason to conceal any documentation or credentials as this is an esteemed distinction bestowed upon the best in the business. Hiring a CSIA certified chimney sweep will make sure you and your family are safe when it comes to having a properly-functioning chimney. It will also assure you that each part of the job is done with skill, proficiency and above-average knowledge of the trade.

Why should you have your chimney swept?

Chimney sweeping is not a spring cleaning task that many people can handle. It is best handled by a professional and there are plenty of reasons this should be a regular practice for homeowners. Here is a look at some reasons why you should have your chimney swept.

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Safety
The top reason to sweep your chimney is to prevent a fire. The No.1 cause of chimney fires is a dirty or clogged chimney. Using a chimney will cause a buildup of creosote which is produced by burning wood. This becomes combustible and can easily start a fire. Sweeping your chimney will remove this substance and also free up the air supply. It is also important to remove the buildup of carbon monoxide in your chimney before it can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. In its milder forms, carbon monoxide poisoning can result in dizziness, headaches and nausea. When the buildup is more severe, carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal.

Cleanliness
A chimney that is not swept will start to develop a distinct odor. Eventually, a fireplace will start to have small leakage from rain and snow. When this is combined with ash, this can make for an unpleasant odor and a sticky substance. A chimney sweep will remove any remnants of that substance and identify any signs of leakage.

Pest vacancies
Your chimney was not intended to be a home for small animals, like birds and squirrels. And if one of these animals dies in your chimney, it will leave a very unpleasant smell. Some animals have trouble getting out of your chimney once they find their way in. The animals may also cause problems with the smoke and air escaping out of your chimney. That blockage could lead to a variety of problems and sweeping those problems away is highly recommended.

Smoke damage
Smoke is a byproduct of burning a fire and the residue from smoke builds over the course of time. Soot begins to form and starts to collect around the flue. What happens is the flue starts to have problems pulling the smoke upward and it begins funneling out into your home. This will leave the inside of your home susceptible to smoke damage. That could mean damage to your carpet, furniture and nearby walls.

Ease your mind
When you have your chimney swept regularly, it will remove a whole lot of worry. Make sure your home and everyone in it is safe with regular chimney sweeps offered by All Out Chimney Sweep in Charlotte, N.C.

Animals and the Chimney

One of the most common concerns for homeowners who have a chimney is the constant threat of animals. Chimneys can become a nesting place for all sorts of animals and that can create all sorts of problems for homeowners. Here is a guide of what animals to look out for and what to do when they infiltrate your chimney.

Birds

While a chimney might seem like an opportune place for birds to build a nest, chimney swifts most commonly take up residence inside chimneys. A chimney swift is a small bird that is naturally drawn do dismal, enclosed places, very much like a chimney. These birds emit a loud chirping sound and that will be the first warning sign that these pests have shacked up in your chimney.

But chimney swifts are a threatened species so there are necessary steps to take for their removal. Contact your local EPA office or Wildlife and Fish location and they will take necessary action for the birds’ safe removal. Other birds may also build a nest inside your chimney and most will be less inclined to return when the nest is removed. Hiring a professional chimney sweep can help to ensure there is no blockage or any remnants of a nest that could be dangerous.

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Animals

Animals are drawn to chimneys because they provide some warmth and protection from the elements. There are a number of animals that may find their way into your chimney. Squirrels and bats are too common inhabitants, along with raccoons. When raccoons make their way into a chimney, conditions can become particularly hazardous. Raccoons carry ticks and fleas which can transmit diseases. It is also not unheard of for raccoons to climb far down the chimney and into the fireplace. This could potentially open up the possibility of them finding their way into your home. But even if they do not get that far, their odor can linger down and leave an unpleasant smell.

Fixing the problem

There is a sure-fire way to keep all of these animals out of your chimney. This requires fitting your chimney with a chimney cap. This entails closing off the top of your chimney. There is also netting available for additional protection as it acts as an additional barrier. Don’t wait until animals take 8up residence in your chimney to address the issue. Capping your chimney is a fast and affordable service that can take away the work of having animals in your chimney.