Santa's Friend Chimney Service

Santa's Friend Chimney Service Blog

The Advantages Of Wood Burning Inserts

A fireplace is often the showpiece of a home. What could make a room look better and more welcoming than an open hearth with a fire burning warmly? It’s hard to believe, but there is something more. And not only does it make your fireplace look better, it’s safer and more energy efficient. If you don’t already have a wood burning insert, it’s time to consider the benefits of one of these inserts.

Looks, Efficiency, And Safety:

The Advantages of Wood Burning Inserts Image - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend

You only have to look at pictures to imagine the polish a wood insert will give your fireplace and the whole room. It also eliminates the messy appearance from ashes. No changes to the fireplace masonry or the chimney system are needed. The insert is an enclosure, often made from cast iron or steel that is fitted into the firebox. The EPA  encourages wood burning inserts, partly because of their efficiency.

Whether you use your fireplace as a primary or secondary heat source, warm air will no longer be escaping to the outside. Rather, the insert will help to draw air in to keep you cozy warm. And we will offer guidance on choosing one that is certified by the EPA for maximum energy efficiency. Another important aspect is safety. You no longer need to worry about embers and sparks coming from your fireplace because an insert will contain it all.

Size, Style, And Installation:

Wood inserts make your fireplace look so good that the options may be overwhelming. The professionals at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service help to make it easy. Having the right size guarantees efficiency. Your trained consultant will take the proper measurements. Then they will sit down with you and go over the styles that are available, and discuss other options such as whether to invest in a mesh screen or blower.

Whether you have a small, medium, or large fireplace or a classic or modern home, we can help you find the right style of EPA-approved insert. When it’s time for installation, we do the job expertly. Our customers appreciate the assistance we give them in making the best decisions for their fireplace and chimney needs, and they have shown that through our repeated honor as an Angie’s List Super Service award recipient.

Santa’s Friend Chimney Service has been around for more than 20 years and we are trained and ready to assist you. Don’t wait another day. Contact us and let’s get together to talk about how to add more style to your home while also making it safer and more energy efficient.

By Jim Robinson on October 6th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Reducing Fire Hazards

When you own a home with a fireplace, you must take on a few extra responsibilities, such as cleaning up ashes, storing firewood, and, most importantly, protecting yourself, your family, and your home from fire hazards that are involved with a fireplace. While a roaring fire can be beautiful and relaxing, fire is a potentially dangerous element. If you do not take certain precautions, you could find yourself experiencing an accidental fire, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other hazardous situations. Our staff at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service places great value on fire safety, and we feel strongly about promoting fire safety tips to our customers. We would like to share with you some ways to reduce fire hazards so that you can safely enjoy cozy and warm fires this year.

Be careful about what you burn in your fireplace.

Santa’s Friend Chimney Service recommends that you only burn seasoned firewood in your fireplace. This type of wood has been allowed to dry for at least six months after it has been cut. When you use seasoned firewood, you will have longer-lasting and cleaner-burning fires that produce less smoke. You should never burn treated or painted wood, paper, or anything else in your fireplace, according to HouseLogic.

Keep the area surrounding your fireplace clear from combustibles.

To prevent an accidental fire being ignited from hot sparks and embers jumping from your fireplace, keep flammable items like furniture and curtains at least six feet away from the hearth.

Place a metal fireplace screen in front of the hearth.

Fire screen in fireplace - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney Service

In order to keep kids and pets from getting too close to the fireplace, you should install a mesh metal screen in front of your fireplace. Be sure the screen is secure so that it cannot be easily knocked over.

Have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected once a year.

This professional chimney maintenance service guarantees your chimney is free from damage and other problems that could make it unsafe to use. It will also greatly reduce your risk of experiencing a chimney fire as all of the accumulated creosote deposits will be removed from the interior of your chimney.

Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarm detectors throughout your home.

These lifesaving alarms should be installed in the same room as your fireplace, outside each bedroom, and on every floor in your home. Make a habit of changing the batteries in these alarms when you change your clocks in the spring and fall for Daylight Savings Time.

Have a question about reducing fire hazards? Contact us at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service to learn more about fireplace safety recommendations for your home.

By Jim Robinson on February 10th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

The Best Way to Start a Cold Fireplace

If you have ever attempted to start a fire in a cold fireplace, you are most likely familiar with how difficult and frustrating it can be. When the fireplace is cold, you can end up with smoke rushing into your home when you do get a fire going due to the cold air from the chimney pushing down into the fireplace. This issue can be even worse if your chimney is located on the exterior of your house. At Santa’s Friend Chimney Service, we are asked regularly about how to best start a fire in a cold fireplace, so we thought we would give you some tips to help you be as warm as possible this winter.

Starting Your Cold Fireplace - Jackson MS

Be sure that the damper is fully opened.

Although this sounds obvious, some people think that if they keep the damper closed while trying to start a fire, it will keep the cold chimney air from causing problems. However, this does not work and can be disastrous. Always ensure that your damper is completely opened before you attempt to start a fire. If the damper is closed, you could end up becoming ill from smoke inhalation.

Warm up the flue.

To counteract the rush of the cold air sinking down from the chimney into the fireplace it is recommended that you prime the flue by lighting a rolled-up newspaper and holding it up the damper for a few minutes until you feel the draft reverse. This will let you know that your flue is primed and ready to go.

Develop a bed of ashes.

While it is important to keep your fireplace clean from ashes, you should leave behind a layer of about one inch of ashes to help insulate your fireplace. Even the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends this tip. If you have never burned a fire in your fireplace and have no ashes, you can take ashes from your outdoor grill to build an ash bed. Just keep in mind that the ash bed should not be higher than one inch.

Know the best way to build a fire.

Of course, there are several ways to build a fire, but if you build your fire upside down, you will have a long-lasting and clean-burning fire. Place your large pieces of firewood at the bottom, and then stack smaller logs on top. On the top of this stack, add a layer of kindling. To finish your upside down build, top off the stack with bunched-up balls of newspaper, and then light the stack from the top.

For more suggestions and tips on burning wood, click here to contact us at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service. We are here to help you stay warm and safe this fireplace season!

By Jim Robinson on October 15th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Keep Your Steel Firebox Unit from Rotting

Over the years, our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service have found all sorts of problems with every component of a fireplace and chimney system. Some of these problems are difficult to believe, such as steel firebox units rotting. However, when water is leaking into your chimney, it can cause damage to every part of your fireplace and chimney. The CSIA does not call water the biggest enemy of a chimney for no reason. If your steel firebox unit has been exposed to water and has begun to rot and deteriorate, it can lead to an extremely hazardous situation, including a residential fire. Keeping water out of your chimney is one of the things we do best at Santa’s Friend, and we would like to tell you how we can protect your steel firebox unit from rotting.

Keep the Firebox from Rotting - Jackson MS

Install a chimney cap on top of your chimney.

Called the least expensive way to prevent water penetration of your chimney by the CSIA, a chimney cap will protect your chimney from damaging water leaks as well as birds and animals that are trying to get inside your chimney to nest. Santa’s Friend Chimney Service recommends installing a chimney cap made from copper or stainless steel because of the lifespan and durability, but we also sell and install caps constructed from aluminum, electrolytically-painted iron, and clay. We can also make and install a custom cap to perfectly fit the top of your chimney.

Install a customized flashing system.

Consisting of sheets of metal that are wrapped around your chimney where it meets your roof, flashing makes a watertight seal that can be a great way to keep water out of your chimney. Santa’s Friend Chimney Service will provide a completely customized job by precisely measuring the area around the chimney and cutting sheets of metal to these exact measurements. We ensure we will cover every angle of the intersection of your chimney and roof. When we construct a flashing system, we will take the metal pieces and weave them into the shingles on your roof, fold them around the chimney, and even embed pieces into mortar to ensure the flashing remains in place.

Apply a waterproofing formula to your chimney.

To give your chimney the ultimate protection against water penetration, Santa’s Friend Chimney Service can apply a water repellent formula to your chimney. We start this process by cleaning your chimney, and then we will cover all of the exposed brick and mortar with a coating of the waterproofing formula. We have been using a formula from Chimney Saver for over 20 years and have found that it best creates a barrier to protect the exterior of your chimney from water leaks.

Your steel firebox unit can rot if enough water gets into your chimney. Protect your chimney from water penetration today by contacting us at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service.

By Jim Robinson on September 30th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Remember to Season Your Firewood

For successful, safe, convenient, and efficient wood burning, a plentiful supply of good quality firewood is the key. Even though warm weather is upon us, now is the best time to start preparing your wood fuel supply by storing and seasoning it properly. Our staff at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service enjoys educating our customers on the best wood-burning procedures and practices, and we have gathered a few tips from the non-profit Wood Heat Organization about storing and seasoning firewood that we would like to share with you to help you get your supply ready for the next fireplace season.

Seasoning Firewood at Home - Jackson MS

Some species of wood are better than others when it comes to quality firewood.

Although all species of trees are made of the same chemicals, denser wood species make the best firewood. Oak, ash, maple, and hickory will burn longer as well as produce hotter coals. However, many hardwoods are rare, protected as endangered species, or hard to find, depending on where you live. The Wood Heat Organization lists wood species from hardest to softest, and besides those already mentioned, ironwood, elm, beech, and birch are also good types of dense wood. For the coldest months of the year, you should definitely have firewood from these species in your supply. Conversely, you can use softer species of wood like poplar, pine, and spruce in the fall and spring because they burn quicker, make heat control easier, and do not overheat your home.

No matter the species, the most crucial characteristic of quality firewood is that it is dried and seasoned.

All wood contains moisture, and wet wood can be both difficult and hazardous to burn. Properly drying and seasoning wood lowers the moisture content to 15 to 20%, which makes it easier to burn. You will also be able to burn your wood fuel more efficiently when it is correctly seasoned. Burning wet, green wood also leads to overly smoky fires and an excessive amount of creosote accumulated on your chimney walls. Creosote is highly hazardous as it is extremely flammable. Large buildups of creosote in your chimney can ignite dangerous chimney fires.

Stack and store your firewood in a way that will help it to season quickly and thoroughly.

Many reliable chimney industry sources like the Chimney Institute of America (CSIA) recommend you allow your wood to season and dry for at least six months to be sure it has a low enough moisture content to make sure it burns efficiently. Storing your firewood over the summer allows nature to help the drying process.. The most important thing to remember when storing firewood is to keep it off the ground to keep ground moisture from seeping back into your wood. Stack the wood in a criss-cross manner, and alternate patterns per level as you stack the logs. This creates more stable wood piles and free movement of air to aid in seasoning.

Want to know more about seasoning and storing firewood? Contact Santa’s Friend Chimney Service to learn a few more helpful tips.

By Jim Robinson on March 28th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Is It Time to Replace Your Firebox Refractory Panels?

If you have a prefabricated (also known as a factory-made) fireplace, your firebox is surrounded by refractory panels on its sides and bottom. Although a prefab firebox is mostly constructed from metal, these panels are made to withstand high temperatures and add strength and durability to your firebox. A crucial component of the factory-made firebox, refractory panels are built to last for years; however, due to the stress of exposure to repeated fires during a cold, long winter, these panels eventually begin to wear out. Santa’s Friend Chimney Service strongly recommends replacing your firebox panels when they start to show signs of wear, such as cracks or breaks in the panels. Burning fires in a prefab firebox with damaged refractory panels can be dangerous, so replacing these panels at the first signs of wear is important to the safety of your family and your home. We would like to answer some questions about firebox panel replacement to inform you of why it is necessary to perform this maintenance task.

Replacing Firebox Panels - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney

Why are cracks and chips in firebox refractory panels so dangerous?

Firstly, toxic gases like carbon monoxide can leak through these breaks and cracks and enter your home. Since carbon monoxide is odorless and tasteless, it can be impossible to detect a leak without a carbon monoxide detector alarm installed in the home. Prolonged exposure to this gas can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, which can cause organ damage and even death. Secondly, cracks in your firebox refractory panels can be a fire hazard. Cracks allow heat and debris to become close enough to the combustible materials around your fireplace to ignite a fire that could possibly destroy your home.

What causes the cracks and breaks in firebox refractory panels?

Numerous things can contribute to the wear and tear of your firebox refractory panels. Exposure to repeated fires and their high temperatures is the typical cause of the cracking and breaking of firebox panels. However, user error can also lead to damaged refractory panels. Always be careful when loading your firebox with firewood. If you just toss a log onto the fire, chances are you will eventually cause the panels to crack. A heavy object hitting the extremely hot refractory panels over and over can be very damaging. Your fireplace grates can also play a role in the cracking of your firebox refractory panels as some grates scrape the back wall and cause spots in the panels. These spots become weaker over time and will begin to crack.

How do I know if my firebox refractory panels need to be replaced?

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), most prefab fireplace manufacturers require replacing the firebox refractory panels when a nickel, on end, can fit into a crack in the panel or when the surface of the firebox panel has abraded more than ¼” from its original surface. The CSIA also recommends you have a professional like our chimney technicians replace the firebox panels for you as it is very important that you have the correctly-sized panels installed.

Have more questions about firebox refractory panel replacement? Contact Santa’s Friend Chimney Service today, especially if you have noticed cracks in your firebox panels.

By Jim Robinson on January 16th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment