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Old Smokey's Fireplace & Chimney's Blog

The Dangers of Chimney Fires

Reducing Fire Hazards This Holiday Season - Fort Wayne IN - Old Smokey's Fireplace and Chimney

Did you know that keeping your chimney well maintained and swept annually can not only keep your heating appliance operational, but it can also help keep you and your family safe? Chimney fires are dangerous and can cause a lot of damage to a home. In fact, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) states that more than 20,000 residential house fires every year are caused by chimney fires? One of the most upsetting things about this statistic is that most of these chimney fires could have been prevented with an annual chimney inspection and cleaning. In fact, research by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) shows that a majority of chimney fires are caused when a chimney is not properly cleaned. Here at Old Smokey’s, we want to make sure that you and your home is safe from the dangers of a chimney fire. Let us show you why having a clean chimney is so important.

How Does My Chimney Get Dirty?

When you burn fuels such as wood, pellets, and coal, it naturally creates a product called creosote. Creosote is formed when the fuel that you are burning isn’t hot enough (less than 1100 degrees Fahrenheit) to completely burn off. When fuel isn’t completely burned, it is released from the fire as byproducts in the form of smoke, soot, and other gases. As these byproducts go up your chimney, they cool and start to condense. As this condensation starts to build up over time, it creates a sticky tar-like substance. This substance is creosote. Wood that is drier and properly seasoned will burn at higher temperatures than wood that is wet and not seasoned and, therefore, produce less creosote.

Another way that your chimney can get messy is if it isn’t protected from the outdoors. The inside of your chimney makes a perfect spot for many types of birds and small mammals to build nests. Furthermore, if the top of your chimney is open, leaves, branches, and other items can blow or fall into the top of your chimney and become lodged within it.

What Issues Can a Dirty Chimney Cause?

Creosote is combustible, meaning it can catch fire. Although it takes very high temperatures to cause combustion in creosote, it is possible that it can happen in your chimney. One of the most dangerous things about a creosote fire is that once it starts, it is nearly impossible to extinguish. You are at risk of a chimney fire even if there is a small amount of creosote buildup in your chimney. If fact, it can take as little as ⅛ of an inch of creosote buildup in your chimney for it to be considered a fire hazard. The likelihood that creosote in your chimney catches fire is increased if there is debris from trees, litter, or animal nests in your chimney. This type of debris lights at lower temperatures, but if it catches fire, it can easily cause a chain reaction that can lead to creosote igniting and then your home.

Another issue related to creosote and other debris is that if left to build up for a while, it can block up your chimney, which can cause all sorts of issues with your fireplace’s airflow and chimney’s exhaust. If your fire isn’t getting enough airflow, it can cause a cycle that leads to cooler fires which will create more byproduct and therefore more creosote, restricting airflow even more. Total chimney blockages can lead to smoke billowing back into your home, damaging your home’s carpet and walls.

How do I Prevent Chimney Fires?

There are a few things that can be done to prevent chimney fires from occurring. The first thing that you can do is to choose good firewood. Although you can’t totally prevent creosote from forming, if you use firewood that has been seasoned by letting it dry for at least six months after chopping, you can slow the pace of creosote buildup. Because there is less water in seasoned wood, it burns hotter and produces less smoke and, therefore, less creosote.

However, the most important thing you can do to prevent a chimney fire is to have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned at least annually by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified chimney technician. At Old Smokey’s, our CSIA certified technicians can inspect your chimney, making sure it is clear of debris. If there is debris, they might suggest installing a chimney cap to prevent issues with debris from happening again. After the inspection, our technician will sweep all of the creosote out of your chimney, being careful to cover up and protect any valuables in your home. Once sweeping is done, our technician will clean up and go over the details of the inspection with you.

If you haven’t had your chimney inspected in the past year, you may be putting your home at risk! Call Old Smokey’s today to schedule your chimney inspection and chimney sweeping. You can reach Old Smokey’s at 800-876-6539 or 260-587-9691 , or you can schedule an appointment online. We look forward to serving you and keeping you and your family safe in 2020!

Different Types of Heating Appliances

If you have ever lived in the Northern regions of the United States, you know that having an appliance to heat your home is a necessity. Here in northern Indiana, northern Ohio, or mid-Michigan region especially, temperatures can get well below zero, and living without heat can be hazardous. There are a large number of heating appliances available to homeowners, so it’s important to know the difference between the types. Some heating appliances are better at being a primary heat source than others, while others are better for heating small rooms or being supplementary heating sources. The type of fuel you want to use can also play a large role in the appliance that works best for you. At Old Smokey’s we want to make sure that you pick the right type of heating element for your home. That’s why we want to share with you our guide on the differences in heating appliances that we offer.

Gas Fireplaces, Logs, Inserts & Stoves - Fort Wayne, IN - Old Smokey's

Fuel Type

Choosing the type of fuel that you want to use is a good first step to choosing the type of appliance you’ll want to get. There are three main types that heating appliances use: wood, gas, or pellets. Each one of these fuel types has its advantages depending on your situation.

Wood – Most people enjoy using wood as a fuel because of the aesthetic value that it adds to a home. There is no other fuel type that creates a warm glow, the natural aroma, and soft crackling sounds that a wood fire creates. Also, if you live close to a woodland or don’t mind gathering your own wood, you can heat your home for very cheap. Another benefit of having a wood-burning appliance is that you can use it “off the grid”. Unlike gas or pellet appliances, your fuel source doesn’t need gas lines or electricity to work. If you live in a location prone to winter power outages, wood-burning appliances won’t leave you stuck in the cold.

Gas – Gas is preferred by homeowners who want the ease of use in a heating appliance. Using wood fuel is a lot of work if you are chopping, stacking, and hauling it. Then there is the added work of building and starting a fire. Gas appliances can be started with a push of a button, making them very handy. Also, gas burns a lot cleaner meaning your fireplace and chimney won’t get nearly as messy as it would with wood fuel.

Pellets – Pellets are kind of middle of the road. Wood pellets are little pieces of compressed wood that can be fed into your appliance by a small auger. They will give you the warmth of a wood fire, but since the system is self-feeding, you don’t have to worry about constantly adding logs.

Appliances

Once you have a fuel type picked, you need to choose the type of appliance you would like to use. There are three main types of appliances that we offer at Old Smokey’s: fireplaces, inserts, and stoves. Although all three of these appliances would make a wonderful addition to a home, it really depends on your situation what type is best for you.

Fireplaces – Fireplaces make a wonderful addition to any home. At Old Smokey’s, we offer a wide range of prefabricated fireplaces that can add a touch of warmth and elegance to your home. There are two types of fireplaces that we offer, gas and wood. Prefabricated fireplaces are great because you can place them anywhere in your home that you have access to gas and ventilation. You can also make your fireplace the centerpiece of your home’s decor. There is such a wide variety of materials and accessories available with fireplaces, whether you are looking for a rustic, elegant, or classic design, it’s easy to customize the look that you’ll be happy with. The only downside to a fireplace is that some designs, especially open hearth and gas log designs, don’t offer the heating efficiency of stoves or inserts.

Stoves – Stoves offer a classic look that looks great in most homes. Stoves are designed for efficiency, so if you are looking to get the most bang out of your buck out of your fuel, they are the appliance for you. All the stoves that we offer here at Old Smokey’s offer the highest of energy standards. You’ll stay warm and save money this winter with a new wood, gas, or pellet stove from Old Smokey’s.

Inserts – Inserts are great if you already have an existing fireplace that doesn’t operate well, or doesn’t burn the type of fuel that you would like. An insert is a firebox that is inserted into an already existing fireplace, essentially replacing the firebox. Inserts are very efficient and are designed to push hot air into your living area, instead of up and out of your chimney. An insert can use either wood, gas, or pellets for a fuel source. If you want to change your old open hearth wood fireplace into a high-efficiency appliance that will burn the fuel of your choosing, an insert may be perfect for you.

At Old Smokeys, we want you to be happy with the way you choose to heat your home. If you are in the market for a new heating appliance, we offer a large variety for you to choose from! If you live in northern Indiana, northern Ohio, or mid-Michigan region, you can reach us at 800-876-6539 or 260-587-9691, or schedule an in-home appointment with a heating expert. You can also visit our showroom at 220 W State Street, Ashley, IN 46705 to visit one of our knowledgeable staff. We look forward to helping you and from our home to yours, happy holidays!

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