Our Company Blog

What Kind of Firewood Should I Burn?

When you have a traditional wood-burning fireplace, one of the most important things you need to do in the last days of summer is to get your firewood supply ready for colder weather. Not only should you consider how much wood you will need to last through the winter, but you should also carefully choose the type of wood you are buying. You may not realize this, but the right type of firewood makes a huge difference in how well your chimney and fireplace system will work. At Blue Ridge Chimney Service, we want our customers to safely enjoy the best wood fires possible. As the premier provider of professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation services in the Shenandoah Valley, we work hard to ensure the chimneys in the area are functioning as safely and efficiently as possible, and we would like to tell you more about the best kind of firewood to burn in your fireplace.

Only burn firewood that has been properly seasoned.What Kind of Firewood Should I Burn Image - Shenandoah Valley VA - Blue Ridge Chimney

When buying firewood, you should look for seasoned firewood, which has been allowed to dry for at least six months after being cut. Even though all wood contains water, the seasoning process reduces the moisture content from 45 to 20 percent. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends only burning seasoned firewood because the water must be gone before the wood can burn. When you burn freshly cut wood, so much of the energy of the fire is spent burning off the excess water, and this results in less heat being provided to your home.

Seasoned firewood produces warmer, cleaner, and longer lasting fires.

Only burning this type of firewood is a smart decision to make because it will save you money on your heating costs and on your chimney maintenance and repair bills. When you burn wet (or “green”) wood, you are at a greater risk of problems with smoke and odor. This can also lead to a larger accumulation of creosote on the inner walls of your chimney, which is a leading cause of chimney fires.

Ask your family, friends, and neighbors for recommendations of firewood dealers.

If you are unsure of where to buy properly seasoned firewood in your area, do not hesitate to ask for references to good dealers. You can also purchase a moisture reader for around 20 dollars from a hardware store that will make firewood shopping extremely simple. Once you have bought your seasoned wood, make sure you are storing it outside off the ground to keep it as dry as possible. If you do not have a covered firewood storage shed, you can stack the wood on concrete blocks, pallets, or even gravel. Cover the top with a tarp to protect the wood from rainwater, but keep the sides open to allow air to circulate freely.

For the best fires this winter, only burn seasoned firewood in your fireplace. Blue Ridge Chimney Services is here to help you get the most out of your chimney system. Contact us for all of your professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation needs.

By Elizabeth Guy on September 11th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Take Care of Your Leaky Chimney Now

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) states water causes extensive deterioration to chimneys and masonry, leading to expensive repairs. Preventing water penetration is one of the most important responsibilities that a homeowner has when maintaining a masonry chimney. If you suspect your chimney is leaking, now is the best time to take care of this problem. Most damage occurs during the winter, so it is smart and preemptive to repair leaks before then. You should contact Blue Ridge Chimney Services to make an appointment for our professional chimney water leak repair and preventive services. Our busiest season is about to begin, and making this appointment now ensures it will be taken care of quickly. We want to tell you more about our leaky chimney repair and preventive services.

We Find and Fix Chimney Leaks

Leaky Chimney - Shenandoah Valley, VA - Blue RidgeOur CSIA-certified chimney technicians are very familiar as to the most common places where chimney leaks occur. We check the condition of  your chimney cap, crown, and chase cover to be sure the leak is not coming from the top of the chimney. If we find the problem is caused by any of these components, we help you select a replacement and professionally install it. We also look at other vulnerable spots, such as where the chimney meets the roof. If you do not have a customized flashing system installed in this area, we construct and install one to keep this spot safe from water penetration. We repair any damaged bricks and mortar joints that can allow water to enter into your chimney and home. No matter what your leaky chimney damage may be, you can count on us to fix it.

 

We Provide Professional Chimney Waterproofing Services

For the best protection against water penetration, Blue Ridge Chimney Services recommends waterproofing your chimney before the cold weather arrives. We apply a chimney waterproofing formula that creates a barrier against water leaks that prevents winter spalling damage during freeze/thaw cycles. We only use 100 percent vapor permeable formulas to allow combustion gas vapors to easily escape instead of becoming trapped and causing more spalling damage. This great investment in your masonry chimney protects your chimney from water penetration for at least a decade.

Now is the best time to take care of your leaky chimney. Contact us at Blue Ridge Chimney Services today to schedule an appointment for our professional chimney leak repair and preventive services.

 

 

By Elizabeth Guy on August 28th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

When is the Best Time for a Chimney Sweep and Inspection?

One responsibility you have as a homeowner is scheduling an appointment to have your chimney professionally swept and inspected every year to ensure your fireplace and chimney system are working safely and efficiently. These annual chimney maintenance services are recommended by national fire safety organizations, including the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to be taken care of before lighting the first fire of the year. When is the Best Time for a Chimney Sweep and Inspection Image -Shenandoah Valley VA - Blue Ridge Chimney

With cooler weather just around the corner, you should give a call to Blue Ridge Chimney Services.  Make an appointment with one of our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps. Once September arrives, they will have a busy schedule for the rest of the year as they work long hours to make sure the chimneys in the Shenandoah Valley will function safely all winter. It can be hard to get an appointment on the most convenient date for you. We suggest you go ahead and schedule these important services in August. We would like to tell you what you can expect from us when we sweep and inspect your chimney.

Chimney Sweeping

The chimney sweeps at Blue Ridge Chimney Services have years of experience and have been trained and certified by the CSIA, so you can trust us to properly sweep your chimney. We take great care to make sure every bit of creosote is removed to reduce the risk of a chimney fire. Creosote is so flammable that it is named by the CSIA as a leading cause of chimney fires. We begin this process by laying down tarps and drop cloths on the floor around the fireplace to keep them clean.

We will always treat your home with respect and will ask you to move furniture and any breakable items at least six to eight feet away from the hearth. Once we have protected that area, we use specialized tools like rotating brushes on extended rods to sweep your chimney from top to bottom. After the sweeping is complete, we will dispose of the removed soot and creosote and clean up any other type mess from the process.

Chimney Inspection

Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps will then take a close look at the exterior and interior of your chimney for any damage or other problems that could pose hazards that would cause your chimney to be unsafe to use. We will check the flue for blockages of debris that would keep the chimney from being able to properly exhaust smoke, gases and other byproducts of combustion. If a blockage is present, we will remove it to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The components of your chimney, including the liner, masonry, and chimney cap, will be examined for cracks, gaps, or other damage that could lead to water leaks, heat transferring to the combustible parts of your home to ignite a fire, and carbon monoxide leaking into your home. If we find any damage, you will be given a written explanation and photos of the damage as well as a written estimate of the repairs that are necessary for your chimney to work safely.

Schedule Today

Beat the fall rush! Contact us at Blue Ridge Chimney Services today to schedule an appointment for your annual professional chimney maintenance services. You will be ready to safely light the first fire of the fall after we have swept and inspected your chimney.

By Elizabeth Guy on August 11th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Causes of Chimney Odors

Summers in the Shenandoah Valley can be very hot and humid, and this weather can lead to chimney odor problems. You might have thought you could forget about your fireplace and chimney over the summer until unpleasant odors have invaded your home. Fortunately, Blue Ridge Chimney Services can help you. Over our years of working on chimneys in the area, we have experience with solving stinky summertime chimney issues, and we know how to find the causes of the odors and correct them. We would like to tell you more about what causes smelly chimneys and how we can keep your home smelling fresh and clean.

CreosoteCauses of Chimney Odor Image - Shenandoah Valley, VA - Blue Ridge Chimney

Creosote develops naturally during the combustion process of burning wood as a residue that sticks to the inner chimney walls. Not only is this compound so dangerously flammable that the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) names it as a leading cause of chimney fires, creosote is also very smelly. Its strong acrid scent gets worse in humid conditions, which can make your home smell like burned barbecue. Blue Ridge Chimney Services can easily solve this problem by professionally sweeping your chimney to remove all of the creosote. Your home will smell better, and you will have removed a dangerous fire hazard.

Water

If you do not have a chimney cap on top of your chimney, you could have standing water in your firebox, and this could cause a musty smell in your home. If leaves and other debris have mixed in with the water, the odor could be even stronger. You really want to keep water out of your chimney as it can cause a lot of damage. It could even lead to mold growth in your chimney. Blue Ridge Chimney Services has a wide variety of chimney caps that we can help you choose from, and we offer professional installation services to guarantee your chimney is protected.

Wild Animals

Unfortunately, birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other wildlife will choose chimneys to build nests in due to a lack of trees in the area, and a family of critters in your chimney can cause a lot of unpleasant odors! The worst case scenario is when an animal dies inside a chimney. To avoid this situation, you need to keep wild animals and birds from being able to enter your chimney by professionally installing a chimney cap on top of your chimney. Make sure the chimney cap is equipped with mesh metal sheeting on the sides that will prevent wildlife from getting inside the chimney.

Keep your home smelling sweet this summer! Contact us at Blue Ridge Chimney Services today to schedule your appointment for your annual professional chimney sweeping and inspection.

By Elizabeth Guy on July 24th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Converting a Wood-Burning Fireplace to Gas

If you are looking for ways to cut back on your heating costs, you may want to consider updating your traditional wood-burning fireplace.  You can do this by converting it to a gas hearth appliance. Not only are newer gas fireplaces more economical to use, but they are also much more convenient. You will not have to bring in firewood from outside storage, and you will not have as many clean-up chores after each fire. To help you get started on this home improvement project, Blue Ridge Chimney Services would like to tell you what you need to know when converting a wood-burning fireplace to gas.

Gas LineConverting to a Gas Fireplace Image -Shenandoah Valley, VA - Blue Ridge Chimney

One of the first things you will need to know when converting a wood-burning fireplace to gas is whether or not there is a gas line connection to your home. According to The Extreme How-To Blog, it can be very expensive to install a new gas line. However, if you do have an existing connection, it is relatively inexpensive to have this line extended to your fireplace.

Type of Appliance

When converting a wood-burning fireplace to gas, you have a few options of gas hearth appliances from which to choose. If you want to update the look of your old fireplace, a gas fireplace inserts can be installed into the existing fireplace opening. Not only will this give your hearth a new appearance, but you will also be provided with a larger amount of heat. You also have the choice of installing a set of gas logs. This is a perfect selection if you want to keep the look of a traditional hearth. Gas logs are available in two types: vented and vent-free. Blue Ridge Chimney Services is happy to tell you more about the differences between these two types to help you decide which one would work best for your home.

If you would like to improve the energy efficiency in your home and save money on your heating costs, converting your traditional wood-burning fireplace to gas is a great idea. Not only will you get more heat for less money, you will love the convenience of starting a fire from your couch by pushing a button on a remote control. To learn more about gas fireplace appliances, contact Blue Ridge Chimney Services today. Our staff is here to help you get started on this home improvement project. We’ve served the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for years and are dedicated to providing the highest levels of customer service. Call 540-217-2030 today to speak with us!

By Elizabeth Guy on July 10th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment