Our Company Blog

How Do I Light My Fireplace?

Are you excited to start lighting up fires this holiday season, but find yourself struggling to get any flames going strong? This is a common issues for fireplace owners, but there are some great tips and tricks out there to ensure you get a better burn every single time. Get the heat and comfort you deserve this season by reading some of our advice below!

Selecting The Right Firewoodhow to properly light your fireplace

Now, before you light any wood, you need to ensure it is well seasoned. This means it has been adequately dried out for at least six months and most of the water has had a chance to evaporate. When choosing pieces to light, look for ones that are dark and split at the ends. The less fresh the piece looks and smells, the better!

Seasoned wood is also lighter in weight and makes a hollow, clunking noise when smacked together. Stick to these guidelines and your fires should be stronger, warmer, and less smoky all season long!

Choose Your Fire-Building Method

There are various ways to build a fire, so it’s all about finding what method works best for you. One common option is the teepee method. You’ll start with a pile of tinder (dry leaves, wood shavings, etc.) in the middle of your firebox. Next, get some kindling, which will consist of small twigs and branches, and form a teepee around the tinder. Finally, place your bigger logs in their own teepee formation around everything else. All that’s left to do is light up your tinder, and let the flames spread!

There’s also a method known as the log cabin lay, which starts out the same as a teepee, then switches up a bit when you start laying your bigger logs down. Instead of forming an additional teepee at the end, you instead take your biggest pieces and lay them on either side of the structure. You then lay two more pieces on top of those, but on the opposite sides of the teepee. Continue this pattern with smaller and smaller pieces of wood (until you have a pyramid shape), light your kindling, and you’re all set!

The last method we’d like to highlight is the top-down burn, which has grown more popular in recent years. Rather than start off with the kindling, this method involves you to put the largest pieces of wood down first with the ends at the front and the back of the firebox. Then, pile on around 5 more rows of wood, each one utilizing smaller and smaller pieces. Finally, add the kindling and the tinder. Once your stack is complete, light up the tinder and let it burn!

Like we’ve said, there are lots of ways to build a fire, and we’re just focusing on the more popular options. If none of these work well for you, just keep trying out techniques! We’re certain you’ll soon find one that works, guaranteeing countless cozy evenings in this winter.

Schedule An Inspection Today

Now, no matter how well your fire-building skills are, you’ll never get a safe or efficient burn if your fireplace and chimney are not clean and well-maintained. Count on our CSIA certified team to check things over for you today!

Air Flow and Your Fireplace

The way air flows through your fireplace is a key component in whether or not it runs efficiently. Proper ventilation is vital for both chimney health and the health of people living within the home. If you find yourself facing issues, there are many reasons why your chimney may not be circulating air properly. Check out just some of these reasons below!

Air Flow and Your Fireplace - Houston TX - Lords ChimneyYour Chimney Is Dirty

A dirty chimney is a major cause for bad ventilation. Soot and other substances can accumulate quickly. Also, animals are known for dragging nesting materials and other items into chimneys. All of these things cause blockages which need to be taken care of before any fires are lit.

The consequences of running a dirty fireplace can be detrimental to the health of your chimney, your home, and your loved ones. If the toxins cannot escape, they turn around and enter your home. This means anyone inside is exposed to a variety of harmful gases and nasty fumes. On top of this, creosote and other flammable build-up could easily catch fire. This puts your family in danger and could cost you thousands in repairs.

Your Home Is Too Tight/Loose

The way your home is insulated can have a lot to do with ventilation, as well. While a well-insulated house may seem like a good thing, it can block the outside air from entering. Thus, it hinders your fireplace’s ability to run as efficiently. This affects how well your fires burn, and it could cause a build-up of carbon monoxide within the home too.

Carbon monoxide is odorless and very hard to detect, so be sure to install a detector for it today! Also, if you find that your home is too tight, try opening a window for a temporary fix. Do this until you can ask a certified sweep about a more permanent solution.

If you know your house is not too tight, then it may be too loose. If too much air is escaping your home, the current may overtake the air flow your chimney needs to function appropriately. Try to seal windows as tightly as possible to help maintain a better flow through your chimney.

Practice Safety

As stated above, be certain that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed and working before lighting any fires. These devices are simple to set up and could make all the difference in ensuring your family is breathing in clean air. Also, smoke detectors often offer the first warning signs that your home is danger. They are known for saving lives, so get one installed today.

Another step in making your home safe and getting your fireplace ready for regular use is to hire an expert to do a thorough inspection and cleaning. Both of these tasks can have intricate processes and it is vital that the proper tools and chemicals are used to ensure the job is done right.

At Lords Chimney, we offer countless chimney and fireplace services, and we are more than happy to stop by and check things out. Contact us today, so that we can get you in before the holiday season begins!

The Dangers of Chimney Sweeping Logs

When it comes to chimney maintenance, many homeowners are on the lookout for fast and easy fixes. One popular product on the market today that promises to clean your chimney is chimney sweeping logs. For about $20 these products seem like a fast, cheap, and easy alternative to having your chimney swept. However, chimney sweeping logs should never be used as an alternative to a professional chimney cleaning.

How chimney sweeping logs are dangerous

Chimney sweeping logs advertise themselves as an alternative to a professional chimney sweeping. As they burn, the smoke from the logs loosens creosote in the flue; as it loosens, the creosote then falls down and into the firebox where it can be easily removed.

The Dangers of Chimney Sweeping Logs - Houston TX - Lords Chimney

While this may work in theory, it often fails when put into practice. Because most chimneys do not have straight, vertical flues, the loosened creosote often winds up trapped in the bends of the flue. Accumulated creosote can cause a number of problems; first, creosote is extremely flammable. Having accumulated creosote in the bends of the flue increases the risk of chimney fire if any stray sparks and embers were to travel up the flue. Second, large amounts of fallen creosote sitting in the bends of the flue can cause chimney blockages. These types of blockages can impact venting and cause gas and smoke to flow back into your home instead of up the chimney.

Using a chimney sweeping log can also make it more difficult to clean your chimney in the future. The fallen loosen creosote can accumulate in the smoke shelf above the firebox, one of the most difficult to reach and clean areas of the chimney. Because of this, a professional chimney sweeping is often needed to undo the effects of the chimney sweeping log.

Why chimney sweeping logs can’t replace a professional chimney sweep

Chimney sweeping logs might seem like a cheap and easy alternative to a professional chimney sweeping, but they can actually do more harm than good.

“I usually tell people using one of those logs instead of having your chimney cleaned manually is like chewing Dentyne instead of brushing your teeth,” said Allan Bopp of Bald Eagle Enterprises. “It may help a little, but it’s a poor substitute for the real thing.”

Even if they can help to loosen creosote, chimney sweeping logs cannot replace the benefits of having a professional sweep and inspect your chimney. A certified chimney professional is able to identify any signs of chimney damage or deterioration during a cleaning; oftentimes, spotting problems early can help prevent serious damage – as well as expensive repairs.

While chimney sweeping logs work in theory, using one can cause serious problems within your chimney system. Instead, skip the chimney sweeping log altogether and let a professional chimney sweep keep your chimney clean – and your family safe. Contact Lords Chimney today to schedule your next chimney sweeping!

Chimney Cleaning Logs

If you walk down the aisles of your neighborhood big box home improvement store, you are bound to see a wide variety of products designed to help homeowners clean and maintain their fireplaces. While some of these products can be useful, they should not be used to replace regular annual chimney maintenance by a certified chimney sweep.

One such product that our customers regularly ask about are “chimney cleaning logs”. Sold for less than $20 at many home improvement stores, chimney sweeping logs advertise their ability to significantly reduce creosote buildup in the chimney. Because of this, some homeowners purchase and burn these products as their only form of chimney maintenance, patting themselves on the back for saving money on a chimney sweep.

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Despite their advertising claims, these logs are no replacement for a professional chimney cleaning. Although they may be able to remove some creosote buildup, there are a number of ways that they are deficient at maintaining the health and safety of your fireplace system.

Why loosening creosote is just part of the job

The primary purpose of a chimney cleaning log is the removal of creosote; the smoke from the log loosens the creosote and causes it to fall down the flue and into the firebox, where it can be safely swept up and removed.

In theory, this is an excellent system. Unfortunately, the reality leaves much to be desired.

Most flues are not a straight vertical line between your firebox and the top of the chimney. Depending on your fireplace’s location, your flue may have one of more curves and bends in it. When this happens, the loosening of creosote by the chimney cleaning log merely causes it to fall and accumulate in the bends of the flue. This may not only block the flue, but can also create a significant fire hazard. Even fireplaces without curved flues may wind up with the majority of the creosote trapped on the smoke shelf, which can be difficult to access and clean without proper training.

A chimney cleaning log is no substitute for a chimney sweep

While a chimney cleaning log may be useful in loosening creosote, it is no substitute for the services performed by a certified chimney sweep.

“I usually tell people using one of those logs instead of having your chimney cleaned manually is like chewing Dentyne instead of brushing your teeth,” said Allan Bopp of Bald Eagle Enterprises. “It may help a little, but it’s a poor substitute for the real thing.”

Likewise, a chimney cleaning log has no way to know or tell you if your chimney is damaged in any way. There are a number of hidden issues such as cracked flue liners, decaying masonry, or damaged chimney caps or crowns that can only be spotted by a sweep during a chimney inspection. Because many of these chimney issues do not affect performance, you may have no idea there is even an existing issue.

Don’t trust the health of your chimney or the safety of your family to a $20 log bought at a big box store. Instead, have an annual chimney sweeping and rest assured that you can safely use your fireplace for the rest of the year. Contact Lord’s Chimney today to schedule an appointment!

Restore Your Masonry with Paint “N” Peel

A fireplace is a beautiful addition to any home. However, if the masonry has become stained by smoke, ash, or soot, it can affect how you feel about and how often you use your fireplace.

While stained masonry does not affect your fireplace’s performance, it can make a big impact on the aesthetics of your home. A stained fireplace can make a home look dirty and uncared for, no matter how clean the rest of the house is. Likewise, staining on your chimney structure can affect the curb appeal of your home.

In the past, the only option to clean masonry was to paint it or spend days scrubbing with powerful cleaners. However, homeowners can now use the Chimney Saver Paint “N” Peel fireplace cleaner to restore the beauty of their original masonry without the use of harsh chemicals.

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What makes Paint “N” Peel different from other products

If your masonry has been damaged by years of smoke, soot, and ash buildup, you may have been told there were few ways to repair it. Likewise, many traditional methods of cleaning bricks are extremely time intensive or damaging.

Many interior cleaners, even those designed specifically for bricks, must be left on for several days or require extensive scrubbing to work. These products are also often made with harsh chemicals that require you to wear protective masks and may leave your home smelling like chemicals for days or weeks after. For exterior brick, using a power washer is one popular way to clean up dirty chimneys; however, the combination of high pressure with moisture can cause long term water damage to the bricks and mortar of the chimney structure.

Unlike these other products, Paint “N” Peel is easy to use, requires no difficult scrubbing, is environmentally friendly, and has no offensive odors.

How Paint “N” Peel works

Your fireplace professional will apply a thick coat of Paint “N” Peel using specially designed brushes. After the product is applied, it will dry for between 6-12 hours. During this time, there is no need to leave your home or avoid the hearth room; because Paint “N” Peel is environmentally friendly and leaves no odors behind, it will not affect the air quality in your home.

When the Paint “N” Peel has completely dried and cured, it will form a thick, non-hazardous film. This film can then be easily peeled away from the brick, taking with it years of staining from ash, smoke, and soot and leaving behind beautifully restored masonry. Because Paint “N” Peel is designed for both interior and exterior use, it can be applied to fireplaces, chimneys, and a variety of other masonry structures.

Spring is the perfect time to have your fireplace or chimney restored using Paint “N” Peel products. Because it can only be used when the temperature is between 45 and 95 degrees, the mild spring weather is an ideal time to use this product.

If you are ready to restore the finish of your interior or exterior masonry, contact Lord’s Chimney today. We are confident that the Paint “N” Peel chimney system can make the bricks in your home beautiful again!