Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Annual Chimney Inspection Appointments Encouraged During National Chimney Safety Week September 26 – October 2, 2010

The National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) reminds homeowners to schedule annual chimney inspections before using fireplaces and wood stoves this season. Annual chimney inspections allow the chimney sweep to note cracks, creosote buildup or other obstructions which may diminish the functionality of the system and create an environment where chimney fires or carbon monoxide intrusion are likely.

The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) estimates that 25 percent of home heating fires are caused primarily by creosote buildup in the chimney. NFPA additionally recommends that all chimneys serving gas or wood-burning appliances are inspected on an annual basis.

NCSG encourages homeowners to hire professional chimney sweeps with verifiable memberships, credentials and insurance. NCSG members have access to the latest training and equipment used in the industry and have agreed to abide by a formal Code of Ethics. Homeowners may locate an NCSG member company by visiting

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The National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) is a 501 (c) 6 non-profit trade association existing to promote the success of its members by providing progressive services, encouraging professionalism and ethical accountability, and advancing the chimney and venting industry through public awareness of the trade.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Firewood Selection

The quality of firewood that you burn will greatly affect the efficiency of your system. The main factors you should be concerned with are moisture content, tree species and piece size.

Burning wood that is wet will result in a loss of energy output because the energy being consumed is primarily used for boiling and evaporating the water present in the wood. Properly seasoned wood burns easily and efficiently. Cut and split wood in early spring, stack under cover for burning in the fall.

Consult your firewood dealer for more tips and questions. Wood varies in hardness. While both hard and soft wood can be used for burning in your fuel system, there is a difference between the two types of wood. Generally hard wood will create hotter smoldering coals and will burn for longer periods of time. Soft wood can be used for short hot fires. Use hardwood for longer burns.

Piece size affects the rate of consumption. Larger pieces release their energy slowly. Small pieces are better for short, hot fires.

Finally, a two-three day wood supply should be kept indoors. Wood brought in from outdoors in winter and burned immediately will cool the fire too much and prevent proper combustion.

Wood Hardness

The list to the right shows common wood species arranged in order from hardest to softest.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

How to Maintain Outdoor Fireplaces

Depending on the type of outdoor fireplace you have, maintenance can be simple or complicated. By taking proper care of your fireplace, however much work it involves, you can ensure that it will remain useful and attractive for several seasons or more.

Basic Outdoor Fireplace Maintenance

All outdoor fireplaces require ash cans, brooms, and sturdy work gloves. Before performing any other maintenance, make sure the fire has completely died down, and then empty the remaining ash or wood into an ash can for disposal. Use a brush to direct the ash into the can and ensure that you get as much ash out of the fire box as possible.

At the start of each season, clean the fire box, chimney, and flue to remove any soot, creosote, or yard debris. You should also check with your local fire station to determine the amount of clearance you should maintain around the fireplace. Three feet is usually the minimum, but it may be higher in fire-prone regions.

Iron Fireplace Maintenance

Iron fireplaces are among the sturdiest of outdoor fireplaces. Some come with steel or aluminum chimneys and iron bases. If this is the case with yours, make sure replacement parts are available before you buy it because the base will last longer than the chimney. You don't want to replace the whole thing if you don't need to.

Iron resists rust, but you should apply a special high-temperature paint to the iron portions to halt rust that has developed or prevent it from developing in the first place. See the manufacturer's instructions for advice about how often you should paint the fireplace.

Iron fireplaces are difficult to move. Instead you should cover the fireplace with a specially-designed vinyl cover during the wet season.

Copper Outdoor Fireplaces

Copper will transform from its brilliant copper shade to a greenish patina with use. You can help maintain the original color by storing the fire pit in a dry place away from the elements and cleaning it after each use. You can also buy covers for copper fire pits to protect them where they stand. The iron base will also need to be maintained with high-temperature paint to prevent rust.

The fire pit can be wiped with a mild dishwashing detergent or other non-abrasive cleaner, a citrus degreaser and a nylon brush, or chimney cleaning products.

Aluminum or Steel Fireplaces

Both of these fireplaces should be covered when they're not in use to prevent rust.

Clay Chimeneas

Clay chimeneas require less maintenance if they're used properly. Before each use, inspect it for cracks and remove debris from the chimney. Do not use it if you see cracks. The heat will continue to damage it, which could create a dangerous situation if it breaks with a fire inside it. If your chimenea is in good condition, start the fire slowly to allow the clay to adapt. You should also keep it covered between uses to reduce exposure to moisture.

Brick and Stone Outdoor Fireplaces

These fireplaces should be maintained as you would an indoor fireplace. Remove ash and debris from the fire box after use and wipe ash off the hearth with a brush. A chimney cap will help keep leaves out of the chimney and arrest sparks.

Clean out the chimney with a flue brush or hire a professional chimney sweep at the start of the summer. Although stone or brick outdoor fireplaces don't need to be covered in winter, cleaning the exteriors in the spring will help maintain a more attractive appearance. Visit your home store to find products used to wash the outsides of stone or brick chimneys.

Take the time to care for your outdoor fireplace properly if you want to enjoy your season after season. It's worth it.
by: Lisa Becker

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Show Someone You Care with a Gift Certificate for a Chimney Cleaning or Repair

In addition to merchandise gift certificates, that are available for purchase from our online store, SweepMasters Professional Chimney Services LLC is pleased to offer its customers the convenience of purchasing service gift certificates online that can be used for any of its chimney, dryer vent, or gutter cleaning services or repairs.

Our traditional merchandise gift certificates can be used to purchase any merchandise sold on our online store and provide a nice way to give a house-warming gift, to give to someone who just built or installed a fireplace or woodstove, or for anyone with a stove, fireplace, or backyard kitchen or barbecue area. Now with our unique prepaid service gift certificates, customers can also provide a loved one with peace of mind through a chimney, dryer vent, or gutter cleaning, or other needed service or repair.

"We believe that our online prepaid service gift certificate program is unique in the chimney services industry. Merchandise gift certificates have always been nice gifts to give on special occasions such as birthdays, graduations, or anniversaries. Now, with a prepaid service gift certificate, you can also give the gift of a needed service or repair to someone just to show them that you care."

Purchasing a service gift certificate is simple.Customers purchase a service gift certificate from our online store just as they would any other merchandise. Service gift certificates are available in a variety of denominations and can be used toward any of our quality services or repairs. Redeeming the gift certificate is easy, too. When the gift certificate recipient contacts us to schedule the service or repair that they need, the gift certificate is verified by us. Then it is given to the technician at the time of service and its value credited toward the cost of the service or repair that was performed.

"We are excited about this unique offering and the opportunity for us to provide to someone, through the thoughtfulness of the gift giver, that needed service or repair that often times they may not think about, remember, or just simply put off for themselves."

To learn more about our service gift certificate program or to purchase a gift certificate visit

Crown It or Chase It?

We often get asked what is the difference between a chimney crown and a chimney chase cover, and how do I know which one I have?

A chimney crown, or wash, is the mortar or concrete portion of the chimney located on the outside top of the chimney that covers and seals off the airspace between the outer brick walls of the chimney and the flue liner, and assists in shedding water away from the chimney. It can take the form of a sloped bed or a rectangular "formed & poured" shape. Standard masonry chimneys are topped by mortar crowns.

A chase cover is the top portion of the chimney that covers the chimney chase, which is the commonly used term for a wood framed chimney. A chase cover serves the same purposes on a chimney chase as the mortar crown does on a masonry chimney-- airspace sealing and water protection, but it is usually made of either galvanized sheet metal or stainless steel. Factory built, or prefabricated chimneys, are topped by chase covers rather than masonry crowns.

Both crowns and chase covers will deteriorate over time due to their open exposure to the elements, especially water. Concrete crowns will develop cracks in the concrete and metal chase covers will rust and corrode over time. Both kinds of deterioration can lead to water damage to the interior components of the chimney and fireplace. Crowns and chase covers can be repaired easily if the damage is caught early.

Shop The Hearth Store for Quality Fireplace Accessories

SweepMasters Professional Chimney Services LLC is expanding its suite of chimney services to local customers with the opening of its online store. Now customers can have the convenience of shopping online for quality hearth supplies and accessories to maintain and enhance the beauty of their home and add to the safety, use, and enjoyment of their wood stove or fireplace.

Why open an online store? The answer is simple. SweepMasters Professional Chimney Services LLC wants to be the premier one-stop chimney services company in the Northern Virginia and Metro Washington DC area that customers know they can rely on for all of their chimney, fireplace, and wood stove service, repair, and merchandise needs.

"The opening of an online store was the logical outgrowth of our commitment to provide a high level of quality services to our customers. Our technicians are often asked by customers about where they can purchase hearth products, such as hearth safety gates for children. Instead of leaving them on their own to search out where to buy an item, and then having to find someone to install it, we can now offer assistance by referring them to our website where they can browse a large selection of trusted, brand name quality products to find just the item they need. What´s more, as existing customers, they can take advantage of our special customer discount on anything that they buy from our online store, and also know that they can arrange with us for free installation of the item, if needed."

We find that our customers appreciate the extra assistance we can provide in helping them find just the right item, and at the same time feel confident in purchasing products online form a local company with whom they already have a trusted relationship, and who they know will stand behind the products they sell. Why take a chance on buying online from some far away or unknown cyber-business?
Plus, buying online saves them money because there isn´t the usual markup associated with buying the same item from a local brick and mortar store.

From andirons to wood racks, from bellows to tool sets, we have hundreds of quality hearth products from which to choose. And now for a limited time, we are offering free direct-to-home shipping on online merchandise orders over $149.

To shop our online store for quality hearth accessories, visit

Chimney Sweep Challenge

Screwed up chimney takes a turn for the worst...

Wanted: One athletic chimney sweep. Must work “flexible” hours. Twisted sense of humor a plus.

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Lights, Camera, Action...

Well , not exactly Hollywood style, but we think you might want to check out our newest video offering. With the winter heating season approaching, we wanted a video piece to remind customers of the importance of an annual chimney inspection and cleaning. We think our latest video does just that. If you have been putting off a chimney inspection or cleaning, now would be a good time to schedule one for yourself as well. Why not give yourself greater peace of mind! Here is the video link.

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Take 5!

Bloggers Special!

Take an extra $5 OFF our already low prices on any chimney service or repair.

Clip coupon to redeem!

Limit 1 per household

Expires 7/31/10

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SweepMasters Professional Chimney Services LLC Launches Rewards Program for Customers

SweepMasters Professional Chimney Services LLC is giving back to the community by launching a rewards program for its customers throughout Northern Virginia and the Metro Washington DC area. Through its Refer-a-Friend Program, existing customers are rewarded for their referrals. Each time a customer refers SweepMasters Professional Chimney Services LLC to a friend, family member, or neighbor, and the referral customer completes a service or repair, they both win. The referred customer will receive a gift certificate toward future service and the referring customer will receive a free gas, grocery, or retail gift card as a thank you for their referral.

“At SweepMasters Professional Chimney Services LLC, we believe the most significant measurement of a customer's satisfaction is when they recommend our services to a friend, family member, or neighbor. This is clearly the ultimate testimony of a customer's confidence and trust in a company. To show our appreciation, we would like to reward our customers for rewarding us. To this end, we have established a customer referral program that will reward our customers for their loyalty and confidence in us and their willingness to refer us to others. This is our sincere way of saying Thank you!”

At a time when many service companies are cutting back on service and homeowners are tightening their belts, SweepMasters Professional Chimney Services LLC hopes to set a standard in customer relations with its referral program that lets customers participate in additional savings.

“We want to create a win-win situation for everyone and our customer referral rewards program does just that. We build and grow a loyal customer base for our business, and our customers, both old and new alike, put a little extra money into their pockets that we pass on to them through our referral program in the form of free gift cards and gift certificates that they can use for just about anything! “

For more information on this program, visit:

What's That Chirping in My Chimney?

This time of the year, we get a lot of calls from folks pleading with us for help in removing those noisy birds that have nested in their chimneys. More often than not, these birds are Chimney Swifts.

Unfortunately for the homeowner, chimney swifts are protected by federal law and we are prohibited from removing the birds or their nests until the hatchlings have left the nest, usually by the end of August. After that we can clean the chimney to remove the nesting material (which can pose a fire hazard). Unless you want to be landlord to a family of chimney swifts in your chimney again next breeding season, I would strongly recommend installing a chimney cap as well.

For more information on chimney swifts, please read our fact sheet.

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Welcome to our blog, "The View From Here". Yes, SweepMasters Professional Chimney Services LLC has joined the blogging world. We will use this venue to share our thoughts and insights, humor and tips, and other useful information concerning the wonderful world of the Chimney Sweep. We will also post SweepMasters company news, announcements, and other information from time to time, such as service or repair discounts or online store promotions that we hope you will find of interest. We will even throw in some very special offers now and then that are only available to you bloggers! So, please check back often for new entries.

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