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Prepare Your Chimney For Cold Months

Fall may have just arrived, but winter will be here before we know it! After a long summer of disuse now is the perfect time to ensure your chimney is ready for the arrival of cold weather. The following tips can help you get your fireplace ready for winter’s arrival.

First, Get a Chimney Inspection Prepare Your Chimney For Cold Months Image - Memphis TN - Coopertown Chimney

An annual chimney sweeping and inspection remains the most important – and most effective – way to care for your fireplace system. This regular maintenance ensures your chimney is in good condition, free from damage or deterioration, and ready to burn efficiently all winter long.

Chimney sweeping should never be considered a DIY job. Instead of attempting to do it yourself or using products such as chimney sweeping logs, rely on a true industry professional. CSIA certified chimney sweeps have the education, training, and skill to properly care for your chimney system. Likewise, sweeps use the chimney inspection as a way to troubleshoot ongoing chimney issues or identify new areas of chimney damage.

Second, Buy the Right Firewood

Not all firewood is created equal; the type of wood you use impacts the health of your chimney system as well as how the fire burns. The best wood for indoor residential fireplaces are hardwoods; elm, oak, and maple are popular hardwoods that burn hotter, longer, and produce less creosote and smoke than their softwood counterparts. Softwoods such as fir, pine, and spruce should be avoided in indoor fireplaces as they burn slowly and produce large amounts of smoke.

It can be tempting to throw cardboard, wrapping paper, or other forms of trash into the fireplace – especially when unwrapping gifts around the holidays. However, trash and paper products should never be burned in an indoor fireplace. Fires fueled by paper and cardboard can quickly burn out of control, damaging surrounding furnishings or walls. Likewise, burning products other than wood can release chemicals and compounds that cause damage to chimney components or affect interior air quality.

Third, Properly Dispose of Ashes

Whether you use your fireplace a few times each winter or burn nearly every day, it is important to properly dispose of the ashes. Fires should be allowed to extinguish naturally; stoking the ashes as they cool can prevent pockets of coals or embers from hiding in the ashes. After they have cooled, shovel the ashes into a special ash container. Ash containers should be metal, a handle for easy carrying, and should have a base that prevents them from sitting directly on the ground.

Ashes should never be stored in a flammable container such as a paper bag and should not be mixed in with other trash in trash cans or dumpsters. Embers and coals can remain active in ashes for up to three days; if ashes are mixed in with regular trash it can lead to accidental fires. Check with your sanitation company for their rules or regulations for disposing of ashes.

The winter burning season is just around the corner; follow our tips to make sure your fireplace is ready for the cold months. For more information on preparing your fireplace for winter contact Coopertown Services today.

By Christina Robinson on October 2nd, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

The Dangers Of Creosote

When it comes to keeping your fireplace and chimney clean, most homeowners understand the importance of removing soot and ash. However, there may be something more dangerous hiding in your flue – creosote.

What is creosote? The Dangers Of Creosote Image - Memphis TN - Coopertown Services

Creosote is a naturally occurring byproduct of combustion. All fuel burning fires create creosote during the combustion process, including wood, pellets, natural gas, coal, and propane; however, creosote creation is the most common and most prevalent in wood burning fires.

There are three stages of creosote. The longer the creosote is allowed to remain in the flue the more advanced the stage will become.

  • Stage 1: Light and fluffy like powder or soot. In this state, creosote is easily removed during a chimney sweeping.
  • Stage 2: Shiny, hard, black flakes. This requires the use of tools such as drills or rotary loops to remove.
  • Stage 3: Thick, hardened tar. Also known as glazed creosote, Stage 3 creosote is extremely difficult to remove and can damage the flue liner.

Why is creosote dangerous?

Creosote is dangerous because it damages your flue in two ways. First, because creosote is highly flammable it can accidentally ignite due to stray sparks or embers from the fire. Accidental creosote ignition is responsible for more than 25,000 chimney fires in the United States each year.

The second way that creosote damages your chimney system is by eroding and damaging the chimney flue liner. The longer creosote remains in the flue the more difficult it is to remove; removing stage 3 creosote, for example, often causes damage to the chimney flue liner underneath. Likewise, excessive creosote buildup can also cause smoky chimney odors throughout the home.

Preventing Creosote

As a naturally occurring byproduct of combustion, it is impossible to entirely prevent creosote buildup. However, there are a number of ways that homeowners can minimize creosote creation when using the fireplace.

  1. Use the right firewood. Burning seasoned hard woods creates the least amount of creosote. Freshly cut, green, or wet wood creates more creosote as it burns due to the high moisture content and lower burn temperature.
  2. Stop smoldering fires. Fires allowed to smolder or burn at a low temperature for a long period of time can create additional creosote. This is especially important for wood stove owners; purposefully maintaining a low temperature in the stove can create excessive creosote in the flue.
  3. Resize the flue. If you have changed fuel sources or installed a new insert, the flue may need to be resized. A correctly sized flue ensures that too must cold air is not pulled down; this can prematurely cool the creosote and cause it to harden faster.

There may be more in your chimney than just soot and ash. To prevent harmful creosote from negatively affecting your chimney system it is important to have it professionally swept at least once per year. For more information about the dangers of creosote or to schedule your next chimney sweeping contact the experts at Coopertown Services today.

By Christina Robinson on September 17th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Our Master Chimney Sweeps

In 1977 Ken Robinson was a professional chimney sweep in half a day as there was only one job, clean out the creosote. In 2017, thanks to organizations like the Chimney Safety Institute of America, the training, technology and scientific study takes about a year to become a certified chimney sweep. The homeowner greatly benefits by hiring a chimney sweep who has gone through this training.father and son master chimney sweeps - memphis tn - coopertown services

Yet the training has a more elite level that takes years to achieve, Master Chimney Sweep. This is not an honorary level but a highly scientific level that combines exhausting study and years of actual experience. You really have to walk the talk to become a Master Chimney Sweep. As of June 2017 there were only 32 Master Chimney Sweeps in the U.S.. Ken is one of the earliest Master Chimney Sweeps. This past August Master Chimney Sweep #33 joins the ranks, Ken’s son Kenny. They are the only father and son Master Chimney Sweeps in the U.S.

Master Chimney Sweep Kenny Robinson walks the talk and this is a big win for homeowners in the mid-south. Since 1977 our customers asked for Ken to come clean and inspect their chimney because they knew he was the best of the best. Today they’ll book as much as a year in advance to have Kenny come to their home.

We are so proud of Kenny to have followed not only in his father’s footsteps but also the tradition and dedication to be the very best of the best, Master Chimney Sweep.

By Christina Robinson on September 12th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , | Leave a Comment

Chim Chim Cheroo!

40 years ago this month Ken and Joyce Robinson with 4 little kids to feed decided to go all in on the chimney sweep business. 1977 was in the midst of the so-called energy crisis as OPEC ramped up prices sending fossil fuels skyrocketing. This affected not only cars but also home heating. Many people were looking at alternate sources of heating the home and hence more fireplaces were being used, converted to wood stove inserts and multi-fuel heating. Soon to follow were chimney fires because at the time no one took into consideration that the by-product of wood smoke is the highly flammable creosote. No one that is until a few guys in New England saw the need for chimney sweeps to clean out the creosote and ignite an industry. Ken and friends leaped onto the bandwagon and Coopertown Chimney Sweeps was born. The industry has grown into a serious scientific study and certification process thanks in great part to Ken and Joyce.

mary poppins sing a long - memphis tn - coopertown services 40th anniversary

On Saturday September 30th 7pm at the famous Levitt Shell in Memphis, Coopertown will formally celebrate 40 years of business by hosting a free big screen showing of the Disney classic Mary Poppins. But wait there’s more! It’s a sing-a-long and we’ll have a Bert and Mary costume contest, face painting, top hats for the kids and larger than life costumed raccoon, squirrel and roof rat! You can have your picture taken by REAL chimney sweeps. Did I mention that it’s free? IT’S FREE! Click here for info.

Help us celebrate 40 years of serving Memphis, Germantown, Bartlett, Collierville, Arlington, Lakeland and all points in between as one of the nation’s oldest and largest chimney cleaning and wildlife services company. We’ll see you at the Shell!

By Christina Robinson on September 7th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Your Chimney Might Need To Be Relined

When it comes to the condition of your chimney, there may be hidden hazards. The chimney liner, which runs the length of the flue, serves an important role in protecting your home from the heat and gas produced by the fireplace. However, it cannot be examined without special equipment. Whether your liner is dirty, damaged, or does not meet the needs of your current fuel source, you might need to get your chimney relined.

What is chimney relining? Your Chimney Might Need To Be Relined Image - Memphis TN - Coopertown Services

The chimney liner is “A clay, ceramic, or metal conduit installed inside of a chimney, intended to contain the combustion products, direct them to the outside atmosphere, and protect the chimney walls from heat and corrosion.” However, age, overuse, or lack of maintenance can all cause damage to the chimney liner.

Because the chimney liner plays such an important role in protecting your home from heat transfer, a cracked or damaged chimney liner can create a significant safety problem. Likewise, installing a new fireplace insert or switching fuel sources may also require your chimney to be relined. This can prevent drafting issues as well as ensure there will not be damage from byproducts of combustion.

Three types of chimney liners

There are three types of chimney liners that are used in homes today. The type of chimney liner your home needs will depend on the damage to the existing liner as well as the fuel source of the fireplace.

  • Clay tile liners. Clay tile liners are the standard when most chimneys are built. While built to withstand heat, the masonry joints can deteriorate over time. Clay tile liners are nearly impossible to replace as they are built using sections of tiles which cannot be easily taken out or replaced. Heatshield can also be used to repair a clay tile liner without relining the entire flue.
  • Cast in place liners. Cast in place liners are created by applying a cement product directly to the walls of the flue using a former. This creates a seamless, smoke tight finish that can also help stabilize a damaged flue.
  • Stainless steel liners. Stainless steel liners are a more expensive relining option but provide the best durability and heat resistance. Many stainless steel liners include a lifetime warranty when they are professionally installed.

Does my chimney need to be relined?

The best way to determine if your chimney needs to be relined is through a chimney inspection. During a Level II chimney inspection, a certified chimney sweep will use technology such as closed circuit cameras in order to evaluate the entire length of the chimney liner. This allows creosote buildup, damage to the liner, or cracking joints to be discovered.

If your chimney liner has been damaged, trust the experts at Coopertown Services to reline your chimney. Contact us today for more information on chimney relining or to schedule your next chimney inspection.

By Christina Robinson on August 28th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment