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Disposing of Fireplace Ash

Fire safety doesn’t end when the flames go out; it is important for homeowners to learn how to properly remove, store, and dispose of their fireplace ashes. Proper ash disposal can make both your fireplace and your home safer during the fall and winter burning season.Disposing of Fireplace Ash Image - Memphis TN - Coopertown Services

Are ashes dangerous?

Fireplace ashes are often a hassle; shoveling, scooping, and cleaning ashes after a fire can be seen as an additional hassle in the way of enjoying your fireplace. While ashes themselves are more messy than dangerous, they can create pockets around smoldering embers and coals. In fact, wood ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days.

Disposing of ashes – the wrong way

Many of the most common methods of ash removal and disposal are actually unsafe. The following are just a few of the wrong ways you may be disposing of ashes.

– Vacuuming. Vacuuming ashes, even with a shop vac or a vacuum with a HEPA filter, can cause ash and soot to become airborne. Likewise, smoldering embers sucked up by the vacuum can ignite other materials in the collecting bag or container.
– Putting ashes in combustible containers. Cardboard boxes and paper bags are commonly used to collect ashes straight from the fireplace. However, these combustible containers can catch fire if any embers or coals are in the ashes.
– Putting ashes into trash cans or dumpsters. Ashes should never be transferred directly to a trash can or dumpster. Hot coals or embers can ignite other trash and lead to dumpster fires.

Disposing of ashes – the right way

The following tips can help you safely remove and dispose of fireplace ashes in your home.

– Stir ashes. As a fire dies down, continue to stir the ashes. This helps prevents embers or coals from lying dormant in the ashes by exposing them to outside air.
– Use an ash container. Designate a special ash container; ash containers should be made of metal, sit off the ground, and have a tight-fitting lid and a handle.
– Keep ashes away from other combustibles. Ash containers should be stored away from the fireplace, firewood, or other combustible materials. This helps prevent accidental fires.
– Wait three days before throwing ashes into the trash. Ashes should remain in the ash container for at least three days before putting them into trash cans or dumpsters to prevent fires. However, it is important to check with your waste management company on whether or not ashes can be thrown away with regular trash.

Alternate uses for ashes

There are several ways you can use fireplace ashes around your home.

– Natural deicer. Sprinkle sidewalks and steps with ashes to melt ice and create traction.
– Prevent garden pests. Sprinkle ashes around the borders of flower beds to create a natural barrier against slugs and snails.
– Add alkalinity to the soil. Small amounts of ashes can be added to soil to change its alkalinity.

Properly disposing of fireplace ashes can prevent accidental fires and make using your fireplace safer. For more information on proper ash disposal, contact Coopertown Services today.

By Christina Robinson on February 28th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Spotting Masonry Damage

While you may not be a fireplace experts, many homeowners know more about their chimney systems than they realize. Because of this, you may be able to recognize potential problems with the masonry of your fireplace and chimney. The following are three common masonry problems that homeowners may notice about their masonry. If you spot these kinds of masonry damage, it may indicate a larger problem within your fireplace system.

Broken, Chipped, or Cracked Masonry

Spotting Masonry Damage - Memphis TN - Coopertown ServicesSome masonry damage is only seen when up close on the roof. However, large cracks, chips, or sections of missing bricks can often be spotted from the ground and may indicate your chimney is suffering from water damage. Bricks are naturally porous; while this makes them ideal for fireplace construction as gas can pass through them, it also means that water can seep into the bricks over time.

The freeze-thaw process can cause significant damage to the masonry. This process begins when the bricks absord small amounts of water. When the temperatures drop below freezing during the winter, the water expands as it turns to ice. This creates progressively larger cracks and holes, allowing more and more water to be absorbed until significant damage is done to the masonry.

Tuckpointing repairs masonry damage caused by water entry or the freeze-thaw process. During tuckpointing, damaged bricks and mortar are carefully removed and replaced with matching masonry. Likewise, applying a masonry-specific waterproofing product can also help protect your chimney.

Stained or Discolored Masonry

Brown, black, red, white, or even green stains on the side of your chimney affect more than just your home’s curb appeal. The color of the stain or discoloration can give clues as to what kind of chimney issue is occurring. Excessive creosote buildup in the flue causes brown or black stains; an annual chimney sweeping can prevent this kind of staining. Red stains, often with orange or brown, may indicate a metal chimney component is rusting. Red rust stains are most common in manufactured chimneys with metal chimney chase covers.

White staining both inside or outside is caused by efflorescence, or the phenomenon in which evaporating water leaves salt deposits behind. Mold or mildew growth cause green staining, particularly in areas around the chimney that receive little sunlight or have experienced water damage.

Chimney Odors

Don’t just cover up chimney odors with air fresheners or sprays! A variety of different chimney issues cause smells. Excessive creosote buildup causes strong smoky smells, particularly during hot or humid weather. Mold growth causes damp or musty odors; in addition to indicating an underlying chimney leak, mold growth in the chimney can negatively affect your home’s air quality. Sharp rotting smells, especially when accompanied by scratching or scurrying sounds, indicate a trapped or nesting animal in the flue.

While the walls of our chimneys can’t talk, they can help us spot different kinds of masonry damage. For more information about identifying masonry damage or to schedule a chimney inspection, contact Coopertown Services today.

By Christina Robinson on February 12th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Ring In The New Year With Expert Chimney Maintenance

The new year has arrived, and with the new year comes new year’s resolutions. Some people try to hit the gym or reorganize their closets. This year, ring in the new year with expert chimney maintenance from our certified chimney sweeps!

When should I sweep my chimney?

Ring In The New Year With Expert Chimney Maintenance - Memphis TN - Coopertown ServicesWhether you use your fireplace every day during the fall and winter or only burn a few times per year, an annual chimney sweeping is the most important part of fireplace maintenance. By scheduling your chimney sweeping at the start of the new year, you can get it out of the way and off the calendar again until 2019!

If you use your fireplace as a primary heat source it may need to be swept more than once per year. National Fire Protection Association Code 211 states that chimneys should be swept any time there is at least 1/8th of an inch of accumulation of soot in the flue. In normal burning conditions, this amount of accumulation occurs when burning a full cord of wood; if you use more than one cord of wood during a burning season, consider adding an additional mid-season chimney sweeping to your annual maintenance.

Why should I use a certified chimney sweep?

Not everyone with a brush and a truck is a qualified to clean your chimney. In fact, most contractors, handymen, or other laborers lack the knowledge and experience to safely and successfully clean your chimney. Because of this, it is important to find a chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

CSIA chimney sweeps are certified fireplace professionals who have undergone a rigorous education and testing curriculum. Likewise, chimney sweeps must retest every three years in order to maintain their certification; this ensures that CSIA certified chimney sweeps are up to date on the latest advancements in safety and technology in the industry.

What can I expect during a chimney sweeping?

Our chimney technicians are highly trained, educated, and knowledgeable professionals. Chimney sweeps are punctual and explain what will be done. In addition, they answer any of your questions about the process.

Protective coverings guard furnishings or floors near the fireplace. This protects your home’s décor from ash or soot stains. Instead of basic technology, we use advanced technologies such as vacuums or closed circuit cameras during sweeps. When finished, the sweep will clean up and give you an extensive summary of the repair and condition of your chimney.

Ring in 2018 with a new year’s resolution to take better care of your fireplace system! To schedule your next chimney maintenance, contact the fireplace professionals at Coopertown Services today!

By Christina Robinson on January 29th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Carbon Monoxide FAQ

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. It is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it is impossible to detect without specialized equipment such as carbon monoxide detectors.

Carbon monoxide gas is naturally created as a byproduct of combustion in all fuel-burning fires. Wood, gas, kerosene, propane, and coal are just a few of the fuel sources that create carbon monoxide gas when burned. Carbon Monoxide FAQ - Memphis TN - Coopertown Services

What is carbon monoxide poisoning?

While carbon monoxide poisoning is rare, it can be fatal; because of this, all homeowners should understand the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. In the United States alone, more than 400 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide gas is poisonous and extremely hazardous to your health. With low levels of exposure to the gas, carbon monoxide poisoning often mimics flu-like symptoms including headache, nausea, and drowsiness. With continued exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause impaired coordination, vision, and cognitive functioning. In high concentrations, exposure to carbon monoxide gas can lead to coma and even death.

If you believe you are suffering the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, it is important to move to a fresh air location such as outdoors or near an open window as soon as possible. Emergency services should then be called.

How can I prevent carbon monoxide leaks?

Homeowners shouldn’t stop using their fireplaces, furnaces, or other fuel-burning appliances in fear of carbon monoxide poisoning. Instead, there are a number of easy and common sense ways to prevent carbon monoxide leaks.

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors.
    Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on every floor of your home, especially near fuel-burning appliances and outside of sleeping areas. In addition to testing the detectors every 6 months to ensure they are still working, homeowners should have them replaced every 7-10 years; this ensures the carbon monoxide detectors are up to date with current technology and safety standards.
  • Have fireplaces and stoves swept and inspected.
    Regular maintenance such as chimney sweepings and inspections should be conducted at least once per year. This ensures that your heating appliance is free from damage or deterioration that could cause a carbon monoxide leak.
  • Never allow cars to idle in garages, even when the door is open.
  • Move grills away from open windows and doors.
  • Replace vent-free space heaters with vented models when possible.
    If using a vent-free fireplace or space heater, crack a window in the room.
  • Do not run generators in enclosed spaces such as garages or basements.

Use your fireplace with increased peace of mind this winter by having it swept and inspected to help prevent carbon monoxide leaks. For more information on preventing carbon monoxide leaks or to schedule your next maintenance appointment, contact the experts at Coopertown Services today!

By Christina Robinson on January 10th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Is It Time To Change Out My Prefabricated Chimney?

Decade after decade, fireplaces are one of the most sought-after features in real estate. For many families, achieving the dream of having a fireplace in the home means forgoing masonry in favor of less expensive prefabricated units.

Prefabricated fireplaces and chimneys offer the same benefits as their masonry counterparts, but they often have a significantly shorter lifespan. While most prefabricated chimneys can last up to 25 years, many need to be repaired – or replaced – before this due to condition, upkeep, maintenance, and damage.

Replacing a prefabricated chimney is much more than simply picking out a new fireplace unit. Because of this, it is important to trust a fireplace professional with experience installing and replacing prefabricated chimneys. Prefabricated Chimney Units - Memphis TN - Coopertown Services

How long can my prefabricated chimney last?

Factory built fireplaces and chimneys are not inherently flimsy or built using sub-standard materials. Despite this, they simply do not have the same lifespan as their masonry counterparts.

Prefabricated or factory-built fireplaces and chimneys are not inherently flimsy or built using sub-standard materials. Despite this, they simply do not have the same lifespan as their masonry counterparts.

The lifespan of a prefabricated fireplace is similar to that of major home appliances such as refrigerators. Even with regular maintenance and upkeep, prefabricated chimney units have a lifespan of 20-30 years.

How long a prefabricated chimney lasts often comes down to two factors: use and maintenance. Like with most major appliances, the more a prefabricated chimney is used the faster it will deteriorate and the faster it will need to be replaced; a fireplace that is only used one or two times each year will often have a much longer lifespan than a unit that is used daily during the winter months.

Regular maintenance such as chimney sweepings and inspections can also impact the lifespan of your prefabricated chimney. Prefabricated chimneys are much more prone to leaks than their masonry counterparts; the multiple metal components of prefabricated chimneys are particularly susceptible to water damage. Annual maintenance can help prevent leaks or identify them before they cause significant damage; while forgetting or forgoing regular sweepings can cause the chimney to deteriorate faster.

Replacing a prefabricated chimney.

Replacing a prefabricated chimney is not as simple as going to the store and picking out a new fireplace. This technical work involves in-depth understanding of the makeup of older chimney systems, as well as the installation requirements for newer units. Likewise, replacing a prefabricated chimney usually involves removing and replacing trim, tiles, marble, mantels, and more. Because of this, it is important to work with certified chimney professionals when replacing prefabricated chimneys.

At Coopertown Services, our staff is trained and certified in the areas of replacing prefabricated chimneys. With more than 30 years of experience replacing prefabricated units, our chimney technicians can ensure the construction is as quick and painless as possible, leaving you with a beautiful new chimney system that can be enjoyed for years to come.

If your prefabricated chimney is more than 20 years old, it may be time to have it replaced. For more information on installing a new prefabricated fireplace or to schedule a sweeping or inspection for your older prefabricated unit, contact the experts at Coopertown Services today!

By Christina Robinson on December 26th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment