Our Company Blog

Keeping Wild Animals And Pets Safe From Your Chimney This Holiday Season

With chilly temperatures outside, many of us are happy to spend our holiday season surrounded by family and friends sitting in front of a crackling fire. However, chimneys and fires can also be inviting to two very unwanted guests – wild animals and pets.

Keeping animals out of the chimney and pets away from the fireplace is an important part of safely operating your fireplace system. The following tips can help make sure you don’t spend your holiday with some unwelcome furry guests, as well as keep the four legged members of your family safe from harm.

Keeping wild animals out of the chimney

The primary way that wild animals enter a chimney is through a missing or damaged chimney cap. Without a working chimney cap, the top of the flue is not only vulnerable to animal entry, but also debris and moisture.

One of the best ways to ensure that your chimney cap keeps animals out all year long is by having an annual chimney sweeping and inspection. This preventative maintenance not only keeps your fireplace operating safely, but also checks the chimney – including the chimney cap – for signs of damage.

If wild animals have taken have taken up residence in your chimney, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you light a fire to “smoke them out”. Doing this can disorient or injure the animals, making it even more difficult for them to escape. Instead, call a local wildlife rescue service to safely and humanely remove the animals.

Keeping pets safe around the fireplace

Keeping Wild Animals And Pets Safe From Your Chimney This Holiday Season - Memphis TN - Coopertown ServicesNo matter what kind of heating appliance you have, they can pose a danger to pets whose curiosity leads them too close. The following tips will help you keep your pets safe around your fireplace this holiday season.

– Use a fireplace screen. Fireplace screens are both decorative and functional. They can allow you still enjoy the warmth of the fire while keeping pets – and small children – away from the flames.

– Move beds or toys. While putting a pet bed in front of the fire might seem like a great way to keep them warm, it can actually put them in harm’s way. Instead, follow the same rule for pet possessions as you do for home décor – keep a clear space of at least three feet around the fireplace.

– Do not leave the fire unsupervised. Oftentimes, the best way to protect your pet from a fire is to keep a watchful eye on them while your fireplace is in use. By staying close to the fire, you can scold or shoo away any pets that wander too close to the flames.

Taking the steps to protect your chimney and fireplace can ensure that everyone in your family – even the four legged members – enjoy a safe and happy holiday season. If you have concerns about animal entry or safety for your chimney system, contact the experts at Coopertown Services today at 901-358-7777. Our staff have more than 35 years of experience dealing with animals and wildlife and are certified by both the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency and the National Wildlife Control Operators Association to deal with nuisance wild animal removal.

By Christina Robinson on December 17th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Don’t underestimate the importance of hiring a certified chimney sweep

Anyone with the right equipment can call themselves a chimney sweep, so how do you distinguish between someone who knows and understands chimneys and fireplaces and someone who will charge a premium rate for a casual cleaning of your chimney? It’s an important decision. Your chimney sweep removes dangerous creosote deposits, which can lead to a chimney fire or carbon monoxide poisoning, from your chimney and looks for structural weaknesses, water leaks, and other chimney problems. If you have a gas fireplace, a heating stove, or a fireplace insert, your chimney sweep ensures that all of the working parts are cleaned and operating safely and efficiently.

Look for a CSIA-certified chimney sweep

Don’t underestimate the importance of hiring a certified chimney sweep - Memphis TN - Coopertown ServicesFortunately, there are industry watchdogs and organizations that can help you distinguish a knowledgeable, experienced chimney sweep from the casual chimney sweep. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is the certification gold standard for the chimney sweeping industry. The CSIA offers education, training, and exams for chimney sweeps, and serves as a resource to homeowners for chimney and fireplace education.

CSIA-certified chimney sweeps have been trained and tested in:

  • Industry best practices
  • The construction and mechanics of chimneys
  • How wood burns and how creosote forms
  • The codes and standards related to chimney construction, vent construction, and fireplace installation
  • EPA requirements

CSIA-certified sweeps also must uphold the association’s standards, including guaranteeing that they will adhere to all CSIA guidelines; know and comply with all local building codes related to chimneys, stoves and fireplaces; follow manufacturer’s instructions when installing products; maintain professionalism with clients; inform clients of safety guidelines related to their chimneys, stoves, and fireplaces; and avoid deceptive business practices.

Other things to look for in a chimney sweep

The CSIA offers up other advice for property owners seeking a chimney sweep. When researching a new company, the CSIA says homeowners always should ask how long the company has been in business, if the company has any unresolved complaints with the consumer protection bureau or the Better Business Bureau, does the company carry insurance in case your home or property is damaged during your chimney sweeping, and does the company promise that a CSIA-certified sweep will be on site during the entire service. Additionally, homeowners should seek out references for that chimney company.

In addition to the CSIA, there are other resources for finding a chimney sweep that will do their job responsibly and professionally. The Better Business Bureau offers its accreditation to businesses that are in good standing and allows consumers to search for businesses that have complaints lodged against them. The website Angie’s List also offers its seal of approval to highly rated companies, and homeowners can search for and read reviews on chimney sweeps via the company’s website.

You can trust Coopertown Services!

When it comes to chimney sweeps in Memphis, Coopertown Services is a name you can trust. We are CSIA-certified and members of the National Chimney Sweep Guild. When it comes to humane animal removal, we are affiliated with the National Wildlife Control Officers Association. We are a Better Business Bureau accredited business, and we’ve been recognized by Angie’s List with the Super Service Award for the last two years.

By Christina Robinson on November 24th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

Proper winter storage for firewood

The key to a successful fire starts with the firewood. To make sure your fireplace is burning at its best this winter, you’ll want to make sure that your firewood is properly stored.
Improperly stored firewood is susceptible to moisture, which can lead to mold and rot. Even if the wood makes it to your fireplace, wet wood creates more smoke, which clogs your chimney faster and increases the danger of a chimney fire. At the very least, wet firewood doesn’t maximize your fireplace’s potential, as much of the heat energy from the fire is wasted in evaporating the water rather than heating your home.

How much space do you need for your firewood?

Proper winter storage for firewood - Memphis TN - Coopertown ServicesThe amount of wood you need for the winter can take up a lot of storage space. One cord of firewood is 128 cubic feet by volume, meaning when stacked, it would be 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet.
The average home with a woodstove or wood-burning fireplace uses three cords of wood each winter. Of course, that could be more or less depending on how frequently you burn fires, whether you rely on your woodstove or fireplace to help heat your home, and how cold the winter is.

Where should you store your firewood?

First and foremost, you should never keep more than you need for a day or wood inside your home or garage, as insects can travel into your house on your firewood.
Of course, ideal storage for firewood is in a protected space, such as in a barn or woodshed. If you are unable to store your firewood indoors, it should be kept at least 6 inches off the ground with pallets or wood stackers made just for this job. An outdoor wood pile should be at least partially covered with a waterproof tarp.
Your woodpile should not be stacked against your house, as a woodpile could attract pests, such as termites, to your home.

How can you tell if your firewood is dry enough to burn?

As we’ve mentioned, burning wet firewood is dirty, dangerous, and inefficient. But how can you tell if your firewood was adequately dried or if it has picked up additional moisture during storage?
Firewood that is dry and ready for the fireplace will be gray or brown in color, slightly cracked, have lose bark, and will sound hollow when two pieces are struck together. When burned, it will light easily and emit the “crackling” sound associated with fireplaces.
Wet wood, on the other hand, will be creamy white in color, if it hasn’t been seasoned, and will let out a dull thud when two pieces are struck together. Wet firewood will be hard to burn, will hiss as the water boils out of it, and will let off thick, grayish blue smoke.
Follow our storage tips to ensure that your firewood will be kept dry and ready for your fireplace this winter.

By Christina Robinson on November 11th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

Dislodged Dampers Present Safety And Energy Issues

Chimney systems are composed of a number of different parts that all work together to help your fireplace operate as safely as efficiently as possible. Because of this, if one of the parts of the chimney system is damaged, it can affect the safety and performance of the entire chimney.

If your damper has been damaged or dislodged, it may be creating safety and energy issues in your home. By having your damper repaired and ensuring it has a tight seal, you can extend the life of your chimney and better enjoy using your fireplace.

What is a damper?

Dislodged Dampers Present Safety And Energy Issues - Memphis TN - Coopertown ServicesMost homes have throat dampers, which are used as a way to seal the firebox from the rest of the chimney structure. Located at the top of the firebox at the base of the chimney, throat dampers are designed to be kept closed when the fireplace is not in use, keeping the heated or cooled air inside your home. This keeps homeowners from “losing money up the chimney” as outside air cannot get in and conditioned air cannot get out.

What are the dangers of a dislodged damper?

When working correctly, a damper is an important part of keeping your fireplace system running safely and efficiently. However, many dampers may become damaged over time. Long term exposure to heat, water from a chimney leak, and the damper being forced open and closed can all cause the damper to lose its seal.

The primary problem associated with a dislodged damper is energy loss. If the damper loses its seal, energy is lost in two ways: first, heated or cooled air from inside your home is lost up the chimney, and second, outside air is let into your home. Both of these things cause your heating and air conditioning systems to work harder and run longer in an effort to keep the air temperature in your home steady. This translates to higher energy bills every month. Open dampers can wind up adding as much as 30% more in heating and cooling costs to your monthly energy bill.

In addition to energy loss, a dislodged damper can also cause drafting issues. Drafting problems caused by a dislodged damper can be as minor as a permanent cold spot in front of the fireplace or as serious as downdrafts that push smoke, ash, or soot into your home. A dislodged damper may also cause a chimney odor; air flowing from the chimney into the main living space can cause a persistent smoky smell throughout a home.

Fixing a dislodged damper

If you have a dislodged damper, the best way to return to full fireplace function is to have the damper replaced. A new damper with an airtight seal can protect your home against energy loss as well as the safety issues that accompany a dislodged damper.

Likewise, if you are already having your damper replaced now may be the time to consider switching to a top mounted damper. Top mounted dampers sit on top of the chimney, working as both a chimney cap and a damper. Because the entire chimney structure is sealed off from outside air, you are at a lower risk of energy loss and may see lower heating and cooling costs each month.

No matter your damper problems, contact the experts at Coopertown Services at 901-358-7777 to have them repaired today!

By Christina Robinson on October 29th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

Alternative Heating Options Without Electricity

Wood-stoves allow you to heat your home in the event power is lost

Wood-stoves allow you to heat your home in the event power is lost

During the cold winter months, keeping our homes warm and toasty is often a top priority. Unfortunately, this can be difficult to do when the power goes out. Because so many of our modern heating appliances require electricity to run, fewer and fewer homeowners have ways to heat their home when the power is out.

Luckily, there are several alternative heating options that can operate without electricity. This not only reduces your monthly energy bill but can also keep your family comfortable and warm in the event of a power outage.

Wood stoves

Wood stoves aren’t just for log cabins anymore! These heating appliances now come in a wide variety of sizes and styles that allow them to seamlessly blend in to any home or décor. Modern wood stoves must be EPA certified in order to be sold; this increased efficiency means there is less soot, less smoke, and even less firewood needed to operate them.

Using a wood stove in place of or as a supplemental heating source can also help save money on your monthly power bills. Wood tends to be significantly less expensive than other fuel sources; while the cost of oil and natural gas has continued to rise, the price of firewood has remained relatively constant. Homeowners can save even more money by chopping and seasoning their own firewood instead of buying from a dealer.

In addition to their efficiency and low operating costs, some wood stoves have the added benefit of being able to be used as both a cooking and heating appliance. This makes them an extremely popular choice for those who live in rural areas or prefer a more “off grid” style of living.

Direct vent fireplaces

Many homeowners believe that burning wood is the only option when the power goes out. However, some gas fireplaces can continue to be used until the electricity comes back on. If you prefer gas over wood – but still want to be able to have a heat source in the event of a power outage – a direct vent fireplace may be the best choice.

Direct vent fireplaces do not require chimneys; they both vent and draw air using pipes that connect directly to the exterior of your home. This venting process is considered to be one of the safest in the industry because it nearly eliminates the chance of dangerous gasses such as carbon monoxide backing up in your home.

Depending on the brand and model, a direct vent fireplace may come equipped with its own blower. This means that it can be used as a heat source if the power goes out.

Electricity-Free Pellet Stoves

For homeowners who want the look and feel of a wood burning fire – but without the hassle – pellet stoves may be the answer. It’s important to note that while many pellet stoves require electricity to operate the hopper which feeds the stove with pellets, some models come with battery packs that allow them to continue operating during short term power outages. The small amount of electricity they take to operate, however, makes them ideal for homeowners with small generators. Likewise, it is even possible to invest in gravity-based models that require no electricity whatsoever. These units do not include the same features as their electric counterparts, however, they can still provide heat in a pinch.

When the power goes out in the winter, keeping your family warm can be a problem. If you’re interested in learning more about alternative heating that can run even when the electricity is out, contact Coopertown Services with your questions today.

By Christina Robinson on October 8th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment