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Entertaining with a New Outdoor Fireplace

Who says you have to wait for fall to start to enjoy a bonfire? You can install a stylish outdoor fireplace this summer and enjoy it right now! Invite family and friends over for evenings for a bonfire and stargazing. If you can see it but you’re not sure where to start, we can help. At A to Z Chimney Services, we can help make your outdoor dream space come to life with top-brand products and exceptional service.

Outdoor Fireplaces and Fuel

wood fireplace in actionWhen planning your outdoor fireplace, it’s important to choose the best fuel-type that will keep working for you year after year. A wood-burning fireplace may seem appealing right now, but after a year of buying or chopping firewood, difficult-to-light fires, and cleaning ashes, you may grow tired of it. Both gas and wood fires have their own benefits, but every household has to choose for themselves.

  • Wood – Wood fireplaces are great for homeowners who have access to firewood. Some homeowners prefer the ambiance of a crackling yellow fire and the high heat output of a wood fire. Other homeowners may dislike wood fires because of the work that it takes to light and maintains a wood fire. Wood fires require wood, kindling, and lots of work. You also have to keep feeding a wood fire to reach and maintain the desired temperature. When you’re finished with the fire, you have to put it out and routinely clean the fireplace of ashes and debris.
  • Gas – Many homeowners opt for gas when installing new appliances—even outdoor ones. Gas is the most eco-friendly option for fire products and offers many benefits that are unrivaled in other fuel-types. They are easy to install, use, and maintain. Many models have push-button ignition and shut off, consistent temperature settings, and even remote controls. Gas appliances are especially nice because you can enjoy the ambiance of a fire outside on warm nights without dealing with the high heat and smoke of a wood fire. You won’t even miss out on the look and feel of a wood fire either. Gas fireplaces are more realistic than ever, nowadays gas logs look just like real wood fireplaces.

Custom Outdoor Fireplaces

At A to Z Chimney Services, we employ masons that are creative and experienced with all types of stone and brick. When it comes to your outdoor fireplace, we can help bring it to life from the ground-up. Our techs can match your new outdoor fireplace for your architecture, landscaping, and the best features for your outdoor space. Your new fireplace can be freestanding, attached to your home’s exterior, or connected to an outdoor structure. The location is everything, and we can help with this too. Only a professional knows the best placement for the products that will bring value to your property. Our goal is warmth, comfort, safety, and lasting value.

If you live in the Sacramento area and would like to bring life to your patio, yard, garden, or deck, we can help. Call 916-408-2496 to talk about your outdoor fireplace with an expert today and check out these inspiring ideas!

Home fire prevention

When it comes to home fires, most homeowners prefer to not consider the possibility. Ignoring the risk of a home fire, however, could leave your home at risk. Instead of pushing aside the possibility of a fire in your home, look to prevention! Are you doing everything you can to keep your home safe from a fire? Here are several fire prevention elements that are often overlooked.

Chimney Sweepinghouse on fire

Many homeowners neglect their chimneys, especially if they don’t often use their fireplaces or heating stoves. This can be a major mistake when it comes to keeping your home safe from a chimney fire. Chimneys that are clogged from creosote can catch fire. Even if you don’t frequently use your chimney, an animal, bird or debris that finds its way in can create a blockage that could combust. To lower your home’s risk of a fire, the Chimney Safety Institute recommends having your chimney swept and inspected by a certified chimney sweep at least once per year, generally between fire-burning season.

Chimney Relining

During your annual chimney sweeping, your chimney sweep should be on the lookout for a breakdown of your chimney structure, particularly your chimney liner, that could lead to a chimney fire. If there are cracks, holes or weaknesses in the liner, heat and sparks could escape your chimney and gain access to your home’s structure, sparking a fire. Be sure to ask about the soundness of your chimney liner and fire bricks during your annual chimney inspection. If your sweep advises that your chimney or firebox need to be relined or repaired, don’t burn another fire until you have had the necessary work done.

Dryer vent cleaning

Just like chimneys, dryer vents can become clogged over time and cause a fire risk in your home. Like your fireplace chimney, your clothing dryer vents should be cleaned and inspected at least once per year. A professional cleaning will thoroughly remove any lint that leads to a fire. If you do a higher than average amount of laundry, you may need to have your dryer vents cleaned more often; know that it’s a warning sign of clogged vents if your dryer is taking longer to dry a load of laundry or if your dryer or laundry room becomes unusually hot when the dryer is in use.

Install smoke alarms throughout your home

A smoke alarm won’t prevent a fire, but they are your home’s best defense against complete destruction, and your family’s largest protector in case of a home fire. Smoke alarms should be installed on each floor of your home and in every sleeping area. Be sure to check your smoke alarms at least once every six months to be sure that they are still working properly.

Call A to Z Chimney Services!

For chimney sweeps, we know it is part of our responsibility to help lower our customers’ risk of home fires, and at A to Z Chimney Services, we take that responsibility seriously. Whether you need a chimney sweeping, dryer vent cleaning or chimney relining, call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule an appointment today!

Protect Your Chimney from Rain

What’s the biggest danger your chimney faces? Many people assume that a chimney fire is the biggest risk your chimney faces. In fact, chimney water raindamage is far more of a threat. Water damage to your chimney can cause cracks and leaks, and even deteriorate your chimney to the point of threatening its structural integrity. Water is so damaging to a chimney, in fact, that the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) has declared water chimney’s No. 1 enemy and cautions homeowners to do all they can to protect their chimney’s from water damage. Here are some things you can do to keep your chimney safe.

Put a cap on your chimney.

All chimneys should be outfitted with a chimney cap. A chimney cap shelters your chimney’s flue from falling precipitation. Without a chimney cap in place, water can flow down into your chimney every time it rains, causing damage to your chimney flue and creating damaging puddles in the bottom of your chimney. Installing a chimney cap is the CSIA’s primary recommendation from protecting your chimney from water damage.

Check your chimney crown.

In addition to a chimney cap, a chimney crown helps to prevent water from entering your chimney flue. However, many chimney crowns are improperly constructed from the wrong materials. A chimney crown should slope downward away from the opening of the chimney flue to direct water down away from the chimney flue opening. Your certified chimney sweep can check your chimney crown to verify that it’s been properly constructed to protect your chimney.

Address chimney damage immediately.

Chimney damage leads to more chimney damage. Cracks in your chimney’s masonry or in your chimney crown allows water to gain further access to your chimney and cause more damage. If you notice cracks in your chimney or chimney crown, if you notice that mortar has become soft and begun to crumble away, or if you notice signs that water is leaking into your home in or around your chimney, have the chimney inspected and repaired as soon as possible to prevent water from damaging your chimney or your home further.

Have your chimney waterproofed.

One of the best preventative measures you can take to protect your chimney from water damage is to have your chimney waterproofed. Masonry materials are porous; they naturally absorb water, which can cause chimney damage. A chimney waterproofing solution can block 99 percent of water from entering your chimney while still allowing your chimney’s masonry to breath and exhaust the smoke and moisture created by your fireplace. Waterproofing your chimney can help keep your chimney protected from water damage for years.

Water can seriously damage your chimney. That damage can spread to your home, and it can compromise the integrity of your chimney, putting your home at risk for smoke or fire damage. A to Z Chimney Services can help keep your chimney and your home safe from water damage. Call today to schedule an appointment to have your chimney inspected to determine if it’s at risk for water damage!

Easter mantel ideas

Mantels get a lot of attention around Christmas. Everyone loves a mantel adorned with evergreen boughs, strung with lights and Christmas stockings. You don’t have to leave mantel decorating for wintertime only. Mantels can be decorated year round to reflect the season. Here are some Easter mantel decorating ideas to inspire you.

Think pastels

Spring is often associated with pastels. By utilizing a pastel color pallet on your mantel, this instantly transform your mantel into a beautiful Easter showpiece. You should look for candles, vases, tapestries, accents and decors with pastel colors. If pastels overwhelms you, consider decorating your mantel with primarily white décor and add a few sprigs of spring flowers.

Embrace the spring wreath

spring wreathWreathes are often thought of as wintertime décor, but you can find a wreath to fit just about any season now. Wreaths are a great winter accent and in the spring too for Easter. You should look for wreathes with lots of spring greenery, featuring springtime flowers or accents, or even made from decorative eggs. If you don’t want to commit to a wreath above your mantel for Easter, a seasonal wreath can also look elegant on the mantel for spring.

Incorporate plants

Everyone gets excited to see the first greenery and the first buds of spring. You should capitalize on that excitement as you decorate your mantel for Easter. By using flowers that are usually associated with spring such as daffodils, tulips and lilies, you mantel will be styling with a touch of spring. You can also add fake green grass sprinkled with Easter elements for added effects. Fresh cut flowers are always beautiful, but you can achieve a lovely effect with quality fake flowers from the craft store.

String fairy lights

Twinkling lights aren’t just for Christmas. Many people are incorporating string lights into their décor year round. By adding small, delicate string lights to your Easter mantel or look for lights in a pastel color just for this season can really spice up your mantel decor. Worried about unsightly cords between your mantel and outlet? You can look for battery-operated LED lights.

Add Easter accents

When it comes to your mantel, have fun with your Easter-themed by adding Easter accents such as colored eggs, bunny figurines, chicks and grass. You can go all out with lots of Easter accents, or add one eye-catching piece of Easter décor or a small Easter accents to be subtle. Don’t just enjoy the aesthetics of your mantel at Christmas. Mantels can be decorated to suit any season. Have fun with your mantel this Easter by decorating your mantel.

We hope you enjoyed these mantel decoration ideas. For any chimney and fireplace needs, don’t hesitate to give A to Z Chimney Services today!

Fireplace draft issues

One of the most common problems with fireplace is a smoky chimney. As the fire burns in your fireplace, you find your home filling with smoke. If your chimney is drafting properly, you should not notice any smoke in your home. However, if your fireplace does fill your home with smoke, it’s time to evaluate and resolve the issue. Smokey fireplaces are a nuisance, and they can degrade your indoor air quality. Here are some of the most common causes of chimney draft issues. At A to Z Chimney Services, we are here to troubleshoot any smoky issues for you!

Stuck or damaged damper

smoky chimneyYour chimney’s damper regulates the air flow of your chimney. If your home is filling with smoke when a fire is burning, the chimney damper often is to blame. The chimney damper could be stuck closed, preventing smoke from rising out of the chimney altogether, or it may not be opened fully. A partially closed damper can restrict the air exchange through your chimney, causing improper draft and filling your chimney and home with smoke.

Dirty chimney

A dirty chimney can also be a culprit of causing smoke to enter your home. If the chimney flue is restricted because of a buildup of creosote, the chimney won’t draft properly and smoke can fill your home. If your chimney has been recently cleaned, and your fireplace is suddenly smoking without another explanation, it’s still important to call a sweep. This often means an animal or debris could have made its way into your chimney, creating a blockage that prevents smoke from exiting your home properly.

Missing chimney cap

Your chimney cap plays a role in keeping smoke from entering your home when a fire is burning. The chimney cap prevents bursts of air from flowing down your chimney, blowing smoke back into your home. Sometimes, solving chimney draft issues are as simple as installing or replacing a chimney cap.

Cold chimney flue

If your fireplace smokes when a fire is first lit, but the smoking seems to subside once the fire gets going, your chimney might just be too cold. When dense, cold air fills the chimney, it can block smoke from drafting up and out of the chimney. This is often a problem for homes whose chimneys are on an exterior wall. You can solve this problem by warming your chimney before lighting a fire. Twist tight logs of newspaper and light one end. Hold the burning newspaper in your fireplace at the base of the chimney flue. Repeat this with two or three pieces of newspaper, and your flue should be adequately warm to allow proper drafting.

Improperly sized chimney

In some cases, chimney draft issues have to do with the chimney construction itself. If the chimney flue is too wide or narrow for your firebox, or if it is too tall or short for your fireplace, your chimney won’t draft properly and your home will fill with smoke. The only way to restore a proper chimney draft is with professional intervention. Most of the time, we can resolve the draft with a new chimney liner or a chimney extension.

If chimney draft issues left your home unpleasantly smoke this winter, get the issues resolved before you burn another fire! Contact A to Z Chimney Service to schedule an appointment today!