Your fireplace has most likely been out of commission this summer but hopefully has been cleaned and inspected already! During the offseason homeowners don’t have to worry about the fireplace unless there’s a problem, but fall is the hearth’s time to shine! Your fireplace is not only a valuable heat source but also the focal point of your entire home. When it’s time to light your fire, it’s also a great time to think about decorating your fireplace and mantel for the fall season and for the holidays.
It’s important to do all you can to keep your fireplace safe and free of clutter even when decorating. It’s not enough to have a safe and clean chimney system and know how to use it properly, you must also make sure that your decorations are safe as well. Coming into the fall and then the holiday season, homeowners will begin to decorate the fireplace. It’s a perfect backdrop for all of your family festivities but can quickly turn to disaster if certain precautions aren’t followed.
Things to Remember When Decorating the Mantel
1. Do not leave decorative items hanging above the fireplace. Garland and lights should be properly secured to the fireplace.
2. Freestanding decorations should be kept far enough away from the fireplace opening that if it falls, it will be a safe distance from the fire.
3. Nothing should be put inside or too near a fireplace, even when the fire is out. Debris left inside a fireplace can become a serious fire hazard when a fire is burning.
4. Anything attached to the chimney above the mantel should be installed properly and only if your certified chimney sweep deems it safe.
5. Always use decorations that are flame-retardant. Do not place dried branches, limbs, or any organic material near your fireplace or on your mantel.
Mantel Ideas from the Professionals
Melons and Fruits – Melons and apples are a beautiful decoration for the fall and are not flammable. You can pair pumpkins and gourds with vases full of turned leaves. Plastic leaves are not as flammable as dried leaves and placing them in vases keeps them contained. You can also fill large vases or bowls with the apples to keep them from rolling.
Photos – Family or fall photos are a great way to decorate the mantel. Include decorative photos of leaves, landscapes, and holiday combinations between family photos.
Metal – Some bronzed or buffed metal can be the perfect shade to compliment the changing seasons. Metal vases, pitchers, candleholders, and baskets can create a great look for your mantel and keep items safely contained and away from the fire.
Early Christmas – Let Christmas come early by bringing together rustic scenes, photos, silhouettes, and garland. The mantel and fireplace are exactly where the holiday spirit thrives in the house, and the magic will begin with the first spark of the fire.
For more ideas, check out MidwestLiving’s “28 Fall Mantel Ideas” and “50 Gorgeous Holiday Mantel Decorating Ideas”.
We want you to love your mantel and your holiday fireplace, but not at the expense of safety!
If you have any concerns with the safety of your fireplace, contact A to Z Chimney Services to schedule a chimney sweep or diagnostic inspection today Call us at 916-408-2496 or contact us online.
Fireplaces, space heaters, Christmas trees and holiday candles: It’s easy to see why home fires are more common during the fall and winter months. To help keep homes and families safe, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has declared Oct. 7 through Oct. 13 its annual Fire Prevention Week. This year’s Fire Prevention Week is encouraging people across the county to “Look. Listen. Learn. Be Aware. Fire Can Happen Anywhere.”
The first step in decreasing your home’s winter safety risk is: Look. Look around your home for potential fire hazards. Hazards include overloaded extension cords or electrical outlets; fireplaces or chimneys that have not been swept or inspected before being used for the season; clothing dryer vents that haven’t been cleaned within a year; appliances like irons and curling irons that are left plugged in and unattended; and candles that are too close to combustible and that could be knocked over by a pet or a small child. Also take a look at your home’s heating appliances. There should be a minimum of a 3-foot “safety zone” around fireplaces, heating stoves, furnaces and space heaters that are left free of flammable items such as furniture, books, pillows, blankets, curtains or other items that could catch fire and spread.
Know to listen for the sound of smoke alarms in your home. According to the NFPA, a working smoke alarm can cut your risk of dying in home fire by half. Make sure any children in your home know what your smoke alarms sound like and what they should do if they hear smoke alarms going off. Check your home to be sure it’s equipped with enough smoke alarms; there should be a smoke alarm on every level of your home and in every sleeping area. Each fall, test your smoke alarm to be sure they are in working condition. Get help when you test your smoke alarms; have someone stand at the opposite end of your home while you push the test button to be sure that they can hear the alarm going off. You should be able to hear at least one smoke alarm sounding from every area of your home and sounding loud enough to wake you up or alert you to a problem.
Just having smoke detectors and listening for the sound of your smoke detectors isn’t enough. You and your family should have a plan of action for what to do when the smoke detectors sound. Your plan should include at least two ways out of every room in your home, a meeting place a safe distance from your home and a plan for calling 911 in the event of a fire. Make sure everyone in your home knows the plan well enough to execute it in an emergency; that might include practicing your fire exit plan, especially if you have small children in your home.
If you need help keeping your home safe from a home fire this winter, A to Z Chimney Services can help! We can sweep and inspect your chimney; service your fireplace or heating stove; or clean your clothing dryer vents to be sure that these appliances aren’t posing a risk in your home.
Many homeowners ramp up their home maintenance routine after the new year. Spurred by resolutions for a cleaner home, driven inside by winter weather and gearing up for full-blown spring cleaning, countless homeowners are tackling big jobs this time of year. For homeowners tackling home maintenance tasks that are often neglected, the new year is a perfect time for a dryer vent cleaning.
Why You Need to Have Your Dryer Vents Cleaned
Many homeowners don’t realize that they’re clothing dryer vents need to be cleaned and inspected just like their chimneys! That’s because every time you dry a load of clothes, damp lint bypasses the lint screen and enters the vent. That damp, sticky lint sticks to the walls of the vent and then to more lint. Over time, all of that sticky lint can form dangerous clogs in the dryer vent. When your dryer vents are clogged, the heat and exhaust can’t exit the dryer. This causes the dryer to overheat, which is a major fire hazard.
Because of the fire danger posed by clogged dryer vents, home maintenance professionals recommend having your dryer vents professionally cleaned at least once per year. If you dry a lot of clothing and linens, you might need to have your dryer vents cleaned more frequently! During your professional dryer vent cleaning, your dryer vents will not only be cleared from dangerous lint, but they also will be inspected to ensure that they are unobstructed from outside plants or debris, that they are the proper size and recommended material and that they are damage free.
How to Tell if Your Dryer Vents Need to be Cleaned
If you’re not sure if your dryer vent needs cleaned, look for the signs! Clogged dryer vents inhibit the proper function of your dryer. That’s why you might notice these signs if your dryer vents are overdue for a cleaning:
• Loads of clothing take longer to dry than usual,
• A burning smell when the dryer is running,
• The dryer or laundry room feeling hot when the dryer is running, and
• An overly strong small of fabric softer or must when the dryer is running.
Who to Call for Dryer Vent Cleaning
If you’re ready to start your year off with a properly cleaned home and clean clothing dryer vents, call A to Z Chimney Services and Dryer Vent Cleaning to schedule an appointment today! Not only will you lower your home’s fire risk and make your home cleaner, but you’ll enjoy shorter laundry drying time and lower home energy bills, and you’ll extend the life of your dryer.
Do you know what’s inside your chimney? Many homeowners assume that the chimney structure itself is all that’s needed to vent smoke from their fireplaces and keep their homes safe from a chimney fire. But it takes more than a hollow chimney tube to protect your chimney: Your chimney needs a chimney liner.
Why You Need a Chimney Liner
Since the early part of the 20th century, properly constructed chimneys were built with chimney liners inside. In a traditional chimney, liners are built from specialized clay tiles, though prefabricated fireplaces often include metal chimney liners that are optimal for the appliance. Chimney liners are responsible for several important functions including:
- Keeping your home safe from a chimney fire. Chimney liners insulate the chimney from the rest of the home to keep the building materials surrounding the chimney from igniting. In fact, in laboratory tests, construction materials abutting unlined chimneys ignited within four hours of lighting a fire in the fireplace.
- Protecting your chimney structure. The soot and creosote that build up within your chimney are damaging to masonry materials. A chimney liner helps to protect your chimney structure from breakdown due to soot and creosote.
- Creating a proper draft. When the inside of your chimney isn’t the optimal size, shape, and height for your fireplace, smoke won’t flow properly up and out of your chimney and can leave your house filled with smoke.
How To Know if Your Chimney is Lined
It’s crucial to know that your chimney is lined and that your chimney liner is in good shape. All chimney liners can break down over time, cracking from exposure to extreme heat or crumbling due to exposure to moisture. The only way to be sure that your chimney is lined and in good condition is to have your chimney swept and inspected at least once per year. If you’ve never had your chimney inspected, your chimney sweep can confirm the presence of a chimney liner and that the liner is solid enough to continue protecting your home. Regular, annual chimney inspections ensure that any deterioration within the chimney liner is spotted
What To Do if Your Chimney Liner is Damaged
If your chimney is unlined, or the liner has been damaged to the point of no longer being safe, you don’t need to worry! Lining — or relining — a chimney is a relatively simple process. An unlined chimney, or a chimney with a damaged liner, can be quickly lined with a stainless steel chimney liner. Or, if you have a damaged clay tile chimney liner, it can be fixed easily with a specialized refractory cement. If you’re concerned your chimney doesn’t have a liner or if you’re concerned that your liner might be in disrepair, call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule an inspection today!
The stretch from Thanksgiving to the New Year has most people busy with shopping, cooking and cleaning. This is all in preparation for holiday celebrations and holiday guests. As you prepare your home for the holiday season, add a chimney sweeping to your holiday checklist!
Why have your chimney swept for the holidays?
A chimney sweeping should already be part of your annual home maintenance. Most homeowners will have their chimneys swept and inspected each fall, before they light the first fire of the season. If you’ve missed your fall chimney cleaning and inspection, a pre-holiday chimney sweeping and inspection comes with many benefits, including:
- A safer home for your family, pets and guests. When it comes to chimney sweepings and inspections, it really is about safety first. Your annual chimney sweeping and inspection ensures that your chimney is clear of dangerous, flammable creosote. Also, any blockages, deterioration, and defects. The would all put your home and family at an increased risk of a home fire, or carbon monoxide poisoning. That’s why the National Fire Prevention Association advises that chimneys be swept and inspected at least once per year.
- Fresher air in your home. A dirty chimney can fill your home with a variety of foul smells, including a burning smell, rotting smell, musty smell or decaying smell. When holiday guests are on their way, no one wants to be embarrassed by a smelly home. A chimney sweeping and inspection can clear away the source of bad odors and leave your home smelling cleaner.
- A more efficient fireplace. Your annual chimney sweeping and inspection includes a cleaning and inspection of your fireplace, too. Especially if you have a heating stove, insert or gas fireplace, that cleaning and maintenance helps your fireplace to operate more efficiently, providing you with more heat for less money.
- Monetary savings. In addition to the holidays, this time of the year can also bring harsh, wet weather. If your chimney has a leak or structural deterioration, your home and your chimney are susceptible to further damage that can cost you a lot of money down the road. During your annual sweeping and inspection, your chimney technician will point out any deficiencies and make recommendations for repairing your chimney to keep it safe from further damage.
- An opportunity for upgrades. If you have been thinking about upgrading your fireplace to increase its efficiency, its heating power or its efficiency, your chimney sweeping and inspection provides the perfect opportunity to talk your chimney sweep about the possibility of upgrades. You can even have your fireplace upgraded in time for the holidays so you and your guests can enjoy your warm, beautiful fireplace this holiday season.
Don’t wait, call now!
If you are ready to check an item off your holiday to-do list; realize the benefits of a chimney cleaning and inspection. Call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule your appointment today!