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Chimney and Fireplace Awareness

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Some people neglect their fireplace or chimney and figure it cleans itself and nothing bad could ever happen. However, this kind of behavior can end up costing you more than you would pay to have it professionally cleaned. If you can't remember the last time you cleaned your chimney it might be good to contact Fireplace Showcase to schedule an inspection. Here are some tips on how to prevent chimney disaster.
 
Unseasoned wood is actually a cause for concern. It takes longer to dry out and produce a solid, crackling fire but there are also serious repercussions to using this type of wood. The extra smoke and lower temperatures, associated with unseasoned wood, also means greater and faster creosote build-up.
 
Another factor with creosote build-up is the temperature of your chimney flue: the colder the flue, the greater the build-up. Creosote is created when the smoke from a fire condenses. For this reason, most of this by product is created at the beginning of a fire. People who use their fireplace a lot, but for shorter periods of time, may be at the greatest risk for the worst types of chimney fires.
 
Fires can start in chimneys but many fires also start outside the chimney. Due to rotted wood in your attic, which could be from from roof leaks or poor ventilation, have an ignition temperature equal to or lower than a piece of paper. If this wood is touching the outside of your chimney, the fire can actually start outside your chimney and quickly spread throughout your home.

 So do be careful and make sure you are aware and take care of your chimney.

Fireplace Showcase Offers Chimney Caps

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Ever wonder how some chimneys stay so intact and clean? The answer is simple -- chimney caps. What are chimney caps? Chimney caps serve a number of purposes, including home safety, preventing disruptive occurrences and avoiding costly repairs. Chimney caps usually are made of aluminum, copper, galvanized or stainless steel. Metal chimneys commonly have caps when purchased, while masonry chimneys may need one added. Your fireplace will be complete with its fresh new chimney cap. Chimney caps have wide benefits such as from animals to the elements

It is common for birds to enter a chimney that does not have a chimney cap, typically looking for a nesting area. The birds can also fly into the fireplace and, if the fireplace door is open, right into the house. If the nesting material in the chimney is not removed, the blockage can cause carbon monoxide to build up in the house.

When it rains, the rain coming into the chimney can cause unpleasant odors and damage flue walls. Rain also may run down into the stovepipe and the stove itself, or into the fireplace, and cause further damage. Even wind can harm an unprotected chimney by creating downdrafts that can cause smoke. Chimney caps minimize all of these negative effects. So now you know. Chimney caps do much more than preventing embers and sparks from flying out of the chimney and causing severe (and sometimes fatal) damage.

Lean, Green, Pellet Burning Machine

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 01, 2010

The increase in greener supplies and appliances is greater than ever now. With the pollution of the air and Earth itself, old traditional appliances are going more environmental friendly. And here at The Fireplace Showcase we strive to satisfy our customers to the fullest. Our pellet stoves are relatively versatile appliances. They are self-igniting and cycle themselves on and off via thermostat. Some of our stoves, with automatic ignition, can be equipped with a remote control.

An advantage of a pellet stove is if properly cleaned and maintained they do not create creosote, the sticky, flammable substance that causes chimney fires. Pellets burn very cleanly and create only a layer of fine fly-ash as a byproduct of combustion. The grade of pellet fuel used affects the performance and fly-ash output. The premium grade pellets produce less than one percent ash, while low grade pellets produce up to three percent ash. Pellet stove users should be aware of the extra maintenance required with a lower grade pellet, and that inconsistent wood quality can cause serious effects to the electronic machinery over a short period of time.

Now you may be wondering, “what is pellet fuel?” well pellet fuel is made from compacted sawdust, wood chips, bark, agricultural crop waste, waste paper, and other organic materials. Some pellet fuel appliances can burn a wide variety of biomass fuels, including nutshells, corn kernels, small wood chips, barley, beet pulp, sunflowers, dried cherry pits, and soybeans. This makes The Fireplace Showcase’s pellet stoves one of the greenest fires producers out there.

Unlike wood stoves which operate exclusively on a principle of chimney draft, a pellet stove must use a specially sealed exhaust pipe to prevent exhaust gases escaping into the living space. Pellet stoves require certified double walled venting with a stainless steel interior and galvanized exterior. Because pellet stoves have a forced exhaust system, they have the advantage of not always requiring a vertical rise to vent. Like a modern gas appliance, pellet stoves can be vented horizontally through an outside wall and terminated below the roof line, making it an excellent choice for structures without an existing chimney.

New England Wood Pellets are in

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 28, 2010

New England Wood Pellets are in stock now at The Fireplace Showcase.  Priced at $259 per ton supply will not last long.  Quick delivery is available.

New England Pellet is the most experienced and largest pellet manufacturer in the northeastern United States and takes great pride in the quality and craftsmanship that we put in to making our premium-grade pellets.

Our stringent quality standards apply to every pellet in every bag and exceed industry standards. And while a primary goal of our company has been to constantly improve upon and evolve our premium wood pellets, one thing has never changed: our dedication to making not just the best performing wood pellets in America, but the most trusted, too.

Big Green Egg Grills at the Fireplace Showcase

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, June 23, 2010

There is a Big Green Egg to fit everyone's outdoor cooking needs with five sizes ranging from Mini to Extra Large. You can use the EGG® year around in all climates, even in freezing temperatures or during pouring rain. You will find it more versatile than any outdoor cooking appliance on the market, whether comparing it to gas, electric or another charcoal grill, because the EGG is a smoker, a grill and an oven all rolled into one. Here are some of the reasons current owners love their EGG.

It's A Complete Outdoor Cooker

The Big Green Egg has unparalleled cooking flexibility. You can grill steaks and chops to the perfect degree of doneness, cooking at temperatures up to 750°F for steakhouse searing. But if fallin'-off-the-bone ribs or a tasty, juicy brisket is on your menu, the EGG will maintain a low temperature of 200° to 250°F for the low-and-slow smoke cooking that develops wonderful flavor while tenderizing the meat. Whether searing or slow cooking, prepare the entire meal on the grill by adding any of your favorite vegetables to the cooking grid. If you're longing for cornbread, biscuits, a freshly baked loaf of bread or even a warm pie or cobbler to complete your meal, the EGG bakes better than a brick oven. The simple secret to temperature control is the easily adjustable dampers that let you maintain accuracy within a few degrees. The exterior temperature gauge gives precise temperature readings of the cooker's internal temperature.

Charcoal Grills for the purists

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, June 15, 2010

There is a real school of thought out there with the hard-core grillers especially, that charcoal grills produce far better tasting food than gas grills. There simply is nothing better on a hot summer day, than sitting in the backyard grilling over charcoal. The charcoal itself gives the food a distinct flavor. And there are a few different smoke flavored charcoals to choose from. If you go into any home improvement store or grill supply store, you’ll find that there is a large array of charcoal to choose from. But the flavors and smells given off by real wood charcoal are hard to replace. This type of charcoal is my favorite because of the flavors and aromas they put off. But, cooking with wood charcoal can be difficult, so don’t give up yet. There are a couple of types of charcoal starters; lighter fluid, electric charcoal starter, and a charcoal chimney starter.

The electric starter is basically a metal loop that plugs into an electrical outlet. You bury it under the charcoal, while it’s heating it lights the charcoal. They are similar to the element on an electric stove burner. Obviously, you need an electrical outlet for this method, and it may take a bit longer to start, but it is very easy and doesn’t change the flavor of the smoke like lighter fluid.

The chimney starter is my favorite way to start charcoal and it can be used anywhere, no electricity needed. These can be found in any grill store or home improvement store and I recommend the largest one. You put charcoal in the top and a couple pieces of crumbled newspaper in the bottom. The chimney has air holes in it and it works as a chimney does; drawing the draft and the fire up to light the charcoal.

Many people find that the charcoal soaked in lighter fluid is the easiest charcoal to use. Simply drop a match and the coal is lit, no worries on using too much or too little lighter fluid. To me, this style has the least mouthwatering flavor. But it is a good charcoal for the novice charcoal griller to begin with.

As for the grill itself, there are many different sizes and styles, and what sets them apart is more than just the price. Some have only one grate, while others have two on different levels which allows for more space and more control over the speed of cooking. But put the myth away, charcoal grills are easy to use and easy to clean.

Do I Need to Have My Chimney Serviced

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 10, 2010

Do I Need to Have My Chimney Serviced?
       
Chimneys are an integral part of a home-heating system, and they require regular evaluation and maintenance. Most homeowners have little working knowledge of chimneys and venting systems. The fact that faults, damage, and problems are rarely visible to the casual observer further complicates the situation. The threat of chimney fires and unsafe indoor air quality can be greatly reduced, perhaps even eliminated, if homeowners only understood that chimneys require regular maintenance.
       
What is The Chimney Sweeper's Role?  The primary job of a chimney-service professional is to monitor your chimney, clean and maintain your chimney, and to advise of changes/service to improve its performance and safety.
       
What is a Safety Inspection?  The Chimney Sweep serviceman will check the condition of your firebox, damper, and flue to determine typical problems such as built up creosote, mortar deterioration, obstructions inside the flue, and malfunctioning damper parts. He will alert you to any problems that he finds and provide you with a written estimate for any needed repairs. You are under no obligation to contract us to do such repairs. However, it may not be safe to continue using your fireplace until those problems are addressed.
       
How Often Should My Chimney Be Cleaned? We recommend that you have your chimney cleaned about every two years, or for about every cord of wood burned. If you notice an odor or if your fireplace is not drafting properly, call us to inspect it before continuing to use it.
       
What Causes Creosote or "Soot"? Creosote or "soot" is caused by simply burning materials, such as wood, in your fireplace. There is no way to prevent the build up of creosote. Now you are probably asking, "What is creosote?" It is basically unburned fuel that gathers in the form of black powder, flakes, or a baked-on glaze, depending on the degree of buildup. This is one of the main causes of chimney fires. When there is an excess buildup of creosote in the chimney and temperatures rise, the soot is ignited and an actual fire is started inside your chimney, showering your roof with sparks.
       
What Causes Smoke Problems?  Smoke problems may be caused by:

  • A dirty flue / chimney preventing draft
  • A bigger or smaller flue than needed
  • Improper air pressure in the house
  • Obstruction in flue
  • Damper not opening properly

Wood Burning Stove buying tips

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 03, 2010
Wood Burning Stove buying tips

Interest in wood burning stoves has jumped recently due to their environmentally friendly reputation and for their “green” selling point for homes. In order to make the right buying decision, you have to do a bit of homework first. You will have to measure both the room in which the stove will be placed and where the stove itself will be located in that room; length, depth and height. There are many kilowatt calculators available on line you can use to determine how much heat output you need to heat the allotted space. This way you can look at only models with the correct output. Now the more aesthetic questions come into play. Will it be freestanding or inside a hearth? Do you want to see the fire? If so, you need to look for a model with a glass door. What color do you want? With the increased interest in wood burning stoves, the styles, materials used, and colors available have increased as well. They range from cast iron and stainless steel, to antique and modern. Do you want to use the stove with the doors open? Then look for one with a larger door opening. Do you want to use yours for cooking? Cook tops are available on many models.

When it comes to installing your new wood burning stove, this is best left to experts. Chimneys often need to be lined in order to avoid issues with soot and tar. Also, there needs to be enough clearance above and on the sides of the stove. Also, the flue needs to be the right size in order to allow for the safe elimination of smoke. When it comes to installation, the best tip is to call around to some experts and then let one of them install it.

Grill Topper is a must have Grill Tool

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, May 26, 2010
A grill topper is one of the newer tools available to outdoor chefs. It consists of a metal plated bottom with four slanted (45 degree +/-) sides. All sides contains 3/8 inch holes spaced approximately 1/2 inch apart. The surface is coated to help prevent sticking. The topper is used for grilling smaller portions of meat or vegetables. Think of it as a 'grilling wok'. The topper is placed directly over the heat and the food can be 'tossed' as if you were using a real wok.  You can line bottom with aluminum foil in order ot keep juices in when grilling vegetables.

Enjoy Your New Swing Set or Jungle Gym--SAFELY!

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 17, 2010
With your purchase of a new Swing Set or Jungle Gym comes the comforting reassurance that your new equipment is built to exacting safety specifications.  We encourage all of you to give detailed attention to the "Safe Use" section of your owner's manual.  Refer to it early and often.  Also, strongly consider formalizing and enforcing (from day one) the playground safety rules that both your children and your guests are to follow.   

Good common sense playground safety considerations are provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's document:  "Is Your Home Playground  a Safe Place to Play"?  


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