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Fireplace Maintenance Tips To Remember

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Regular cleaning of your fireplace is essential if it is to effective and safe. It doesn’t matter whether you have a wood-burning or gas-burning unit. Here at Fireplace Showcase we recommend getting your fireplace cleaned once a year. Our professional chimney sweepers will check all parts, including the chimney draw, fans, pilots, burners, ignition, combustion and vents. Actually, the chimney is one of the most important parts that need to be inspected because it can often become obstructed by nest-building animals such as birds and raccoons. A chimney cap can help prevent animals from nesting. A fireplace that is not properly maintained and cleaned can result in carbon monoxide buildup in your home, a dangerous and potentially deadly occurrence.

Keeping your fireplace up to date in its cleaning also keeps ashes from building up in a fireplace. However, ashes and small embers from a fire can remain hot for several days and should be removed very cautiously. Remember; never use a vacuum to remove ashes from a recently used fireplace because it could easily start a fire. It's also important to open the damper before removing ashes; with no air going up the chimney, any blown-back ash and dust will spill out onto the floor. If you have a gas fireplace, we recommend cleaning it about once a month with a bristle brush. Be sure to wait until the log has cooled completely before cleaning it.

Why More People Are Buying Vent Free Gas Fireplaces

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 23, 2010
Yes more and more people in America are buying vent free gas fireplaces. In fact, there are over eight million who prefer vent free gas fireplaces to any other supplemental gas-heating device. This is because of the ease and convenience provided by a vent free gas fireplace.

When it comes to appearances, one of the most attractive vent free gas fireplace motifs is Fireplace Showcase’s peninsula design. It offers three viewing surfaces and releases heat in three directions. This particular vent free gas fireplace model is most often used in a short divider wall positioned between two rooms. This design is also suitable in a large room since it provides a bigger area where folks can gather around. As for see-through models, they can give off heat and ambience for two rooms. The most excellent features of the vent free gas fireplace are the fireplace surround and mantel.

Fireplace Showcases’ vent free gas fireplaces are inexpensive and have low operating costs. Because it doesn’t need a chimney, there is no heat loss so the efficiency of the vent free gas fireplace is almost 100 percent. Moreover, a vent free gas fireplace has the capability to supply heat and warmth during power outages.

Benefits of a Catalytic Stove and Cleaning Tips

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Your wood burning stove is the primary heat source for home heating. The catalytic combustor in your wood stove is the heart of your wood stove. Keeping your wood stove operating at its optimum efficiency increases the stoves performance. Installing a catalytic combustor in the wood stove forced all smoke to be re-burnt before it entered the chimney. This resulted in cleaner emissions in the air.
 
The most surprising result of adding the catalytic combustor to the wood stove was a huge increase in heat output from the stove. In order for the catalytic combustor to engage the stove must reach an internal temperature of around 1100 degrees. Once the catalytic combustor is engaged it slows down the burning process in the stove. The wood is slowly cooked as opposed to being burnt. The slow cooking of the wood is a more thorough burn which results in total combustion. Coals and ash are reduced to a fine white powder. The total combustion utilizes the wood as a fuel source with no waste.
 
The increase in heat output by using less wood to heat your home has been a huge savings. Keeping your catalytic combustor operating properly adds to the wood stoves efficiency. Burning firewood that is not seasoned puts excess moisture into the wood stove and this can cause the ceramic cells in the combustor to deteriorate. Keep your combustor clean and it can last five years or longer providing heat into your home. If the catalytic combustor starts to crumble it must be replaced.

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


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