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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"?  

Things to consider for Storage Sheds

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, May 11, 2010

There are many things to consider when purchasing a storage shed for your backyard. Vinyl or wood, size and style; what will you be using it for? Garden supplies, junk storage, bicycles and other seasonal toys for the kids? Every homeowner has a certain amount of tools and equipment to keep their lawn looking great, or toys to keep their children entertained, but keeping all of these things in your garage can take up too much room. A storage shed is a great option to keep all of these seasonal items organized and out of site.

When considering the size of the shed you need to purchase, it is always useful to consider what you are going to be storing in the shed. Take all the items out, lay them out on your lawn, and then measure around the items. This will give you a good idea of the dimensions you will need, and help you choose the ideal location in your yard. Also, this gives you a clear idea of other options you’ll need. For example, if you have a riding lawnmower, you may need a ramp to get in and out of the shed.

If you have decided that your shed is to be used for storage of larger equipment, such as snow blowers or yard machinery, then you will have to purchase a large, sturdy shed to withstand the wear and tear that is involved. At fireplace showcase we offer sheds in both wood and vinyl, with or without overhead doors, and many shapes, styles and sizes.

Catalytic Versus Non-Catalytic Heating Stoves

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Catalytic Versus Non-Catalytic Heating

When choosing appliances for your new home, you’ll ultimately ponder this question:  “Should we go with a Catalytic or Non-Catalytic stove”?   The answer of course is, “It depends”.  Let’s first give a high-level definition of both then discuss the advantages and disadvantages.

Catalytic Combustion In Stoves – Heat produced primarily from smoky exhaust gases that are passed through a catalyst-coated ceramic honeycomb buried deep inside the stove where they ignite and burn

Non-Catalytic Combustion In Stoves – Heat is not produced primarily by a catalyst, rather heat is produced in the main fire box.
The debate over which is better continues.  Catalysts produce comparatively long steady heat output.  They require a bit more attention during ignition (catalyst damper management), and are generally considered to be more expensive to maintain as the catalytic element degrades over time.  

The non-catalytic combustion does not use a catalyst, but instead creates a good environment for combustion right in the firebox.  “Non-cats” produce a more attractive look, however, the heat curve peaks and retards faster than that of a “Cat”.  
So which one is right for you?  The market currently favors non-cats, however, some of the most popular high-end stoves continue to use catalytic combustion.  Without doubt buy a catalytic combustion stove if your consumer decision buying decision is based 100% on head production and you have little to no interest in decorative effect.  Like most consumers, if you desire both, then a “Cat” is likely a better option.  

Regardless of your decision, celebrate and be comforted by the fact that both technologies burn up to 90 percent cleaner than older conventional stoves. 

Barbecuing at proper temperatures

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Grilling is quite a bit different from barbecuing. During the grilling process you are cooking at high temperatures, often in excess of 700 degrees, directly over the heat source. In barbecuing, the heat is not directly affecting the meat. The heat is raising the temperature in the cooking chamber where the meat resides. Proper barbecuing temperatures are 210 degrees to 225 degrees. This is the optimum temperature for prolonged barbecuing. It also produces the most tender meat due to the slow cooking resulting from indirect heat. 

Barbecue with Gas Grills or Charcoal Grills

Joseph Coupal - Saturday, April 24, 2010
The American tradition of barbecuing always seems to generate the age-old debate over which type of grill is the best ... a charcoal grill or a gas grill. Both types of grills have their advantages and disadvantages and you should choose a grill based on your own tastes and needs. When picking a grill, consider your budget, your planned grilling location, your taste preferences and even your schedule.

A charcoal grill is simply the more traditional of the two, and a lot of people love it for this reason alone. It involves the primal enjoyment of working with fire and working the heat source to properly cook the food. The heat source is hotter in general, but is more uneven, which requires the chef to pay attention to the grill and to know exactly what they’re doing; to be a “grill master”.  The charcoal grill is most loved because of the smoky or grilled flavor that it gives to the food, which the gas grill will not do. It takes longer to cook food with a charcoal grill, but in return for your hard work, you get a smokier, more traditional flavor in your food.  A charcoal grill is usually much cheaper to buy than a gas grill because it requires less assembly by the manufacturer. A gas grill can be quite expensive, so you should analyze your budget and get a grill you can afford. Also, a bag of charcoal costs slightly less than a comparable amount of propane, so even the upkeep of a charcoal grill is also cheaper.

A gas grill is much more convenient for cooking regular meals. It basically has a similar convenience as your oven. A gas grill requires only the flip of a switch to light and a few minutes to warm up. The food also cooks more quickly and more evenly than it does on a charcoal grill. These advantages can benefit a family that would like to cook regular dinners on their grill, a busy family with less time to cook, or a family that eats dinner later in the evening,. They don’t have to wait as long for their food as they would have to with a charcoal grill. A charcoal grill would be better for family picnics or vacations, times that are more relaxed and leisurely. Another advantage of the gas grill is that when it is operated properly, it is a lot safer. Unlike a charcoal grill, which requires an open flame for part of its operation, a gas grill can be put in much smaller spaces, including patios and decks and nearer to the house, because there is no exposed flame. And, with a gas grill, small children and pets are in no danger of an open flame. The amount of supervision is cut drastically from the necessary supervision with a charcoal grill. Consider the space you have for your grill and any safety issues specific to your family.  A gas grill is also much easier to clean. The surfaces get less carbon on them and are made to easily wipe clean. A charcoal grill gets heavy with carbon and requires a lot of scrubbing to get clean.

Gas Grill Lava Rocks

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 15, 2010
Gas grills use lava rocks, which come with the grill. The rocks are heated by the gas flame and cook like charcoal.
  • Keeping the rocks clean is about the only task you'll have with a gas grill. If there is a buildup of grease on the rocks you will have flare-ups during cooking which can burn the food. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning or replacing the lava rocks.
  • A good habit to develop is to turn the burner to high for five minutes after you're finished cooking to help burn off grease and other drippings.
  • Occasionally rearrange and turn the lava rocks so heating and cleaning is more even.
  • Replace the lava rocks when they don't look clean, and start to break apart. Do not stack lava racks. They should be only one layer deep on the grate.

Chimney Caps keep water and wildlife out

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Did you get water in your fireplace with all of the rain this past month? Don't let it happen again. We can provide you with a stainless steel chimney cap that will prevent both rain and critters (wildlife) from coming into your home. We can provide you with the right chimney cap for a "do it yourself" project or we can do the entire job for you. 

Chimney caps come in galvanized steel, painted galvanized steel and stainless steel. The steel caps will essentially last the life of the house and are the best value, unless you’re looking for decorative features.  The Fireplace Showcase can handle all measurements and installations.

Storage Sheds

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, March 30, 2010
A barn style storage shed is often called a garden shed. A shed, which is typically simple, single-story structured and in the back garden or back yard is the garden shed. It is a slight structure built for shelter or storage. It is used as a workshop and can be attached as a 'lean-to' for a permanent building or separate. It is often with open front or sides. Sheds can be of various types depending on the complexity of their construction and their size. They vary from small open-sided tin-roofed structures to large wood-framed sheds with shingled roofs. Windows and electrical outlets can be attached to them.  Check out our wide selection of shed styles at The Fireplace Showcase.

Swingsets and Jungle Gym Playgrounds for the Family

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, March 24, 2010

If you are currently in the market for a wooden swing set, one thing has probably become evident - these products bear no resemblance to the swing sets you grew up with. The models available today are less like an old-time swing set and more like a playground, complete with slides, ladders, forts, and more. With so many variations to choose from, it can be difficult to make the right decision for your children.

To occupy the kids while the family is in the backyard – and to help children develop their co-ordination as well as giving them more physical exercise – parents are turning more to these outdoor playground sets.

These high quality, sophisticated, wooden ‘play systems’ are multifaceted devices that offer a variety of choices and options such as swings, gym rings, trapeze bars, gliders, spiral tube slides, monkey bars, gang planks and tree houses, just to mention a few. All options that assist your children's physical coordination development while being a lot of fun.

Generally speaking, outdoor wooden play systems are designed for children ages two and up. However, an infant swing can be used for children 8-12 months old. These sets are made to withstand all weather conditions and are easy to maintain – only requiring periodical staining or sealing of the wood.  

The Fireplace showcase carries Eastern Jungle Gym Swing Sets/Playgrounds and provides complete service including delivery and installation.

Beware of Pellets - Low cost may cost more

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, March 18, 2010
Beware of Pellets ...Low priced wood pellets can sometimes cause unexpected problems with your pellet stove.  Or even worse.  Our service technicians have been sent out to service stoves with auger problems. Just a few items we have accumulated......nuts, bolts, crayons, small toys, a spoon, and fishing twine.  If you make the investment in a beautiful efficient pellet stove or insert don't skimp on the pellets.