Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, We have a business license as well as a home improvement license our MHIC # 31540.
Every Technician at a minimum carries a Certification by the Chimney Safety Institute of America(CSIA). CSIA is the only accredited certification for the chimney sweep industry. Please visit CSIA.org and use the find sweep locator at the top of the screen. Our zip code is 20601.
Do we use drop cloths?
We take the utmost care to protect your home. We use drop clothes, floor runners, and fireplace coverings to protect your home from dust and debris. Keeping your home clean as possible is our top priority.
No, this is not normal and you don’t want to be breathing in the products of combustion. Long term health problems can occur as you are breathing in both Carbon Monoxide.
Causes can be:
– Poor draft
– House pressurization issues (home is too tight and the appliance can’t get sufficient makeup air)
– Incorrect sizing of the exhaust system
– Age of the venting system.
Before you started the fire did you preheat the flue?(Establish a draft)
A. Cold air is very heavy and when inside the chimney can create a “plug” of dense air that prevents smoke from going up the chimney. It can take a very diligent effort to remove this “plug”, sometimes 10-20 minutes of constant effort to establish a good draw. If a draft wasn’t established before the fire was started smoke will billow into the home and not up to the chimney.
B. Tips to establish a draft:
– Crack a window or door. This is to relieve a pressure difference in the house and give the appliance air to send up the chimney. Best if the appliance or door is lower than the appliance.
– Preheat the flue: This can be done with rolled up or crumpled newspapers, blow torch, electric heat gun, small fast burning fire out of dry seasoned wood. If possible, put the heat directly into the flue/exhaust of the appliance.
– NEVER USE PETROLEUM BASED FIRESTARTERS. Eg. Gasoline, Kerosene, Heating oil, or diesel.
– Make sure the damper is wide open is the appliance if the equipped with one.
– Make sure no other appliances are running the house. E.g. the dryer, furnace, range hood, household fan, bathroom exhaust fan. These create draft and pressure problems on their own.
– A Draw Collar with keep the flue always preheated and will also turn on as the fire dies down.
– Smoke guards can be installed on open masonry fireplaces only. These will improve the flue to fireplace opening ratio. These are only good if someone is getting smoking while the fire is established.
– Watch this video on how to start a fire.
– Have the chimney inspected to make sure there are no cracks or holes in the flue lining.
A. The thermostat that turns the blower on is:
– Is located on the bottom of the stove and protected by firebrick (firebrick will act as an insulator). Because of the location of the thermostat, it can take upwards of an hour after the fire is established for the bottom of the stove to be warm enough for the blower to come on.
– The thermostat (snap disk) is the most common thing to go wrong with a new unit.
B. Make sure the rheostat is turned on. This is the dial that is on the stove. It will make a clicking sound when it is turned on.
C. Check the power supply to the stove.
D. Before scheduling of a service call make sure to check stock for a snap disk and rheostat before scheduling of a service call. These are both inexpensive parts that can result in the stove being fixed in one trip.
A. Moisture in the chimney:
There could be undiagnosed water entry into the chimney that is contributing to the odors. Wet creosote is especially nasty smelling.
B. Creosote Deposit in the chimney: Even with a freshly swept chimney is nearly impossible to get all the creosote out of a chimney. As creosote will impregnate the tile and brick in the chimney. Chemical treatments like our creosote removal process can make a big difference but are not 100%.
C. House pressurization issues:
If all else fails then the house is under negative pressure. Negative pressure means the house is trying to equalize the pressure planes. Most commonly the easiest source of air for the home to get is the opening for the fireplace or wood stove. These can become new issues when someone updates the house with new windows or doors and creates a tighter home. In these cases, the home is pulling stinky air into the home through the chimney, creating the odor.
Common sources of negative pressure are:
– Vent hood
– HVAC System
– House fans
Osprey & Chimney Swifts are protected under the “Migratory Bird Treaty Act”.
– By law, the nests cannot be touched during the summer months.March-September
Bird nests can only be removed only under Emergency situations
– Emergency situations are a blocking of a flue for a water heater or furnace in use.
– Permit must be obtained by calling 877-463-6497 Prior to removal.October-February:
The nest can be removed without a permit.Preventative maintenance:
These birds will come back each year once they established a nest.
– For chimney swifts: a regular chimney cap will do the job.
– Ospreys: an outside mount cap with a Hip and Ridge lid with at least an 8/12 pitch.
A. If its still alive, it’s best to call animal control. We do not remove live animals.
– Live animals can have rabies or other diseases like roundworm.
B. After animal control has come out it’s best to have a cap installed on the roof.
– If its dead, then it can be handled on a case by case basis. Base on the state of decay and access to the animal. Your technician could tell you this at the time of service.
– If never inspected or used: It’s good to get it inspected once just so you know what the condition of the chimney is. The condition of a chimney can change depending on how harsh of a winter we had. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (National Fire Protection Association(NFPA) recommend that every chimney is inspected annually.
– Based on usage: Burned around a cord of wood or more than it should be serviced annually.
-With Every 1-2 tons of pellets used.
– Every year of use.
– Vent-free appliance: Best if cleaned every season. These appliances need to run at a very high efficiency. When they don’t run correctly they will spill Carbon Monoxide and other pollutants into the home and cause serious health problems. The ODS (Oxygen Depletion Sensor) needs to be cleaned by a certified tech and annual reading of the Carbon Monoxide.
– Vented Appliances: Most can go 2-3 years with average use. Heavy users should be cleaned once a year.
The wall behind my stove is getting hot to the touch is this normal?
The test standard for a wall behind a stove is 117 degrees above the ambient temperature. If the room temperature is 80, then the allowable temperature on the wall would be 197. Most people cannot keep their hand a surface that is around 125 degrees. Therefore, the wall will seem hot to the touch.
Yes but for masonry only:We stock the three most common sizes of chimney caps 8x8, 8x13, or 13x13.
– Any metal chimney or vent system will require a specially designed cap directly from the manufacturer only. A survey will be required to determine who the manufacturer of the chimney is to get the correct chimney cap. Below are two pictures of what a metal chimney could look like.
A. Inspections are mandatory with every service.
We are bound by a standard of care for our industry that is laid by our certifying body (Chimney Safety institute of America) and by NFPA 211: Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning appliances.B. By not inspecting the system and reporting the deficiencies to you, then we would put your and home and family at risk. It also puts our business and lively hoods at risk in the event of a catastrophic failure of the system.
A. Inspection report
– A detailed individual inspection report for each appliance that is typed, not hand written will all accompanying photos. The report will be e-mailed to you after the service is completed.
– If applicable we will also perform a video inspection of the chimneys flue system. Click to see sample report
B. Dust Control and vacuums
– We use only industrial vacuums with HEPA filters on them. Keeping your home clean is our top priority
– Drop clothes are used throughout the work area and home.
C. Industry leading experience.
– In business, continually since 1978. All our are technicians are highly trained, and nationally certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
D. Confidence in who’s coming to your home:
– Before we arrive at your home you will receive an e-mail with the technician’s name and photo. Business cards will also include the technician’s name, photo, and cell phone number to address any questions you may have after the fact.
– Professionally wrapped high visibility trucks with our trademark red and gold markings.
– Professionally uniformed technicians easily identifiable in red shirts and black pants.
E. We will clean the following parts:
– Masonry Fireplace: We service the flue, firebox, smoke chamber, smoke shelf, damper, chimney cap and remove a normal amount of ashes from the firebox.
– Wood Insert or Free Standing appliance: Service the entire appliance, flue, firebox, heat exchanger, catalytic combustor, ash traps and chimney cap. We will remove the ashes from the firebox and ashpan and we clean the glass on the door for you.
– Furnace: We service the connector pipe into the chimney, the thimble, flue liner, chimney cap, and spark arrestor.
– Pellet Stove: We service the entire appliance to include the heat exchanger, ash traps, ash pans, and exhaust system. We break down, clean, and oil if necessary both the convection and combustion fans. Once completed we will run the stove through its startup cycle and make sure all components are operating correctly.
(If the stove was installed on a direct connect, there is a separate charge for cleaning the chimney. As direct connects are intended to be permanent installations. The technician will usually tell you if it needs to be pulled down and cleaned. Over time they will eventuallywill leak and leave a pile of pellet soot and ash behind the stove. Signs will include excessive dust into the home, and more wear and tear on the appliance. The charge for this is $239. Depending on the age and condition of the direct connect we cannot guarantee that it will go back together.
– Gas Appliance: We will service the entire appliance to include cleaning the logs, burner, orifices, pilot assembly, air shutters, firebox chamber, glass, and will replace the glowing embers (Rockwool). Once complete we will check the operation and
F. An estimate for repairs if necessary:
– All estimates are typed and clearly written.
– All estimates are a flat rate based on job difficulty and materials.
My home is for sale or rent what’s different about that?The Chimney Safety Institute of America(CSIA) and National Fire Protection Association(NFPA) both state that during the sale or transfer of a home that we are to provide an elevated level of inspection to the person who is requesting our service.This more thorough inspection is to make sure that the new homeowner has properly functioning appliance, and venting system free of defects or harm.For more information please read our blog.
A. Purchase your firewood in the spring, If possible never buy your wood in the winter. Wood should be cut and split for at least 6 months to burn properly. Wood that is kiln dried is not the same as seasoned wood.
B. A cord of wood is 8’ long x 4’ tall x 4’ deep or 128 cubic feet.
C. Dry “seasoned” firewood will crack on the end and be gray in color and be lighter in weight than comparable sized fresh cut wood.
D. Fresh cut wood will have a moisture content of 45% while seasoned wood will have a moisture content of 20%-25%.
E. Seasoned firewood will make a clear “clunk” when ends are beaten together where the wet wood will make a dull “thud”.
F. Wood should be stored off the ground and protected from rain and snow. Ideally in a wood shed. Wood that reabsorbs moisture will eventually rot.
Sadly the short answer is no.
Much like a doctor needs a complete picture of your health, we need a complete picture of your home and the appliance that needs work. There are can be many variables to what we do, and sometimes there may be more than one option to fix your appliance. With a complete evaluation of the system and a brief conversation about your goals we can then go ahead and accurately price out the correct path for you.
What is your address?
We’re located at 2475 Old Washington Road in Waldorf, MD. We’re on old Route 925, which is the back road behind the Wal-Mart, just 1/4 mile north of Wal-Mart on the same side of the road. Look for a two story building with a red and black awning and a patio out front.
Do we have pellets?
Yes! We stock Lignetics pellets. Give us a call for current pricing.
Do we install stoves that were purchased somewhere else?
Unfortunately, at this time we do not have the capacity to install products that were purchased elsewhere.
What are your store hours?
You can call us or stop by and visit us Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10AM to 6PM. Saturday’s, we’re here from 9AM to 5PM, and Wednesdays are by appointment only.
What forms of payment do we accept?
We accept cash, check, and credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, NO AMERICAN EXPRESS), and we offer financing with approved credit and qualifying orders. We do not do any billing of invoices.
How long will it take to get a unit installed if I buy one today?
Depending on what is purchased and how busy we are, it can be anywhere from one week to eight weeks.
Can you replace the gasket on my stove while you’re here?
While we do stock 90% of door gaskets, we do not keep them stocked on the trucks. We will need to know the size of the gasket or the manufacturer and what part of the appliance it’s replacing before we arrive.
Can someone walk me through lighting the pilot on my gas fireplace?
First, check out this video. If you still need assistance, book a service appointment and we’ll walk you through it.