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Celebrating National Chimney Safety Week

Whenever September arrives, Hudson Chimney knows that not only will we be busy preparing chimneys in the Jacksonville, Florida area for the upcoming fireplace season, but we will also be getting ready to celebrate with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) during their annual National Chimney Safety Week, which occurs the last week of September (September 27 – October 3, 2015). This is an opportunity for chimney professionals across the country to educate people about fire and chimney safety before the weather starts getting cold. A fireplace and chimney system can present many hazards, so it is important to know and follow safety practices whenever you use this part of your home. The last thing you would want to happen this winter is a devastating chimney fire because you neglected to schedule your annual chimney inspection. The Director of Education for the CSIA, Ashley Eldridge says, “Fires in chimneys can start for a variety of reasons. They can be poorly built, or incorrectly designed, or the chimney flue sees a buildup of creosote over time. If you’ve ignored the need for an inspection, you are taking a risk.” Other than having your chimney professionally inspected every year, the CSIA offers other things you should do to reduce your risk of a chimney fire, and we would like to share them with you.

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Your chimney is not the only part that should be inspected.

Your wood-burning or gas fireplace should also be examined by a professional to be sure no potential hazards exist. A wood-burning firebox could also have a large buildup of creosote, and this can be an extremely dangerous situation. Ensure your firebox is free from any creosote accumulation before you light a fire inside it. Gas and propane logs may not produce any soot or creosote, but they can deposit corrosive substances within your chimney. Ceramic logs in gas fireplaces can also deteriorate and clog the vents and pilot light. Having the logs checked in your gas fireplace can prevent chimney fires and other fireplace issues that can happen when the pilot light and other connectors are not correctly working.

Be prepared for all severe weather hazards.

To be sure you are ready for a severe storm, such as a hurricane, the CSIA suggest three steps:

1. Know your risk.

Before leaving home in the morning, check the weather reports to be sure you are prepared for any coming weather event.

2. Take action!

Find out more about what kind of weather your area should expect this fall. Make an emergency supplies kit. Come up with a communication plan for your entire family in case of an emergency.

3. Be a force of nature.

If a hurricane or other severe weather storm is heading your way, spread the word! Inspire your friends and family by letting them know how you have prepared for the potentially bad weather.

If you would like to learn more about National Chimney Safety Week, contact us at Hudson Chimney. We are happy to educate you on fire prevention!

Don’t Wait Until Fall to Schedule Your Chimney Sweeping

Although it may seem far away, the month of September will be here before you realize it. Did you realize that many national fire safety groups like the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommend that you have your chimney professionally swept and inspected before lighting the first fire of the year? The reason behind this recommendation is to be sure that your fireplace and chimney system works properly and safely so that you will not experience any hazardous problems during the winter. September begins the busiest time of the year at Hudson Chimney for our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps. Their schedule will be packed full through December cleaning chimneys across the Jacksonville area, and scheduling an appointment during these months can be difficult. You may have to wait several weeks to be able to arrange your annual chimney sweeping on the date and time you need. We suggest to our customers to go ahead and schedule this important chimney maintenance task in the late summer before fall arrives to be able to get the appointment at a time that is convenient. To let you know what you can expect from a cleaning from our chimney sweeps, we would like to tell you more about this service.

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Hudson Chimney takes care to keep your home clean as we sweep your chimney.

Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps begin the sweeping process by covering the area surrounding your fireplace with tarps to protect your home from soot, dust, and other debris. A high-speed vacuum cleaner will also be set up over your fireplace opening to keep dirt from entering your house.

Hudson Chimney sweeps your chimney clean from its top to its bottom.

Our sweeps will use hand brushes as well as brushes on rods to scrub the walls of your chimney clean from the floor of the firebox all the way up to the top of the flue. Your damper will also be cleaned, inspected, and adjusted. Our chimney sweeps will focus on removing all of the accumulated creosote deposits to prevent a dangerous and possibly devastating chimney fire. Creosote is a natural compound which is the residue of the byproducts of combustion of a wood-burning fire and can be extremely flammable. You will be able to safely light fires without any worries of creosote deposits causing problems after your chimney has been swept by Hudson Chimney.

Hudson Chimney performs a professional chimney inspection as part of the sweeping process.

To ensure your chimney is free from hazardous blockages and has no damage, our chimney sweeps will use a close-circuit video camera to get a close look at the interior of your chimney. The exterior of your chimney will also be inspected, and our certified sweeps will pay close attention to the condition of your bricks and mortar. After the sweeping and inspection has been completed, our sweeps will provide a written document of their findings, and they will be sure to explain everything to you so you understand the condition of your chimney.

Don’t wait until the fall to schedule your chimney sweeping. Contact Hudson Chimney today to make an appointment for this essential annual chimney maintenance service.

Does My Chimney Have Draft Issues?

Since your chimney is a venting system, draft issues can affect the performance of your fireplace and chimney. Draft problems can cause different outcomes, and repairing a draft issue depends on what is causing the problem. At Hudson Chimney, we often get calls from customers who are unsure if and how draft could be affecting their chimneys. We thought we would share some information from Mother Earth News  about how to tell if you have a drafty chimney and how to identify what is causing the problem.

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You have a hard time lighting a fire.

If you cannot seem to get a good fire burning in your fireplace, there is a good chance your chimney is too cold. Cold temperatures have an effect on chimney draft. If you feel cold air coming from your fireplace, you may need to prime the flue before starting a fire. Simply light a rolled-up newspaper and hold the flame as high as you can into your chimney until you can feel the draft reverse.

Smoke blows into your house from the fireplace.

Sometimes, this problem can be solved simply by repairing the damper to ensure it fully opens to allow smoke to properly exit out of the chimney. However, other things can lead to smoky fireplaces, including cold chimneys. The size of your flue can also cause draft issues that lead to smoke blowing into your home through the fireplace. If you only notice a smoky fireplace on windy days, you may need a new chimney cap to keep wind patterns from reducing the chimney flow. You can contact Hudson Chimney to take care of these problems that are causing draft issues for your chimney.

You notice unpleasant odors coming into your home from your fireplace.

If your home is noticeably smoky smelling and you are not burning a fire in your fireplace, negative air pressure is most likely the reason for the odor entering your house through the fireplace from the chimney. Many times when people weatherize their homes to heat and cool more efficiently, they can seal up windows and doors too tightly. This creates the need for more air to be brought into the home through the fireplace, and this air brings along the smoky smells of the chimney. An easy way to combat negative air pressure is to slightly open up a window to allow more air to enter the house.

Are you dealing with any of these chimney draft issues? Contact Hudson Chimney to schedule a consultation with our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps to professionally diagnose and solve this problem for you. We work hard to keep your fireplace and chimney working safely and properly.

All About Jacksonville

In 1979, Mark Hudson founded Hudson Chimney to provide professional fireplace and chimney services in Northeastern Florida. Certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) as a chimney sweep and a dryer vent technician, Hudson is proud to serve the city of Jacksonville and works hard on community projects to make Jacksonville an even better place. We would like to tell you more about this beautiful city we have served for over 30 years.

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WATER ACTIVITIES

With over 22 miles of beaches, Jacksonville is home to three beaches: Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and Neptune Beach. Our beach areas offer dining, entertainment, lodging, and recreational activities for the entire family. Fishermen have the best of both worlds in Jacksonville with freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities. You can even deep sea fish in the Atlantic Ocean. The St. Johns River flows through the city and provides a place to kayak and paddleboard.

ARTS AND CULTURE

Named as one of the top 25 destinations for the arts in this country, Jacksonville is home to several museum, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA). At MOCA, you will find over one thousand works of art, such as painting, photography, sculpture, and printmaking. You can also find live theater and live music throughout the city as well as festivals throughout the year that celebrate jazz, blues, and country music.

SPORTS

Sports fans have a lot to enjoy in Jacksonville. You can watch professional football by going to see a Jacksonville Jaguars game, and you can catch one of the biggest professional golf tournaments, THE PLAYERS Championship. Golfers can even play a round at the site of this tournament. Outdoor sports enthusiasts can enjoy biking, hiking, canoeing, surfing, and other activities along our scenic waterways.

HISTORY

Filled with multiculturalism, the history of Jacksonville can be found throughout the city. One of the city’s most important historical sites is Fort Mose, which was both the earliest legal settlements in America for free Africans and the precursor site to the Underground Railroad. For a deeper look at the history of Jacksonville, tour one of our historical museums, such as the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society that shows what life was like in 19th century Florida.

SHOPPING

Whether you prefer shopping at a mall, at locally-owned boutiques, along the beachside, or in a downtown setting, Jacksonville is filled with opportunities to shop until you drop. If you like to save money, you will enjoy shopping at our two outlet shopping centers. No matter your budget, shopping enthusiasts will love what our city has to offer.

Want to know more about Jacksonville? Contact Hudson Chimney to find out our favorite places and things to do in this beautiful city.

Don’t Procrastinate Chimney Maintenance and Repairs

Believe it or not, spring is on its way, and fireplace season will be slowing down. To be sure your chimney is safe after a long and cold winter, scheduling your annual chimney sweeping and inspection now is essential, especially if your chimney is in need of important repairs. At Hudson Chimney, one of our busiest times of the year is the spring, and if you procrastinate for too long, you may have to wait for several weeks before you can arrange an appointment for our certified technicians to visit your home to clean, examine, and repair your chimney. According to fire safety organizations such as the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), it is recommended you schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection once every year. We would like to share with you the important chimney maintenance steps our chimney technicians will take to find essential repairs needed to make your fireplace and chimney system safe.

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CHIMNEY SWEEPING

When the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified sweeps at Hudson Chimney clean your chimney after winter, our main concern is removing all of the creosote deposits that have accumulated on the walls of your chimney. Forming naturally as the by-products of combustion (smoke, gases, tar fog, vapors, etc) exit the cooler walls of your upper chimney, creosote is the highly combustible result of the condensation that occurs. Creosote can be either black or brown, and its appearance can vary. Whether it is sticky and gummy, crispy and brittle, or shiny and hard, creosote, especially in large amounts, is extremely flammable, which makes it the cause of a majority of chimney fires. Getting rid of these creosote buildups after winter’s heavy fireplace usage is essential to the safety of your chimney.

CHIMNEY INSPECTING

Hudson Chimney takes pride in performing detailed post-winter chimney inspections because we want to find any damage that needs repairing to ensure the safety of your fireplace and chimney. Of course, we seriously examine every part of your chimney; however, there are specific repairs we are looking for, including the following:

damaged or deteriorated masonry — Loose bricks and chipped mortar on the exterior of your chimney are sure signs of water penetration damage, and this alerts us to the possibility of water leaking inside your chimney that creates even more damage to its interior. If this masonry damage goes unrepaired, you will end up with costly repair work, including a possible rebuild of your entire chimney.

cracks in the chimney cap — Your chimney cap serves as protection from both water and animal intrusions of your chimney. A deteriorated chimney cap serves no help at all to your chimney. We can repair cracks and other damage to chimney caps as well as install new caps if the existing caps are beyond repairing.

cracks and holes in the chimney flue liner — Water leaks can cause serious damage to the liner of your chimney that can endanger your family’s health. A deteriorating flue liner allows toxic gases like carbon monoxide to leak into your home. Repairing or replacing a damaged chimney flue liner will keep those gases exiting out of your chimney instead of infiltrating the interior air of your home.

Save yourself the hassle of waiting for weeks to maintain your chimney after winter by contacting Hudson Chimney now. We are happy to schedule an appointment for your annual sweeping and inspection as well as perform all necessary repairs.

The Importance of Proper Ash Removal

Every time you have a wood or pellet-fueled fire, it is a fact of life that ashes will be left behind for you to remove. Do you know how to properly dispose of these ashes? If not, you could end up with a fire caused by the hot coals hidden within the ashes. At Hudson Chimney, we place a high priority on chimney and fireplace safety, so we thought we would share with you some answers to questions on how to correctly remove ashes to protect you from the possibility of a fire.

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How Does Improper Ash Removal Lead to a Fire?

Many times, homeowners think that simply storing ashes in a metal bucket with no lid is the proper way to remove ashes. However, this is not the case. When this unlidded bucket is sitting outside on your porch, winds can easily blow the bucket over, and this can cause all of the ashes to fall out onto your porch or yard. When this occurs, the ashes get stirred up, and the hot coals become active once again. If your porch has a wooden floor, you could have a dangerous porch fire on your hands caused by the incorrect way of removing and storing ashes. You may also end up with an uncontrollable brushfire in your yard.

What Is the Best Container for Storing Ashes?

The importance of using a proper ash container cannot be stressed enough. Hudson Chimney strongly recommends using a pail or bucket made of sheet metal with a securely fitted lid. The most essential key for safety is the lid. To be even safer, the bottom of the pail should be slightly offset so that the actual bottom does not make contact with flooring and char the surface.

Where Is the Best Place to Store My Ash Bucket?

Never place your bucket on a wooden floor as this can be a fire hazard, even if the bucket has an elevated bottom. You should always store your ash bucket outside on a non-combustible surface such as stone, brick, concrete, or slate.

Is it Necessary to Remove Ashes After Every Fire?

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), you do not have to remove ashes every time you have had a fire. In fact, the CSIA recommends leaving a one-inch layer of ash on the floor of your firebox to make it much easier to build and maintain a fire. The hot coals within the ashes will add more heat to the fuel and reflect this heat back into the fire. Additionally, a thin layer of ash also protects the floor of your firebox. However, you need to monitor this level of ash and should never allow this layer of ashes to get too deep. If these ashes make contact with the bottom of your grate, it can cause the grate to prematurely burn out.

I Have a Wood-Burning Stove or a Pellet Stove. Is the Proper Ash Removal Procedure Any Different?

The storage procedures are still the same for these stoves. If your stove is long and narrow and burns from the front to the back, according to the CSIA, it will benefit from removing the ashes that are just inside the door. Then, you can move the hot coals to the back of the stove to help igniting a fire quickly. The incoming air from combustion will reignite those hot coals and rapidly heat up the entire firebox. When all of the ashes are removed, it can be difficult to start a fire because all of the bricks in the firebox must be heated to saturation before your fire can really get going.

If you have any questions about proper ash removal, contact Hudson Chimney to ask our staff. We are happy to help you with all fire safety issues.

Burning the Proper Firewood in your Fireplace or Wood Stove

If you have a wood burning fireplace or stove, you may wonder if there is anything of significance that you can do to maintain the efficiency, safety, and health of your appliance. The answer is yes! By choosing the best firewood to burn in your appliance, you can protect your chimney or stovepipe from rapid creosote build-up and your home from dangerous chimney fires. Not only this, but the right firewood will help you to create fires that are warmer and more enjoyable.

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Regardless of the type of woodburning appliance you own, you should only burn seasoned firewood. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, the distinction between seasoned and unseasoned firewood is its moisture content. Seasoned firewood has a low moisture content, usually between 20 and 25 %. Unseasoned firewood, on the other hand, can have a moisture content as high as 45 %. Burning firewood with a higher moisture content can cause you and your chimney a number of problems, from the unpleasant to the dangerous. You will have trouble enjoying your chimney if you burn unseasoned firewood because of the unpleasant smell and smoke it produces. However, your biggest concern is that the water in unseasoned firewood will allow for creosote to rapidly build up in your chimney. Creosote is highly flammable, creating a hazard for chimney fires, and can build up into glazed creosote, which can only be removed from your chimney by a professional with chemicals.

If you chop your own firewood, it is easy to know if it is seasoned or unseasoned. Simply be sure to cut your firewood to length six months before you plan to use it in order to give water in the wood time to environment. Cutting your wood to length opens up the microscopic tubes in the wood that hold water, which allows the water to escape.

If you buy your firewood, it is a little more difficult to tell if your firewood has been properly seasoned. The best way to be sure your firewood has been properly seasoned is to buy it six months before you intend to use it and store it properly. However, seasoned and unseasoned firewood have characteristics that differentiate them from each other that you can utilize to see if the firewood you are buying has been seasoned. Seasoned firewood has darker ends and more cracks than unseasoned firewood and also tends to be lighter. Seasoned firewood also makes a clunking rather than a thudding noise when it is hit.

Whether or not you buy or chop your firewood, you must be sure that it is properly stored. A wood shed is the best place to store firewood. However, you can also store wood in a sunny location as long as you remember to cover the wood when it rains or snows. No matter where you store it, make sure that air is allowed to circulate to promote evaporation and try to store the wood off of the ground.

Give Hudson Chimney a call if you are unsure if you are burning the correct kind of firewood or if you have concerns regarding creosote build-up. The professionals at Hudson Chimney know how to keep you and your home warm and safe!

The Proper Disposal of Ashes

If you have a wood burning chimney, you may be unsure of how to properly and safely dispose of the remaining ash in your firebox. You may also be unsure as to how often you should have your fireplace and chimney professionally cleaned. The experts at Hudson Chimney have the expertise and skill necessary to answer all of your questions regarding your fireplace and chimney as well as to clean and help you maintain and repair your chimney.

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When you are emptying your firebox of ash, it is important that you protect your hands from leftover embers by wearing leather gloves. Use a metal scoop to transfer the ash from your firebox to a metal bucket and add a little water. Place the bucket in a location away from any combustible materials (outside the home is best), and let it sit. It is also a good idea to use the metal scoop to mix the ash and break up any chunks before you let it sit. According to The National Garden Association, the ash can be used as a fertilizer for your gardens. However, this is not the case when you burn cardboard, treated wood, or painted wood, which create toxic ash and should not be burned in the first place, as they also release toxic fumes when they are burned.

When you do remove ash from your firebox, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, it is beneficial to leave some of the ash. The CSIA recommends that you leave a layer of ash that is one inch thick on the bottom of your firebox in order to make building and maintaining a fire easier, create hotter fires, and protect the floor of you firebox. However, it is still important to clean your firebox because leaving more than a one inch layer can lead to the premature burn out of your grate as well as decrease the amount of fuel you can add to your fire. If you do leave a layer of ash, make sure to remove this layer at the end of chimney season, when you will no longer be using your chimney.

It is also important to have your chimney cleaned by a professional at least once a year. Only a professional can thoroughly clean your chimney as well as remove all of the creosote that has built up. Creosote, which is very flammable, is created as a byproduct of wood burning fires when hot smoke and gases hit the cool sides of your chimney. It is important to have creosote professionally removed so it does not build up into glazed creosote, which can only be removed from your chimney with chemicals.

Call Hudson Chimney if you have any questions about the proper disposal of ash or if you have not had your chimney cleaned yet this year. The experts there have the skill to provide you with a clean, safe, and efficient chimney for the winter.

The Importance of Using Seasoned Firewood

If you have a wood burning appliance, then you have more control than you probably think over the way your appliance runs. The type of wood you burn influences how efficiently your chimney runs in addition to the overall health of your chimney. It is important, then, that you choose to burn seasoned firewood. According to the National Chimney Safety Institute of America, burning seasoned firewood will allow your appliance to burn cleaner and more efficiently than burning unseasoned firewood. In fact, whether or not your firewood is seasoned is far more important than the species of wood you burn.

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You may be wondering what the difference is between seasoned and unseasoned firewood as well as why this difference is important. All wood has a certain amount of water in it. Seasoned firewood has moisture content of 20 to 25 percent while unseasoned wood can have a moisture content of up to 45 percent. Burning unseasoned wood is inefficient because energy is lost to drying the wood before burning it, leading to a lower heat output. Not only this, but burning unseasoned wood also leads to more creosote build up in your chimney or stovepipe.

In order to make sure that your firewood is seasoned if you chop it yourself, cut it to length at least six months before using it. Splitting and cutting the firewood to its proper length gives the wood more exposure to the sun and wind, allowing evaporation to occur. If you buy your firewood, it is good to buy it the spring before you use it to ensure that it is well seasoned. However, if you buy your firewood close to the time you burn it there are several ways to tell if the firewood you are buying is seasoned. Check to make sure that the ends of the firewood are cracked and darkened and that the wood is light and makes a “clunking” noise when two pieces are hit together. Unseasoned firewood will be heavier.

The way you store your wood is also important to the way it will burn. If your firewood is exposed to snow and rain, it will absorb too much water to burn properly and possibly rot. Store your wood off of the ground and cover it in the case of bad weather. Leave it uncovered on sunny days to allow evaporation to occur.

When burning wood, make sure that you do not burn wood that has been painted or treated, which can cause toxic fumes to be released into your home. Also, if you end up burning unseasoned wood, it is important that you have your chimney or stovepipe frequently cleaned and inspected to avoid hazardous creosote build up.

If you are unsure about the type of wood you should be burning in your fireplace, ask an expert at Hudson Chimney during your annual chimney cleaning and inspection. The professionals at Hudson Chimney have the knowledge and training to help you determine the best choices for your chimney in order that it run efficiently and safely.

Combating the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

When a professional inspects your chimney, he or she looks for a number of problems that could cause damage to your chimney or home as well as potential safety hazards. One of these hazards is carbon monoxide, which can cause health problems, including permanent brain and organ damage, to you and your loved ones in low doses and death in high doses. For this and other reasons, it is recommended by the Chimney Safety Institute of America that your chimney be serviced professionally at least once a year.

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The easiest preventative measure against carbon monoxide leaks is to have your chimney cleaned in addition to its inspection by a professional. If you have a woodburning appliance, you have to be careful of creosote buildup in your chimney. Creosote is extremely combustible, making it a fire hazard. In addition to this, it builds up to the point where it will prevent proper ventilation of your appliance, not only causing it to become inefficient but allowing toxic gases such as carbon monoxide to stay in your home. An annual cleaning can prevent creosote build up. In addition to this, make sure you only burn seasoned cordwood. Burning unseasoned wood leads to additional creosote build up.

No matter the type of appliance you have, your chimney or stovepipe must be clear of all debris to ensure proper ventilation and the expulsion of carbon monoxide from your home. An annual inspection can help to ensure that your chimney or pipe is clear of such debris. Another way to prevent chimney blockage is to have a professional install a chimney cap. Not only does a chimney cap prevent water damage to your chimney and home, but it prevents animals and environmental debris from entering your chimney and blocking carbon monoxide from exiting your home.

If you have an oil or gas burning appliance, you still have to worry about carbon monoxide, even if it is not a direct byproduct of combustion. Oil flues must be cleared of soot in order to prevent blockage, while the flues of gas burning appliances are subject to corrosive circumstances. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, such appliances should be inspected regularly to ensure that toxic fumes such as carbon monoxide are allowed out of the house as well as to prevent carbon monoxide from becoming trapped inside of the home.

If you have not recently had your chimney inspected or cleaned, call Hudson Chimney. Their professionals are trained and certified to make sure that your appliance is safe to run and works efficiently to heat your home. They will be sure that you and your loved ones are safe from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning by thoroughly cleaning your flue as well as checking to make sure your appliance is in proper order for the cold winter months. In addition, if you think that you or a loved one is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, it is imperative to seek out medical attention as quickly as possible.

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