Shortest Commercial Flight In World

Yes the shortest commercial flight in world, maybe gets a couple of thousand feet up and time to land!  Between two islands in Scotland.

Why a Chimney Sweep?  Why because of my best Chimney Sweep sooty friends are from the northern parts of Europe.  Wonderful land and lots of sooty friends.


Would You Have An Apprentice Work On Your Car?

Well actually no you may have an apprentice work on your car and not know it, but there is ALWAYS somebody supervising them and signing off on their work.

Would you have an apprentice do a safety on your car?  Well they can not sign off on the work, it takes a full mechanic.

Why do I ask?  Well it is similar in many ways as having a Home Inspector do an inspection on your wood burning system.  They are pretty much all SITE BASIC Inspectors who are able to perform a Level 1 Inspection ONLY.  They are not supposed to use any tools or take anything apart during the inspection.

It takes a Chimney Sweep or Technician to perform more complex inspections that actually require tools.

Yes a Level 1 Inspection is good, for some situations.  As per the NFPA 211 it is used where nothing has changed since the last inspection or where something has change but is identical to what was there before.  Often performed as part of a Chimney Sweep.  The NFPA 211 states however that a Level 2 should be performed for ALL Real Estate Transactions and Land Transfers.  Why?  Well a Level 2 goes deeper.  You do not know if anything has been changed, when it was last inspected or even when it was last cleaned.  A Level 1 really does nothing at all to check the chimney, other than some visual exterior components and clearances to combustible.  That is why the Level 1 is called a Readily Accessible Inspection.

It is like asking somebody to check out a car you are looking to buy, would you rather have somebody who looks at the car, looks underneath it, and maybe opens the hood to look.. but nothing more.. Or would you rather have somebody who pulls the oil dipstick, takes the sparkplugs out and inspects, starts the engine up and listens to it..  That is essentially the comparison between the Level 1 and Level 2 inspections.

The NFPA 211 says if you are buying a home and need a WETT Inspection you need the 2nd one.. the Level 2.  Which do you think you need?

Bottom line is some Home Inspectors recognize this and will ALWAYS refer you to a qualified Chimney Sweep or Technician to perform the WETT Inspection.  Other unfortunately seem to put making a few extra dollars ahead of their clients well being.

Bruce Grant, a Master Home Inspector in the Orillia area states this well in an article he has posted.

Read here:

Homebuyer alert:  The WETT inspection, a disaster in the making!



What is best seat on an airplane?

A question many ask, and one that you might think weird for a Chimney Sweep to be asking.  But yes I have traveled a bit in my life, being into every province in Canada, several of the American states and overseas.  In fact the peak flying year was 1999, with just over 100 flights in that year.  In the 1990s I was still cleaning chimneys, but only friends and only on week-ends (and doing it generally for free or maybe $20 to put gasoline in vehicle to drive to their cottage – gasoline was not quite as expensive then!) At that time was always an Air Canada Elite status passenger, enjoying the Maple Leaf Lounge, special check-in privileges, etc.  But still did not enjoy it, as most if not all who travel a lot will tell you.  But back to question on best seat, it may depend upon you as an individual but I enjoy sleeping and have fallen asleep before take off on several occasions.  Yes I will admit I did enjoy flying business class, which I have done many times, but still did sleep a lot.  The window sleeps are generally the best if you are a sleeper – the wall beside the seat gives an extra place to recline into and enjoy your snooze.  Never fear, you become accustomed to the flights and as soon as decent begins you will awaken in the altitude change.  Do I still fly a lot, no not any longer but never bothers me if needed.  I still do not do a whole lot of chimney sweeping – and really like to spend most of my time on hobbies and working around house.  If I get in one job every two weeks on average then that is okay with me.  But if you need a Certified Chimney Sweep, I will break my hobby schedule and help you out.

We Need Heat In The Freezing Winters of Midland and Penetanguishene

Yes Heat! The one thing that literally allows us to survive the freezing temperatures of North Simcoe and Muskoka.  We can get heat in many forms, some more expensive than others.. some more work than others and some cleaner than others.  Finally another important aspect, some more enjoyable and enjoyable atmosphere than others.

Burning wood in the Midland and Penetanguishene area is still a very viable option with a lot of high quality hard wood available without causing harm to our woodlots.  Yes, no harm, most of the wood in our area comes from managed woodlot cutting, managed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

Wood stoves start at around $1,500 and increase depending on various features and options. Do your homework on the type of stove you want, what fits your house and what technologies are beneficial.

It should be noted, one of the items I mentioned above was how clean the fuel was, and some wood stoves are cleaner than others and more efficient – producing more heat in the house for less wood burned.  These stoves do cost more, but if you are buying your wood it can save you money in the long run and will emit less emissions and particles into the atmosphere.

Buying the stove are only part of it, you need a chimney and to have it installed and installed properly and safely.  Ensure you get a WETT Certified individual to perform the install!  These are the only individuals in Ontario who are certified to provide the assurance that the installation is code compliant.

Next you will want to find and ensure you have quality, well seasoned firewood.  Burn clean dry wood and it might even be wise to invest in a moisture meter to test the wood when it is delivered!   Look for wood that is between 17 to 20% moisture content.

Then you need to ensure you have a WETT Certified Chimney Sweep clean your stove and chimney at least once a year.  This ensures your system is operating properly and safely – allowing you to have peace of mind and sleep soundly at night.

Now some would say.. with all the work you just mentioned is it really worth is?  Really?  Is using a wood stove really worth it?

Yes after going through the work of cutting your own firewood and starting your own fire and sitting back in the living room enjoying the warmth on a cold winter night.. you bet it is worth it, there’s great satisfaction.

Call if you want to find out more.

Should I Avoid Wood Smoke

It is true that in a properly burning system a wood stove will emit NOTHING MORE THAN carbon dioxide, water vapour, some excess air and heat.  It can be a VERY CLEAN burning system – most of the time.  I say most of the time as there will be excess smoke on start of fire and if system is not burning properly.  The problem is many do not burn optimally and get other things coming out of the fire as smoke, some of them REALLY BAD!

It is more important for some than others as some people use wood as their main source of heat, while others have wood stoves as a back-up. But wood smoke, when not burning properly, can contain a number of pollutants that can be harmful to your health.

If you use a wood stove or fireplace in your home, you can take steps to reduce the health risks for you, your family, and neighbours.


It is vital to protect yourself and your family with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers in the home.

Wood Smoke Inside The Home

Wood smoke can get into your home – and often does.  This can happen when you open the stove to add or stoke the firewood, through leaks and cracks in faulty or poorly-maintained stoves or even from neighbours nearby who are using wood-burning stoves

While a properly maintained, newer model woodstove will burn clean there are several things that can get into wood smoke that can be a serious concern.  They are particulate mater, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Particulate matter is a concern in larger cities as it will help to create smog.  These small particles can also travel deeply into your lungs causing breathing and heart problems.  The newer stoves when used properly will emit very few (close to zero) – with EPA rated stoves being the best in this area.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas that is poisonous at high levels. It will make you feel sick and even kill you.  Carbon monoxide is the result of insufficient oxygen and incomplete combustion of the wood.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a wide range of compounds that often have no colour, taste or smell. These can cause direct health effects, while some others will contribute to smog.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are, if present, a health concern as they can be agents leading to cancer.

In some communities, due to limited financial means, lack of knowledge or care, wood smoke can become a serious concern.  In fact it can produce as much as 25% of the airborne particulate matter, 8% of the VOCs, and 7% of the Carbon Monoxide in the air.

Depending upon what is the source of fuel (what is burned), wood smoke also contains small quantities of other toxic compounds, including nitrogen oxides and chlorinated dioxins. These can also contribute to environmental hazards, like smog and acid rain.

Health risks

Wood smoke can and often does cause eye, nose, and throat irritations, headaches, nausea, and even dizziness.   Medical conditions such as asthma or other respiratory problems can be made to appear worse.

Being potentially a significant contributor to smog, wood-smoke can contribute to several serious and severe health risks, including increased hospital admissions and even premature death.

Safety Tips

Wood can be burned safely and cleanly – it only takes a bit of knowledge on how the system works and the care to do it right!

  • Choose a low-emission stove.  A low emission stove, one that is EPA rated, can go a LONG way to reduction in pollution.  The sticker on any EPA rated stove will certify that the appliance will emit up to 95% fewer particulates and is up to 20% more fuel-efficient than regular models.
  • Maintain your stove. This means annual inspection by a Certified Chimney Sweep on an annual basis.
  • Clean your chimney. Clean your chimney and flues on regular basis, annually or sometimes even more frequently.
  • Use your dampers. Allow the fire to heat up and get secondary burn going when starting a fire, then slow it down to desired level for remainder of burn.  While the wood itself will produce some smoke, the secondary burn will eliminate it if working properly!
  • Use dry, seasoned wood. Cut, split, and stack wood in a dry area for adequate time before burning.  Time depends on species and how small the wood is cut and split (shorter lengths dry faster).  It takes between six months to a year to dry or season wood properly.
  • Let wood breathe. Stack the wood loosely in your firebox to let the air freely circulate around it.
  • Burn smaller pieces of wood. Small pieces will be more efficient and a better source of heat.
  • Never burn painted wood.  Do not burn any wood that has been painted or chemically treated.
  • Do not burn household garbage.  This includes plastics, foam and anything with coloured ink on it – including wrappers.  These all give off toxic chemicals when burned.
  • Do not burn magazines, boxes or newspaper.  Magazines and cardboard burn at far too high a temperature which can damage system and give off toxic chemicals when burned.
  • Do not burn ocean driftwood or construction material.  This includes plywood, particle board or any material with glue in or on it.  Do not burn old pieces of 2X4 or other waste construction material.  Do not burn old pallets or scrap wood.  These all are often too dry and can release toxic materials into the atmosphere.
  • Do not burn wet, rotted, diseased or mouldy wood.  These all can release spores into the air which can be potentially harmful.


Do you use a wood-burning stove or Open Fire?

Many of us enjoy the comfort and appeal of a wood-burning stove or fireplace, and no more so than in North Simcoe and Muskoka!  Yes in the Midland and Penetanguishene area there is ample good firewood available, and the option to burn wood simply makes sense!  It is an effective way to reduce heating costs, particularly for those where natural gas is not an option or a woodlot is readily available.  And even when not used as primary heat, it does provide a nice secondary heat solution in emergency or simply for the warmth and ambiance.  There is also the stacking of logs to the gathering or chopping of kindling, which if done as a family is often times not a chore and then comes the lighting of the fire which can even at times be fun!  If you love wood fires, and many do as it is difficult to match with any other fuel source, you will find that wood burning is never too much trouble to light up.

But there is a health problem in the which affects us all. Air pollution comes from vehicle engines, construction, agriculture, highway and roadways and other sources.  But also, especially if not done properly, come from heating appliances including wood-burning stoves even open fires. This is a problem that can impact both rural and urban communities.  

The problem with wood-burning systems is increased dramatically when wood is not properly burned and there is not complete combustion taking place.   This is quite often wood not being burned at high enough temperature often due to insufficient oxygen.  However, it can also be due to the appliance being used, or even the material/wood being burned.  An important secondary note of interest is that when a stove is emitting nasty stuff into the atmosphere, it is also adding layers of microscopic particles to the inside of your stove pipe and chimney known as creosote!    

Many who use wood-stoves are not even aware of the problems, have no idea they may be the cause of the problem or how to even begin to correct it!   Reality is that a lot can be done to fix the problem at least in part, and it is wise to work towards getting it right!   Burned correctly is not that difficult, actually it is easy!   It will save you money!  It will reduce the risk of chimney fires!  And it will help to reduce air pollution!  

The most important are to look first is the wood used, the quality of the wood and how dry it is.  Moisture that is too high will cause excessive pollution and creosote buildup.. the irony of it is that wood that is TOO DRY will cause many of the same problems for different reasons.  Too wet means it burns cool, loosing a lot of the heat energy in evaporating the water or moisture in the wood.  Moist or wet wood actually gives off exactly the same heat energy in BTUs per pound as dry wood, but much of the heat is used drying the wood and heating to a temperature where the gases will be released allowing combustion.  The wood needs to rise to a high enough temperature to provide release of hydrocarbons for combustion and that can not be completed until ALL moisture has been evaporated first.   What about wood being too dry?  Isn’t dry good?  Well all wood stoves are built and designed to burn wood with around 20% moisture content, and wood that is very dry (in single digit percentages of moisture ranges) the release of the hydrocarbons (as a gas) can occur too rapidly, so fast that they can not be burned and are pushed up chimney in an incomplete combustion state, these then turn into creosote on the chimney walls.  The danger here is that dry wood can also burn very hot, and the accumulation of creosote and high heat is a recipe for disaster.    

Another factor in combustion and ultimately pollution is the amount of air the stove is receiving to allow complete combustion and proper burn.  Older stoves would allow the owner/user to virtually shut off the air supply forcing the wood to essentially smoulder, causing excessive smoke, creosote buildup and pollution.  This also causes a very cool burn, again a method to become a creosote generator!    

Some appliances and chimneys are also part of the problem and those systems, even under ideal conditions are not capable of producing clean non-polluting burns.   

What many find attractive however is that getting it right sames work and money!  Less wood is burned and less heat goes up the chimney – also less pollution as a side benefit.  A side note is that the chimney also will be cleaner and safer.

 If you’d like to know how get the best from your stove, save you money, keep the chimney cleaner and improve your local air quality then please ask your local professional chimney sweep. If they can’t help or don’t think it’s important, perhaps change your sweep.  To get the best find a WETT Certified Chimney Sweep! 

It’s not a complicated problem but because there are a number of factors involved, people are often unaware of what is happening when they burn wood in the stove. A few simple changes can make a big difference.





What is a WETT Inspection?

Being a certified member of WETT Inc. , I am able to offer customers peace of mind in knowing that there’s WETT Inc. certified training behind any installation and inspection of any wood-burning appliances and fireplaces.

WETT Inc. (Wood Energy Technology Transfer Inc.) is a non-profit training organization that provides in-depth training for inspectors of wood-burning appliances to check for code compliance and adherence to safety requirements. A WETT certified inspector has met the qualifications for performing these inspections.  It should be noted that there are several levels of Certification with WETT, which I will get into a bit later.

It is important to note that WETT certified inspections are often required by home insurance companies when a property being insured has a wood-burning appliance, such as a wood stove or fireplace. Often times they are also requested at time of Real Estate Transaction.  The WETT certified Inspector will determine if the installation was carried out safely and in compliance with all fire and building code regulations.  Sometime the WETT Inspector is also able to determine if the system is still in good condition as well – something that may be beneficial on Real Estate transaction – but not something every WETT certified Inspector is able to perform!

The most basic inspection – known as a Level 1 – and often performed by a SITE Basic Inspection will ONLY the visual examination of the system and measurements to combustibles.  Often times this does not even include looking inside the smoke chambers, fireboxes, or chimney.  Items  which are important for safety are often overlooked such as the chimney liners!  Sometimes the only things covered are readily accessible items such as the hearth and clearances of wood stove and the flue stove vent pipes. Different inspection are performed depending on the system and chimney configuration, but reports typically run in the area of 5 to 10 pages if done in a comprehensive manner.

Back to the levels of inspection.. the Level 1 we discussed and it is as per NFPA 211 only to be used for existing systems where NOTHING HAS CHANGED and it is only to ensure system is STILL compliant and in good condition.  Generally when a Chimney Sweep is performed or when a flue pipe is changed (to exactly same type) is when Level 1 inspections are done.

Again as per NFPA 211, if ANYTHING at all has been changed and is NOT identical, a Level 2 MUST be performed.  If it is a Real Estate Transaction or Transfer of Land – a Level 2 MUST be performed.   A Level 2 provides much more comprehensive level of inspection and also will provide the confidence that you can safely light the fire!.. talk about peace of MIND!

A Level 3 is the highest level of inspection and is only used when there has been a chimney fire or other event where the systems integrity may be compromised.


Using Power Sweeping Tools To Clean Chimneys

Our chimney sweep tools includes a power sweep to sweep up chimneys, which is more time efficient, safer, and doesn’t add wear and tear to the rooftop. Furthermore in most chimneys it actually does a better job than the old traditional brush and rod method.. yes I do have brushes and rods if needed.. but most of the time a power sweep does a better job!

This video shows you how we clean a chimney through the clean out port with common plumbing fittings. When we power sweep up through the clean out, we go through a curved PVC plumbing pipe that we adapted for this purpose.

Operation of a Circuit Breaker

Years ago in Quebec, my early training was in electrical.  Hence am always interested in these things.

Here is one you may find interesting, the operation of a residential circuit breaker in two types of failure (direct short and overload), as each protection method is different depending on failure type.