Home Inspections

I work closely with a few Home Inspectors and have taken all the necessary Home Inspection training myself.  In fact I have completed the same education as the best Home Inspectors in the industry.  And although I love it, I just loved the chimney work better and returned to it full time.

I have also taken the necessary training to be certified on Mould and Radon and Indoor Air Quality.  Giving me a huge advantage on how homes operate as a system over the average Chimney Sweep.  Yes – the Chimney Sweep who became a Master Home Inspector.. and rather unique twist.

But – my real passion was back with the wood energy – hence I have returned to it.  But I do have my credentials to indicate I did put in the time, sweat and tears to get to the Home Inspection side.

Although I am not really involved any longer, I do know some of the best Inspectors in the industry.  Yes, those who are in the or were in the industry do know perhaps better than anybody else who the REALLY GOOD ones are.  Do you want the BEST.. I can send you to them.  If you need a WETT Inspection with your Home Inspection, we can take care of that with ONLY ONE CALL.  The Best WETT Inspection & BEST Home Inspection at the same time.  Really it does make sense for wood appliances to have a specialist do the job.

Wood Stoves – Why Do You Need One & Why Should You Want One

Have you been contemplating a wood burning stove?  Wondering if it is right for you and if it fits into your lifestyle?

There are some valid reasons people purchase wood stoves, lets look at a few below.

Cost Savings

Perhaps one of the most common reasons is simply money, saving money.  Wood heat is lower cost per btu than most other energy forms, especially electricity.  In fact if you have access to wood, as many in Midland and Penetanguishene area do, it may be very low cost of sometimes even free.  Some even reduce costs by having their wood stove space here in a central area, and keep it warm but let other parts of the home remain cooler.  This used to be the normal way to live, we have gotten away from this practice with forced air heating systems which heat everything and frankly heating areas we do not use is simply a waste of energy, waste of earth resources and a waste of money.  In fact the way many of use heat our homes is a big contributor to green house gases, simply because not only is the natural gas a contributor but the way we use it only makes it worse.

Today’s modern wood stove are high efficiency systems, approaching the same efficiency as many oil or gas burning systems, and they work well at maintaining low particle emissions as well – the major concern in the past with wood burning systems causing pollution.

Maximize Comfort!

Many have ultra modern high efficiency gas fired forced air furnaces, and high tech thermostats.  Leading edge in energy conservation, and they are slightly ahead of the best wood stove systems no doubt.  But they are often not comfortable.  Part of a heating systems job is to keep us comfortable!  The fact that a wood stove uses radiant heat, the same as the sun, makes it really difficult for any other system to compete in the way of comfort. The radiant heat of a wood stove truly warms in a way that hot air systems can’t.

A Green Energy Solution

Realistically if anybody has truly studied the net greenhouse gas emission of wood burning compared to other fossil fuels then this needs no explanation.  Studies have concluded that oil and gas are both higher contributors to net greenhouse gas than wood heat, on average. If you have your own woodlot and cut your own wood then you are likely much below average!

There is also the positive impact of having heat without any power, yes when electricity goes off the wood still heats your home.  This is something that not many other heating systems can claim.

But if you use wood keep safe, call at least annually for an inspection and chimney sweep.  Find a WETT Certified Chimney Sweep or WETT Certified Advanced Chimney Sweep!

And to finish it off, many systems today are amazing in appearance.  They just look great in a living area, and only get better with a fire flickering in the firebox.

Dryer Vent Cleaning

Blocked dryer vents cause thousands of fires each year across North America, and many users do not even know it is blocked.  Worse yet, even if you do not have a fire, it is costing you money in lost energy costs.
  • The number one loss of dryer efficiency is a blocked or dirty vent.
  • Blocked and dirty dryer vents translate into longer drying times, more wear on the dryer and increased energy costs.
  • Dryer manufacturers recommend regular cleaning of dryer vent.
  • Dryer vent cleaning, done regularly, will extend the live of your dryer and save on energy costs.

The Answer To Dirty & Blocked Dryer Vents
Chimney sweeps have the necessary training and equipment to clean dryer vents.  This is why all across North America chimney sweeps have moved into helping consumers.  The tools used to clean the dryer are actually the same used for pellet stoves, and because they were designed for highly efficient cleaning of the pellet stoves, and dryer vents are really easier to clean the tools and training are a perfect match.  In fact the tools sold for only dryer vent cleaning are less costly; but not nearly as effective at those used by chimney sweeps.  This is why no sweep would ever trade in their power cleaning tools for those sold for dryer vent cleaning, it would be a step in the wrong direction!   chimney since 1990 have developed a unique dryer vent cleaning system. To ensure there is absolutely no mess, a heavy duty vacuum system designed for chimney cleaning is attached outside captures all loosened particles. In most cases, work is usually completed in under an hour.

How A Wood-Stove Catalyst Works

Just How Does A Catalyst Work?

Some EPA certified wood-stoves have a catalyst, however a catalyst is not a filter.  In fact if it were, it would more than likely need cleaning or replacement more frequently than it does.  The catalyst does not capture and hold nasty material, instead there is a chemical reaction that reduces combustion temperature and the nasty stuff is actually burned.   The platinum in the honeycomb structure of the catalyst cause or create this chemical reaction that takes place, allowing the catalyst to turn combustible gasses in the smoke into water vapor, carbon dioxide, and HEAT..  You may have also heard about a catalyst or catalytic converter in your automobile, which are used to reduce emissions.  However, the wood-stove catalyst not only reduces emissions but also takes that energy and uses it to contribute HEAT to your home, also increasing the efficiency of the stove overall.  A working catalyst will have invisible gas and white water vapor (steam) coming from the chimney, if you see dark smoke from your chimney, this is a sign that the catalyst is not working properly.

Whys Is There A Bypass For The Catalyst?

The catalyst can not operate below a specific temperature, knows as “light-off temperature”  This why a bypass is provided for lighting the fire and the warm up period.  This temperature is around 260° Celsius.

The actual catalytic reaction temperature will reach a maximum temperature of around 700° Celsius.   In fact exceeding this temperature can be destructive to your stove.

Does an Advanced Chimney Sweep make one better?

Have had a few ask about the Advanced Chimney Sweep and why or what makes it better.

I like to be up front and honest – it is a good marketing tool – but honestly there are sweeps out there who are Certified Sweeps (without Advanced status) who are every bit as good a sweep as those with the Advanced status.

It really means one only did perhaps a bit more book work and scored better on exams.  More head knowledge and more bookwork.. but does not guarantee a better worker in the field.

How do I know?  I am an Certified Advanced Chimney Sweep – and I know several who are only Certified Sweeps and would tell you in a heartbeat they are every bit as good at what they do as am I.

Bad smelling firewood.

Have had customers from time to time mention the smell of firewood.  All firewood stored outdoors will have some humidity in it even when seasoned; and with that some wood can carry an odour.

Even when wood is down to 20% level of moisture – which is considered seasoned by the woodstove manufacturers – it can still contain enough moisture to emit a smell.

Some wood is worse than others – one we have around here that can smell bad is Red Oak.  Best to not put the wood indoors – some like to store inside – but please know in advance it can smell.

Also note that storing wood indoors – on any wood or woodstove site – will NOT be recommended for a few reasons.  In fact I don’t think I have ever seen a reputable site which recommended storing inside – reasons to not do so include.

These include – adding moisture to your home – making the firewood too dry (yes it can be too dry and there are other blogs I have explaining that) – adding unpleasant odours to your home – bringing pests and insects indoors with the wood – potentially causing a fire hazard (do not stack close to heat – wood stove – in fact in most cases keep back 48″ from stove).

So yes there can be nasty odours from firewood – some worse than others.  Oak in our area can be one of the worst – yet is also a highly desirable wood.  If you are going to bring it inside – despite all the above – try to tell the wood supplier you do not want any oak in the mix.

Building a Rumford Fireplace!

Are you thinking of a fireplace in your home, or maybe have one and it simply does not provide heat!

Ever consider the Rumford?  Ever hear of a Rumford?

A Rumford is an old designed – designed to heat the home rather than the outside.  But the Rumford with the tall openings creates a beautiful and efficient fire that you and your family will love – and the shape of the opening will ensure you get the most heat from the fire as it burns.  Your friends and family will love. The unique shape ensures that you will get the most heat out of the wood you burn.

You see Count Rumford understood that the only really useful heat generated by any fireplace was the radiant heat. Any air that was heated by the fire simply went up the chimney, he therefore worked to design a fireplace with a large opening – which was fairly shallow – to reflect as much heat as possible back into the room.

The problem with the design is that a tall, wide shallow fireplace by design will tend to smoke, making the room uncomfortable. However, keep in mind that Rumford was a physicist and understood fluid dynamics – in fact he was way ahead of his time – in his design he essentially created a venture or nozzle which essentially will pull the smoke up through the throat into the receiving smoke chamber.  Because of this in the Rumford design the smoke is effectively pulled out the chimney instead of lingering and entering the room – an added benefit for those new to lighting a fireplace.

The problem is that is not the way masons were trained and many masons today, who are trained to build modern fireplace will have trouble believing a Rumford will draw – that is until they see it work.  You see the rules and Building Codes are different – in a modern fireplace the fireback is usually sloped forward pushing the gases from combustion toward the front, the incoming air from the room flows over the steel lintel and mixes with the heated gases, causing a turbulent smoky mixture.  Most masons, who while good at their job, do not understand fluid-dynamics and will tell you that you need to “cross over” or drop the lintel about 200 mm or so below the damper which will create a pocket for this turbulent smoke – or else there will be smoke coming out of the fireplace opening.

Because of the design, the opening into the chimney is only half as large, it takes more room for this turbulent air to get out.  It is a more efficient design, invented by a physicist.   The Rumford is more efficient, radiates more heat and wastes less heat to the outdoors.  Frankly, other than for aesthetic benefits one wonders why the modern fireplace design ever came into existence – it really was because an architect liked the looks – did not care about efficiency and designed around looks over performance.  It is rather unfortunate as our whole system now has grown accustomed to this design and feels there is no other that will work!  And a poor design it is – built on looks versus function – and with a Rumford you can actually have both!  Yes the Rumford – although not today considered traditional can be a beautiful and a functional fireplace which can heat the home efficiently.




The Spazzacamino Chimney Sweep Festival

A popular festival for Sweeps from across the globe.  The Chimney Sweep profession is respected and celebrated in Europe and has an an

nual festival in Italy.  The 4 day festival is an opportunity to get to Ita

ly and enjoy the sights and the festival.  This is an annual festival; and Cherry and I love Italy as our favorite vacation spot.  Actually southern Italy is

the most favored area, but northern Italy is great as well – and once in the North why not go south for a couple of nights before the flight home.  Oh, she does hate that flight!