The Cheesecake Factory Opens Today At Yorkdale

Ever eaten at the Cheesecake Factory.. opens today at Yorkdale Mall.

If you have not tried it; you may wish to give it a go.. lots of good food all be it not necessarily a prime restaurant for health food, although they do have some vegan choices and a bit more healthy options.  Cheesecake of course is their speciality with 35 flavours of cake available.

To visit their website go here : //www.thecheesecakefactory.com/

To read more about it here is a good article : //nowtoronto.com/food-and-drink/food/cheesecake-factory-yorkdale/

Automated Machines

Just read about automated robotic cleaners for commercial areas; companies using them are claiming there will be no loss of employees – but it will allow the employees to focus on other more customer focused areas of work.  That may be true in some cases; but what about companies and employees who only do cleaning services?  Is it not possible that these jobs will be impacted?  Of course they will eventually be impacted – it is about reducing costs overall.

Also read about robotic inventory machines being used and tested in America, again a device that will eventually replace jobs.  There are companies who professionally preform inventory – they go into large retail stores with several employees and perform the inventory on the retail stores behalf – in a professional manner which has minimal impact on store staff.  Again the company performing inventory will become more efficient and lower cost – making more of a profit margin.

The same can be said of the new self driving semi-truck we saw introduced recently and which has a lot of stir on the internet.  Not here yet – but it will be developed and evolve.  May be slowed down if a large accident were to occur, on the other hand the large fiery crashes like we had a short time ago south of Barrie only promotes the support of these vehicles due to the ability to remove the human weak point.  Humans can be prone to lack of sleep, drugs to keep them awake, distracted driving, etc.  These can in theory remove that risk and certainly add significantly to the low profit margin shipping companies.

Self serve robots at fast food is another one that is typical and will evolve – place your order and pay.  Will see more and more of these soon.. self serve at grocery stores and drug stores are also just around the corner.  In fact many stores – clothing/footwear, hardware, department stores.. virtually any and all retail stores.  Many of the larger ones already have self serve lanes – and the only reason they have not expanded is consumer resistance – people want humans to work with – speak with and serve them.  If more used the self serve lanes, more would be installed and fewer human lanes available.  In fact more will likely come anyways in an attempt to force you to use them.

Bank ATMs is another one – convenient – but the beginning of the loss of tellers jobs.  There will always be more and more pressure to use ATMs and close the brick and mortar banks – which we already see as banks are closing across the country on a regular basis.

How to get around this?  Some is difficult – but pushing back can help – refuse to use the automated robotic lanes as much as possible – complain if there are not any or not enough human clerks.  Threaten to move your business to somebody who has human service.  Don’t just threaten but do it.. and encourage others to do the same.  Some will not, many will not, assuming nothing will change.  And with that mentality on consumers behalf nothing will change.. but if enough pushed back it would work.

Unfortunately too many consumers in the country are blind sheep and will never think of consequences or what their actions impact until it is too late and all the changes have taken place.  Kind of the way our population typically works.. but if they sit down and think about it then it is only a natural progression.  Fact is if you are working at minimum or near minimum wage – your job can be likely turned into a robotic job.  But.. there are other jobs above minimum wage that also can be automated so don’t get too secure – the bank tellers are a good example of this.  There are other jobs which can be outsourced to lower cost humans in far reaching and remote locations – call centres are a typical example of this with workers being anywhere in the world.  But there are others each and every day which are being considered.

What happens when over half the population is unemployed due to automation?  Stop and think about it for a minute or two..

Extension of Chimney and WETT Inspection

Hopefully decent weather today as I will be outside extending a chimney which is too short.  There are clear requirements on chimney height which is 900mm above the roof where it sits or extends out of the roof – this should be measured at the centre of the chimney flue and the side of the chimney (top of chimney is shorter than bottom – don’t try to cheat and measure the highest or tallest side – measure the centre where the flue gases come out).  But there is also a requirement to be 600mm higher than any other object or structure within 3 metres!  This last one is often the problem, although there are also some out there which fail to meet the first.

Once completed of course a WETT Inspection – Level 2 – is in order.  When anything has changed as per the guidelines a Level 2 inspection is required.  You need to be aware of that because there are many WETT Inspectors who are NOT qualified to perform a Level 2 inspection!  If somebody is certified by WETT as a SITE Basic Inspector and nothing else, the SITE Basic is their ONLY certification, then they are only able to perform a Level 1 Inspection!  What else needs Level 2?  A couple – one of the most common being that of Real Estate transactions or Real Estate sales.  Many do not know this, including Realtors themselves!  Why is this?  Well at times the system may not have been used for years, may not have been used properly, may have broken or non-functional components or need cleaning.  A Level 1 Inspection would never find any of these situations!  You need to find a WETT Certified Chimney Sweep or WETT Certified Technician who are also able to perform a Level 2 Inspection or a SITE Comprehensive Inspector who is able to perform a Level 2 as well as a Level 3 inspection.

The Life Cycle Of Creosote

If you burn wood improperly (either due to an old appliance – green unseasoned wood – or other reasons) the consequences can be disastrous for your chimney.

Wood does not burn the same as a fossil fuel, with over 50% of the wood weight being moisture from the tree sap or resin.  This causes wood to burn more slowly and at a lower temperature.  This may seem like a good thing – but there can be dangerous consequences from it.

Often times, especially with older stoves, when burning wood the operator will reduce the amount of air entering the firebox to save fuel or make the fire burn longer.  This will cause the stove to smoulder and smoke – all be it some newer models today handle this MUCH better due to their catalyst secondary burn feature.  However, with an older stove of which there are many in the Midland and Penetanguishene area, causing the wood to smoulder creates a lot of smoke – and smoke that is cooler in temperature.  This cool smoke entering the chimney does not maintain a high temperature and will linger in the chimney longer – this causes the smoke to cool even further and to actually create condensation on the chimney walls.  Smoke from a wood fire has a flammable gas within it and this flammable product creates creosote.  (some think it is due to the resin in the tree – but this has been proven incorrect in university studies).

Once in a condensation state or liquid it can now flow into cracks and joints – which if masonry can actually cause the mortar to deteriorate and is why liners are mandatory in masonry chimneys.

This creosote will slowly solidify – and there are three ways the creosote can form.  Each of these are called Stages or Degrees.  The first is a gummy tar like product – the second is more of a crispy flaky product and the third is a hard black shiny product which is the most difficult to remove.  The condensation will, if left to slowly dry out, turn into the last one.  If there is a hotter fire built, it will dry out more quickly and be more like the second type mentioned.  Regardless of what form, creosote will build up and reduce the cross sectional area of the chimney and flue pipes. Solid creosote is highly flammable and is dangerous.  When burning temperatures in excess of 2000°C have been recorded in chimney fires and is why chimney sweeping is so important.

Finally there is a fourth type of creosote – but is not considered one of the states or degrees of creosote as it does not form naturally.  It is instead formed during a chimney fire; and is often bubbly looking, expanded almost honeycomb like, crispy and crunchy – easily crushed between fingers.  This actually can fully block a chimney – and sometimes a customer will have a chimney fire – not know it – and suddenly their stove does not work well and they have no draft.  What?  Yes – most – in fact studies state that 80% of all chimney fires are undetected at the time. This does not make a chimney fire any less dangerous.. and often times it is during the sweep that we find the evidence of a past chimney fire.  In fact I found one a couple of weeks ago in Orillia – however only a couple of pieces – did the power sweep break up the rest?  Was it from an older timeframe and some previous sweeps had taken out the rest?  Hard to say. Some sweeps do not remove the baffle and clean the whole system – so I do find things that were there from past sweeps at times.  So .. hard to say.

 

Had To Use Creosote Remover Today

Yes, sometimes to get to the bottom of the glazed creosote requires help and that is where a professional grade creosote remover comes in.  Thankfully not something that is necessary a lot but when it is.. it is.

Going to be a cool night – a few wood fires burning out there already I expect.  Be sure to stay safe – burn good seasoned wood and have your chimney swept by Certified Chimney Sweep on regular basis.

THE HOMEOWNER, THE CHIMNEY SWEEP AND THE HOME INSPECTOR

You’ve recently moved into a new home. In the process of buying the ome you hired a home inspector to check on the conditions of the major systems in the house. He or she checked the foundation, plumbing, heating and cooling. The report identified a few problems, nothing to do with the chimney, and you were able to work these out with the seller.

Now, you’re looking forward to cozy evening with a fire in the fireplace or woodstove. You’ve called a reputable company to sweep the chimney. The chimney sweep comes down from the roof and says, “I have bad news.” He or she then describes a problem that may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to fix.

You say, “I don’t understand. We hired a home inspector when we bought the house, and he didn’t say anything about that. ”The chimney sweep may even chime in, “Well, all the home inspector had to do to see it would have been to…”

This frustrating scenario is an all-too-frequent occurrence. Why does it happen?

Homeowners (and chimney sweeps) often don’t understand the scope of a home inspection. Not all home inspectors make it clear to their customers what their inspection entails. Nor do all homeowners or prospective homeowners carefully read the home inspector’s report. And of course, the quality of home inspections varies with the knowledge and conscience of the home inspector.

What is a home inspection?
The American Society of Home Inspectors says, “ASHI professionals  perform a visual inspection and produce a written report of the condition of residential properties for buyers or owners. The purpose of such an examination is to describe observable major defects which require repairs.
The minimum scope of the inspection and report are described by the ASHI Standards of Practice.

standards_updated3-4-2015

 

There are several such trade groups for home inspectors that publish standards of practice. In some states, law regulates home inspectors and defines the standards of practice.  “The inspection report is a reasonable effort to assess durability and serviceability of the property in its present state,” says Betty Buckley, a licensed home inspector in Oregon.  “The inspection is not meant to be technically exhaustive but should be  thorough enough to recommend further evaluation by licensed trades persons for apparent areas of concern that fall beyond the scope of a home
inspection.”

What do home inspectors look for around chimneys?
The various standards of practice generally require home inspectors to inspect readily accessible areas that are exposed to view. Inspectors are not required to climb on top of chimneys or take off chimney caps. In fact ASHI Standard 9.3.D.1 specifically says, “The inspector is NOT required to observe the interior of flues.”

This sometimes comes as surprise to chimney sweeps and homeowners.
In some situations it would seem very easy to look into the flue. (Where the deterioration or lack of a flue liner, for example, might be obvious.)

Bob Priesing, a certified sweep in North Carolina who also holds a state home inspector’s license says, “If the inspector conducted the inspection in accordance with standards of practice by which he or she operates, and if flues or chimney interiors are excluded by those standards, then the inspection was in fact complete.”

Many home inspectors will recommend in writing that the chimney be cleaned and inspected by a professional chimney sweep. “If the customer  doesn’t do that, they have no cause to complain about the home  inspector,” Priesing says.

Some home inspectors are not well versed in chimneys and venting systems.

Relatively few home inspectors come into the business after working as chimney sweeps or venting contractors – Priesing is among a number of chimney sweeps across North America who give presentations to home inspector groups in an effort to help them understand what they are looking at when they observe chimneys, and to familiarize them with the capabilities of competent chimney sweeps.

A Detailed Chimney Inspection
Fully equipped modern chimney sweeps often carry video scanning  equipment that can show the condition of the inside of your flues and directly pinpoint problems. A competent chimney professional will also be able to inform you of building codes and product listings that are applicable to your situation.

When preparing to buy or sell a home with a combustion appliance, be it a furnace, fireplace or woodstove, it is advisable to obtain a detailed inspection of the chimney and venting systems. The standards of the National Fire Protection Association also recommend that chimneys be inspected after any operating malfunction or external event likely to have caused damage to the chimney; upon replacement of appliances; and whenever verification of the suitability of the chimney for continued  service is needed.

Don’t get caught up in a game of who should have found what.
Remember that your family’s safety is the first priority. If there are problems with your chimney or venting system, get them taken care of right away!

Reprinted, with permission, from the July 2000 issue of SNEWS, The Chimney Sweep’s Newsmagazine, an independent trade magazine forchimney service professionals, 3737 Pine Grove Road, Klamath Falls, OR 97603 USA; 541-882-5196. Jim Gillam, editor/publisher.

Water Causes Most Chimney Damage – Not Fire!

It is true; most chimney damage is actually caused by water.  Far more damage is caused by rain than by chimney fires.  Not to discount the danger of a chimney fire when it happens, but the rain – especially in the rainy parts of the year can cause serious problems with chimneys.

Whether your chimney is masonry or factory-built, long term water exposure can eventually cause cracks or gaps in chimneys where creosote can accumulate and will increase the risk of a chimney fire or even provide passage for dangerous carbon monoxide gases to enter your living areas of home.

What are the clues to a potential problem?  If a factory built chimney then rust stains are one significant clue.  These could be on the outside or the inside.  If they are in the fireplace then the risk can become even higher – if you see it in the fireplace then it is likely a lot worse up the chimney.

Another clue may be any standing water or where you see water dripping – water anywhere near your home is never a good thing.  Your chimney does not like water and neither does any other part of your home – water is their #1 enemy.

Look for bent, damaged or missing flashing.  The metal flashing around your masonry or factory built chimney (as well as the caulking as well) are designed to keep water out.  They must be intact and in good condition to work well.  These can become warped or damaged over time and cause water intrusion and eventual water damage.

If you don’t have a rain cap get one now.  If there is not one there is a considerable increase in risk of damage.

If a masonry chimney – consider having waterproofing applied to the outside – a proper material will allow moisture to escape out but prevent it from entering the masonry.  Never use any paint or non-vapour permeable water sealer not designed for masonry – as it will make it worse and actually can hasten masonry deterioration!

Call a Certified Chimney Sweep to perform any recommended jobs – the Certified Chimney Sweeps are the top level of the industry’s professional standard.

Time To Get Ready For Winter

Yes winter is on its way – we have had nice weather for the past few weeks and unseasonal warm days.  But don’t worry – it will catch up to us!  Hopefully you have taken advantage of some of those days to get ready for winter, if not you still have time.  We will have some rainy cool days, but you can do some during that time and others in the nicer days between.

Don’t forget to clean your gutters – maybe even professionally cleaned.  Ensure they are working and doing their job properly.  What does a professional cleaning cost – it will depend a lot on size of home, access, etc.  I actually cleaned gutters on a cottage on the Severn River the other day while I was up inspecting and cleaning chimney.. as a favour to owner.

Get your chimney cleaned – hire a professional Certified Chimney Sweep!  The reports indicate a leading factor in home fires is failure to clean the chimney!  It is also wise to have it inspected by a Certified Chimney Sweep – or a WETT Certified Comprehensive Inspector.   A clean chimney will be a more efficient chimney and also help to prevent creosote fires and will reduce potential of carbon monoxide filling your home.

Seal the air leaks – true you won’t necessarily get them all yourself without special equipment to detect them – but you can get a lot!  This can in fact be an ongoing task through the winter – on windy days you can more easily find some leaks you missed.  This is one of the lowest cost and highest return on energy cost savings you may have at your disposal!

Have your furnace checked over – be it gas, oil or wood – there are professionals to help!  I do wood and pellet furnace cleaning and inspections weekly this time of year.  A well maintained furnace is an efficient furnace.

Check your trees over – this is something you can do yourself and may be in fact recommended.  In north Simcoe there are a lot of tree companies who will condemn any tree simply to try and make more money!  A study actually indicated that 60% of trees cut did not need to be removed!  If you hire a company look for an ISA Certified Arborist and a ISA Qualified Risk Assessor – a Certified Arborist is NOT trained to determine if a tree is a risk – and while they will provide their opinion it is nothing more than an opinion.  Look for dead and dying limbs – wind can bring them down – look for leaning trees and ensure they are well supported.  Ensure trees are away from home and any electrical wires serving your home.

Check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms – when time change comes change the batteries and be safe.

Certified Air Tightness Tester

What does a Certified Air Tightness Tester do, know and why does it matter.  Air Tightness certifications are provided in Canada by CRESNET – the Canadian equivalent of RESNET.  The purpose of CRESNET is to provide proper and effective energy audits and apply a proper HERS Index.

As I work closely with Home Energy systems and heating – knowing more about the whole building envelope is an important part of the job and how it can impact the solid fuel burning appliance and the occupants of the home.

If you are burning a wood stove, wood furnace, fireplace or insert – they all need air (oxygen) – the same as we do.  If they have no outdoor air supply they will attempt to use the air available to them in the home.  New fireplaces built to code will have external air supply – many new wood stoves, pellet stoves, etc. also have the provisions for external air supply to the fire.  The importance of this in a tight home can not be overlooked, not only is the oxygen the fire needs supplied – the potential of a downdraft is also eliminated.

Be smart; be safe!  Hire somebody certified to do the work!  Oh and yes I did get my Air Tightness Certification!