Show Notes: Is Your Fireplace Ready for Winter? – On the House

Show Notes: Is Your Fireplace Ready for Winter?

By on September 19, 2017
Luxury fireplace

Time to get your “woolies” out!  Cooler weather is quietly creeping in with the fall. Is your fireplace ready for a winter work out?  Clean air in your home and the fireplace go hand in hand for a healthy safe home. Remodeling’s next big trend could be something homeowners can feel, but not see; healthy air.


Thank you to Dave Smith with Roxul for joining us today. For more information on rock wool insulation visit: 


 Breathing Easy: An Introduction To Healthy Homes

Imagine you use a vacuum-seal bag to store your winter clothes during the spring and summer. Your clothes are tightly packed in a waterproof, dustproof package with little to no air leakage. After several months, you pull out your clothes. They may smell a little plasticky and stale, so you let them air out for a bit before you wear them. 

Now, imagine that you have a home that is so tight that it is waterproof, dustproof, and has little to no air leakage. Nothing gets in or out. It probably needs airing out, too, right? 

That’s exactly what is happening with some green and energy-efficient homes. As homeowners and remodelers sought to reduce the home’s heating/cooling costs and its impact on the natural world, they may have neglected to think about whether the home could breathe.

Many homeowners are now having trouble with their more tightly-built houses because the homes lack the ventilation necessary to get the stale inside air to the outside of the house and bring fresh air inside.

All About the Air
The most important part of this healthy home system is having good indoor air quality (IAQ). That requires a constant, steady exchange of filtered fresh air coming into a space while exhausting the stale indoor air out, according to both Hayward and Paul Kocharhook, owner of Pathway Design & Construction in Seattle and who specializes in indoor air quality.

Proper ventilation can be delivered through a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), for use in colder climates, or an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) for warmer climates. These systems not only filter the air, but also lower or raise the temperature of the incoming air to bring it to the same temperature as the air in the home, which reduces the load on the heating and cooling systems, says Lapotaire. 

“It’s an additional piece that can either be added to the existing forced-air system, which is kind of a halfway solution, or it can be a dedicated system that runs continuous fresh air in and out of the house all the time,” Hayward says. He believes that the dedicated system is the best solution to ensure great indoor air quality.


Heat Pumps Are Back And Better

Benefits of a Heat Pump

 Most advanced and efficient heating and cooling system

  • Keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer
  • Saves moneyon your monthly energy bills
  • Lasts an average of 20 years
  • More flexibilitywhen building your home (no flues or vent pipes)
  • Comes in a variety of types, so you can choose which one is best for your home          

Choose the Best Heat Pump for Your Home

 Air Source Heat Pump uses an outdoor unit and outside air to transfer heat. It is the most common electric heat pump.

Geothermal Heat Pump uses the near-constant temperature of the earth for its heat source. It uses special water piping and the earth to transfer heat.

VRF systems, also known as ductless systems, allow one outdoor condensing unit to be connected to multiple indoor units. VRFs give each zone the power to control its own temperature. Heating and cooling can occur simultaneously with a VRF system.


Only 5 Days Until Autumn

Fireplace Cleaning And Safety Inspection

 A good fireplace care starts with the chimney, since it holds the flue that channels smoke safely out of your home. Pollution Agencies caution against using your fireplace when there is an excessive buildup of oily grime (called creosote) inside the chimney, a leading cause of home heating fires — and not the cozy kind. This means you or your chimney sweep will need to climb up on your roof to clean out the flue before the first fire of the season. But do check the shape of your flue first — is it round or square? Then go to the hardware store for a chimney cleaning kit, containing rods, extensions, and brushes. Use a plastic drop cloth to cover your hearth in order to catch whatever gunk may fall down. After that, head up to the roof and use the brush to rub the creosote and other dirt loose from the sides of the flue. You may come across a “surprise” — a nest that was built by birds in your chimney. CAUTION: Nests or small animals may require professional removal.

From the Bottom Up

Now you’re ready for the inside job. Get out your vacuum cleaner and insert the hose into the chimney as far as it will go to clear out the loosened grime. Clean the damper (the metal plate that closes your flue when you are not using the fireplace) and the smoke shelf (a shelf built into the chimney to catch falling debris such as dead leaves) as well. It will be hard to tell when you’re completely done due to the dark interior, so grab a flashlight and a mirror to help you inspect the results of your handiwork. Finally, clean up the hearth. Bundle the drop cloth into the garbage, together with all the mess it caught, and vacuum up any remaining soot, ash, and dust.

Inspect the Structure

Look to see whether your chimney has an exterior steel cap. If not, you had better get one installed ASAP. The cap covers the chimney not only to keep birds and other animals, rain, or snow out of the flue, but also to keep sparks in. This prevents flying sparks from setting your roof on fire. Look over the structure of the chimney and fireplace to see whether any mortar is cracked, chipped or missing. If so, dig out the loose mortar and brush the brick surface with water. Prepare a batch of fresh mortar and use a trowel to pack it firmly into the holes, then let it dry for at least 24 hours before using the fireplace. Finally, check for signs of leakage or water stains. Should you spot any of these, your best course of action is contacting a chimney or roofing professional immediately to avoid serious problems.

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