Alternative Home Heat Sources

Jan 3, 2023

Brrrr..its been a tad cold! At Chimney Clean Company weve had a number of customers reach out to get their fireplaces in working order. Several had issues with their home heating systems either broken or unaffordable. Shivering and bundling up throughout the winter because your homes central heat system is out of order or too expensive is not the way we want you to spend your holidays.

A wood burning insert, wood burning stove or an open wood burning fireplace is a good alternative source of heat for your home.

While the moderate weather of California doesnt warrant too much concern about this we see rising energy prices (gas and electricity) causing families across the U.S. to return to the renewable fuel source of wood, while families in Europe are rewinding time and resorting to coal!

Many people in the Bay Area love the look of electric inserts. These are beautiful and they do produce heat.The heat output of electric fireplaces is usually around 5000BTUs for the majority of units. While some electric fireplaces can produce up to 10,000BTUs, wood-burning and gas fireplaces can produce anywhere from 7,000-60,000BTUs. Electric inserts are made to be efficient but theydo raise electricity bills, so its something to consider if one is looking at converting. Solar can certainly diffuse the cost and contributes to clean energy sources.

There can be differing opinions on all of this and our stance is not to assert any one point of view. We just want our customers and their families to be warm and safe during the chilly winter months and we find that having alternatives in your home seems to be a very smart move no matter how you feel about various fuel sources and their costs.

Uncle Sam offers a tax credit for the installation of qualifying wood burning inserts and stoves and we can provide more information to you on that, if you are interested.

We think its wise to consider having an alternative heat source in your home. Central heating, electric inserts, gas inserts and wood burning inserts and stoves can all be considered. You can add to the beauty and warmth of your home.

Smoking back

There are many fireplaces that seem to smoke back into the house no matter what is done. In our experience, the most common cause is that the fireplace simply needs to be cleaned. This is especially likely if the fireplace has gotten worse over time, that is, the smoking back is worse now than it used to be.

Several other possible causes of smoking back are problems with the damper, chimney cap, grate, firewood, or structural problems with the chimney itself. At Chimney Clean Company, we do a full inspection with every cleaning, or we can also do just the inspection if the chimney doesn’t need to be cleaned. This inspection is designed to reveal any causes of smoking back.

Broken chimneys

In the Bay Area, many chimneys were broken in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Usually, these chimneys are broken at or near the roof line, although sometimes they can be broken further down, even at the ground level.

We are fully licensed masonry contractors. We rebuild broken chimneys. If they are broken at the roof line, this usually entails taking the chimney part of the way down brick by brick, installing steel reinforcing bars, getting an inspection from a city inspector, then rebuilding the chimney back up around the steel rebar.

Missing mortar or damaged bricks

Over time, many chimneys develop places that are missing mortar between bricks, or damaged bricks, either inside the firebox or on the outside of the chimney. These areas can usually be repaired, either by replacing the missing mortar or replacing the bricks themselves. Items such as these can be dangerous because they can allow flames, sparks or hot gases to enter the structure of the house.

Water entry

Sometimes the metal that seals the chimney at the roof, called “flashing”, will come loose or develop leaks. In this case, water sometimes comes into the ceiling of the room and causes water spots and stains on the sheet rock. This flashing should be repaired before the water causes more damage.