October 9th, 2012

10 questions to ask when you’re getting your chimney cleaned

1) What will you do to clean the chimney?

Your chimney professional should be able to give you a step by step description of how he plans to clean your chimney and what he will do to protect your household during the cleaning process.

2) Is there just soot in the chimney or is there creosote, too?

Creosote is a highly flammable substance and its presence in your chimney can ignite causing a chimney fire. The presence of creosote in the chimney may indicate poor burning practices or a burning appliance that is not working well. In either case you should know of its presence, how the chimney professional will remove it, and what can be done to prevent or limit the presence of creosote in the chimney going forward. Soot on the other hand is a safe substance as long as it is removed before its accumulation interferes with draft. It is, in most cases, easily brushed away.

3) Can you inspect/clean other flues in my house besides the fireplace?

Sometimes chimney professionals will give price breaks when more than one chimney or flue will be inspected/cleaned. If you’re having a chimney professional come to clean your fireplace flue, it’s probably a good idea to have him or her take a look at your furnace/water heater flues as well.

4) How long will it take?

Every flue is different, but on average a thorough cleaning should take about 45 minutes to an hour. This time can increase substantially if there is creosote present in your flue, if the flue is damaged in any way, or if there are blockages such as birds’ nests. If your chimney cleaning requires more time it’s good to ask and understand why.

5) Do you inspect the chimney, too?

We recommend you have your flue inspected with each cleaning. A thorough inspection can alert you to possible unsafe conditions in your chimney. But don’t take it for granted that this will be done unless you specify you want it done.

6) How often should I have my chimney cleaned?

Your chimney professional can make a reasonable estimation for time between cleanings based on your individual burning practices.

7) How much do you charge?

Be sure to understand what you are getting for your money, i.e. inspection and cleaning, or just a cleaning.

8) What certifications do you have?

Someone can be a skilled chimney professional even without certifications, but it may be comforting for you to know if your chimney professional is certified by CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America), F.I.R.E.(Fire Investigation Research and Education), NFI (National Fireplace Institute), or a regional organization like the Golden State Chimney Sweeping Guild in California.

9) How long have you been in business?

This is a good way to establish what level of experience your chimney professional has.

10) Will you have to go on the roof?

Some chimney pros clean from the top down, some clean from the bottom up. There is no one preferred method. In either case it’s good to know what their procedure will be, especially if you’re concerned about ladders damaging flower beds or other landscaping.

Fireplace Safety

September 21st, 2012

Consumers with existing fireplaces, stoves or inserts should consider installing a protective screen or physical barrier to reduce the risk of serious burns by preventing direct contact with hot glass. Safety products come in various forms, including:

  • Attachable safety screens fasten to the front of the fireplace to create an air space between the hot glass and the screen. IMPORTANT NOTE: Aftermarket safety screens that attach to the fireplace, stove or insert could adversely affect the safe operation of your unit. Contact the safety screen manufacturer to verify that the safety screen is approved by the fireplace manufacturer for your product.
  • Free-standing safety gates are barriers set up to prevent access.
  • Free-standing fireplace safety screens are set back from the fireplace or stove front to prevent direct access.

Safety products for glass-front fireplaces, stoves and inserts are evolving as new technologies and safety tests are developed.

We can evaluate your safety needs during your fireplace repair, fireplace service or installation.

Back To School!

August 10th, 2012

August always sneaks up on you. One week it’s pool parties, and the next it’s the shock of routine, new classrooms, and the frantic after-school shuffle of getting the kids to all their activities on time. Here are 10 easy ways to get ready for back-to-school while still enjoying those precious August days.

1: Set the alarm

Start setting an alarm for your kids the week before school starts. If you need to dial wake-up times back more than 30 minutes, do so gradually over a week. You’ll also want to tighten up summer bedtime schedules to ensure your kids catch enough Zs.


2: Take stock of lunch boxes and backpacks

Make sure lunch bags are in good-enough condition for another year of use, and clean out book bags. Have your kids try on their backpacks for size – they may have grown out of more than just their jeans. For guidelines on backpack safety, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics.


3: Work back into a routine

Plan a schedule for the week prior to school – and stick to it! Create loose blocks of time for things like buying school supplies and updating fall wardrobes. To make the transition easier (on your kids and yourself), balance a morning of tasks with an afternoon of summer activities.

A: Schedule your Gas Fireplace Service

4: Update school clothes

Start filling your kids’ closets with fall- and school-appropriate clothing. Have some fun with it by putting on a fashion show to determine what clothing is too small or worn out. Then make a list of what each child needs. (Sorry, you’ll have to come up with your own ideas about how to actually get them in to the store to try on clothes … )


5: Get your calendar in order

Mark school events, after-school activities, and appointments all in one place. Google Calendar is a great way to share the family schedule with your spouse and older children who are online. Though not as portable or fancy, a paper calendar posted in your kitchen can work just as well.

B: Schedule your chimney sweep

6: Create a “home plate” for each child

Make sure each kid has a designated space, preferably near the front door, to hang his or her coat and bag and store shoes. This will reduce the number of times jackets are slung over chairs and bags are left on the kitchen table – and the time you’ll spend looking for that left sneaker.


7: Switch out seasonal gear

After your last beach day, store the sand buckets and pool toys in a closet or storage bin, and dust off your fall-activity gear. Check if soccer cleats still fit, and make note of any new activity your child will need a uniform or equipment for.

C: Schedule your wood stove cleaning!

8: Rotate furniture and décor

To visually mark a new season, think about small changes you can make to your home. Rearrange a few pieces of furniture in your living room, move art and framed photos to different walls, or change the slipcovers on accent pillows. Minor tweaks to your living space are an easy way to hit the reset button and prepare your family for change.

D: Add a new fireplace to zone heat any room in the house!

9: Meal plan

Summer was all about simple salads and barbecuing. Celebrate fall and the return to school with a few nights of heartier dishes like soups, stews, and casseroles. Make a double or triple batch and store extras in the freezer as back-up meals for dinner in a pinch.


10: Talk about it

Your kids are probably bummed their lazy summer days are coming to an end, so build some excitement around seeing school friends again, and ask about favorite classes and teachers. Avoid discussions about early wake-ups and homework; those realities will come soon enough.


July 30th, 2012

There are many reasons why the addition of an outdoor fireplace, firepit and grill island is valuable. It can bring that “wow” factor. It increases home value. It’s a current trend. And whether you prefer gas-burning or wood-burning fire, adding this focal point can you give you some unexpected benefits. Here are three electrifying reasons to bring an outdoor room to your home.

It extends your outdoor season: Combining comfort and warmth, an outdoor fireplace allows you to be outside more months of the year! Take more time to gather with family and friends around a cozy fire. If you live in an area where the weather is always warm, an outdoor fireplace can function as another area of your home and will encourage you to spend more time outdoors. The flames from your fire will light up the night and will help feature this stunning focal point of your home.

It’s an easy process: Adding an outdoor fireplace is the ultimate design project because you won’t have to worry about tearing down existing walls, getting the carpet dirty or ceiling height. You can turn a completely empty space into a focal point of your home. Tall chimneys elevate the eye and create wonderful depth for your outdoor space. The Montana Wood Fireplace gives great depth to an outdoor space and uses FireBrick technology to give you 25% more radiant heat. Style and function all in one!

There are no style limitations: Afraid an outdoor fireplace won’t fit your style of home? Think again! Modern, traditional, rustic, eclectic or whatever style your home fits into, you won’t have trouble finding an outdoor fireplace for it. If you’re working with a smaller deck or patio, the Dakota Gas Fireplace will fit right in. Blending classic design elements with strong performance, this fireplace adapts to a wide variety of styles.

Adding a grill island is easy and attractive: Even a small gas, charcoal or pellet grill will add ease of cooking along with flavor to your food. Imagine stepping into your backyard kitchen loaded with all the appliances, including the kitchen sink! These islands can be small and easy to very large and complex! They can be maintenance free stainless steel products wrapped in stone, stucco or the finishing product of your choice. There are many different grills, side burners, pizza ovens for cooking. Adding refrigerators, coolers, cabinets and running water makes it easy to do everything you like in your backyard oasis!

Extend your unique style to the outdoors and enjoy the benefits of an outdoor fireplace! Don’t forget to check out Heat & Glo’s entire line of outdoor products here!

Back to the importance of maintenance!

July 16th, 2012

The popularity of gas fireplaces has risen over the years, which has increased the need for inspection and maintenance of these units. Many don’t know much about their gas fireplace other than it can heat their home, so looking for a qualified professional can often be difficult. Knowing the reasons behind a gas fireplace inspection is the first step towards understanding how to properly utilize this important home appliance.

Direct vent gas

Basic gas fireplace diagram


The Affordability Of A Gas Fireplace

Overall, a gas fireplace is more economical than a typical wood burning fireplace. A large portion of the heat generated by a wood fireplace is wasted and sent out of your house through the chimney. This is one of the main reasons why a gas fireplace or insert is more affordable. So, is it more affordable to have it inspected frequently?

Unfortunately, it’s not cheaper to have a gas fireplace inspected. A gas fireplace has a more complicated inner framework then does a wood burning fireplace. Vents, outlets, combustion chambers, pipes and other mechanisms make up its structure, when all that makes up a wood burning fireplace is the hearth and the chimney. However, you can make up for the cost of inspection when it comes down to the money you save out of the unit’s efficiency overall.

Always be sure to use trained technicians. Look for manufacturer trained mechanics and also NFI Certified technicians. These professionals are trained in the hearth industry on every aspect of  gas fireplace service.  They know what to look for on builder installations. They are up to date on local building codes. They are stocked with specific tools to test for gas or carbon monoxide leaks. Industry professionals are also able to access manufacturer web sites if needed for proper settings and log placement charts.

A Gas Fireplace Inspection

To keep energy costs low annual maintenance of your gas fireplace is required. There are many reasons as to why a gas fireplace inspection is necessary. Firstly, checking for irregularities in the glass doors of the fireplace is essential to prevent gas or carbon monoxide from leaking into your home. This is obviously a safety concern for your family and the main reason why this type of inspection is completely necessary. Checking the venting system and the pilot of your natural gas fireplace can also help to ensure it continues to operate correctly by heating your home and expelling extra smoke and heat outdoors.

If either the venting system or your pilot stops functioning the gas fireplace could begin to cost you more money than it’s worth. Another important reason for inspection is to check the combustion chamber for cracks. This is a major safety concern because if it’s not caught it can let gas seep into your home. Gas leaks can be silent killers, regardless if they’re uncommon. For safety’s sake, have your fireplace inspected once a year because it’s not worth the risk.

Home Investments

June 21st, 2012

When you think about the perfect fireplace for your home, what do you see?

Gas Fireplace

Fuel Efficient - Back up heat!

Do you see a traditional fireplace perfectly situated in the main living room, surrounded by authentic stone and finished with a beautiful mantel? Or, do you see a chic, linear fireplace with a ribbon flame dancing through crystals in the Master bedroom? Whatever your dream fireplace looks like, it’s a fact that new technology, materials and ideas mean that you’re limited only by your imagination – here’s a look at some of the latest trends in fireplace design and innovation.

Fireplaces in every room.
Fireplaces are no longer just for living rooms. It’s common for homeowners to have fireplaces in their bedrooms and even to their bathrooms, where smaller models like the Heat & Glo Soho bring a spa-like quality to the room. Kitchens are another place where fireplaces are showing up more often, recalling the kitchen’s traditional place as the hearth and heart of the home. And don’t forget the backyard! New advances in fireplace technology allow you to choose from a range of fireplaces that look just like those found indoors, but are completely safe and weatherproof for outdoor use. Take for example the Heat & Glo Carolina. This beautiful fireplace is the perfect focal point for an outdoor living room.

Modern Fireplace

Outdoor fireplace









Fireplaces as a focal point.
Today’s modern style fireplaces with stylized flames surrounded by colored glass and shiny metal are worlds away from the traditional brick fireplaces of the past. Modern fireplace designs like the Heat & Glo Solaris are pushing boundaries with radical ideas that incorporate both function and beauty. Contemporary-style fireplaces rebel by being installed higher up on the wall, making them a glowing, glimmering work of art that “comes to life” with the flip of a switch.

Regency Modern

A work of art!








This is just a start to what is available. The hearth industry has created a mix of warmth, fire, art and fuel efficiency that many never dreamed of years ago.

It’s not just an old wood fireplace any more. . . . .


much of this content borrowed from HEAT-N-GLOW!

Gas, Wood or Pellet Fireplaces

June 5th, 2012

Which is right for me?  

wood stoves Wilmington Delaware

Regency Wood Stove

The answer might depend first on what your objective is in purchasing a new appliance, and second, on which installation options are open to you and your comfort level in regard to costs.

If your objective is to save the absolute most on fuel costs going forward, then wood is best option to explore.  Burning stick fire wood is by far the least expensive annual heating cost here in Delaware. But it is also the fuel that you are most “closely engaged with” as someone once cleverly verbalized.  For my money, spending $200 a cord in the spring for wood cut to size, split and delivered is a great bargain. But you still need to season, stack, store and tote. Plus you must tend the fire and handle the ashes. Keeping the home fires burning might be too time intensive for some families although a ten hour burn time is not uncommon with some new larger E.P.A.  clean-burn wood stoves.

pellet stoves Middletown Delaware

Regency Pellet Stove

If your schedule does not allow for tending a wood stove or you want a more even heat output all day, you might consider a pellet appliance. Pellet fuel is readily available, needs no seasoning and can be stored outside if kept dry (usually comes double bagged in plastic). The heat output of a pellet stove is regulated by the pounds of pellet per hour allowed from the hopper to the burner system. Most pellet stoves have hoppers large enough to provide fuel for 24 hours or more and can utilize a thermostat or room sensor to regulate heat output. Pellet venting systems do not require a traditional chimney and can terminate either on a side wall or above the roofline.

The downside is that pellet appliances require a steady supply of electricity to run their motors, blowers and electronics…which require more service than a simple wood stove. Still, one can realize a lot of savings in operational costs over other fuel options plus the fuel is home-grown and eco-friendly. This technology just keeps on improving.

gas fireplaces Delaware

Mendota Gas Fireplace



Want finger tip control? Instant on-Instant off? No Fuss-No-Mess plus a pleasing flame presentation? With a gas line, the fuel is delivered, hands-off, to the appliance and this may be the very best option for users with limited mobility or for very busy mobile lifestyles not suited to biofuels.

Heater rated gas fired appliances have a lot to offer including fuel costs savings when used for zone heating. Heat the area where you spend most of your time. Stop heating under utilized areas 24-7 and save on heating bills!

Gas stoves, fireplaces and fireplace inserts usually require no hearth or floor protection and can install inches to a wall so they intrude less into a room. Gas venting systems can terminate vertically or horizontally through a side wall. Venting systems for gas appliances are subject to less exhaust heat and are inexpensive to install compared to other heating systems. Vent free gas appliances are NOT intended to be used as heating appliances. Select a vented appliance if you are using it more than a few hours at a time.

Whether, wood, pellet or gas, each above option has codes and safety regulations relating to installations and venting requirements. Be sure to review your alternative heating options with a hearth specialist or other professional and ask for an on-site inspection (ask about fees). Unless you have a newly constructed home with a blueprint plan there are many variables to be considered for most installations. You want to be sure that your selection can be safely installed and will operate as the manufacturer intended. Question “free installations” or fixed quotes from any installer who is not familiar with your home. Ask about the materials to be used. Professionals do not quote costs without first evaluating the situation and explaining any options. Expect no less from your hearth installer.

Outdoor Products!

May 23rd, 2012

Expand your outdoor living space. FLAME-TECH has recently become a dealer/installer for the Sunair brand retractable awnings! A SUNAIR® Lateral Arm Awning offers the ideal solution for creating a comfortable outdoor environment the whole family can enjoy. Imagine staying cool on your deck, and protecting your family from the sun’s harmful rays. Finally you can enjoy cookouts and entertaining the way it is meant to be with a Sunair Retractable Awning.

Sunair® awnings offer great benefits in reducing energy costs while keeping you cool on your deck or patio. You can reduce heat gain inside by as much as 77% and reduce sunlight and glare through your window by as much as 94%

Check out this video!

There is a great study by the University of Minnesota and funded by the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association that compares the impact of awnings in twelve U.S Cities. This study was conducted by the Center for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota. This study revealed that awnings result in energy savings by reducing the direct solar gain through windows.

According to the study, awnings can reduce annual cooling energy by as much as 15 percent in hot climates, such as Delaware, and as much as 17 percent in moderate climates, such as Wilmington, Delaware compared to homes with completely unshaded windows. The amount of cooling energy saved varies depending on the number of windows, type of glass in the windows, window orientation and the climate the house is in.

“What some people don’t realize is that in most homes, more cooling energy is lost through glass doors and windows than any other part of the house,” said Michelle Sahlin, managing director of PAMA. “Awnings are an effective way to reduce heat gain and prevent cooling energy loss in households. This benefits the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the homeowner by saving them money on energy bills.”

Wood Stoves

May 14th, 2012

When it comes to wood stoves, new is definitely better. An approved stove that meets or preferably exceeds EPA standards is a must. The internal design of wood stoves has changed entirely since EPA regulation established in the late 1980’s. The EPA’s mandatory smoke emission limit for wood stoves is currently 7.5 grams of smoke per hour however many newer wood stoves have certified emissions in the 1 to 4 g/h range.

Investing in a new stove has other benefits as well. Burning 1/3 less wood for the same heat saves money, fuel, time and resources. These new stoves are 50% energy more efficient than non EPA stoves and produce 70% less outdoor particle pollution.

Clean burning EPA stoves cuts creosote build-up in chimneys that helps reduce the risk of fire and reduces indoor and outdoor wood smoke pollution.

FLAME-TECH is staffed with NFI certified technicians to help you make the proper choice for your home heating needs.

Summer Fun!

May 11th, 2012

As the Summer season creeps closer, last year’s memories of hot, unusable decks come back. A nice, quality, well made Sunair awning completes the deck and makes it a magnate for fun. So what are the factors in choosing one? First, limit your investment to retractables made and serviced by a financially solid company that will be around to service the unit. Another consideration should include the sales and installation team you work with. Are they knowledgeable, professional and ethical? Lastly, the specific model you choose, the fabric, frame color, motorization and accessories, should be selected to reflect the taste of the home owner, with the counsel of the awning professional. Big box stores and internet sales often produce buyer’s remorse.