FAQs & Tips
page-template-default,page,page-id-309,bridge-core-1.0.6,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,vertical_menu_enabled,qode-title-hidden,qode_grid_1300,side_area_uncovered_from_content,qode-theme-ver-18.2,qode-theme-bridge,disabled_footer_top,qode_header_in_grid,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.0.5,vc_responsive

FAQs & Tips

Here are some questions we commonly get from our customers.  We’ve also included a few tips to help you enjoy your fireplace more.


Who is the best guy for bee removal in San Jose?

We recommend Tim Dauber (aka “The Bee Nerd”) for bee removal in and around the San Jose area. Tim can be reached at (408) 857-0238. He will help you get rid of your bees without getting stung!

Very basic and very easy steps to increase the safety of your wood burning fireplace.

Great fireplace safety tips, courtesy of my colleague in Pennsylvania.

Two critical pieces of equipment to maximize the efficiency and longevity of your fireplace

How to properly build a fire in a regular old fire place?

One part of the answer might surprise you: the kindling goes on top. Take it from the Chimney Safety Institute, here are their instructions for getting a fire going the right way in a traditional fireplace.

What are the differences between the various chimney inspection levels?

Inspection Levels for Chimneys


According to the NFPA every chimney owner should to a chimney inspection on a yearly basis. The National Fire Protection Association has created a very specific set of standards designed to promote better and reliable inspections for your chimney. In order to do that, the NFPA has issued chimney classifications that span through three different levels. Each one of these levels has a specific CSIA certified chimney sweet criteria that has to be passed in order for the inspection to go properly.

Level 1


This is the minimal inspection required by the NFPA. The inspector will check if there are any obstructions that interfere with the chimney and if there are any creosotes or combustible deposits. The CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep will offer a complete checkup of the chimney to ensure that the installation was made properly, that the connections are in place and the flue works as requested. You don’t need more than a level 1 inspection if the chimney is easy to access and you don’t want to make any changes to it.

Level II


The level II inspections are necessary if you made changes to the structure of your chimney. This secondary level integrates all level I checkups but at the same time it also integrates a basement, attic and crawl space inspection. Depending on the situation, the level II inspection might also include video inspections and a performance test.

When should you do a level II chimney inspection?

• If you added new heating appliances in your home
• If you placed a new liner on the chimney
• If the building or the chimney caught on fire
• If you want to transfer the property or sell it
• If you changed the fuel type for your chimney
• If you encountered a malfunction
• If you modified the chimney structure

Level III


This type of inspection is necessary if a potential hazard is indeed suspected and the chimney or some parts of the building need to be removed in order to eliminate the issue. This third level inspection is based on the previous levels but it also comes with specifics depending on the situation.

The Safety Inspection Report


The report includes a complete description of all that the technician has done during the chimney cleaning process It also integrates all the recommendations and findings The report also integrates cap images in full color and it will also include chase images that can be done from the roof if possible. A close-up will be needed in order to showcase the spots with potential issues.

How to build a smokeless fire in your fireplace?

Why should I clean my chimney?

The number one answer is safety. Overtime a chimney collects creosote and soot. If the creosote reaches critical mass it can ignite and burn…and it burns really hot, melting the mortar between the pricks and the fire may even shoot out fireballs from the top of your chimney. If you have a fire, put it out with an extinguisher, or sand, and then cover the opening with a heavy wet blanket.

What's the best way to start a fire in a wood burning stove?

Basically you want a good ratio of wood, air, and kindling. The wood should be stacked close to each other, but not too close. Here is an excellent piece dealing what you want to do.

What is the best type of wood to burn?

We prefer oak, for the reasons mentioned here in this article. Oak has the highest BTU of commonly available woods. It’s also pretty common in California.

A Word on Concrete Chimneys

Here is a special report on tilt-up and concrete chimneys. They present some unique challenges.

Brick Chimneys Can Be Earthquake Hazards

Great article from the LA Times about brick chimneys and earthquakes…

Earthquakes have shifted the ground beneath Libby Rose’s historic Craftsman house several times in the last half-century, but still her home is standing. The chimneys, however, haven’t fared as well.

When the 1989 Loma Prieta quake struck, the Roses’ front chimney came tumbling down. Two weeks ago, the magnitude 6.0 Napa earthquake sent bricks from a second chimney raining into her backyard.

“They just fell all over the back. They broke the back gate,” said Rose, 87. “This one was by far the worst.”

Although brick chimneys have received little attention from seismic safety experts — overshadowed by more life-threatening issues such as unreinforced masonry and older concrete-frame buildings — they account for the most common form of damage during larger California quakes.

When chimneys collapse, bricks can become deadly projectiles. At least 15,000 brick chimneys were damaged in Los Angeles during the 1994 Northridge earthquake. In Napa, about half of the residential buildings damaged were due to brick chimneys.

“Chimneys are the first thing to go, we’ve seen it time and time again,” structural engineer David Cocke said.

Older brick chimneys — generally those built before 1980 — are too stiff and brittle to withstand major shaking. The mortar holding them together can be ground down.


Get Paid $750 to Remove Your Fireplace

The Bay Area Air Quality District is offering incentives up to $750 to remove your wood burning fireplace. We can help you do that. Call us today for more details and read more about the program here.

Fireplace is ash is great for the garden!

  • Spread the ash lightly over your garden beds and lawn
  • Make sure it’s only wood ash
  • It’s best to compost the ash first
  • Hardwood ash is the best, so save your ash from our California Oaks
  • Ash can even be used for pest control
  • Make sure the ash is dead out before spreading and watch your garden grow!