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Pest such as cockroaches, rodents, and ants can make their way into your home from many sources, and it is important to keep your home sealed against them to avoid health consequences and discomfort. Pest types vary according to state and some years are worse than others - for instance, 2018 year saw flies, ants, and mosquitoes plague people in 41 states, with around 34% of people seeking professional solutions. Proper installation of fireplaces will help reduce the risk of pests entering your home in warm and cold seasons alike but you can take additional steps to keep your home 100% pest-free. 

Installing a Fireplace Door

A fireplace door that is resistant to heat can be completely shut when your fire isn’t burning. This is key during winter, since small animals and rodents can seek warmth in homes, making an entryway though your chimney. Installing a door will make your home considerably less interesting, and you can keep rodents completely out by shutting the chimney once the embers are no longer aflame.

Organize Your Firewood

If you have a large storage space for your firewood, ensure that the logs are organized according to the date of acquisition. Make sure to burn the oldest logs first, since insects have a greater likelihood of producing a sizable colony in old wood. Be particularly strict with log use if you live with people with allergies and respiratory conditions. Toxic pests can trigger asthma and other allergies. In fact, around one third of people with other allergies are also allergic to cockroaches. Symptoms of exposure include everything from chest pain to wheezing. To keep these issues at bay, ensure that logs are neatly and clearly stored so that everyone in the family knows where they should be taking wood from when they wish to start a fire.

Buy Recently Cut Wood

Unless you cut wood yourself, buy wood cut in the recent months to ensure it is fresh and pest-free. If supply of fresh wood is low, consider contacting local logging companies, tree services, and professionals in the reclaimed lumber industry. Check wood before you bring it indoors, ensuring that beetles, carpenter ants, and termites are absent. Bring wood in at the moment you will be burning it, to avoid insects infesting other items of furniture in your home. 

Store Wood Optimally

You should store wood far from the fireplace; ideally, all wood should be stored outdoors. Aim to store wood off the ground, to reduce the amount of moisture buildup in the wood. To achieve this goal, consider storing wood atop a makeshift table made of bricks or concrete blocks. To ensure bringing logs to and fro is easy, invest in a log trolley. These are available for $30 or less and can be considered a small investment in your back health. Free reclaimed wood is sometimes available from excavating companies, owners of old barns, remodelling contractors and the like. 

Insects and rodents can make their way into your fireplace either through old logs or through the chimney. Fireplace doors and chimney flues will keep rodents out, while using new wood and storing logs outside will ensure insects do not infest your home. Pests can have a big effect on your family’s health and this is especially true for those with asthma and other allergies. The good news is that being vigilant and organized will reduce the chances of a home infestation to zero.

More than 50% of homes in America have a mold problem, according to This Old House. While it’s common for bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms to develop a mold problem, homeowners rarely consider looking for it in their chimney and fireplace. However, moldy chimneys and fireplaces are more common than you think, and could be the reason for the musty smell in your home, so it’s crucial you get rid of it once and for all.

Getting to the root cause

There are several different parts of your chimney that could be to blame for mold growth. As a general rule, it could be one of four things causing the mold:

  • A lack of ventilation
  • A damaged chimney crown
  • The brick and mortar
  • A damaged chimney cap

Mold occurs in damp and cold places, so when there’s poor ventilation, any damp that does get in has nowhere to go and causes mold. If the chimney crown or chimney cap fail, this can add to the amount of moisture that gets into your chimney, thus worsening the problem. Meanwhile failing to waterproof the brick and mortar that sits within the chimney allows an increasing amount of water to build up, and will quickly lead to mold growth.

Clean up operation

When you suspect that mold has taken over your chimney and fireplace, you should cease using it and arrange for it to be cleaned. If there’s just a small amount of mold visible then you can clean it with an anti-fungal spray and a scrubbing brush. However, it’s best to call in an expert mold cleaning service, as with a chimney, you can never be sure how far the mold has spread or the true extent of the problem. To tackle mold fully, a mold remediation company will thoroughly inspect, assess, and test your chimney and fireplace. From there, they’ll treat the mold with an anti-microbial system, before checking that the mold hasn’t spread further around your home.

Solving the problem

Once the mold from your chimney and fireplace have been professionally removed, you’ll find that your home will instantly smell better. To ensure that things stay this way, you’ll need to tackle the root cause of the problem. This means replacing any faulty parts of your chimney, installing adequate ventilation, and damp-sealing all the bricks and mortar in and around the chimney. It’s also a wise idea to have your chimney professionally inspected annually. An inspection will identify any damp problems early on so that you can take action to remedy them before the mold returns and ruins the inside of the chimney, emitting that annoying musty odor.

Just like any part of your home, your chimney and fireplace are susceptible to damp and mold problems. But there’s no need to worry if you do suspect that mold is invading your chimney, as it’s simple enough to remove it. And, so long as you take preventative action to keep it at bay for good, you won’t have to deal with again.

Have you ever noticed that your house is extra chilly in certain areas? While this phenomenon may be associated with ghostly activities, if the cold is close to an area with windows or doors you can breathe a big sigh of relief. Thresholds are one of the toughest areas of the house to insulate and could be where a lot of your heat is escaping. But using the right materials will help keep the cold from knocking at your door this winter.

Some of the typical steps that can be taken to insulate a house include weatherstripping windows and doors, insulating the attic and box sills and caulking. The primary end of these methods is to stop excess cold air from infiltrating the house. But the materials you choose can play a major part in temperature control as well. This is because heat transfer is a form of conduction. Keeping your home better insulated with less conductive materials can help that wood stove go further to keeping you warm and prevents as much heat from going to waste.

Quantifying Heat Transfer with R-Value

To understand how insulation is measured, we have to take a look what engineers and builders call the “R-value.”

The R-value is a metric that is used to quantify a barrier’s effectiveness at block the conductive flow of heat. The higher this number is, the more effective it is at stopping heat from leaching through.

The transfer of heat through an object is determined by the difference in temperature between each side and the material’s resistance to conduction. This difference can be divided by the R-value and multiplied by the total surface area of the barrier to give the total amount of heat transference through the barrier in terms of BTUs per hour.

For a variety of reasons, including security, weather resistance and superior R-value, hollow metal doors are going to be the best choice for almost any exterior application. Beyond the door’s frame, the next most influential property to R-value is going to be the composition of the door’s inner core..

A Comparison of Cores

You may not think about it much, but with the exception of antique doors, the interior is normally hollow. If this weren’t the case, doors would be extremely heavy and material-intensive to produce. While modern solid core doors do exist, they are typically retained for specialized purposes where the additional expense is deemed necessary.

So what’s inside a hollow door? To add additional stiffness, weather resistance and insulation, door manufacturers fill the inside of the door with some type relatively lightweight material. This core can be made out of a variety of materials which affect the door’s cost and structural properties. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing particularly on insulation.

Honeycomb

The first common type of core found in doors is called a “honeycomb core,” named after the hexagonal lattice it is made up of. You may be surprised to hear that this material is actually a type of cardboard. However, in this case it is hardened with a special resin to increase structural rigidity. The honeycomb pattern allows manufacturers to maximize the stiffening property of the material without adding excessive weight to the door. This provides significant durability and is cost-effective to manufacture but doesn’t provide much in the way of insulation. It is also effective at disrupting soundwaves to provide a reasonable level of sound dampening. With a low R-value, the doors have good stability but aren’t the best for exteriors. If you’re looking to save on energy costs and minimize the amount of temperature transfer through thresholds then honeycomb core doors aren’t going to be the best choice.

Polystyrene

The next, more insulating material is polystyrene, which is sometimes abbreviated as EPS (for expanded polystyrene). EPS cores are both cost effective and provide fairly good insulation. It is the same type of foam you might find as packing material in boxes or in the shape of disposable coffee cups. The material provides stiffness and helps serve to prevent moisture from getting inside the hollow of the door. With a thermal resistance ranging from R-3 to R-5, EPS is a better insulator than honeycomb but still doesn’t offer the most insulation against cold temperatures.

Polyurethane

Polyurethane is more dense than polystyrene and therefore provides more resistance to temperature change. During the manufacturing process, it can start out as a liquid spray that expands and dries, filling the inside of the door thoroughly and bonding to the frame which adds additional strength to the door. Alternatively, there are versions that are installed as rigid boards more like polystyrene, but with the added density of polyurethane. The material is ideal for exterior openings in cold climates as it provides some of the best insulation available. The lowest level of polyurethane insulation is going to be as good or better than the best level of polystyrene insulation. It’s R-value is normally somewhere between R-6 and R-8.

Part of polyurethane’s propensity for insulating is due to pockets of low-conductivity gas contained in the material known as hydrochlorofluorocarbon. During the first two years after manufacturing, some of this gas escapes the pockets and the door’s insulative properties are slightly reduced. However, this is a fairly minimal reduction and after the first two years the hydrocholorofluorocarbon content of the polyurethane will remain relatively unchanged.

The Bottom Line

For those looking for a reasonable amount of insulation, both EPS and polyurethane core doors will be sufficient. But if you live in a colder climate, going polyurethane is most likely worth the slight additional cost of the material.

Hopefully this guide helps to give a good basic overview of common door materials and their insulative properties. While nothing replaces the warmth of a good fire, adding a little more insulation can help those logs go just a bit further to warm the inside of your house and keep cold from barging in. Unless, of course, it turns out the cold spots are from a ghost after all.

Laura Streitman says deciding to install three wood-burning fireplace inserts in her Butler County home was not a tough decision.

“It was the cost,” she says about heating the all-electric home. “The first bill we got, I think, was about $650.”

When it comes to fireplaces, the options truly are endless - both for existing fireplaces or those being installed from scratch. Choices range from Gas and wood freestanding stoves and zero-clearance pre-fabricated fireplace. Most are manufactured from steel components and can be placed just about anywhere in the home.

Many consumers are still avid fans of using wood to heat their homes despite other more eco-friendly alternatives such as renewable energy.

The reliance of burning wood as a main heating source is popular throughout the U.S., but its use has increased by 50% in the Northeast and Middle Atlantic regions from 2005 to 2012, said the Energy Information Administration.

If you use oil for heating, there's nothing stopping you from having a gas fireplace. Your home probably isn't equipped for natural gas, but never fear; you can install a propane fireplace, which is just as efficient as a natural gas one.

Choosing the right fireplace can be a daunting experience. You must determine what you are looking for i.e. wood, gas, heat, esthetics, efficiency, ease of use, see through, peninsula, corner are just some of the things you need to decide before heading out to buy your fireplace. There are commercial sites available, such as Woodstoves-Fireplaces.com where you can get professional help and recommendations based on what your need are.

In many parts of the country, its time to fire up the fireplace or woodstove for that ambiance and extra heat.

Fall is here, leaves are turning, days are shorter, nights are longer and a little heat in the house feels pretty good. With most homes, one of the most important elements is the fireplace. The fireplace adds style and ambience like no other appliance in the home.

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