Waterproofing to Avoid Efflorescence


What is Efflorescence?

Efflorescence comes from a French word meaning “to flower out.” In chemistry, and in the real world, efflorescence is the loss of water (or a solvent) of crystallization from a hydrated or solvated salt to the atmosphere on exposure to air.

Where does it happen? 

While efflorescence can occur in natural settings it is most commonly seen on built structures. It is especially visible on porous materials like brick. If you do not know what efflorescence is, you may think that it is purely cosmetic. It will appear as a chalky residue on the outside of the brick structure.

What causes efflorescence?

Simply put, if you see efflorescence you have water intrusion. Once water penetrates the brick it will “flower out,” (remember the French definition?) Once water has entered your structure it will freeze and expand causes the integrity of the structure to come into question

What can you do to protect against efflorescence?

Although brick is very durable, extreme weather can have an adverse effect on it over time. Waterproofing your brick/veneer structure will help ensure that your brick work lasts as long as possible. Your brick and your home can benefit tremendously from waterproofing.

“Most sealants are made with siloxane, which chemically bonds to the material and prevents water from passing through it. This type of brick waterproofing sealant is clear, so it does not change the appearance of the building. In fact, rather than staying on the surface of the structure, brick sealant penetrates the material. It will need to be reapplied to older brick structures about every four to seven years, and newer buildings approximately every five to ten years.”

How to Start a Fire

Steps to Start a Fire in your Fireplace

How to start fire steps

1. Before you doing anything else and start fire, be sure to open the damper! You don’t want to accidentally fill up your house with smoke. Hold up a piece of burning, rolled up newspaper in the open damper for about 10 to 15 seconds by using the poker tool. Then light the tinder.

2. You’ll need three things to start your fire: Tinder, Kindling, and Fuel.

You can use small twigs, pine needles or pine cones as tinder. However, old crumbled up newspaper makes the very best tinder when starting a fire in your fireplace.

Kindling such as large twigs, small branches and splits of wood that range from 1/4″ to 1″ in thickness will do.

When fueling your fireplace only use well-seasoned hardwood such as ash, hickory or oak. If you really need to burn soft wood (cedar, fir or red pine) make sure that they are well-seasoned. Signs of seasoned wood are loose bark and cracks at the end of the wood. If you see bubbling liquids in the burning logs, DO NOT BURN!

3. To start the fire begin by arranging 2 (small to medium sized) pieces of firewood on the grate. Between the logs, place the tinder of your choice and cover it with several pieces of kindling.

Don’t be afraid to be generous with the kindling. Place two more pieces of firewood on top of the kindling and two more pieces of firewood at a right angle. Leave some spaces in between for air circulation.

Now you should have a nice burning fire, warming up your home!

Warm Fire Fireplace

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Creative Ways to Use Your Fireplace Ashes


Since Winter season has begun many people have been enjoying the chilly season by warming up next to their fireplaces.But with the constant use of their fireplaces, ashes begin to build up. Most people would just throw out their fireplace ashes however I recommend that you don’t do that right away! Believe it or not ashes (specifically wood ashes) actually have many uses that can benefit your home and garden.



Use of Ashes Around the Home

  • Did you or your pet get skunked? Rub the affected area with ash onto you or your pet, leave it on for a few minutes.
    Then rinse off the ash, dry and repeat the process if necessary.
  • Besides getting rid of funky skunk smells, fireplace ashes can help neutralize any musky, weird smelling odors
    (much like baking soda).
  • You can use it to melt the ice off of driveways and pathways.
  • Make fireplace ash into a paste to shine/polish silver and make it look new!



Use of Ashes Around the Garden

  • Raise your soil’s pH levels. Using the ashes helps to neutralize the soil (especially if the soil is overly acidic or if you
    have any alkaline loving plants).
  • Use the fireplace ashes as a good nutrient addition to your compost (just be sparse with it as you do not want to
    make your compost too alkaliney). 


** Before using fireplace ashes remember to remove them from the fireplace no less than 24 hours after a fire has stopped burning. Be sure store them in a closed metal container until you’re ready to put them to use! **

** Remember the above suggestions are only for wood ashes. Other ashes such as coal ash and charcoal brisquettes contain toxins and heavy metals that can harm plants and shouldn’t be placed in your garden or even used as a replacement/substitute for wood fireplace ashes. **


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Why Should You Clean Your Pellet Stove Annually?

pelletPellet stoves are extremely efficient and can be plugged into a standard electrical outlet. Fans inside them maximize their efficiency. The fans deliver warm air back into the home, but also present a problem on the other side. Pellet stoves require more maintenance than traditional fireplaces and insert wood burning stoves because the fans push air and soot around to all of the nooks and crannies of your pellet stove. There are several parts to a Pellet stove which makes it prone to malfunction if not cleaned annually. The parts include: A hopper, an auger system, blower fans, main control box and a firebox. Pellets are loaded into the hopper and then the auger system moves them to the firebox where they are burned. Blower fans take in the cool air from the room to provide fuel for the fire, while another fan blows the warm back out into the room. An exhaust fan pushes the soot out of the back to a vent system known as a T-connection. This T-connection has a built in safety feature called the “catch can.” While this safety feature is a good thing (short term), the soot piles up and will eventually present a problem. Soot will clog the vent (T-connection) and will burn out the fan. Fan motors cause costly repairs for homeowners.

Having your Pellet stove serviced each year by a chimney professional is important and will ensure efficient operation. This kind of consumer vigilance will result in being able to enjoy the efficiency of your pellet stove for years.

How Do I Know If I Really Had My Chimney Cleaned Properly?

proper chimney cleaningProper chimney cleaning is very important. Mike’s Mobile Screen & Chimney Service trains our technicians to adhere by CSIA standards when cleaning your chimney. This means you, as the homeowner, will get unmatched service and a thorough cleaning and inspection. All of our chimney cleanings come with a Level I inspection. Our technicians start from the inside and inspect the firebox. At this time we will make sure your damper seals shut. If it doesn’t we will tape up the opening of your fireplace with tarps to avoid any mess to your home.

Once we have taken the proper precautions, and inspected the firebox, our inspection and cleaning moves to the roof of your house. Our technicians check for flashing, water damage, and the structural integrity of your chimney. Mike’s Mobile systematically checks your chimney and fireplace to make sure you have a complete inspection.

How Often Should I Have My Chimney Cleaned?

chimney_sweepSo how often should I have my chimney Cleaned? According to the National Fire Protection Agency (Source: NFPA), ” a yearly inspection and cleaning and repairs done as necessary. Freestanding woodstoves or fire place inserts used to heat the home should be inspected and cleaned if needed every year. Regular, open fireplaces need to be maintained and cleaned on a consistent basis as well. Usually, a cleaning is needed for every cord of wood burned or at least 2-3 years.”

Why You Should Get Your Chimney Swept and Inspected


Getting your chimney swept and inspected are very important for your home. If you are using your fireplace, you should be getting a chimney sweep annually. This will prevent chimney fires as well as maintain your fireplace/chimney safe to burn in. The NFPA suggests that you get your chimney swept after each cord of wood that you burn and/or an annual safety inspection.

One way a chimney inspection can be beneficial is to find water intrusion. If your chimney, cap or flashing is not properly installed and sealed it can lead to a bigger mess. Water can get into cracks a spread. If water freezes, it will expand and further damage an area. If your flashing is not properly installed and sealed it can lead to severe damage on your roof. This can trickle down (excuse the pun!) and cause leaking. Take a look at the pictures to see what water can cause. There will be more articles about this to come! Stay tuned.

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Time to think about gutter cleaning!

gutter cleaning

Gutter Cleaning Services by Mike’s Mobile Screens and Chimney Services helps you to keep your gutters functioning properly and your home safe from water damage.

Although your gutters may not seem as important as your home’s roof, it definitely comes close. Properly functioning gutters direct water away from the structure of your home. Clogged gutters can cause water to collect around your home’s foundation, weakening the soil. Repairs made to a home’s foundation can cost thousands!

The American Homeowners Association states that the weight of water, twigs and other debris can loosen gutters and cause them to pull away from their attachments.

The National Center for Healthy Housing recommends cleaning your gutters at least twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. If you live in a wooded area, you may want to have your gutters cleaned more often.

Now get your head out of the gutters and call in the pros. Our insured and bonded technicians have the know-how and the experience needed to make sure your gutters are cleaned safely and effectively.

Have your gutters professionally cleaned by Mike’s Mobile today!

Call us toll Free (877) 520-3595

Don’t DIY Chimney Cleaning

Why You Shouldn’t DIY

Your Chimney Cleaning 


In the past few years there has been a lot of hype in regards to DIY (Do It Yourself). There are some websites and blogs such as Pinterest that say a homeowner doesn’t need a chimney sweep to perform a chimney cleaning and post videos that teach you how to perform a chimney cleaning.

Many posts online (such as Pinterest) say homeowners can clean out their own chimneys.


However there are certain things that homeowners’ shouldn’t take it upon themselves to do, such as cleaning their home’s chimney. There are some homeowners that may do a good job in maintaining their chimney but that’s only to a certain degree (no pun intended). Things such as creosote buildup, a damaged flue, live/dead critters, etc. can be overlooked when DIYing a chimney cleaning, which is why a chimney sweep needs to be called in.

3rd Stage Glazed Creosote

Damaged Flue Liner


Chimney Sweeps are certified trained professionals who while cleaning your chimney also look for anything that may be wrong with your chimney. They also use the proper tools and equipment needed to clear out your chimney completely without creating any new problems along the way.

So before trying your hand on chimney cleaning, call one of our professional chimney sweeps today at 1 877 520 3595! or schedule an appointment with us online at mikesmobile.com/chimney-services/!

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The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?

Carbon Monoxide is a real threat that not a lot of people are aware of. Carbon monoxide also known as the “silent killer” is a colorless, odorless gas that is very toxic to humans and animals in high concentrations. If inhaled it can affect you without warning. When exposed, it can have serious long term effects on your health. It basically displaces the oxygen in your body’s blood and cause sever damage to the brain, heart and other vital organs which require oxygen. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, and/or muscle weakness. Everyone can be at risk for CO poisoning but people with heart and respiratory problems, young children, and the elderly are at a higher risk.

Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer.

How is it Produced?

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), it is a common industrial hazard resulting from the incomplete burning of natural gases and materials that contain carbon such as wood, oil, propane, coal and gasoline. So where can carbon monoxide come from? Most commonly home appliances like fireplaces, gas water heaters, gas furnaces, and wood burning stoves are able to produce the odorless gas. Also if your home’s venting system is installed improperly and you happen to have a gas leak, it can cause the gas to stay in your home instead of venting it outside.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide

So how do you avoid carbon monoxide poisoning? By being prepared!  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following guidelines

Prevention tips
CO Prevention Tips


  • Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances checked and serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Check and install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home.
  • Check and/or replace the batteries when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
  • If you suspect CO poisoning and feel dizzy, nauseated or light-headed seek medical attention immediately.
  • Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
  • Even if you leave the garage door open never run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house.
  • Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
  • Never heat your house with a gas oven.
  • Don’t use a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.

Remember if you smell and/or suspect a gas link to immediately call 9-1-1 or PGE at 1-800-743-5000.

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