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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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!

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Introducing Our New Security Window Screens

Bill H. from Stockton decided that for his windows, he wanted maximum security without gaudy iron security bars detracting the beauty of his home. With our new security window screens we were able to help him achieve both of these goals without compromise. Bill H. picked out a combination of quick escape and fixed security window screens in a white frame finish along with our Viewguard and sliding security door for total home protection.

guarda security windows
Our screens are made of high tensile strength stainless steel allowing for a clear view of the outside from your home while saving you money on energy with 60% UV blockage and secure protection. Unlike traditional bars on your windows, our security screens allow for an easy exit from the inside, high resistance to impact and tampering from the outside, and an appealing design with unobstructed air flow throughout your house. These screens are available in 9 different frame finishes with several options to match your current home style.

To get security screens for your home today give us a call at (877) 520-3595

For more information on our security window screens, visit our website: Security Window Screens

guarda security window screens

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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Warning Signs Your Chimney Might Need Repairs

chimney inspection nfi csiaMike’s Mobile Chimney Sweep

Usually by the time the average homeowner notices a problem with their chimney, it has probably needed some repairs for quite some time. To avoid any future repairs (big or small) be sure to be on the lookout for these signs.  

  • Damaged Lining

Chimney Liner


Unfortunately, there are usually no obvious signs that a chimney liner is damaged. In some rare cases, you may notice broken masonry in your fireplace and the debris could be bits of a deteriorating flue liner that have fallen into the firebox. Because it is usually not obvious that a liner needs to be repaired, it’s important to have a reputable chimney sweep inspect your chimney’s flue annually. To avoid harmful hazards such as creosote on your liner and home, schedule a chimney sweep to remove the soot and creosote before it turns into Stage 3 and damages your liner.

  • Water Damage

Water Damage


From something as serious as crumbling masonry to something seemingly harmless like droplets of water, both are usually reasons enough to call over a professional chimney sweep to have a look at your chimney. A certified chimney sweep will also be able to inspect your flashing, the chimney cap as well as the crown which tend to be the common causes for a leaking chimney. Other signs of a leaky chimney include:

  Water stains on masonry, walls and/or ceilings.

  A musty odor coming from within the chimney,
   clogged cleaned-out area and/or wet ashes

  To avoid some water damage have your
    chimney waterproofed professionally.

  • Wear and Tear

Damaged firebox


The firebox/fireplace is usually the part of your home’s chimney system that receives the least amount of attention even though it withstands the most heat and abuse. If built with the incorrect materials or if affected by water penetration the masonry can be damaged which can be disastrous. In order to avoid disastrous damages to your firebox, assessing the firebox as part of your monthly home maintenance is the best way to stay on top of it. You can do so by removing ashes and by looking for cracks in your chimney’s masonry.  

For more information on other services Mike’s Mobile Screen & Chimney Service offers visit our website!

If you happen to realize that your home’s chimney does need to have some repairs done, schedule an appointment with us today at TOLL FREE NUMBER 1 877 520 3595!

What is Glazing..and What is De-glazing?

glazingAfter you burn a fire the wood will eventually cool down. When it cools down, you create creosote. Creosote is a liquid that gets attached (or condenses) to the inner wall of your flue or connector pipe.  The creosote will dry out and become hard and become one of 3 stages. Stage 1 (velvet soot), Stage 2 porous and crunchy in makeup or Stage 3, shiny, rock-hard chimney glaze. The more fires you have, the more build up you are creating.

If this happens to your chimney you will need to have a De-glazing done. This is a two steps process. Mike’s Mobile uses a product called ACS (Anti Creosote Spray). We recommend that our effected customers make a few fires over the course of a few weeks and spray this the ACS into their fire. ACS changes the chemical make up of the creosote and weakens it. We can then come out to your home and clean your chimney.

10 Tips For The Heating Season


  1. Have your furnace inspected and serviced by a qualified professional.
  2. Have your chimney and vents cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional.
  3. Make sure your wood for your fireplace is dry and seasoned.
  4. Check to see if your fireplace screen or heat tempered glass is in good condition and securely in position.
  5. Keep a covered metal container ready to use for disposal of cooled ashes (Keep this at least 10 feet from your home).
  6. Inform children to stay 3 feet away from the fireplace or wood stove.
  7. Make sure that space heaters have an automatic shut off.
  8. Make sure to have space heaters directly plugged into an outlet (Do not use an extension cord) and place them at least 3 feet from anything that can burn.
  9. Inspect and test your smoke alarms
  10. Inspect and test your carbon monoxide alarms

Christmas Tree Safety

safetreeThings to consider about Christmas Tree Safety

Picking The Tree
Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Placing The Tree
Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1-2” from the base of the trunk.

Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source like fireplaces radiators, candle, heat vents or lights.

Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.

Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting The Tree
Use lights that have the label of an independent test laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use

Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.

Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.

Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

Why You NEED a CO and Smoke Detector

Beginning July 1, 2011, the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention act (Senate Bill SB1483) requites all single-family homes with an attached garage or a fossil fuel source to install carbon monoxide alarms. As well as per building code 310.9.1of California all residence must have smoke alarms.

As reported by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) Approximately 200 people are killed by accidental CO poisoning with an additional 5000 people injured. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) also reported that three out of five fire deaths are the result of no smoke alarm present in home.

Smoke alarms should be installed in the following locations:

  • Each bedroom
  • Immediately outside the sleeping rooms and areas
  • On each level of home and basements (not including crawl spaces) and livable attics.
  • In dwellings with split-levels that have a door between adjacent levels, an alarm shall be located on each level.
  • Smoke alarms are not required in garages

Smoke Alarm

Carbon Monoxide Alarms (CO) should be installed in the following locations:

      • Immediately outside the sleeping rooms an areas.
      • On each story, including basements and livable areas.
      • They are not required in garages.

CO Alarm


Fireplace Safety: Decorating 101 for Christmas


 Fireplace Safety Tips for Holiday Decorating  

xmas fireplace safety

Although a beautifully decorated hearth is a Christmas tradition, those decorations can pose a fire hazard if placed too close to your fireplace. Before decorating for the upcoming holidays, there are a few fireplace safety tips you should know.


Follow the 3 Foot Rule

Both the Chimney Safety Institution of America and the National Fire Protection Association recommend creating a 3 foot zone around your fireplace. Combustible materials such as decorations, paper, throw pillows and blankets should be kept beyond the 3 foot zone. This also includes you Christmas tree. Both synthetic and real trees can catch on fire if they are placed too close to the fireplace.


Do Not Hang Decorations from the Mantle

Ribbons, garland and greenery dangled from the mantle provide a beautiful effect to your hearth and fireplace, but it can also be dangerous. Don’t let decorations to dangle from the mantle, as hanging flammable materials too close can ignite either from the heat of your fireplace or from an errant spark.



xmas decors xmas decor


Remove Stockings Before Lighting a Fire

Hanging up stockings in front of the fireplace is a holiday tradition, however make sure that you carefully remove them from the mantle before you light your fireplace. And, remember to observe the 3 foot rule and place the removed stockings safely away from the hearth.



xmas stockings


Fire-Resistant Decorations

A great option for decorating your hearth is to purchase decorations that are manufactured or treated to be fire resistant. These can make a great option for decorating your hearth as they are safer to use. Keep in mind that fire-resistant doesn’t mean that these objects won’t burn, it just means that they are less likely to accidentally ignite. You should still observe fireplace safety tips when placing fire-resistant decorations on your mantle or near your fireplace.


Use a Spark Guard

A spark guard is a great option for making your hearth safer this winter season if you have an open-hearth fireplace. What is a park guard? A spark guard is a mesh screen placed over the fireplace opening to prevent embers from crackling out of the fireplace. It can help keep your Christmas decorations, furniture and flooring safe from sparks.



Keep a Fire Extinguisher on Hand

Even if you have followed all of the other tips for safely decorating near your fireplace, you still should have a fire extinguisher on hand. Make sure that the extinguisher is operational and current and that everyone in the home knows where the fire extinguisher is and how to use it in case of an emergency.

xmas extinguisher

If you need help preparing your hearth for the winter holidays, call Mike’s Mobile Screen & Chimney Service today! (877) 520-3595

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