Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Chimney Fires – Don’t Let it Happen to You

It's that time of year! All of your neighbors are calling and placing orders online for firewood delivery in northern Virginia. Of course we’re happy to send you the perfectly seasoned, neatly stacked firewood you expect.
But you have to be safe with it.
The first chimney fire in northern Virginia of the season was reported last week, and every year we see them happen to families across the area. What’s such a shame is that these fires are often preventable!
Chimney fires don’t need to happen.
There are some simple steps you can take to make sure your fireplace and chimney are safe to use in your home.
Our friends over at the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association have put together some guidelines for making sure your fireplace is safe to use and will avoid the danger of chimney fires.  You can get the entire fire safety report here.
Here are the highlights:
  • Have the chimney inspected annually, and cleaned as necessary, by a professional chimney sweep to ensure it’s clear of obstructions and
  • Have a cap installed at the top of the chimney to avoid the possibility that debris or animals can block the chimney.
  • Install both a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. (Make sure the batteries work.)
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
  • Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of furniture, books, newspapers and other potentially flammable materials. (Two feet away is the minimum.)
Although LumberJake.com sells firewood online, natural wood burning fireplaces are not the only place danger may lurk this time of year. Gas fireplaces are also very common in houses across the area.
As with wood burning fireplaces, there are some precautions you should take with gas fed fireplaces too. When a service tech comes out to service your gas fireplace, here are the things they should inspect and adjust as needed:
  • Adjust millivolt output
  • Clean and adjust the glowing embers and logs for best appearance.
  • Clean the fan and related air circulation passages.
  • Clean the glass.
  • Check the batteries in the carbon monoxide detector.
  • Ensure the vents are unobstructed and able to do their job.
These common sense precautions will help avoid tragedy and make your winter season happy and warm!
Don’t forget to stock up on wood now – supplies will run low before long. Get a half cord of wood delivered so you have it for Christmas (Santa likes a nice warm fire, chimney climbing notwithstanding.)

Protect Your Garden When Winter Comes to Gainesville

Have you heard? HA. Right. Have you stepped outside? Brr! We’ve got that pesky polar vortex to thank for wind chills in the teens and an ice storm that threatens to disrupt holiday travel plans from Virginia to Maine. After a hot, hot summer and a warmer than average fall Gainesville VA homeowners are stunned with the early and sudden arrival of winter.
But perhaps no one, nothing is caught more unaware by winter’s first icing than the plants in your garden. Go on and bundle up; in advance of this weekend’s forecast extreme weather, take a few minutes to take special care of your landscape.

Keep your plants well hydrated.

Dry, winter conditions aren’t kind to human skin, nor to Christmas trees, shrubs, and other evergreen plants. As these plants continue to lose moisture through their leaves, less is available in the air — and so need watering more often. Well-hydrated plans are hardier and more likely to survive a hard freeze or ice.

Cover and protect your most fragile plants.

There are plants that will easily withstand whatever Mother Nature has in store, but others need a bit of added protection. Cover your flowerbeds with a healthy layer of hardwood mulch from JK Enterprise Landscape Supply, which helps trap moisture in the ground and keeps plants’ roots warm. Keep falling snow, ice, and sleet from penetrating the surface of the ground with a windscreen; this can be achieved with two stakes and a surface of burlap. Woven burlap allows air to pass, simultaneously trapping the warm air inside and allowing for proper oxygen flow unlike plastic tarping.

Spread your salt, but do it carefully.

Salt is an effective way to prepare steps and walkways before a winter storm, but it’s important to note that when spread too far and too wide, it can negatively affect the life of your plants and trees. Salt dehydrates. Minimize the risk by using a more environmentally friendly alternative like calcium magnesium acetate. CMA is both biodegradable and non-corrosive, and poses little to no risk to animals, plants, and the rust-prone metal underneath your vehicles.

Bring potted plants indoors.

This is necessary and should happen any time temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Perennials, shrubs, and trees that have spread roots underground find warmth from ground cover and wind barriers, but potted plants are far more vulnerable to damage from wind and ice. Bring them inside to bloom another day.

To learn more about protecting your garden when winter comes to Gainesville, and how premium hardwood mulch can help, contact JK Enterprise Landscape Supply at (703) 810-3654.