The Nuts and Bolts: Don't Give the Cold Shoulder to Your Chimney

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Don't Give the Cold Shoulder to Your Chimney

Last year's historically cold winter has many homeowners considering alternative heating sources this season, such as their fireplaces. But don't strike the first match until you've hired a qualified chimney sweep trained by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). CSIA certified professionals can inspect your chimney and get it ready for Polar Vortex II or whatever else Mother Nature throws at us.

As part of National Chimney Safety Week, Sept. 28-Oct. 4, CSIA advises those with fireplaces, wood stoves and solid fuel appliances to get an annual inspection, particularly if you are uncertain about the chimney's condition prior to use. Unwanted chimney fires average 24,300 annually, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The inspection by a CSIA certified chimney sweep can identify potential hazards inside the flue, such as hidden cracks, creosote buildup, or venting problems that might lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or your chimney being unable to contain the products of combustion.

Almost 1,500 chimney sweeps can be found using CSIA's free zip-code locator at CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps can also detect evidence of freeze-thaw damage and ensure that the exterior of the chimney is functioning properly for optimal efficiency.

October Marks 12th Annual Window Covering Safety Month

This October, the window covering industry, with the support of the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission is celebrating the 12th annual Window Covering Safety Month. Manufacturers, retailers, designers, workrooms and installers join forces to raise awareness of the potential dangers posed to young children by window treatments with cords, urging consumers to replace older window coverings with today's safer products, or to get free retrofit kits from the Window Covering Safety Council ( to help make older products safer.

"Raising awareness is an ongoing issue as new families and households are created every year," says Joe Jankoski, Corporate Vice President of Merchandising for Hunter Douglas. "Not only do we support Window Covering Safety Month every year, but window covering cord safety is a top priority for us each and every day. Hunter Douglas has an incredible variety of product operating systems on the market that eliminate lift cords or substantially reduce access to them."

Every Hunter Douglas product collection has one or more options that make it esp

Every Hunter Douglas product collection has one or more options that make it especially well suited for homes with young children.

Additional information can be found in the Hunter Douglas Child Safety At The Window brochure available for downloading at, at many Hunter Douglas dealers or by calling 1-800-99SAFTY.

Buying a New HVAC System: Questions to Ask, Things to Consider

Advances in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment that offers higher efficiencies, increased comfort and improved indoor air quality make a new system an attractive alternative to an aging, inefficient system, especially one that is experiencing problems. However, choosing the system that best meets your heating and cooling needs is not always easy. To refine your search and help you make an informed decision, the experts at the Luxaire®brand of Johnson Controls offer some helpful advice.

First, find a contractor you can trust – preferably one who is North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certified and a member of state and national contractor associations. Then, ask the following questions:

  • Does the contractor do the work, or does he/she subcontract it to someone else?
  • Is the contractor adequately insured?
  • What is the contractor's schedule for getting the work done?
  • Will other projects affect the contractor's ability to complete your job on time?
  • Does the contractor offer a maintenance service agreement?
  • Can the contractor provide any references from prior customers?
  • Will the contractor conduct a load calculation to determine the proper size of equipment for your home?

Next, determine what kind of equipment you need by considering these questions:

  • What equipment does the contractor recommend and why?
  • What is the efficiency rating of the equipment? Is this enough/too much for the size of your home? The efficiency of a cooling system is expressed as a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) number. Heat pump efficiency is expressed by a Heating Season Performance Factor (HSPF), and the efficiency of a furnace is expressed as the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE).
  • Where will the equipment be located? Will the recommended equipment fit here?
  • Is your ductwork properly sealed, insulated and sized for the new equipment?

Finally, consider the financial questions that come with a purchase this significant:

  • How much does the new system cost, including installation?
  • Does the contractor or manufacturer offer any warranties on the equipment you are purchasing? If so, what does the warranty cover?
  • Are any rebates available?
  • Does the contractor offer any financing options?
  • Did you consider the cost of operating the system as well as the initial cost?

Your heating and cooling system is one of the more expensive purchases you will ever make. That's why it's important to ask questions and apply the answers to make the right decision – one that meets your comfort needs efficiently and affordably.

For additional help as you search for a new HVAC system, visit