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Thank You For A Great State Fair!

At Jack Pixley Sweeps, the Minnesota State Fair is one of our favorite events of the year! Not only do we get to enjoy all the fair has to offer, but we also get the chance to meet new – and current – customers. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to see us and signed up for chimney services at the fair this year.

Why We Love the Minnesota State FairThank You For A Great State Fair Image - Minneapolis MN - Jack Pixley Sweeps

For many Minneapolis/St. Paul families, the Minnesota State Fair is one of the highlights of the year and marks the transition from the end of summer to the beginning of fall. Known as “The Great Minnesota Get-Together,” the state fair has been held annually since 1859. With nearly 2 million visitors this year, 2017 was one of the biggest fairs to date!

The Minnesota State Fair is one of the largest state fairs in the country; with the largest average daily attendance and second largest overall attendance in the country, the fair draws visitors from all over the state. It was also voted as the 2015 best state fair in the country by USA Today!

From livestock shows, Machinery Hill, cooking and art competitions, 4-H demonstrations, headlining entertainment, rides, and games, and the chance to learn about new products and services the fair has something for everyone. Fair fans of all ages can also enjoy the wide variety of new and classic foods – most of it on a stick and deep fried.

About Our Services

Jack Pixley Sweeps has been proudly serving Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the surrounding areas for more than forty years. Founded in 1977 in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota, we are proud to live and work in the same communities we serve.

The education and experience of our chimney sweeps help set us apart from the competition. All of our chimney sweeps are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and complete 40 continuing education units every three years in order to maintain their certification and stay up to date with the latest advancements in the industry. We are also members of a number of professional organizations including National Chimney Sweep Guild, Brick Industry Association, and the Builder’s Association of Minnesota.

Our highly trained chimney sweeps can care for every part of your chimney from the top of the flue to the bottom of the firebox. We offer our customers a wide variety of chimney and fireplace services:

  • annual sweepings and inspections,
  • animal removal,
  • leaky chimneys,
  • and the sales and installation of new fireplaces and stoves.

Our certified sweeps can take care of all your fireplace needs. We can also care for other parts of your home by cleaning dryer vents and gutters!Whether you are one of our returning customers or recently signed up for services at the state fair, we are happy to serve our friends and neighbors in the Minneapolis area. For more information on our services or to schedule your next chimney appointment, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today!

Why Hiring A Certified Sweep Is Important

When caring for your fireplace and chimney, who you hire matters. Instead of trusting a door to door salesman with a truck or going with the first result in a Google search, trust a professional chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. A CSIA certified chimney sweep is a highly trained and knowledgeable professional who can care for your entire fireplace system from firebox to flue.

What is a CSIA certification? Why Hiring A Certified Sweep Is Important Image - Minneapolis MN - Jack Pixley Sweeps

The Chimney Safety Institute of America, or CSIA, is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving both public and professional fireplace education. Widely considered as the most prestigious professional group in the fireplace industry, a CSIA certification is prestigious – and difficult to earn – title held by only 1200 chimney sweeps in the United States.
For a chimney sweep to earn a CSIA certification they must undergo a rigorous training and testing curriculum. This standardized process ensures that all certified sweeps have knowledge base that covers a variety of topics including:

  • Current local and national building codes
  • Current best practices and techniques for sweeping chimneys
  • Chimney construction and draft dynamics
  • Installation techniques for various heating appliances
  • EPA emission standards for fuel burning appliances

A certification from the CSIA is not a lifetime title; instead, chimney sweeps must take continuing education courses and pass a recertification test every three years. This recertification process ensures that sweeps holding a CSIA certification are up to date on the latest advancements, standards, and safety practices in the industry.

What sets certified chimney sweeps apart?

A certified chimney sweep is different from someone going door to door with some brushes and tarps. The following are just a few of the things that set CSIA certified chimney sweeps apart from the competition.

  • Code of Ethics. CSIA certified chimney sweeps subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics, protecting homeowners and preventing unsavory business practices. Sweeps found in violation of the ethics code can lose their certification.
  • Reciprocal trades relationship. The CSIA maintains reciprocal trade relationship with affiliated trade groups such as homeowner associations, home inspectors, and realtors.
  • National recognition. The CSIA certification is considered to be the top professional group in the fireplace industry. With sweeps in nearly every state, CSIA sweeps are often seen on news programs or quoted in publications as experts in the field.

Hiring a certified chimney sweep!

The CSIA database of certified chimney sweeps is a wonderful resource available to homeowners, allowing them to find a certified sweep in their area. By asking the following questions before hiring a chimney sweep, you can ensure you are working with a knowledgeable professional who can correctly care for your chimney system.

– How long have you been in business in this area? – Do you have references from current customers? – Does the company or chimney sweep carry liability insurance? – Will a CSIA certified chimney sweep work on my job site?

Working with a certified, professional chimney sweep can give you the peace of mind to enjoy your fireplace system all year long. For more information on the benefits of working with a CSIA certified chimney sweep or to schedule your next chimney services, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today!

Have Your Chimney Inspected Before The First Fire

Fall’s cooler temperatures are just around the corner. This year, make sure your fireplace is ready to use by having your chimney inspected before your first fire.

What is a chimney inspection?Have Your Chimney Inspected Before The First Fire Image - Minneapolis MN - Jack Pixley Sweeps

A chimney inspection is an important diagnostic tool that can be used to identify the cause of fireplace performance problems as well as assess the condition of everything from the firebox to the flue. Chimney inspections are an important part of regular annual fireplace maintenance and are helpful in finding areas of damage or deterioration before they turn into major problems.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, or NFPA, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”

Three Levels of Chimney Inspections

NFPA Standard 211 created three standardized levels of chimney inspection. Your chimney sweep can help you determine which level of chimney inspection is best for your home based on use, condition, or performance problems.

  • Level I: Level I chimney inspections are the standard level of inspection for homes with fireplace in good condition that have not been modified, damaged, or experienced performance problems. During a Level I inspection, the accessible interior and exterior portions of the chimney are checked for signs of damage or deterioration.
  • Level II: Level II chimney inspections are more in-depth; inaccessible portions of the flue are checked using technology such as closed circuit cameras. Level II chimney inspections are often recommended when a home is being bought or sold. Likewise, they are also used when there have been changes to the fireplace such as changing fuel sources or installing a new insert.
  • Level III: Level III chimney inspections are the most in depth – and invasive. Because of this, they are only recommended in cases of severe damage or structural instability after natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires, or tornadoes. During a Level III chimney inspection, portions of the masonry, walls, or ceilings around the fireplace and chimney may need to be removed in order to fully assess the damage.

The Importance of Annual Chimney Inspections

“A chimney inspection is like an annual dental check-up,” says Ashley Eldridge, Director of Education for the CSIA. “It’s preventative maintenance that helps minimize potential hazards.”

After a summer of disuse, it is important to have your chimney swept before using it for the first time. Debris, water, and animal entry can all create chimney problems during the spring and summer; while these issues are often quickly recognized when the fireplace is being regularly used, they may have gone unnoticed during the summer. An inspection can identify these issues and allow them to be repaired – without causing further problems or damage to the chimney.

Make sure your chimney is ready for the first fire of the season by having it inspected. Contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today to schedule your fall chimney inspection and get your fireplace ready for fall.

Overflowing Gutters? Get Them Cleaned!

Gutter cleaning is a chore that most homeowners dread doing. Unfortunately, this dread means that homeowners often put it off as long as possible; this can lead to clogged gutters as well as damage to your windows, roof, siding, foundation, and landscaping.

The Importance of GuttersOverflowing Gutters Get Them Cleaned! Image - Minneapolis MN - Jack Pixley Sweeps

Gutters play an important role in protecting your home against damage from rain, ice, and snow. Hanging under the roofline on the side of your home, gutters safely carry water off the roof and away from siding and foundation. Doing this protects your home from water damage overflowing gutters can cause, such as damage to the foundation, siding, roof, eaves, and more.

How Gutters Become Clogged

Gutters most often become clogged with debris; this can include leaves, twigs, and seed pods as well as balls, frisbees, and other blowing trash. The following are three of the primary ways gutters become clogged.

  1. Too few gutters or downspouts. Not having enough gutters or downspouts can put a strain on the existing gutter system. This can cause water to overflow where it shouldn’t as well as limit the amount of rainfall the gutter system can handle.
  2. Too much rain in a short period. A significant amount of rain in a short period of time can overstress even good gutter systems. Even small amounts of leaves or debris in the gutter during a downpour can quickly create a clog.
  3. Overgrown trees. Trees that hang over the edge of the roof are the surest way to quickly have clogged gutters. When this happens leaves, twigs, seeds, and more can fall directly into the gutters instead of the ground.

Signs of Overflowing Gutters

Many homeowners rely on a visual inspection of their gutters to know when it is time to have them cleaned. However, this is not always reliable – especially in difficult to access area. The following are some signs your gutters may be overflowing:

  • Discolored or damaged siding
  • Rotted wood in the eaves
  • Eroded landscaping
  • Cracking sidewalks and pavement
  • Ice patches on sidewalks and pavement in freezing temperatures
  • Basement flooding
  • Cracked, shifted, or buckled foundation

How Often Should You Get Your Gutters Cleaned

Most experts recommend having your gutters cleaned at least twice per year: once in the late spring after blossoms and seed pods have fallen, and once in the late fall after most leaves have fallen. However, the types of trees surrounding your home may mean you need to have your gutters cleaned more often.

If your home is surrounded by hard wood trees such as ash and oak, cleaning gutters twice per should be sufficient. However, if your home has hard woods such as pines and firs gutters may need to be cleaned four times per year. This is because pines shed all year long as opposed to only in the fall.

Have Your Gutters Professionally Cleaned This Fall

Cleaning gutters is time-consuming, physically exhausting, and potentially dangerous. Rather than waste a weekend on a rickety ladder, trust the professionals at Jack Pixley Sweeps to clean your gutters. Contact us today to schedule your fall gutter cleaning.

Dryer Vent Cleaning: It’s More than Blowing Out the Vent

Most homeowners believe dryer maintenance is as easy as cleaning out the lint trap after use. Unfortunately, this only solves part of the problem; dryer vent cleaning by a certified professional is often the best way to ensure your dryer can run safely and efficiently for years to come. At Jack Pixley Sweeps, we specialize in dryer vent cleaning – and it is more than simply blowing out the vents.

The Danger of Clogged Dryer VentsDryer Vent Cleaning It's More than Blowing Out the Vent Image - Minneapolis MN - Jack Pixley Sweeps

Clogged dryer vents affect our dryers in two significant ways: they decrease efficiency and increase the risk of dryer fires.
As you use your dryer, the same lint that accumulates in the lint trap can escape into the dryer vents. In small amounts the lint is relatively harmless; however, buildup over time can constrict airflow to the dryer. As a result, the dryer is forced to work harder, producing hotter and hotter air. This super heated air can ignite when combined with the highly flammable lint buildup in the vents, leading to a dryer fire.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are more than 15,000 house fires caused by clogged dryer vents each year. These fires result in millions of dollars in property damages and losses – as well as unnecessarily put families at risk.

Clogged dryer vents also decrease the efficiency of the dryer. Many homeowners are shocked at how well their dryers work after simply having the vents cleaned. Getting the dryer vents professionally cleaned is often a good first step when a dryer begins losing efficiency.

Why Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning Matters

While some find it odd that a chimney sweep company also cleans dryer vents, the two are surprisingly related. Just like a chimney sweeping dryer vent cleaning requires specialized tools, trained professionals, and a thorough knowledge of building dynamics in order to be done correctly.

Professional dryer vent cleaning is about more than blowing out the contents of the dryer vents onto your lawn. Many modern vent systems include bends, twists, turns, and tight spaces that older homes did not have; because of this, rotary and vacuum systems should be used to ensure a thorough clean and prevent debris from getting left behind.

Is it Time to Clean My Dryer Vents?

Many homeowners struggle with when it is time to have their dryer vents cleaned. However, your dryer may already be telling you the vents need to be cleaned. The following are six signs its time to schedule a dryer vent cleaning.

  • Clothes take longer than one full cycle to dry
  • The drying time for a regular load is longer than 45 minutes
  • The laundry room is excessively hot when the dryer is in use
  • Progressively larger amounts of lint are found in the lint trap
  • The inside of the dryer or clothes fresh out of the dryer have a musty odor
  • Lint or debris can be seen on the exterior dryer vent

Dryer vent cleaning is about more than blowing out the lines; trust your family’s safety – and the longevity of your dryer – to a trained professional. To schedule your next dryer vent cleaning contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today.

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