What Are Ahren-Fireplace Systems?

Fireplaces have always been the heart of a home. While they were once used as the primary way to heat a home – and even as a way to cook food! – fireplace are more decorative than in the past. If you are looking for a fireplace that combines both modern style with old-world heating functionality, look no further than Ahrens fireplace systems!What Are Ahren-Fireplace Systems Image - Minneapolis MN - Jack Pixley

Fireplace aesthetics vs functionality

Many modern fireplaces are designed with an emphasis on aesthetics instead of functionality. While sitting in front of these fireplaces may be pleasant, they may do little to actually add heat to the home. Fireplaces that are not well designed:

  • Cause the room to get smoky when not in use
  • Make the house seem colder when lighting a fire
  • Cause the walls surrounding the fireplace to seem hot when in use

These burning conditions do more than just affect fireplace performance; they can also make it unsafe to use your fireplace.

About Ahren-fire systems

Designed and manufactured in Sioux Falls, South Dakota by the Ahrens Chimney Company, Ahren-Fire fireplaces are made with both form and function in mind. In addition to looking nice, Ahren-Fire fireplaces are designed to radiate heat back into your home. These all-in-one systems include everything from the firebox to the flue; when professionally installed in place of an existing fireplace, they can help solve a number of performance and safety problems.

The unique design of Ahren-Fire fireplaces heat your home with minimal heat loss up the chimney. Likewise, their design creates optimal drafting and prevents smoke from blowing back into your home. Ahren-Fire fireplaces are also the only restoration fireplace product to meet or exceed the stringent safety testing criteria by Underwriters Laboratory.

Benefits of Ahren-fire fireplaces

When an existing masonry hearth fireplace does not meet current building codes, it can be unsafe to use. In addition to fireplace performance issues such as incorrect drafting or not creating enough heat, hidden hazards such as combustible materials around the hearth or incorrect thickness of the masonry can also be present. Investing in and having a complete, all-inclusive Ahren-fire fireplace system professionally installed can give you peace of mind that all of your chimney components not only meet current building standards, but work together to improve the safety and efficiency of your fireplace.

Installing a new Ahren-fire fireplace

Ahren-fire fireplace systems are designed to be easily installed into an existing masonry hearth. With eight different size options, homeowners can find the perfect fit for their hearth. Ahren-fire systems are an excellent alternative to wood burning inserts; they improve safety and efficiency without losing the true wood-burning experience. This allows homeowners to safely enjoy the heat, sights, sounds, and smells of their wood burning hearth once again.

At Jack Pixley Sweeps, we are proud to install Ahren-Fire fireplace systems for our customers. For more information on these safe and efficient alternatives to wood-burning inserts, or to learn how they can help bring your older fireplace back to current building standards and codes, contact us today!

Tips For Building A Fire

Using a fireplace may seem simple, but the way that you build your fire can have a major impact on how well the fire burns. Using the wrong materials – or stacking wood logs incorrectly – can cause fires to burn out prematurely, burn sluggishly, or need to be constantly stoked. By changing how you build a fire, you and your family can fully enjoy your fireplace this winter!

1. Use the Right Firewood

For a more aromatic fire, consider using softwoods such as fir, pine, or cherry. These woods produce a fragrant smoke that makes them popular in smoking meats; while they produce larger amounts of smoke, they can be used in small amounts as kindling in indoor fires. Softwoods are also a good choice for outdoor firepits.

2. Warm the Flue

When the temperature outside is significantly colder than the temperature inside, reduce smoke blowback and drafting issues by warming the flue before starting the fire. To begin warming the flue, open the damper for several minutes; this allows the air temperature between your home and the flue to better stabilize. Next, light a bundle of kindling such as newspaper or small twigs and hold it under the open damper. This further warms up the air temperature in the flue and can make drafting easier when lighting the main fire.

3. Build Your Fire From the Top Down

How you stack the logs in your fireplace can impact how effectively the fire burns. One unusual – but extremely effective – way of stacking logs is the top-down method.. Top down fires minimize the need for stoking by ensuring the fire is well fed with fresh oxygen, helping burn all the wood in the firebox more completely.

Build a top down fire by stacking the largest logs on the bottom of the fireplace with the ends facing the front and back. Stack a layer of smaller logs on top perpendicularly; continue alternating front to back and side to side layers of progressively smaller logs until the firebox is almost full. Top the fire with kindling and add kindling throughout the stack. Ignite the kindling on top of the logs; as the fire burns down it naturally ignites each layer of logs, reducing the need to add logs or stoke the fire.

4. Have Your Chimney Swept Each Year

An annual chimney sweeping is the best way to ensure your fires burn safely and efficiently all season long. Chimney sweepings remove soot, ash, and flammable creosote, as well as check for blockages and other signs of damage. A chimney sweep can also help diagnose the cause of ongoing chimney issues such as drafting problems or leaks.

Contact Us Today!

Taking the extra time to correctly build and burn a fire can help you get the most out of your fireplace this winter. For more information on building a fire or to schedule your net chimney sweeping, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today!

Come See Our New Display Showroom!

Since 1977, our friends and neighbors in the Edina, Minnesota area have trusted Jack Pixley Sweeps to service and maintain their fireplaces and chimneys. Now, we are proud to have another way to further serve our customers; this season, we will have a new display showroom!

Come see our fireplaces and inserts

When it comes to selecting new heating appliances, simply flipping through a catalog often isn’t enough. Because of this, we’ve expanded our business to include a new display showroom in our Spring Lake Park location. This new showroom will allow customers to check out the latest and most popular fireplaces and inserts in person; the ability to see, touch, and feel a new heating appliance is often the most helpful way to make an informed decision about your new fireplace!

Gas Insert - Minneapolis MN - Jack Pixley SweepsWhy choose an insert for your home

Visitors to our new display showroom will notice that we are beginning to carry more and more fireplace inserts. The sales of gas and wood inserts have become a growing segment of our business; homeowners love their efficiency, ease of use, and low operation costs. The following are just a few of the reasons to consider installing a new fireplace insert in your home.

– Choice in fuels: Fireplace inserts are no longer limited to one fuel source. Whether you prefer wood, gas, or pellets, there is a fireplace insert to meet your home’s heating needs.
– Variety of styles: Inserts give homeowners unprecedented choice when it comes to the style of their fireplace. Whether your home is sleek and contemporary, country and rustic, or somewhere in between, there is an insert to fit your home’s unique aesthetic.
Increased efficiency: Fireplace inserts are some of the most efficient heating appliances available on the market today. By using closed circuit combustion, more of the fuel source is completely burned and less heat is lost up the chimney. The can increase heat production while simultaneously lowering fuel usage and costs.

Our other services

In addition to our new display showroom, Jack Pixley Sweeps will continue to offer customers the same high quality fireplace and chimney services they have come to expect over the years. Our certified chimney technicians and skilled masons can service and maintain your fireplace system from the top of the flue to the bottom of the firebox.

We can take care of more than just your chimney; at Jack Pixley Sweeps, we also offer dryer vent services and cleaning! Having your dryer vents cleaned at least once per year is an excellent way to improve your dryer’s efficiency while reducing the risk of accidental dryer fire.

Whether you are looking for quality chimney services from a company you can trust or are interested in seeing in person the latest trends in fireplaces and heating appliances, Jack Pixley Sweeps is the one-stop shop for all of your fireplace and chimney needs. Contact us today for more information on our new showroom area and new location in Spring Lake Park. We look forward to seeing all of you at our celebratory Open House later this summer!

Now Is The Perfect Time For A New Fireplace Surround

With the end of winter around the corner, most of us are preparing to close up our fireplaces for the season. However, if your fireplace is looking out of date, old, or stained, now is the perfect time to get a new fireplace surround!Now Is The Perfect Time For A New Fireplace Surround - Minneapolis MN - Jack Pixley Sweeps

A fireplace surround is a great way to totally makeover the look and feel of your fireplace – when the fireplace looks new, your entire home gets an instant face lift! Below are four reasons why you should consider investing in a new fireplace surround.

1. Invest in your home’s value

Fireplaces add value to your home; According to the National Association of Homebuilders, potential buyers are willing to pay as much as $1,400 more for houses with fireplaces. While fireplaces add value to your home, how they look still has a major impact. More than 46% of buyers listed “looks” as the most important trait they look for in a fireplace.

By investing in a new fireplace surround, you are investing in your home’s value. A new, modern fireplace surround can become a beautiful focal point in your home – and add value to your asking price if you decide to sell.

2. Better reflect your home’s style

Do you have a sleek, contemporary style but are trapped with a traditional fireplace? Or is your style more French country, but your fireplace is clearly mid-century modern?

No matter what your home style is, a new fireplace surround can help carry that aesthetic to every part of your home. Because surrounds are custom built, our team can create a design that fits your home’s style and seamlessly blends in with the rest of your décor.

3. Make a major change – without a major price tag

If you don’t have the budget for a complete fireplace surround, there are still ways to update the look of your hearth. Even minor changes can refresh and revamp your fireplace, making it look brand new without a major remodel.

New glass doors, fireplace fronts, and screens can all easily be installed and can complement your existing fireplace design or give your hearth a new aesthetic. Even adding a new mantle can dramatically change the look of your existing fireplace!

4. Install a more efficient fireplace insert

While open hearth fireplaces are beautiful, they are far from being the most efficient fireplace option. Likewise, fireboxes that have been damaged by moisture or years or use may need to be partially or fully rebuilt before they are safe to use. Rather than rebuilding the firebox during fireplace surround construction, consider installing a more efficient fireplace insert!

Fireplace inserts are extremely efficient and can help lower heating costs in your home. Available in a wide variety of styles as well as multiple fuel sources, our staff can help you find the right insert for your home and heating needs.

If your fireplace is starting to look stained, tired, or old, and you live around Minneapolis, it may be time for a face lift. Contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today for more information on how a new fireplace surround can upgrade your existing fireplace!

Summer Is a Great Time for a New Fireplace Insert

The warm weather we have each summer means that very few homeowners use their fireplaces during these months. While you may not need the additional heat, many miss the ambiance their fireplace creates. One way to enjoy the look and feel of a fireplace without overheating your home is with a fireplace insert.

Fireplace Insert Installation in the Summer - Minneapolis MN

Fireplace inserts can be used decoratively or as a way to help heat your home. Likewise, these extremely efficient appliances are much easier to care for than traditional hearth fireplaces. This makes them an ideal choice for busy families who want the look and feel of a wood fire without the hassle.

Why install a new insert in summer

Summer is a great time of year to make repairs or upgrades to your fireplace system. Because fireplaces are rarely used during the warm summer months, you will not be “left out in the cold” if you are unable to use your fireplace while the repairs are being made. Likewise, some masonry repairs cannot be completed when the temperatures outside drop below a certain point; this makes the warm months of summer an ideal time to have masonry work completed.

The primary benefit of having your new fireplace insert installed this summer is that it will be already ready to use when temperatures begin to cool down in the fall! Finding the perfect insert now will allow you and your family to be warm and cozy when the first cold snap arrives.

Benefits of fireplace inserts

Below are just five of the many reasons to consider installing a fireplace insert.

  1. Efficiency. Fireplace inserts operate using closed system combustion. This allows them to much more efficiently and completely burn their fuel source, as well as minimizes the amount of temperature controlled air that is lost up the chimney. According to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbeque Association, adding a fireplace insert can reduce energy bills by as much as 40%.
  2. Environmentally friendly. Unlike open hearth fireplaces, fireplace inserts are strictly regulated by the EPA. EPA Certified inserts produce nearly zero particulate emissions; this makes them a greener fireplace choice as it significantly reduces your carbon footprint.
  3. Avoid repairs. If the inside of your firebox is damage, expensive masonry repairs may seem inevitable. However, installing an insert may help you avoid costly masonry repairs while still letting you enjoy a roaring fire.
  4. Fuel choices. Inserts are available for nearly every fireplace fuel source including coal, natural gas, pellets, propane, and wood. This gives homeowners a wide variety of choices to meet their fireplace preferences.
  5. Style. Modern fireplace inserts are available in styles to fit in the interior décor of any home. Whether you want the classic look of a traditional fireplace or a more modern or contemporary design, you can find an insert that matches your style.

Summer is a great time for a new fireplace insert! To learn more about how a fireplace insert can benefit your family, contact the experts at Jack Pixley Sweeps today!

Why Install a Fireplace Insert?

Jack Pixley Sweeps services wood burning inserts!

Jack Pixley Sweeps services wood burning inserts!

In our busy, fast paced lives, many homeowners find that they no longer have the time or energy to use their wood burning fireplaces. Instead of letting the fireplace become a purely decorative part of the home, considering installing a fireplace insert.

Fireplace inserts minimize maintenance while still allowing you to enjoy the look and feel of a wood burning fire. Below are the top five reasons why you should considering installing a fireplace insert.

Improved efficiency

While wood burning fireplaces create a wonderful ambiance, they are not very efficient heating sources. Most fireplaces have efficiency ratings as low as 5-10% due to the open combustion of the burning process. Fireplace inserts, however, are sealed systems. This creates more complete combustion, a more efficient fire, and less energy loss. The Hearth, Patio, and Barbeque Association has reported that in some cases, installing a fireplace insert can reduce energy bills by as much as 40%.

Different fuel choices

With a wide variety of fuel choices available, there is a fireplace insert to meet every need. There are available inserts that burn coal, natural gas, pellets, propane, and even wood. Those looking for fires at the press of a button may opt for a gas insert, while others may choose a wood burning insert for a more traditional look and feel. The freedom to choose your fuel source gives homeowners the ability to find an insert that best meets their needs.

Minimize masonry repairs

If your firebox has been damaged, fallen into disrepair, or needs extensive renovations, installing a fireplace insert may be a way to let you continue to use and enjoy your fireplace without the hassle of a complete rebuild. Because the fireplace inserts are placed directly into the existing firebox, they can be installed and used even if the masonry of the old firebox has been damaged.

Fireplace inserts should always be professionally installed  to ensure that they are placed correctly. In some cases, the flue may need to be altered to accommodate the new insert. New stainless steel chimney liners can easily be installed to ensure that the flue is the right size for your fireplace insert.

Environmentally friendly

Unlike traditional wood burning fireplaces which cannot be certified by the EPA, fireplace inserts are required to be EPA certified. This certification shows that your insert produces a minimal amount of particulate emissions and has a smaller impact on the environment. Because of their closed system combustion, most fireplace inserts are able to reduce emissions to almost zero.

Stylish designs

In addition to being able to choose their fuel source, homeowners switching to a fireplace insert can also select the aesthetic style of their new heating appliance. Inserts come in a variety of styles from the contemporary to the modern, and there are inserts to fit every style and budget.

If you’re tired to the work and maintenance required with a wood burning fireplace, a fireplace insert might be the right choice for you. Inserts can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and turn a damaged or unsightly firebox into the focal point of your room. For more information on fireplace inserts, contact the expert staff at Jack Pixley Sweeps today!