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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Efficient ECCO Stove Now Available in the U.S.


                                                       
Pete West, Managing Director of ECCO Stove in Studley, U.K. announced today that HearthMasters, Inc. of Kansas City, Missouri is their new supplier for U.S. customers.

HearthMasters, Inc. is a chimney, fireplace, and masonry heater contractor serving the greater Kansas City area and a supplier for customers and hearth professionals across the United States. They recently added the highly efficient ECCO stove to their line of products. HearthMasters, Inc. has been in business since 1982.




“We are so pleased to add ECCO stove to our line of products due to its efficiency ratings and superb benefits,” said Marge Padgitt, President of HearthMasters, Inc. “I believe that this is an appliance that is far superior to a standard wood-burning stove, and once consumers find out about the differences, they will, too, said Marge.” 

The ECCO stove is a hybrid appliance with features of a wood stove and a masonry heater combined. Multiple color and trim options are available to suit any d├ęcor.

As a brief introduction to the product range the Ecco Stove is a masonry heater that has been developed to achieve maximum efficiency by combining both conventional wood burning stove and slow heat release technology. It ha been in production in the U.K. since 2008. The Ecco Stove drives warmth through much more of the home without the need for plumbing, ducting, or electrical requirements using a Natural Heat method due to the patented Silicon Carbide (mineral/stone) body. 

Key features:

·  Slow heat release – Heat held in the stove body radiates for 7-12 hours after the fire has gone out.
·  One control – A simple mechanism makes getting the best out of your Ecco Stove easy.
·  Balanced heating – Won’t over heat the room with hot and cold spots. Ecco Stove wraps the home in warmth with even heat distribution.
·  Low maintenance – Incredibly hard-wearing parts with 10-year warranty on the body.
·  High efficiency – Very low emissions passing the new 2022 Design standards for Europe.
·  Less re-fueling– From as little as two fires per day depending on home insulation levels and property size.
·  Safer environment – A much lower surface temperature than conventional wood burning stoves make the Ecco Stove much safer for children and pets to be around.
·  Clean environment – Carbon neutral efficiency helping the environment by only producing the same CO emissions as a tree decomposing naturally.
·  Made in the UK – Manufactured and invented in the UK the Ecco Stove is now exporting to Belgium, Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, Canada, and the U.S..
·    UL Tested - Efficiency test, UL1482-10, Method 28A exemption test and the Washington and Colorado parallel.

The E678 and E850 models are currently available in the U.S. since they are tested to U.L. Standards. HearthMasters, Inc. is able to ship the ECCO stove anywhere in the United States. Unlike other manufactured stoves, a local hearth dealer is not necessary to place an order. The appliance and chimney should be installed by a professional, and HearthMasters will assist homeowners in finding a qualified installer in their area with a network of hearth professionals.

“There really is nothing else like this appliance. Compared to a masonry heater, the ECCO stove is much less expensive and faster to install, yet it produces heat economically just as a large masonry heater. I am certain that the ECCO stove will become extremely popular across the United States in a short amount of time,” said Padgitt.

For more information visit www.chimkc.com/ecco-stove.html or call Marge Padgitt at 816-461-3665. Email: hearthmastersboss@gmail.com.


Saturday, January 19, 2019

How to Choose a Hearth Appliance

High-efficiency fireplace by Regency
Since there are so many options for hearth appliances, it can sometimes be difficult to make a decision.  There are many choices available now from old school open fireplaces that actually take heat from the house, to high-tech hybrid masonry heaters that heat an entire house with very little wood. Both gas and wood-burning appliances are available, and making the right choice can mean the difference between thoroughly enjoying a fire or regretting the day you decided to make a purchase. 

First and foremost, it is critical to purchase a quality appliance from a reputable hearth dealer or chimney sweep, and that the installer is certified by the National Fireplace Institute and/or the Chimney Safety Institute of America (preferably both). These Certifications show that the installer is trained in their field. Also be sure to find out if the dealer is properly licensed by the local contractor agency and pulls a permit from the city codes department if required by your city. Professional dealers carry quality products. 

Buying from a big box store or local farm store may be tempting because of the low prices. The price reflects the quality, workmanship, and the warranty of the appliance, and that is why these types of stores sell the cheaper items. The metal is not as thick, the welds may not be as strong, and some stores even continue to sell non-EPA approved appliances which are not legal. You may also find non U.L. listed products online or in stores and that is a big problem since your local codes likely don't allow them. There is a reason - these appliances are inferior and could be a fire hazard in the near future. We've actually seen cheap stoves burn out in one season. 

Another problem with box store hearth appliances (other than electric units which are OK) is that they don't provide a qualified installer to install it. Gas and wood-burning stoves and fireplace inserts should only be installed by a qualified professional,  and the manual likely states that or the warranty is voided. There is a reason for this, too - there are too many mistakes that could be made that can cause a fire or Carbon Monoxide hazard.

Below is a chart I made to help people choose the appliance that is right for them: 
If you can't read the small print, go to our website at www.chimkc.com and you'll find this same page under appliances. 

Things never to buy: 
  • Non-U.L. Listed appliances
  • Barrel-stove kits (unsafe and not U. L. listed)
  • Non-EPA approved appliances
  • Older appliances that were made prior to 1989 (f you have one, get rid of it unless it is a rare early EPA approved and U.L. listed product)
And do not sell your old appliance - have it hauled to the dump. It is illegal to install a non-approved appliance in most jurisdictions. 

Remember that your local jurisdiction may REQUIRE a professional to do the installation, including the chimney or flue liner and connecting pipe, components, chimney cover, wall and floor protection, etc. and won't let homeowners DIY. 

THIS IS NOT A DO IT YOURSELF PROJECT!

House fire 
Let me repeat that - this is not a DIY project. I don't care how handy you are, if you are an engineer, contractor, or genius -if you are not a hearth or chimney professional you will miss something important!

After all, we are talking about FIRE in your house! 

I don't suggest using non-venting gas logs (see my article To Vent or Not to Vent on this blog for more info), or pellet stoves. Pellet stoves require weekly maintenance by the homeowner, which they never do, and then the stove stops working. There are also times when in the middle of winter it is impossible to find pellets. So for this reason I say stay away from pellet heating appliances. Pellet grills and smokers, on the other hand, are very easy and fun to use and you can always get pellets in the spring.  

Keep in mind that the newer the appliance the cleaner burning it is. The Environmental Protection Agency has come down hard on wood-burning appliance manufacturers and they've really stepped up and are now making super clean burning products. Some wood-burning stoves and inserts are hybrids, which means that a catalytic combustor is installed along with a secondary burn chamber. 

Custom masonry heater
by Gene Padgitt
So what is my favorite heating appliance?  Masonry heaters, of course. Masonry heaters use 1/3 the wood of a new clean- burning wood stove to produce the same amount of heat. They also retain the heat for long periods of time then emit this in the form of radiant heat throughout the day or evening, and only require loading twice per day. And no fan is required. The hybrid ECCO stove/masonry heater is also a very good choice. If you prefer gas, go with a direct vent gas insert that will provide ambiance and heating and is easy to use with a remote control! 

If you are considering a fireplace insert because your chimney is damaged by a chimney fire or rain water, remember to ask your chimney sweep to remove the creosote in the flue and chamber first. Creosote can cause bad odors, but more importantly can catch on fire when exposed to heat from the flue liner that comes with the stove. 

I know, this is a lot to consider, but hopefully I've made your job a bit easier. 
____________________________

Marge Padgitt is a veteran chimney specialist in Kansas City, Missouri. She is a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep and NFI Certified Gas Specialist. Contact her at hearthmastersboss@gmail.com







Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Health Benefits of a Fire in the Hearth


What is it about a fire in the fireplace that immediately elicits feelings of comfort and ease?  Is it the warmth, the sound of gentle crackle and pop, the rhythmic pattern of undulating flames…?

Perhaps all three; along with the added benefit that a fire invites us to slow down, sit down, and enjoy it.

Our modern lifestyle can keep us in a constant state of high alert status, or the “fight, freeze or flight response.”   (FFF) This is a normal, healthy response to stimulus or threat that has kept us humans on the planet for millennia.  A tiny, 2-part gland called the Amygdala that rests in the center of our brains is programed to keep us safe by remembering a threat and triggering a response to it.  IE: Stimulus = Saber-toothed Tiger, Response = Fight, Freeze or Flight.

However, that ancient protective response can be triggered by not-so-life-threatening stimulus in our world today.  In its effort to make sense of the stimuli that it is constantly bombarded with, the Amygdala can generalize and lump vaguely similar threats together.  Think about your most recent trip on a highway.  Did someone cut you off?, not let you in traffic?, run a stop sign? (and you had your kids in the car- whew!)  Your Amygdala reads those stimuli in exactly the same way it has been programmed to read “Saber-toothed tiger” – Yikes!  In addition, the sub-conscious does not know the difference between “real” and “virtual,” so even violent or disconcerting images on TV and through other media can prompt the FFF response.

That protective response floods the body with adrenaline, increases heart rate, slows digestion, tenses muscles and pumps blood to the extremities for fight or flight, leaving the brain sorely lacking in the nourishment it needs for optimal function and us feeling like we just ran a marathon.  No wonder we are tired after a long day!

A surprisingly simple, comforting and elegant way to de-stress and sooth the FFF response is to enjoy the benefits a fire in the hearth.   

Raising body temperature just a few degrees allows more efficient circulation; relaxing the muscles and bringing essential nutrients and oxygen to all parts of the body; creating a feeling of safety, security and ease.

The sound of the gentle sizzle and crackle of the burning wood serve as pleasant “white noise” which gives the brain just enough to occupy it, allowing other over-stimulated parts (ie: the Amygdala) to relax and rejuvenate

The almost hypnotic visual pattern created by dancing flames also provide as a pleasant pre-occupation for an over-stimulated brain and may even induce an Alpha brainwave response similar to that experienced in meditation or hypnosis.
Maybe our ancestors were on to something.  After a hard day in Saber-tooth-ville- Fire Good Medicine.

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Alice Brink is a Self-Empowerment Coach, Trainer and Mind/Body Healthcare Practitioner and may be reached at www.alicebrink.com

Don't Burn the Christmas Tree!

Chimney fire with flames coming out of the top of the chimney

When deciding what to do with a real Christmas tree this year, be sure putting it into a burning fireplace is not on the list of options. Dry pine is extremely flammable and burns very hot and fast - too fast and hot in fact for a friendly fire inside the fireplace.

Burning dry pine trees are the cause of many chimney fires each year - and many of those evolve into structural house fires. As soon as dry pine is placed on a burning fire it erupts into a ball of fire which reaches up into the flue where flammable creosote can ignite.

Chimney fires may only last a few seconds, but some can last much longer depending on the amount of fuel (creosote) inside the flue that is available to burn. The longer the fire, the higher the risk of flame escaping into the structure.

Instead, think about chopping the tree up into very small pieces to use for kindling throughout the winter. Pine is a great firestarter.  An added benefit is that you can get some exercise while chopping!  If chopping is not your thing, some cities offer Christmas tree pick up service, and will haul the tree off for you.

More ideas for dry Christmas trees:


  1. Cut the tree up into larger pieces to use in an outdoor firepit or bake oven.
  2. Cut the tree trunk into thin slices to make coasters. Sand smooth, and apply a coat of polyurethane to seal in sap.
  3. Cut the trunk into thin slices, then drill a hole near the top for string, and donate to a scout group or school for an art project. 
  4. Use the pine needles for mulch.
  5. Rent a wood chipper and run the tree through it, then use the chips as mulch in the spring.
____________________________________

Marge Padgitt is an author and chimney professional living in Kansas City, Missouri. Contact her at margepadgitt@comcast.net. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Consumer Alert: Beware of Unlisted Wood Stoves

By Marge Padgitt

►CONSUMER ALERT:

There is a big difference in quality and longevity when it comes to wood-burning stoves. Some metal wood-burning stoves and all barrel stove kits being sold by home improvement stores are NOT U.L. Listed or EPA approved, and therefore, cannot be installed in most cities according to the International Residential Code and city codes. 

Wood Stove Kit from U.S. Stove - this is an unlisted product

Wood stove barrel kits allow the consumer to modify a 50-gallon barrel to be used as a wood-burning stove. The barrels were not designed for this purpose, nor have they been tested for this use. It is unknown how long the so called "stove" would hold up. It is definitely not a product with a secondary burn chamber, so would be very dirty burning, spewing black smoke during use. The EPA does not allow such wood stoves to be used. 

So why are these kits sold? Good question, and I don't have the answer to that other than apparently, anyone can sell anything in the U.S. 

When purchasing a wood stove look for a label on the product that says "U.L." or Underwriters Laboratories, which indicates that the appliance has been tested do U.L. standards. If no label exists, it is not legal to install in most cities. 

Check with your local building codes official before purchasing a wood-burning heating appliance to see what their jurisdiction requires. Most major cities require that a licensed contractor do the installation of the stove and chimney or flue liner. The license they are looking for is called an HVAC or Master Mechanical License. Some cities require that a Certified Chimney Sweep by the Chimney Safety Institute of America or an NFI Certified Woodburning Specialist by the National Fireplace Institute do the installation. 

However, it is good advice to not waste your money on these potentially dangerous products. Find a local professional chimney sweep or hearth retailer who carries good quality wood-burning stoves with a warranty. 
_______________________________

Marge Padgitt is the CEO of HearthMasters, Inc. in Independence, Missouri. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Chimneys should be inspected after recent storm

By Marge Padgitt



Some of the lightning strikes throughout the greater Kansas City area last night hit chimneys. 

A lightning strike caused major
damage to this chimney exterior
and interior
Pieces of bricks on the ground and roof, or blown out sections of a chimney are signs that a recent event occurred and the chimney may have been hit by lightning.

In some cases the damage is so severe that the chimney must be torn down and rebuilt. In other cases where there are only a few damaged bricks or stones these can be removed and replaced with new bricks.

When lightning strikes a chimney the evidence is usually obvious. There is always an entrance and exit point. The entrance point, usually found near the top of the structure, will likely be a large hole with burn marks, and may include large cracks through the masonry or blown out sections of stones or bricks. The exit point is usually found somewhere within the chimney structure in the flue, smoke chamber, firebox, or even the outer hearth inside the house.

Damage not so visible from the ground -
lightning hit the top of the chimney and
pushed a brick out on the back side
A professional chimney inspector should examine any chimney that has been damaged by lighting. The chimney sweep should perform a Level II internal chimney inspection with a chimney camera system in order to see if any interior damages have occurred which make the fireplace, furnace, or water heater flue unusable. Only persons trained specifically on chimneys can identify chimney damages properly and provide the needed documentation for an insurance claim. 


_____________________________________________________
Marge Padgitt is the president and CEO of HearthMasters, Inc. dba Padgitt Chimney & Fireplace. She is a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep and NFI Certified Wood- burning Specialist. Contact Marge at hearthmastersboss@gmail.com.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Cut utility bills by using wood-heating appliances


Cut utility bills by using wood-heating appliances

Fireplace insert by Regency
One way to cut utility bills during cold weather is to use a wood-fired heating appliance such as a masonry heater, wood-burning stove, or wood-burning fireplace insert. 


Freestanding wood-burning stove
by Regency

Today’s modern wood-burning heating appliances are very efficient and clean-burning, unlike their older predecessors. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates wood stove emissions and has strict requirements that stove manufacturers must follow. This is why replacing an older, dirty burning wood stove is good not only for the environment, but less wood is needed to produce the same amount of heat.

Fuel costs can be significantly less than oil, gas, or electric heating appliances, especially if there is a nearby supply of inexpensive cordwood. For homeowners with their own land and trees, the concept of no cost for fuel other than physical exertion is very attractive. For those wanting to live off-grid, have an emergency heating alternative, or just lower fuel costs, the addition of a wood-burning appliance is a good solution.

Masonry Heater by Gene Padgitt
Masonry heaters are arguably the best type of wood-burning appliance. They use old-world technology which is a series of channels installed inside the appliance that trap heat, then transfer the heat slowly through the mass of masonry. Masonry heaters are large and need to be centrally located for maximum benefit. The Masonry Heater Association of North America has more information on these efficient site-built appliances.

Fireplace inserts are appliances that are installed inside an existing masonry fireplace. They use a small stainless steel flue liner and can be used either with or without a blower. By installing a new efficient wood-burning fireplace insert the fireplace efficiency will be increased by approximately 75%.

Freestanding stoves are appliances that are placed in a room and use an existing masonry chimney with a stainless steel flue liner or an independent Class A stainless steel chimney. These types of appliances are also highly efficient.

For more information on fuel cost calculators visit http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/woodstoves.html
____________________________________

Marge Padgitt is the president of HearthMasters, Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri. Contact her at hearthmastersboss@gmail.com. HearthMasters website is www.chimkc.com