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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wood-Fired Magazine Looking for Writers


Wood-Fired Magazine is looking for writers who are experts in their field. The deadline for article, press releases, and photo projects for the next issue of Wood-Fired is January 5th, but we will accept articles anytime.

Please send submissions to See the writer guidelines and article compensation information on the website. We provide a 1/4 page ad for 1,000 - 1,500 word submissions. Photos are desired in high resolution for print. Some articles will also appear on our blog.

We are looking for articles about anything related to wood and fire: chimneys, ovens, fireplaces, baking, cooking, building, etc. Kachelofen masonry heaters are the feature in this issue but we want articles on various topics in each issue.

The magazine is distributed worldwide via digital download and in print.

To see the magazine, visit 

Monday, December 15, 2014

MCSC Offers Educational Classes March 20-22

The Midwest Chimney Safety Council is Holding Educational Classes 
Friday, March 20 through Sunday, March 22, 2015 in Independence, Missouri

8:00 a.m.—6:30 p.m.
CDET Certification:  Get yourself and your employees C-Det Certified and learn what you don’t know about dryers, dryer vents, and the lucrative dryer vent cleaning and inspection market. Keep ahead of the competition with this additional credential!

To Register: Go to to pay and register for the CDET review and test and purchase your manual.  Get your manual NOW to study before the review. The MCSC is NOT taking registrations or payment for this portion. 


8:30 am—5:30 pm
What Every Contractor Needs to Know About OSHA Requirements
Avoid heavy fines and possible financial ruin by attending this class.  A Midwest chimney company recently had over $40,000 in fines—don’t let this happen to you! Learn what you need to know about OSHA safety requirements on the job and record keeping requirements for 2015.  Bring your employees and safety manager along with you!
Instructor: Robert M. Kellogg, MS, CSP, CHST, CSM, CSSM, CSST with Safety Consulting & Training Services, LLC

9:00 am—10:30 am

How to Use FLIR Technology for Inspections
Find out how you and your techs can use a FLIR infrared camera to check for leaks and other issues with fireplaces and chimneys and more. Connect E-Series cameras to smartphones and tablets with a Wi-Fi app. Stream live thermal video so co-workers can watch along. Import radiometric JPEGs, adjust contrast and color, add more measurement tools, then package images in concise reports and email findings right from the field to expedite critical decisions. This is the latest in high-tech and can be very useful in your business and at home. Technical CEU’s will be applied for. Instructor: Roy Huff with the Snell Group.

11:00 am—12:30 pm
Reducing Stress in the Workplace
How about learning some unique and fun techniques to reduce stress in the workplace, which is something we all need? Health CEU's will be applied for. 
Instructor: Alice Brink

12:30 pm Lunch and meeting

Visit for more information and to download the registration form.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Don't Spoil the Holidays with a Chimney Fire

As the weather gets colder, and the holidays approach, more people are using -- and abusing, their wood stoves and fireplaces. A chimney fire during this time can ruin the day.

December and January are the worst months for chimney fires so I've made a list of tips for homeowners to follow that will help avoid a fire.

Tips to avoid a chimney fire:

- Never burn wet wood (more than 20% moisture content). Wet wood takes a lot of energy to burn off the moisture and causes smoldering, which is inefficient.
- Never burn dry pine or hedge- they burns too hot (but small pieces may be used for kindling
- Never burn treated wood or colored paper (toxic fumes are emitted which can be a health hazard)
- Never burn wrapping paper- this is a big cause of chimney fires! Wrapping paper floats upward and can catch creosote on fire in the smoke chamber or flue.
- Never put a Christmas tree in a fireplace - a chimney fire is practically guaranteed! Christmas trees are especially dry and will burn fast and hot. Instead, take the tree outside and cut into small pieces for kindling or have it hauled off by the city.
- No Chimney Sweeping Logs! We have had customers who have had chimney fires occur right after use of one of these logs. Creosote on the flue walls drops down into the smoke chamber on the shelf where it is closer to the fire. Then a spark can ignite it and a chimney fire occurs. Besides, the sweeping log can't do an inspection!
- Have the chimney swept and inspected annually, or more often for wood stoves - by a professional chimney sweep. A good chimney sweep can identify problems that the untrained eye may miss. 

All wood creates creosote - even dry hardwoods like Oak and Hickory, so creosote cannot be avoided. It must be removed by brushing, or in some cases where glazed, baked-on creosote is on the flue walls - by power cleaning. Power cleaning may consist of a wire whip or chains on a drill operated by a technician. This removes the baked -on creosote. A chemical treatment may also be needed. Glazed creosote occurs when wood is not properly burned, or the wrong type of wood is used. 

Get advise from your chimney sweep about how to use your fireplace or wood stove if you have any questions. Check our website at for more homeowner tips.  


Marge Padgitt is the president of HearthMasters, Inc. and publisher of Wood-Fired Magazine. She has been in the chimney and hearth industry for 29 years and is a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep and NFI Woodburning Specialist.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The signs say heavy snow and cold weather for the Midwest

The rabbits, cats and dogs in the Midwest area have a noticeably heavy coat right now – according to folklore heavier coats on any of our animal friends indicates very cold wet weather coming soon. But that is not the only way to predict the weather using non-scientific means.

Persimmon Seeds: According to Mike Dougherty of Tree Management Company in Lenexa, Kansas, find persimmon fruit in the supermarket or on a persimmon tree in your neighborhood. Note: You can eat persimmon fruit but most people don’t think it is very tasty and prefer to leave it for the deer, squirrels and raccoons. The fruit should be locally-grown to reflect the area weather. Cut one of the seeds inside the fruit open and examine the shape of the white kernel inside.
  • If the kernel is fork-shaped, we can expect powdery, light snow and a mild winter.
  • If the kernel is knife-shaped, expect to be "cut" by icy, cold and cutting winds.
  • If the kernel is spoon-shaped, lots of heavy, wet snow will fall. The spoon is supposed to represent a shovel, which you will need to have on hand.

Animal Folklore:

·         If a mole digs its hole 2½ feet deep, expect severe weather; if two feet deep, not so severe; if one foot deep, a mild winter.

·         When pigs gather leaves and straw in all, expect a cold winter.
·         When rabbits are fat in October and November, expect a long, cold winter.
·         Wooly Worms: According to folklore, the black-and-brown caterpillars can predict the weather for the coming winter. If you find one during the fall season and see that the brown band is narrow, winter weather will be harsh. Supposedly, wooly worm weather predictions have been accurate 80% of the time since tracking began in the 1950s.

·         Insects and birds nesting high in the trees in the fall indicate a harsh winter is ahead.

·         Tough acorns: A thicker, harder shell than normal on acorns is a sign of hard weather to come.
·         Squirrel activity: If the squirrels are bustling around and storing more food than normal, or burying their acorns deeper than normal, expect a hard winter.

The accuracy of these folklore traditions may be questionable, however, it will be interesting to see what actually happens this winter. If there is a lot of snow, I’ll be a believer.

Moon Signs:
“Clear Moon, frost soon.”  When the night sky is clear, Earth's surface cools rapidly—there is no cloud cover to keep the heat in. If the night is clear enough to see the Moon and the temperature drops enough, frost will form overnight, so expect a very chilly morning.

Farmer’s Almanac:
I prefer to check a publication that has been around since 1792. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, December temperatures will average 30° (2° below avg.) and precipitation will be low at 0.5" (1" below avg.). The Almanac shows snowy and cold periods from December 12 – 27, then very cold.

And then there is the Weather Channel, which reported today that a Polar Vortex is on its way to Kansas City. Oh, yea, winter is here already!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hearth Applicance Installation Training For Pros Aug 8-10, 2014

The Midwest Chimney Safety Council is hosting a charity hearth workshop August 8 - 10, 2014 at the Boy Scout Camp at Lake of the Ozarks. 

The workshop includes installation of a wood-burning freestanding stove, installation of a Class A stainless steel chimney, different methods of crown building, how to build your own chimney chase top, and Business and Personal Risk Management. Instructors are Steve Hoover, Gary Hart, Gene Padgitt, and Lisa Hatcher.

An auction will be held with auctioneer Steve Hoover and items donated by suppliers and manufacturers in the industry. 

Camping is available on site or stay at a nearby hotel. 

CEU's have been applied for from the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fireplace Institute.

The MCSC will also hold their annual meeting.

All hearth and chimney professionals and their employees are invited to attend. Visit the website at for registration and pricing information. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Missouri Says No to Blanket EPA Regulations on Wood-burning Appliances

Governor Jay Nixon signed legislation Friday prohibiting the Department of Natural Resources from regulating wood-burning heaters, unless specifically authorized by the Missouri Legislature.

High-efficiency freestanding
Wood-burning stove
The legislation was introduced in an attempt to prevent Missouri from helping implement a proposed rule change by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. That proposal would give manufactures five years to meet tougher standards reducing emissions from wood stoves by an estimated 80 percent.

The EPA's existing regulations implemented in 1988 caused emissions to be reduced by as much as 70% due to the use of new technology, and don't apply to all of the different kinds of wood-burning devices now in use. Older stoves sold prior to 1989 produced emissions of 20-40 grams per hour. Today's stove emissions are 1.9 - 4.6 grams per hour, which is a significant reduction that likely can't be reduced. The new regulations are so strict, that manufacturers may not be able to meet the guidelines.

Manufacturers have said the EPA proposal would drive up their costs and force them to raise prices to a point where many consumers could no longer afford to purchase their products.
Wood stove bill HB1302 sponsored by Representative Tim Remole, and co-sponsored by Paul Fitswater specifies that Missourians have the right to heat their homes and businesses using wood-burning furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, and heaters. The bill becomes effective on August 28, 2014.

In part, the Bill reads "New rules or regulations shall not be applied to existing wood burning furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, or heaters that individuals are currently using as their source of heat for their homes or businesses. All wood burning furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, and heaters existing on August 28, 2014 shall be not subject to any rules or regulations enacted after such date. No employee of the state or state agency shall enforce any new rules or regulations against such existing wood burning furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, and heaters."

The Midwest Chimney Safety Council says that this is good news for homeowners who wish to heat their homes with wood and for businesses that service chimneys, fireplaces, and wood-burning stoves. If wood-burning were to be drastically reduced or eliminated thousands of jobs would be lost in the hearth sales, stove manufacturing,and chimney service industries
in Missouri.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Masonry heater workshop April 18-24, 2014

The Masonry Heater Association of North America will present a masonry heater, bake oven, and masonry skills workshop at Wildacres Retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains north of Asheville, North Carolina April 14 – 20, 2014. 

Masonry heaters are site-built wood-burning appliances that radiantly heat a home with wood.  They are very efficient and use relatively small amounts of wood heat without the use of electricity, gas, fans, or ducts. Wood is burned in a firebox, which connects to channels inside a large thermal mass.  After the fire is out the appliance gradually radiate heat to the living space for many hours without causing large temperature fluctuations or drafts.

The annual meeting and workshop will include hands-on training for a Kachelofen (tile) heater with Jessica Steinhauser and Mario Zauner; A Five Run Masonry Heater with Testing Demo by Doug Hargrave and Norbert Senf; A Finnish Heater for Beginner Masons by Marty Pearson and Jeff Owens; A Bake/Pizza Oven by Pat Manley; a Small Guastavino Vault Demo by Tony Bioundo, a Bricklaying Clinic by Tom Trout and Pat Jenkins, a Grundofen J Loop Masonry Heater with Domestic Hot Water by Eric Moshier, Dan Givens, and Joe Copeland; and A Brick Hammer and Trowel Only: 36” Diameter Clay Brick Dome Oven by Alex Chernov and David Moore. 

Classroom seminars include Google Sketch-up Clinic with Boris Kukolj; What Does it Mean? By the Technical Committee; A Unique and Challenging Heater Built by Jerry Frisch, Masons on a Mission Presentation by Pat Manley, and Untold Stories and Ooops that Confront a Masonry Heater Builder.  The Heater Mason Education and Development class will be held throughout the week.

The annual Design/Build Contest for masonry heaters, bake ovens and masonry will be judged during the week and trophies will be awarded at the final meeting.

An auction will be held on Thursday night, and the Pizza Party, where participants can sample pizza from the wood-fired ovens is held on Friday afternoon.

For more information on how to join the MHA or attend the workshop contact Richard Smith, Executive Director, at 520-883-0191, e-mail or visit

Monday, March 3, 2014

Use of fireplace for heating can cause house fire

Photo: CScottDorrett -
During the extreme cold we are experiencing throughout much of the United States this winter many people attempt to use their fireplace as a source for supplemental heat. But what most homeowners are unaware of is that fireplaces are designed for ambient fires only, and are not meant to be used for heating purposes.

Open fireplaces are inefficiently designed so that most of the heat escapes into the flue, rather than the home. In fact, open fireplaces use heated room air for combustion, thereby lowering the temperature inside the house. Exception: Rumford style fireplaces.

According to the Midwest Chimney Safety Council, chimney sweeps are reporting record calls for chimney service, no doubt due to the unusually long and bitterly cold winter. What the chimney sweeps are finding out is that their customers have been using their fireplaces as a heating source, rather than for just the occasional friendly fire. That is when trouble can happen.

Open wood-or gas burning fireplaces are designed with clearances to combustibles set at certain distances with the idea that people will use their appliance for short periods of time – up to four hours in duration. Once that time has been exceeded, or before if improperly installed,  the nearby combustible materials may overheat and ignite. Combustible headers and studs, which are hidden from view by finishing materials may not be properly installed with proper clearance, which makes matters even worse. Unfortunately, improper construction around fireplaces is a common issue and many house fires have been the result.

Nearby combustible wood may pryolizes over time due to exposure to heat through the masonry or metal fireplace. Pyrolization is the chemical alteration of wood, which lowers the ignition temperature significantly. Wood normally ignites at 500 degrees, but pyrolized wood can ignite at 180 degrees or lower.

After a Raytown, Missouri house fire in 2009 Fire Investigator Gene Padgitt was requested to find the cause and origin of the fire. The customer had used their masonry fireplace as the sole source of heat for three days while they had no gas after moving in their new home on a Friday. Combustible wood framing, which was improperly installed above the fireplace without proper clearances, ignited due to exposure to heat for the prolonged period. Padgitt said that this scenario is all too common and that unfortunately, he sees it often.

In yet another fire investigation in Topeka, Kansas in 2012 Gene found that the homeowner used a manufactured gas fireplace for seven days straight when wood framing, which was properly installed, ignited. The fire caused a total loss. The homeowner thought that he could heat his house with the fireplace.

This type of burning is called "Over-firing" in the chimney and hearth industry. The fact is that masonry fireplaces do not come with a homeowner's manual, and rarely do new home buyers find a manual for their manufactured fireplace. So it is up to the homeowner to get operation information from his chimney sweep or from websites.

Certain wood and gas appliances are designed for heating, while others are designed for ambient fires. Since there are no standards in the industry that have been adopted for masonry fireplaces, Padgitt suggests that homeowners use common sense when operating a fireplace or stove.  He suggests the following:

Appliances designed for ambient fires:
  • Wood-burning manufactured fireplaces (read the manufacturer instructions)
  • Wood-burning masonry fireplaces
  • Gas-burning manufactured fireplaces (read the manufacturer instructions)
  • Gas-burning masonry fireplaces
Appliances designed for heating:
  • Wood-burning freestanding stoves with proper clearances
  • Wood-burning fireplace inserts in masonry fireplaces
  • Wood-burning masonry heaters
  • Direct-Vent Gas fireplaces (per manufacturer instructions)
  • Non-Venting gas logs in masonry fireplaces (read the manufacturer instructions which likely state that they are not to be used for longer than four hours at a time)
All gas and wood burning appliances should be installed by a professional technician, and inspected annually and swept or serviced as necessary by a professional chimney sweep or certified technician. Wood-burning stoves and inserts should be swept at least twice per season if used for primary heating purposes, or used on a regular basis in order to remove flammable creosote.

Note: Non-Venting gas logs and wood-burning fireplace inserts should never be installed in manufactured fireplaces. To do so voids the warranty on the fireplace, and alters the fireplace which is a code violation. Any alteration can be a fire hazard.

Masonry Heater Association of North America
Chimney Safety Institute of America
Midwest Chimney Safety Council
National Fire Protection Association

Friday, February 28, 2014

EPA plans its only hearing on proposed wood stove rules in Boston

EPA plans its only hearing on proposed wood stove rules in Boston
The Portland Daily Sun

On Wednesday, Feb. 26 in Boston, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held its only national hearing about a proposal to regulate emissions from wood stoves. Critics say the proposed regulations will backfire, prompting people to use non-compliant wood stoves and inordinately hurting low-income residents who rely on wood heat. The EPA says the health benefits of the rules outweigh the economic costs.  See More

Thursday, February 27, 2014

New Wood-Fired Magazine

HearthMasters, Inc. announced today that their new Wood-Fired Magazine will be published this summer.  Editor Marge Padgitt has been working on the project for the past two years and is ready to publish the first issue.

Wood-Fired Magazine covers design, construction, maintenance and use of wood-fired appliances. This includes chimneys, fireplaces, masonry heaters, heating appliances, smokers, bake ovens, cooking and baking. Writers interview expert chefs, restaurant owners, masons, tile makers, manufacturers, and chimney sweeps to produce in-depth articles with quality photos of their work.

Chefs, designers, architects, builders, masons, chimney sweeps, and homeowners will find the articles interesting and informative. The magazine will be available in print and via digital download at different price points. Subscriptions are available. 

Marge Padgitt is the author of 12 books including The Chimney and Hearth Pro's Resource Guide and the Homeowner's Operation Manual for Chimneys, Fireplaces, and Heating Appliances. She is a national speaker and has been heavily involved in the chimney industry for almost 30 years.

Article guidelines, calendar, classified, and display advertising information are available at

Friday, February 21, 2014

Free and easy way to keep stove or fireplace doors clean

One of the best things about having a cozy warm fire is watching the flames dance around, but if the glass doors are not clean it takes away from the experience. An old tried and true method that my grandfather used can solve the problem, allowing homeowners to once again enjoy their fire.

Hearthstone wood-burning stove
The newer wood-burning stoves have an air-wash system over the glass to help keep it clean. This helps but does not keep the glass perfectly clear at all times. Keep wood pushed back away from the doors for cleaner glass Older model wood-burning stoves do not have the air-wash system and the glass gets dirty very quickly. Glass doors on fireplaces also get blackened with soot, and need to be cleaned periodically.

There are stove glass cleaners on the market that work well, but if you want to save some money and a trip to the hearth store left over wood ashes work fine.

To clean glass doors with ashes:
  • Wait until the glass is cool before cleaning
  • Get a damp paper towel or soft cloth
  • Dip the cloth into cold fireplace ashes and scrub the cold glass thoroughly
  • Wipe with a clean damp cloth

Marge Padgitt is the president of HearthMasters, Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri.  She is a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep and NFI Wood-burning Specialist, and writes articles for national magazines and blogs. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Brick ovens to be introduced at World of Masonry in Las Vegas

The Masonry Heater Association of North America is hosting an introductory wood-fired brick oven building workshop at the World of Concrete/World of Masonry Conference in Las Vegas, NV January 20-24, 2014.

Then workshop is for masons who wish to learn more about brick oven building techniques and methods. Site-built brick ovens are increasingly popular among professional chefs and home cooks, who find that wood-fired cooking imparts a unique flavor to breads, pizza, and gourmet foods. The addition of oven building to a portfolio can greatly increase income for professional masons.

The workshop will be presented by the MHA Wood-Fired Bake Oven Committee, whose members are professional masons specializing in residential and commercial brick oven building. The committee is currently working on changes in codes and standards, professional oven building training, public awareness, and an oven portfolio focusing on dome and arch brick ovens, squirrel tail ovens, and cob ovens. The portfolio will be available to professional masons.

The World of Concrete Conference is the largest international event dedicated to professional contractors. The event will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, 3150 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nevada 89109. To register for the World of Concrete Conference visit

For more information about the MHA Bake Oven Committee contact chair Marge Padgitt at 816-461-3665 or
The media is invited to attend and take photos of the event.

The Masonry Heater Association of North America is a non-profit organization with members worldwide. The MHA sponsors workshops throughout the year. The next annual meeting and workshop will be held April 14-20, 2014 in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.
For more information on how to join the Masonry Heater Association of North America, or media scheduling contact Richard Smith, MHA Executive Director, at 520-883-0191 or e-mail or visit

House fire caused by fireplace embers

A house fire was reported shortly after 6:00 in the 5800 block of Woodward Street in Merriam, Kansas.

Firefighters quickly brought the blaze under control, which was contained to the back part of the house. The initial cause of the fire is listed as fireplace embers in a container placed on a combustible surface on the back enclosed porch.

Four people escaped on their own in the current sub-freezing temperatures, but their black Labrador had to be rescued by firefighters, who used oxygen on the dog according to media reports.
According to Midwest Chimney Safety Council president Steve Hoover, fireplace embers should be placed into an ash container with a raised base, then removed to a non-combustible area outside away from the house. A hole dug for this purpose and covered with dirt is ideal. Embers can smolder for up to two weeks, according to Hoover, who also says that people should not use their open fireplaces for heating purposes in this very cold weather we are experiencing.

Fireplaces are designed for ambiance only and over use for heating purposes could cause a house fire. Instead, the MCSC recommends the use of a wood stove or fireplace insert instead, which are designed for heating.