How to Clean Soot Stains on Brick or Stone

October 17, 2016 @ 6:00 AM

sooty fireplace brickBefore I tell you how to clean soot stains from your brick, you need to know that you should never see soot if the fireplace is drafting properly. Soot outside of the fireplace indicates a dangerous situation that needs to be addressed!

Soot is CARBON; when you see carbon it means that associated fume - CARBON MONOXIDE - has been in your living space. A properly drafting chimney will take all soot and fumes up the chimney.

There are 2 basic reasons most fireplaces don't draft properly:

* A fireplace opening that's too large for the chimney
* Negative pressure in the house


The area of the chimney needs to be at least 10% of the fireplace opening size. If the fireplace opening (height x ...

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Aldine Style Fireplaces

October 7, 2016 @ 8:33 PM

In many turn of the century homes it's common to see a coal fireplace with a door that's an open grate. Usually, this was never a proper fireplace but instead was a passive heating system that made use of the hot vented air from a downstairs fireplace.

Aldine was the best known manufacturer of these systems, but there were a number of manufacturers of similar products and site-designed methods.

This drawing below right from Aldine's 1906 catalog shows how the system worked. There was an operable coal fireplace downstairs that was vented through a pipe that ran inside the chimney. A metal vent pipe produces considerable heat and Aldine designed a couple of methods of reclaiming the heated vent air to share it with rooms above....

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Vintage Decor - Get The Look

October 7, 2016 @ 12:20 PM

Luckily, there are many different directions you can take with home decor to personalize your own vintage style. Although you don't have to put a label on it, think about what creates a comfortable retreat for YOU, and you'll begin shopping wisely, even if it means shopping your own attic, garage or barn.

SWIVEL Tractor Stool - 24"Farmhouse Practicality is the rule; choose rustic wood furnishings, utilitarian storage and display items with a vintage patina. Farmhouse style keeps kitschy items to one or 2 pieces because farmhouse style doesn't bombard the senses and instead seeks to offer serenity and comfort. Look for barn board and any reclaimed wood, butcher block, ceramics, antique kitchen ware.


Industrial Common workplace items from days ...

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Hacks for Storms & Hurricanes

October 6, 2016 @ 3:15 PM

As Hurricane Matthew bears down on so many of us, I thought I'd compile and share again some storm survival tricks.

I'll skip the common sense tips - like gathering batteries, flash lights, extra food, refilling prescriptions, filling your car with gas and charging your devices - and head straight for things that may not have occurred to you.

  • Fill the bath tub with water. We're on a well so helps us flush the toilet, etc. Even municipal water systems can go down in severe storms and a bathtub provides a lot of clean water.
  • Fill any empty space in your freezer with bottled water. The extra ice will keep food cold longer, plus you have additional potable water for cooking and drinking.
  • Keep some bleach on hand in case you...
  • ...
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Fireplace Transformations - Lexington VA

October 5, 2016 @ 9:00 AM

This beautiful 1880's home has multiple fireplaces, but they've been redesigned for various uses over the years. The homeowners wanted to refurbish them and convert to gas. They tackled part of the projects themselves, removing some inappropriate tile but leaving exposed brick. Taking a design clue from the original slate hearths, we gave them inexpensive new metal faces, painted black to coordinate with the hearths.


The dining room fireplace was completely unusable and ready for a transformation. The fireplace opening was too large for the size of the chimney so it couldn't draw. The homeowners wanted an open burning gas fire in their dining room, which requires lining the chimney with materials that would support...

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