Many of the kiva fireplaces in Stam houses, though built to the standards of the 1950’s, have fallen into disrepair. The masonry work, including fireplace thickness, hearth thickness, and hearth extension measure, is not up to current codes.
Justin Bailey recently built this masonry heater in Tesuque, NM. Bailey is one of the only contractors in The Southwest that offers design/build services for this type of fireplace, sometimes called a masonry stove.
Bailey, owner of Baileys Chimney, LLC, is New Mexico’s only member of the Masonry Heater Association, an international organization. He attends the MHA annual meeting every year in Wildacres, A retreat center on top of a mountain near the Blue Ridge Parkway. The annual meeting is a festive, educational event that lasts for one week. 120 Masonry Heater builders, designers and enthusiasts from a dozen countries gather to build heaters, share knowledge and expertise, and test new Heater designs.
Masonry heaters channel the flue gasses through passageways in the core of the heater so the mass absorbs the heat. One fire a day In this heater, and the house will stay warm 24/7. When the flue gasses leave the fire chamber they are over 1500 degrees, and when they leave the heater they are only 300 degrees F. All that heat remains trapped in the heater, which provides radiant heat to the room over time.
The radiation waves from a masonry surface are longer than radiation waves from a metal surface. The long radiation waves heat up all the mass in the room, rather than heating the air.
The warmth from a masonry heater tends to put people into a meditative, peaceful state. People say it “warms your bones.”
Masonry heaters are the most efficient way to heat with wood, if you measure the percentage of the energy in the fuel that gets converted to warmth in the room.
If you are interested in a custom masonry heater for your home, give Bailey a call.
Justin Bailey was at the National Chimney Sweeps Guild Conference in Portland, Oregon. April, 2018. Bailey has served as the journalistic reporter for Sweeping Magazine at the conference for the last four years in a row. Bailey had the opportunity at this conference to share his story about his journey to becoming a masonry heater builder in a presentation for about 150 Chimney sweeps.
The National Chimney Sweeps Guild supports it’s members by providing representation, proven standards, camaraderie and networking. This is done through education, industry specific publications and a yearly convention that brings the industry together on a national platform.
Green Building and Sustainable Development: January 30, 2017
“Kim interviews Justin Bailey, owner of Bailey’s Chimney Cleaning and Repair, northern New Mexico’s premier chimney service company and a proud member of SFAHBA. Look for Justin’s booth at the Santa Fe Home Show March 11/12 at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center.”
Veteran Attendee Profile
Andy Raycroft, Alexandria, VA
Rooftop chimney sweep
When Andy Raycroft went to his first NCSG convention in Chicago in 1979, he didn’t know what a chimney cap was.
“The trade show was the size of this room,” he said, gesturing around the dining room of the restaurant where we met. “Bob Daniels [the famous ‘Sooty Bob,’ founder of Copperfield Chimney supply] was there. He was selling his chimney deodorant. He had one cap. That was it. I placed my first order for chimney caps. They were called O.D. Funk. I ordered a dozen. When the caps showed up, by freight line, I had no place to put them but in my living room. I looked at them and I thought, I don’t know if I can sell these.”
Raycroft has been to a lot of NCSG conventions since 1979. He became a certified chimney sweep in 1980, and has maintained his certification ever since. He is CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep #140. “That was the first year they had the certification. Your number was determined by where you were standing in line.”
Andy’s brother, Tom, got certified too.
“By the spring of ‘80, Tom was full-time in the business.”
Raycroft has two sons, Tristan, 31 and Dylan, 29. Both boys also work for Rooftop Chimney, after putting themselves through college by working as sweeps during the summers and during breaks.
Raycroft’s business has had ups and downs. “We grew to 5 trucks in the 80’s,” he said, “but I didn’t know what I was doing, business-wise.” The business shrunk back down to two trucks. Tristan decided he wanted to pursue a career in the family chimney business in 2007, and they started growing the business.
Things have changed a lot in the chimney industry since 1979. They’ve changed for Andy Raycroft too. His company, Rooftop Chimney Sweep, now has 17 employees. It grew 35 percent in 2014.
In January of 2015 he gave his first annual State of the Chimney Address to his entire staff.
“I showed them everything,” he said, “The profit and loss statement, all the numbers. they know what my salary is, and they know what the profit is.”
Raycroft attends several conferences every year, and participates in a MIX group, which allows business owners to share best practices with each other in a professionally facilitated environment. NCSG conventions provide the networking opportunities that are necessary to get involved in the industry in that kind of way. Raycroft credits attending the convention with not just his success, but his survival as the owner of a chimney business.
“It was a smart thing to do. I would guess that if I hadn’t joined the guild I would have quit sweeping years ago. I was the only one in my area, in the whole DC area.” He said. “Imagine you just started doing a job, not related to what you’ve been doing. I was doing historical research [for a living] and now I’m sweeping chimneys.”
Raycroft shared the secret to his success as a family business owner:
“With the respect and the love that we have for each other, there’s a real trust factor there. We all look out for each other, as we do for the people that work for us. The most important part of your business is people, whether its your customers, your employees. You want to treat them the way you want to be treated. You treat people like people.
Raycroft recommends the NCSG convention to any chimney sweep working in the industry.
“You learn more outside of the classes than you do in the classes.” He said. “From my very first convention, I’ve made friendships that have lasted 35 years.”
By Justin Bailey
One thing we strive for at Bailey’s is constant improvement. That’s why I travelled to Richmond, Indiana to receive factory training in the Heat Shield chimney repair system.
Heat Shield is a nondestructive way to repair and reline chimneys from the inside out.
A company called Saver Systems has developed this amazing technology, and I am proud that Bailey’s is the only company in New Mexico that is authorized to utilize this solution to the problem of cracked, damaged flue tiles inside chimneys.
I got to know most of the top professionals in the industry at the Heat Shield Summit, and was able to exchange lots of useful information.
After four days in Richmond, I travelled to Chicago, where I spent three days with Lindemann Chimney Co, the number 1 chimney service company in the U.S. The first day I spent in their offices and warehouse, and the the next day I rode around with one of their chimney sweeps in Chicago.
Exchanging best practices with the best in the business is a way that I can be sure that here at Bailey’s we are constantly improving. Continued education and investments in knowledge is an important part of the mix for Bailey’s.
That’s one of the reasons why we are New Mexico’s premier chimney service company.
A lot of fireplaces have internal dampers; there is a handle that comes down into the fireplace; you pull the handle towards you to open the damper, and you push it towards the back of the fireplace to close it. When we sweep these chimneys, the creosote and debris ends up on the smoke shelf behind the damper.
For chimneys that lack rain caps/animal guards, there is usually an accumulation on the smoke shelf of various things, which can include leaves, twigs, bird carcasses and nests, milk cartons, chunks of plaster, rocks, pieces of steel: anything and everything that ever climbed, flew, fell or was dropped down the chimney…is still sitting there behind that damper.
When Bailey’s Chimney C&R cleans a chimney with an internal damper, we do it right. That means removing whatever is behind the damper on the smoke shelf. To do this, we have two options:
- Disassemble damper and scrape what is on the smoke shelf into a bucket, or
- Reach up into the smoke shelf with the vacuum hose and vacuum everything out from behind the damper.
Unfortunately, a lot of chimney sweeps don’t take this step, which is actually the most important part of the job.
We at Bailey’s, on the other hand, do it right.
Building a fire to keep warm is a primal, instinctive bit of work.
There is some kindling to be chopped, some paper to be crumpled, some wood to be laid out, a match or a lighter light. The photo above is the wood stove at my house taken immediately after I lit tonight’s fire. This appliance, a Pacific Energy Super 27 wood burning stove, is my primary source of heat in the winter.
Usually I build a fire once a day, in the evening time. A few logs in the stove will burn for many hours. In the morning there are still a few live embers in the firebox and the house is still nice and warm. On a normal morning, I’ll usually let the embers die out. But when its cold, like around 15 below zero like we’ve had on a few recent mornings, I’ll lay some new kindling, a couple logs and some paper over the embers and get the fire going again.
Building a fire in my wood stove keeps me feeling connected with an elemental part of life. The work involved is a kind of meditation. Its one of those actions that brings me to a place where it seems like the world as it is coincides with the world as it should be, if that makes sense.