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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.”

Listen to the podcast HERE

After Market Parts For Listed Appliances Referenced in NFPA 211 Panel

Panel of Experts: Michael Segerstrom, Eric Adair, Jim Brewer, Randy Brooks, Eugene Laflame

Moderated by Ashley Eldridge, director of education for CSIA

by Justin Bailey

 

THE PROBLEM

 

Every American chimney sweep comes across factory built fireplaces. We call them ‘prefabs,’ or ‘zero clearance,’ or ‘disposable’ fireplaces. We find them in condos, apartments, and houses all over the country. They are cheaply built fireplaces that sit on plywood decks with tubular sheet metal chimneys surrounded by combustible wood frame chases. The air cooled, snaptogether sections of chimney pipes sometimes come disconnected, leaving breaches between sections of tubular sheet metal where sparks and smoke can escape the inner wall of the chimney. Near coastlines, the galvanized chimneys corrode in the salt air, showing rusty holes that whistle in the ocean breeze. Refractory panels in the fireplaces eventually crack, break, and crumble. The fireplace grates burn out and disappear, the chimney caps blow off in the wind, the damper handles come loose, fall off and get lost.

 

Meanwhile, chimney sweeps try to help their customers cope with maintenance and repairs of these prefab fireplaces. It’s not an easy task, because many of the existing prefab fireplace models are no longer manufactured, and there is a lack of support from the manufacturers when it comes to making parts for fireplaces that are no longer on the market.

 

It’s common practice in the industry for a sweep to replace worn out parts with “aftermarket parts” that were not necessarily tested in the Underwriter’s Laboratory as a part of the original prefab fireplace system. Many aftermarket parts are readily available from chimney suppliers.

 

Meanwhile, proposed changes to the National Fire Protection Agency Standard for wood burning appliances (NFPA 211 code) will further restrict a sweep from installing aftermarket replacement parts in prefab fireplaces.

 

That’s why the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) contracted with Intertek labs to conduct testing on aftermarket parts. The CSIA also produced a treatise (known in the industry as a white paper) on the topic, written by professional engineer Eric Adair.

 

THE ASSEMBLY

 

A standing room only crowd of pretty much everyone who is anyone in the chimney industry sweeps, sales reps, manufacturers, distributors, consultants packed into the Commonwealth Ballroom at the Marriott Convention Center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on Thursday Feb. 19, 2015. There were about 700 people attending, an excited hum in the ballroom, an air of expectation. NCSG staff and volunteers brought dozens more chairs in to seat the overflowing crowd.

 

A panel of experts had assembled to discuss the proposed changes to NFPA 211, and the effect of those changes on the chimney industry. Ashley Elridge, director of education for the CSIA, served as facilitator for the discussion. A longstanding expert, published author, and developer of educational curricula for the CSIA, Elridge is one of a handful of people who could effectively and impartially serve as moderator for a discussion on such a hot button topic.

 

Elridge opened the proceedings by welcoming and thanking the panelists and audience members. After detailing the qualifications of each panelist, Elridge said, “This is an important subject that we are all interested in. I expect everyone to be civil, and I won’t allow any personal attacks.” The crowd laughed. “I gotta say it,” said Elridge. “I gotta say it.” Elridge asked the panel if the current edition of NFPA 211 addresses the issue of aftermarket parts in factory built fireplaces.

 

THE DEBATE

 

“The code is clear on new installations, but there isn’t anything on repairs,” said panelist and CSIA board member Michael Segerstrom. Panelist Eric Adair agreed. Adair is a licensed engineer and the author of the recent CSIA white paper published Nov. 12, 2014, titled, “The Use of Aftermarket Components and Their Effects on the Safety and Performance of Factory Built Fireplaces.” He quoted NFPA 211:“‘Section 11.1.1 …factory built fireplaces shall be installed in accordance with their listing.’ With Regard to repair work,” Adair added, “that becomes the grey area. In fall back, we go to what it says regarding in accordance with listing.”

 

“I don’t know if ‘grey area’ is the word I would use,” responded panelist Russ Dimmit, a patent holder on a certain aftermarket part designed for factory built chimneys, called “the liner adaptor for chimneys,” US Patent 6852023 B2, specifically designed to retain the airflow between the inner and outer walls of a factory built chimney that has a new liner. “The aftermarket part is often superior to the original part,” Dimmit said.

 

Panelist Randy Brooks, a member of the NFPA 211 standard committee, according to his LinkedIn profile, mentioned the UL127 (Underwriters Laboratory standard for factory built fireplaces) terms of listing and said that the current NFPA 211 does not allow for inclusion of nonOEM [Original Equipment Manufactured] parts. Brooks several times during the meeting brandished code books and the successful chimney sweeping manual, holding them in the air and actually thumping the books.

 

Panelist Jim Brewer, meanwhile, agreed with the others about the existing language on installations, but he said if the new proposals pass, “I don’t think that’s a direction we want to go in. The CSIA did testing and the testing shows there’s no [safety] problem there. But will anybody write it down? No they won’t, because the attorneys won’t let them, they’re all practicing good CYA.”

 

As it happened, there was an attorney on the panel. His name was Eugene LaFlamme.

“If you just need to replace a chimney cap and the manufacturer is out of business,” LaFlamme said, “if the AHJ [Authority Having Jurisdiction] doesn’t sign off on it, you can’t use the unlisted part.”

 

Elridge thanked the panelists for their input, “The whole idea is to have some interaction,” He said. Then he read off a rapidfire series of other questions the panel could address: What are the major concern or risks when using aftermarket parts? How important is it to maintain the product listing? How are aftermarket parts different from installing gas logs? How is it that some manufacturers will allow vent free logs and others don’t allow it? How would you be able to identify or make a determination without the original manufacturers installation instructions?

 

THE WHITE PAPER AND THE QUANDARY

 

These questions, many of which went unanswered throughout the meeting, show that the chimney industry is in a quandary when it comes to aftermarket parts in prefab fireplaces.

 

The Nov. 12 CSIA white paper (available from the CSIA office) addresses these questions in more depth than the panel at the assembly had time to. I spoke with Adair, author of the white paper, by telephone. He said the paper came about because the NCSG asked the CSIA look into aftermarket parts. Stakeholders in the chimney industry were looking for answers.

 

“If you want a black and white answer, the answer is no.” Said Adair. “You can’t use the aftermarket parts. The grey area is that we know people are using aftermarket parts every day and we know that can be done safely.”

 

So what is a sweep to do when a fireplace needs a part that isn’t supplied by the manufacturer?

 

The white paper, which begins with a disclaimer saying it doesn’t endorse the use of aftermarket parts, has an entire section describing the safest way to install the most common aftermarket components, including inserts, refractory panels, grates, glass doors, liners, termination caps and shrouds. The white paper itself embodies the quandary we face.

 

When I asked Adair about this, he said the disclaimer was written by the CSIA’s lawyers. He said the white paper was commissioned for two main reasons: 1)To educate industry professionals, including sweeps and installers, so that if and when aftermarket parts are installed the work is done in a way that maximizes safety; and 2) To provide an official document from the CSIA that could support the NCSG’s comments to the code board.

 

“What my paper was trying to do,” Adair told me, “is to identify what parts we have to

worry about and what parts there is no definite answer about.” The white paper addresses perhaps the thorniest issue we chimney sweeps have to deal with. Those of us who are involved in the industry (to such an extent that we attend conferences, maintain CSIA certifications, pay guild dues, peruse Sweeping magazine, and educate ourselves in the developments in our trade) are aware of our position between a rock and a hard place.

 

The official position of the CSIA, which was last updated in 2008, is quoted in the white paper, on page 4. A summary of it is: The CSIA recommends the use of OEM (Original Equipment Manufactured) parts, but contains a caveat: if aftermarket parts are installed they should be cleared with the AHJ, should perform in the same manner as the original part, and the situation should be disclosed to the homeowner and documentation should be created that shows the homeowner has authorized the aftermarket part installation.

 

This still doesn’t solve the problem for sweeps, because, as Adair told me, “The installers are at the tip of the spear as far as liability goes.”

 

THE REAL WORLD

Cracked refractory panels are a common problem; replacing them is a common solution. Chimney sweeps have been installing wood burning inserts in factory built fireplaces for many years. Some insert manufacturers I’ve spoken with say this is okay, but the fireplace manufacturers might not agree.

 

Panelist Jim Brewer pointed out that he has represented the National Chimney Sweeps Guild at code board hearings for 25 years, and he said lot of the listing process has to do with marketing. He didn’t articulate how this works specifically, but his statement brought up a lot of questions in this correspondent’s mind about how code boards operate.

 

Adair has for many years been involved with code boards and the creation of safety standards and the UL listing process for new products. His white paper explains the process in detail. He will be attending the next code board meeting at NFPA HQ in Quincy, Mass., March

18th and 19th.

 

The chimney industry’s aim when it comes to the code changes, he said, is to m ake sure that a couple of the proposals, proposed by Randy Brooks, do not end up in the code book. The industry sees the proposals as redundant and overly restraining. NFPA 211, section 11.1.1 already addresses the issue. “I’ve worked with a lot of codes and standards groups,” said Adair, “and one of the things you don’t do is say the same thing in multiple places.”

 

THE AUDIENCE

 

People lined up at both microphones in the audience at the Commonwealth Ballroom to ask questions. A chimney sweep from the audience asked if there was any specific case law in the legal system that pointed to an aftermarket part actually causing a house fire.

 

Eugene LaFlamme, the lawyer panelist, said that case law varies from state to state. A lot of areas have not adopted NFPA 211 as the legal requirement, he said. LaFlamme said that he wasn’t aware of any Supreme Court cases on the topic. He said, “A lot of time an argument [that an unlisted part was installed] will just get thrown in to make a sweep look bad [in court or a deposition.]”

 

A manufacturer in the audience got his turn at the mic and explained, “We make aftermarket parts and caps. This issue has been dealt with in other industries. It can be done, it has been done.” He pointed out that sometimes products installed according with their listing don’t work.

 

None of the panelists had a ready answer to the point about other industries having solved these kind of problems. This issue is addressed to some extent in Adair’s white paper, on page 16, but was not thoroughly discussed in the meeting.

 

Panelist M. Segerstrom pointed out that some aftermarket manufacturers “have gotten their stuff listed. Not for everything, but for recently made stuff. We need to put pressure on these manufacturers to do this.”

 

Panelist Randy Brooks held up a code book and said: “We all know what the word ‘shall’ means. The limited language has always included that word with regard to these factory built fireplaces. Its up to us to let the customer know that if it [a prefab] has a nonOEM part, it’s no longer listed. I always recommend a level II inspection. The language says ‘It Shall be listed.’

 

That’s always been the language. Sure, it’s easier to sell $500 worth of parts than it is to sell a $6000 replacement. And if you can get approval from the AHJ, then God Bless America.” Though this article isn’t about the Nov. 12 white paper, I should mention here that the paper says that an AHJ cannot be held liable for damages, and that while AHJ approval of an aftermarket part installation can lessen a sweep’s liability, it doesn’t necessarily absolve an installer.

 

Panelist Russ Dimmit seemed to agree with the white paper when he pointed out, “If you put it on there, you own it. You can’t have the customer sign anything that eliminates your liability. UL (Underwriters Laboratory) is a for profit corporation. They are gonna cover their assets.”

 

Panelist Jim Brewer said that there aren’t a lot of cases where the aftermarket parts were causing fires. “The companies who are making the parts aren’t getting sued. That’s what they tell you privately. The insurance data and the fire reports don’t specify whether the parts are aftermarket or OEM. The NFPA is essentially silent on the subject.”

 

THE FALLOUT

 

After the meeting, this correspondent held interviews with Randy Brooks and Jim Brewer at the NCSG conference, and with Eric Adair, author of the Nov. 12 white paper, by phone. “Customer communication is the key,” Brooks said, sitting with me in an empty booth on the NCSG trade show floor. In the case of a unlisted fireplace grate, he said, it’s the sweep’s duty to inform the customer that a listed, tested grate is required prior to operation. “I’ve now warned them. Am I predicting disaster? No. But I don’t have the authority to tell them the unlisted grate is acceptable. I don’t go into somebody’s house and say, ‘you’re missing your grate so we need to rip your fireplace out and replace it. However, the rules of engagement, IRC (International Residential Code,) NFPA 211, Manufacturers installation manuals and UL 127 collectively forbid the use of unlisted aftermarket parts.”

 

Brooks says the only way he will install an aftermarket part is if the customer signs a hold harmless agreement that includes a warning not to use the fireplace. In the case of a missing cap that needs a replacement, he will put one on because rain coming in is a problem, but he will still require the hold harmless agreement. “If you are going to throw caution to the wind and use your fireplace, then you probably want this cap,” Brooks will tell the customer. “You do it at your own peril.”

 

Jim Brewer spoke about what is going on in the real world of chimney sweeps and fireplace owners. “These factory built fireplaces, there’s thousands of them in the field,” he said. “There’s a lot of manufacturers that have gone out of business or don’t offer parts. I think we need to find a way to help these people with these fireplaces. It doesn’t make sense to tell someone they have to replace their fireplace because they need a new grate or a cap.

 

“It would be different if we had a lot of info that aftermarket parts are causing fires. The companies who are making the aftermarket parts aren’t getting sued because their parts are causing problems; thats what they tell you privately. I would like to see the conversation move to a place where we’re talking about how to do repairs responsibly. Have guidelines that make sense. How do you evaluate a cap? The insurance data and the fire reports don’t specify whether the parts in the fireplaces [where fires occur] are aftermarket or OEM.”

 

WHAT NEXT?

 

Chimney sweeps who attended the meeting in the Commonwealth Ballroom walked away with a lot of information, but few answers. The fact remains that we don’t know what the new code is going to say.

The March 1819 code board hearings occurred after the deadline for this article.

 

It seems like the best thing for a chimney sweep to do is to educate him or herself as thoroughly as possible about the issue. Get and study the Nov. 12 white paper. Learn the official CSIA position on the topic. Attend NCSG conferences that will keep you apprised of NFPA code changes. Inform customers about the ins and outs of the issue.

 

And then, when it comes to whether or not to use an aftermarket part in a factory built fireplace, be sure the decision is based on the most current, complete information available. A sweep is always free to recommend level II or III inspections before doing any repairs. The results of such inspections will provide a technician with more information on which to base a

decision.

Veteran Attendee Profile

Andy Raycroft, Alexandria, VA

Rooftop chimney sweep

Since 1978

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

MajTool

MajToolllc@gmail.com

570-341-8960

Rooffaster.com

James Vieira

by Justin Bailey

There were four contenders for The Pete Luter Innovation Award for the best new product in the chimney industry, sponsored by Sweep’s News, at the NCSG Convention in 2015.

The winner was The MAJTool — an adjustable roof scaffold system that allows chimney professionals and roofers to set up workstations, on planks, on steep roofs. Using Majtool, workers can move freely about the roof, with plenty of space for materials and tools, gaining the mobility to work effectively. The MajTool is a free floating, quickly assembled scaffold system that works on shingle, tile, and metal roofs with pitches between 8/12 and 14/12.

The other three entrees to the Pete Luter award were:

1) DrySafety: is an alarm that can be installed between the dryer and the transition duct. Pwered by a 9 volt battery, it senses restricted airflow and excessive heat, and it signals an alarm of 3 beeps. Similar products have been marketed before.

2) Poultice Creosote Remover (PCR): created by Saverysystems, is a dry powder. When mixed with water to a mayonnaise-like consistency, it is applied to thick layers of glazed, stage 3 creosote. Upon contact with the creosote deposits, the PCR begins to melt the creosote. As it dries, PCR forms a poultice that weakens the bond between the glazed creosote and the clay flue tiles. The creosote begins to flake off, and is then easier to remove, using mechanical sweeping equipment.

3) ServicePal: is a customer relations management software program that can be used with an ipad and quickbooks online, and has been adapted to the chimney industry with help from Jake Cromwell of Top Hat Chimney & Roofing in Arkansas. At the time of the show, ServicePal wasn’t quite ready for full compatibility with quickbooks, but Cromwell said it will be ready soon. ServicePal combines scheduling, point of sale, invoicing, and checkpointed chimney inspection functions in one customizable online application.

I spoke by telephone with the winner, James Vieira, inventor and patent holder of the MAJTool. A general contractor by trade, Vieira said he does a lot of roofing work, which gave him the idea for the product.

“We were looking for a safer way to be able to work off the roof,” said Viera. “Still being able to work under the surface of the scaffold, without causing damage to the roof. It allows you to lift up the rails if you need to.”

Vieira said the evolution of the MAJTool has been a long process.

“We’ve been testing it in the field for 12 years. We got a patent last year; it took us 9 years. This is the only free floating system there is. We have a 20 year patent on it; they granted us an additional 3 years because of how long it took to get it.”

Funded completely out of pocket “from doing construction work and little by little building the company up,” MAJTool’s manufacturing facility is in “a shop of my own,” Vieira said. “We do all the manufacturing in house. We buy all the materials local, U.S. made.”

The MAJTool retails for $470.00. It comes with two sets of twenty feet of railing, two ridge mount brackets, and four plank mount brackets, giving sweeps the capability to mount two, movable work platforms on a pitched roof.

“I’m getting the best response from the chimney people,” said Vieira. “Our biggest sales day, by far, was the NCSG trade show. It seems like the chimney people are more concerned with safety. MajTool gives you a good solid work platform to hold your tools and materials.”

MAJTool is available directly from the manufacturer. To learn more, go to rooffaster.com, send an email to majtoolllc@gmail.com, or call Vieira at 570-341-8960.

Masonry Heater Association, Annual Meeting

Masonry Heater Camp at Wildacres!

By Justin Bailey

The Masonry Heater Association of North America (MHA) had its annual meeting at a retreat center called Wildacres in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina from April 11-17th. The word ‘meeting’ doesn’t adequately describe the week-long festival. I’ve started to think of the experience as “Masonry Heater Camp.”

Accommodations are simple, but comfortable. Everyone shares a simple room with a roommate, and there are enough beds for about 120 attendees.

I first heard about MHA and Masonry Heater Camp when I took a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Review course from Rich Rua 2014, in Columbus, OH. Rua mentioned that he’d been to the MHA annual meeting as a part of his overall education in the chimney trade. I asked him about it later, and I put it on my bucket list.

But I never had the opportunity to get seriously involved with masonry heaters until last year, when I got a call to look at a gigantic masonry heater, an Austrian “Tile Oven,” built from scratch in the 1990’s. The heater sits in a ski lodge called the Bavarian, at Taos Ski Valley, 10,200 ft altitude. In 2013, a billionaire bought the ski resort, and the masonry heater came with it.

I looked at the heater, asked lots of questions, scanned the flue, and it became clear that I needed more information and knowledge. 8 or 9 years ago, I learned, they burnt some green firewood in the heater, and it hadn’t worked ever since. Nobody could figure out how to fix it. They’d hired a local mason, who just made it worse.

I knew where the firebox was, and where the chimney was, but what lay between them was a mystery. There were no readily accessible soot doors, like Tulikivi heaters have. The heater was massive. I needed a plan. I needed information.

Thanks to the NCSG and the course I’d taken with Mr. Rua, I knew there was somebody out there I could call for help. A google search led me to the MHA, and I got executive director Dick Smith on the phone. He suggested I join the organization. The cost of a full voting membership was $300.00 per year. That’s how much I charged the billionaire for the initial service call/inspection, and I became a full voting member of the MHA. It turned out to be a pretty good investment.

After making some calls and talking with a couple of masonry heater builders from the association, I felt like I could at least write an estimate to fix the thing. I stated clearly in the proposal that there was no way for me to know how long it would take me to fix the heater, or how much it would end up costing. I found space in the estimate to mention that there was exactly one member of the MHA in New Mexico.

I got the gig, and soon enough, I was on the phone with one of the founding fathers of the MHA, Jerry Frisch. Jerry spent over an hour on the phone with me, that first time we talked. He asked me about the heater, and had me take photos of it and email them to him. He said that it sounded like there was a blockage in the flowpath. He told me how to find the masonry cleanouts, and how make the penetrations through the masonry material to access the passageways. When I offered him money for his consulting help, he refused.

“I just want to pass down the knowledge,” he said. “I’m only going to be doing this for another 20 years. My wife and I talked about it, and we agreed that we’ll do this for 20 more years and then we’ll talk about it again.”

“That’s very generous of you,” I said.

“I recently got remarried,” he said. “My first wife passed away. I just turned 80.”

With phone help from Jerry, I was able to get the heater working, test it out, clean the glaze from the flowpath and chimney, and install cleanout doors. I was fascinated and excited with the project. I felt grateful to have the job and the opportunity, and to have the help of the guys from the MHA. The first time we fired up the heater, with glass taped over all the cleanout openings so we could watch the smoke pass through the passageways in the heater, the manager of the Bavarian was happy to see how it all worked.

When I called Jerry Frisch to thank him for his help, he invited me to the World of Concrete (WOC) Trade Expo in Las Vegas, NV. “We’re going to build a masonry heater in the parking lot,” he said.

“Count me in!” I said.

Las Vegas and WOC were a blast, and got to see a masonry heater built by an expert from the ground up. I also helped build a wood fired pizza oven.

Fast forward a few months, I found myself at Wildacres for a week of Masonry Heater Camp. There were masons from the US, France, Russia, Canada, Germany, Finland, and Japan, all of them building heaters on site, answering any question you could think of. Of the 120 attendees, 7 of the masons own and/or operate their own testing labs. The CEO of Tulikivi International had flown in from Finland. Founders of other European startups were there. I’d signed up for the HMED course (Heater Mason Education & Development Program) which was developed by Jerry and Jim Frisch. Jim, Jerry’s younger brother, taught the course.

The classes and seminars included a bricklaying workshop, Chris Prior’s class on masonry arches, a course on emissions testing, and several history courses. I wasn’t able to attend many of them, because the HMED took up the majority of my time. Most days, the last class or seminar would let out around 10:00 p.m., and the festivities would already have begun.

And yes, they have an auction too, kind of like the CSIA action the NCSG convention.

By the time Friday rolled around, the newly built heaters were all fired up and running, including the large pizza oven. Pizzas started coming out of the oven in time for dinner – the best pizza I’d ever tasted in my life.

By nightfall, a group of musicians had gathered to play old standards and folk songs, seated on the warmed, L-shaped bench of a rocket mass heater with a cookstove top, where somebody was making crepes. I got to hang out with CSIA’s Darcy Marlett and Ashley Elridge, who were attending. People were dancing and the beer was flowing.

The pizza party was still raging as I headed down the mountain in my rental car at 2 a.m. to catch an early morning flight out of Charlotte.

The next morning, before noon, (according to photos I saw posted on facebook,) all the brand new heaters and ovens had been disassembled and the materials put away in storage. Ashley Elridge pointed out that the masons and students could learn as much or more by taking apart the heaters as they did when they built them.

In all my years in the chimney business, I’d never enjoyed myself more than I did during the week I spent at Masonry Heater Camp at Wildacres. I’ll be back next year, for sure. I hope to build my own masonry heater in my house soon, and I would like to become a certified masonry heater builder. With the HMED under my belt, I’ve taken the first step, but I have a lot more to learn.

If you would like to attend the Masonry Heater Camp next Spring, google the Masonry Heater Association of North America or go to mha-net.org.

Then and Now
I’ve been a certified chimney sweep for years, and a member of the NCSG too on
and
off. I’ve been getting Sweeping magazine once a month, every now and then I’ve taken
advantage of the many discount opportunities available to guild members from various suppliers
and manufacturers. In business since 2000, I’ve gotten by for years; I paid the mortgage, kept
my one and two truck operation going by borrowing some money from a credit card during the
off season and working insane hours during the fall, often working in the office (which was in the
kitchen) until 11 p.m., catching up on paperwork, billing, putting orders together, replying to
emails, etc.
I never came to a convention because I thought I was smart. I thought I was so smart, I
spent years reinventing the wheel in New Mexico. I was constantly figuring it out when
it came
to technical issues in the field or administrative problems in the kitchen. I’m a problem solver!
Whenever I got invitations to the guild conventions I thought, ‘Why would I want to spend a
bunch of time and money to go most of the way across the country and meet with a bunch of
chimney sweeps? I cant afford that!’
My business: was it growing? No. But the bills got paid. Was I miserable during the
busy season, working 16 hour days? Yes, but that’s the life I chose. Did I have a panic attack
every August, wondering how I could survive another fall? Yes. My staff: mostly drunks and
potheads.
But things came to a head, and I came to a point in life where it became clear that big
changes were not optional, they were required. As part of my project of becoming a better
human being, I decided that I should visit my elderly grandparents, in their 90’s, who live in
Toledo, OH. The NCSG was happening in Columbus that year, so it looked like I could write off
a trip to visit my grandparents. I booked my ticket, found a cheap place to stay, and signed up
for the convention.
What I found in Columbus at the NCSG convention amazed me. I learned that there are
highly successful, profitable chimney service companies all over the country. They run like real
businesses. Better yet, these companies are owned by wonderful people, willing to share their
knowledge and expertise with somebody like me. I met Mark Stoner, president of the CSIA, who
told the story of his business failures and eventual success to the entire convention.
Presentations by people like John Meredith, Jerry Eisenhour, and Russ Dimmit opened my eyes
to new possibilities. Interactions with other sweeps inspired my to improve myself and my
business.
The connections and friends I made at the NCSG 2014 convention and trade show
changed my business and my life forever. I’ve upgraded most of the equipment we use in the
field. My staff are now sober, responsible citizens. My full time office manager takes care of the
phones, the books, and other administrative duties so I can quit work at 6 p.m. I added another
truck, and my business grew 60 percent in 2014. I’m able to provide them with a real livelihood.
They can take care of their families.
None of those changes would have happened if I had not attended the NCSG
convention in March of 2014.
That’s why, when Sweeping Editor Darcy Marlett asked me to contribute some articles
about the convention this year, I jumped at the opportunity to be of service to the organization.
As I write these words in my hotel room in Lancaster, PA, I’m very grateful to the NCSG
and all the folks who work so hard to make the convention happen. Sure, the wind chill factor is
21 below outside. But I’m nice and warm, and my business is running on its own while I am
here; the team did a relining yesterday and a chimney installation the day before that, and I
didn’t have to lift a finger. My business answered the phone, made deposits, completed payroll,
and one of my sweeps is busy designing our booth for an upcoming home show in Santa Fe,
NM.
All of those good things are possible because I tried to do the right thing (visit my
grandparents) and as a result ended up attending a NCSG convention for the first time in 2014.
It was a good family visit; I helped my grandfather with chores around the house, I read books to
my grandmother (she’s mostly blind now) and listened to stories from their life together.
Best of all, with my new financial and business freedom, I hope to visit my grandparents
every year for the rest of their lives, whether there is a chimney convention in Ohio or not.

Mason heater association volunteerFor Immediate Release:
For more information contact Justin Bailey 5757707769,
or email to
baileyschimney@gmail.com
What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

Local chimney sweep and business owner Justin Bailey spent the first week of February at the World of Concrete trade show in Las Vegas, NV volunteering for the Masonry Heater Association (MHA) of North America. While there, he helped other members of the association build a wood fired oven and a masonry heater in the parking lot of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“I went there to grow my knowledge about masonry in general and masonry heaters in particular. I’m excited to play a part in bringing what I learned about masonry heater technology to Northern New Mexico,” said Bailey.

In Las Vegas, Bailey joined masons from Alaska, Washington State, Indiana, British Columbia, and Colorado. MHA Executive Director Dick Smith, from Arizona, also attended. “What struck me most about all the guys in our group was their humility,” said Bailey.
“These guys are some of the best in the country at what they do, but there was no ego whatsoever. Everyone helped do the most menial tasks, like mixing mortar and carrying bricks, and the master masons were willing and eager to share their knowledge with me and whoever stopped by to visit our booth.”
Bailey’s interest in masonry heaters grew when he was hired to fix the famous Austrian “tile oven” at the Bavarian Lodge, in Taos Ski Valley.

“I joined the MHA to get access to materials and expertise that enabled me to solve the problems with the masonry heater at the Bavarian.” Rare in the U.S., masonry heaters are common in Northern Europe. Many experts say they are the most efficient woodburning heater appliances in the world. Mark Twain, while visiting

Europe, wrote, “One firing is enough for the day; the cost is next to nothing; the heat produced
is the same all day, instead of too hot and too cold by turns…”

chimney iconBy Justin Bailey

At Bailey’s Chimney Cleaning and Repair, September of 2014 revenues showed growth of 135 percent over September 2013. That means we doubled, and then some. This amazing growth is due to our fantastic team of technicians, to our dynamic office manager, Doreenda Martinez, and to our many customers, who believe in great value for great service.

I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude to our team and our customers, now that we are in the thick of peak busy season.

Also we would like to welcome the newest addition to our field team, technician in training Marci Olsen.

We hired Marci because, out of all the applicants for the position, she was the best fit with the core values that are the foundation of our business.

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.

Heat Shield Factory

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.

 

Well, this has been the busiest July in the history of Bailey’s Chimney C&R. The superior service we provide, at the competitive prices we offer, seems to appeal to folks all over Northern NM. We’ve had lots of great days full of work in so many beautiful places–Los Alamos, Abiquiu, Penasco, Taos, and Santa Fe.

HLopez2__1374542708_71.222.130.39

My favorite job of the month so far was the wood stove installation we did for Helen Lopez in Llano San Juan, at the foot of the Picuris peaks. It was a great day’s work for a few reasons. Firstly, when we removed the old chimney we discovered that mice had been nesting around the existing chimney for many years and had caused an extreme fire hazard.

We used the existing penetration where the old chimney was, that's why we needed the elbows in the double wall stovepipe.

Helen’s new stove

Around the new chimney we installed a two-layer steel sheild to keep mice from getting near the chimney. Preventing somebody’s house from burning down makes for a high level of job satisfaction. Also, the view from the roof was unbelievably gorgeous. And last but not least, our customers were delightful and we had lemonade and snacks after work with them at their picnic table next to the stream.

Tomorrow we have an exciting wood stove installation in Carson, NM. A lucky customer took advantage of a used package we sometimes can offer: a high quality used wood stove and top-of the line used chimney pipe all together, installed, for an amazing price. If you are interested in a package like this, let us know. They are not always available, but sometimes we come across great quality pre-owned used wood stoves and chimney that we can offer to someone who is interested in heating their home with wood.

Cleaning chimneys and dryer vents in July can be a bit hot, and we sweat a lot. But it keeps us fit, and on top of our game.

We are so grateful to all of our customers; its clear that they are the smartest consumers of chimney services in New Mexico!