Scott JacksonComment



The ole pellet swap. The pros do it, we do it, but do you? We’ve got some tips that’ll help you do it all the right way.

Two reasons to change up your pellets:

1. You want to change up pellet flavors for a different cook:

Each of our pellet flavors are truly different and bring unique flavor to whatever you’ve got cooking on your grill. Don’t be boring. Switch it up, your food and your taste buds will be happy you did.  

2. You won’t be grilling for another week:

Don’t forget, if you’re taking a break from grilling (we don’t recommend) for more than a week long, you’ll want to change out your pellets so they’re good as new when you get back.    


When your pellets aren’t fueling your fire and flavoring your food, give them a break. You want to remove pellets when you’re not grilling because moisture can reach them when left in the hopper for an extended period. If there’s anything you need to know about your hardwood, it’s that moisture is no bueno.

Depending on your location or how humid your home state is, pellets are prone to moisture even inside the grill. Check out our guide to protecting your wood and you won’t have a single worry. See the post here.


Here’s the sitch on the switch. Removing or changing out pellets is an easy process, here’s how it’s done: 

• For Pro Series or newer grills: Simply open the hopper clean out door, and pour out the pellets back to a container. It’s as easy as that.

• If you have an older model, you can easily scoop them out with a smaller container or scoop. Another option is to use a bucket vacuum head, but make sure the vacuum isn't extremely strong because these can break the pellets. 

BOTTOM LINE: Take care of your pellets and your pellets will take care of not only you, but your stomach too. 

How are you changing your pellets? Comment below.


Scott JacksonComment


Brisket, the ULTIMATE cut in the BBQ world. If done right, you’ll find yourself with the most quintessential BBQ food out there. Most people find the cook to be daunting but lucky for you, we’re here to make it simple, easy, and forkin’ flavorful.



The goal for throwing down a badass brisket is creating ultimate flavor and texture. The cook process is the most crucial part in ensuring your brisket delivers on both. Because every animal is different, there’s no exact universal algorithm for every cut. Cook times are going to vary as the size of the brisket may as well. Because briskets can weigh between 12-22 pounds, times can range from 8-16 hours depending on size and cook temperature. Our general rule of thumb: plan on between 30-60 minutes per pound. For example, a 16 pound brisket cooked at 275 degrees will take between 10-12 hours. The entire process from trimming, injection, seasoning and cooking will take between 18-20 hours. If you give yourself enough time, you’ll give yourself some ridiculous brisket. This is a “good things come to those who wait” kind of deal, but let us assure you…you’ll be glad you did.  


Internal temperatures are what make or break low n’ slow BBQ. Getting that read is key for creating BBQ cuts worth dreaming about. The point and the flat make up what is called a “Full Packer” brisket. The point is more marbled with fat than the flat. The flat is used for slices and the point is used for burnt ends. To perfect both ends of your brisket, you will want to cook the flat until it’s as soft as butter (this usually happens between 200-205 degrees in the flat). Once your beef has reached that level, let the brisket rest for about 30 minutes and then separate the point and the flat.  


Once you’ve got that point removed, you’re ready to make some darn good burnt ends. You’ll first want to remove all outside fat and then cube 1”x1” squares. Once you’re done, throw those heavenly chunks into pan and douse them with BBQ sauce and give them a turbinado sugar kiss. While they’re all getting friendly in the pool, you’ll want to throw them back on the Traeger at 275 degrees for 1 hour. This process creates your burnt ends and allows the point the extra cook time it needs due to its marbling. Pull them out and you’ll have caramelized bite size BBQ deliciousness.  

See our exact burnt ends recipe.


The most important aspect of cooking brisket is making sure that you know when to take that bad boy off the heat. To tell if it’s done, simply insert that probe right into the brisket. The probe should insert into the cut like it would into room temperature butter. This usually happens between 200-205 degrees in the flat. If that happens when you insert your probe, you’re good to go.  


Brisket should always be sliced against the grain for the best mouthfeel and tenderness. If sliced with the grain, even a perfectly cooked brisket will be chewy.


Scott JacksonComment

If you are looking for a great focal point to tie a room together, consider a decorative fireplace. You don’t have to hire a contractor to install an elegant and warmth-producing fireplace. You can enjoy the decorative appeal of a mantled fireplace for considerably less than installing a traditional one. All you need is an electrical outlet.

Nothing is quite as delightful as curling up in front of a crackling, warm fire on a crisp autumn night. It has timeless appeal and offers the promise of memories to come. Even in warmer months, a mantle offers decorating potential. It’s a great place to have ever-changing seasonal displays that make your space a delight to decorate.

The variety of available designs and styles of decorative fireplaces has been on the rise. Now you can perfectly match your personal taste with sleek, modern designs like wall-hung units framed in brushed steel and timeless classics with elegant, fluted columns and molded mantles.

A decorative fireplace also features realistic flames. You’ll get the look of flickering, dancing firelight and the sound of crackling logs with a radiant warmth that can help keep your spaces nice and cozy in cold months. The best models feature adjustable thermostats for temperature control, something you can’t get from a traditional fireplace, and a slow die-down when the unit goes off.

Other fantastic features you can get from a decorative fireplace include safety features you won’t find with traditional fireplaces. One common safety feature is a timer that ensures the unit turns itself off automatically if you forget to do so manually. In addition, the exterior remains cool to the touch, making it a safer alternative in a household with children and inquisitive pets.

A decorative fireplace is a perfect solution for renters as well. Not only can you add the delights of a fireplace in a home that doesn’t have one, but it’s also portable. When you move, take it with you to your next place. Enjoy a the visual appeal and warmth of a fire in rooms usually bereft of them. A fireplace casting a cheerful glow where you dine or a romantic dancing fire in your bedroom offers a lively, decorative touch. If you are have a large bathroom, you could even have a crackling fire to enjoy while you take a bath.


Scott JacksonComment

A flickering flame creates a comfortable, welcoming feeling in any room. With modern technology, we are able to enjoy that elegance without the fuss, mess, or even the heat at the touch of a button with a realistic electric fireplace. What smoke and mirrors are used in these convenient modern appliances to create such lively, flickering flames?


The first essential aspect of a working fireplace, electric or otherwise, is the generation of heat. While some modern electric fireplaces allow the heating element to be turned off entirely, they are all capable of producing extremely efficient warmth. This is created via a simple heating coil paired with a fan, which pushes warmed air into the room.


The delightful flames produced by electric fireplaces are enough to fool the eye into thinking they are real. The trick to getting the fluid, dynamic feel of real flames is surprisingly simple. Light from a light bulb, often an LED,  bounces off of a rotisserie-style silver refractor with three-dimensional patterns that create the illusion of a random flicker of flame. Some electric fireplaces even have a device which makes a crackling noise as the refractor spins, lending another level of realism to the fire.


Realistic electric fireplaces offer all the enjoyment of real fireplaces without all the hassle. They don’t need a fuel source and they don’t require any of the cleanup involved in utilizing wood, coal, or fuel. This leaves a great deal of freedom in styling how the flames appear fueled. Realistic looking logs, beds of coal, futuristic metal piping, river stones, and other materials can serve as the bed for the dancing firelight.

If you want to enjoy the comfort of a fire in any room, an electric fireplace is a great option. The blower system provides an energy efficient way to keep a room warm and comfortable, and during the summer the heating element can be shut off entirely so you can enjoy the flicker of a cozy fire without sweating the extra heat. The surface of these electrical units remains cool to the touch even while heating, making it a safer options for homes with small children and pets. With elegant, simple construction available in an array of designs, you’ll find an electrical fireplace perfect for any decor.


Scott JacksonComment

On summer nights, when the weather turns chilly, the last thing you want to do after your big summer BBQ is build another fire when all you want to do is relax. Luckily, outdoor electric fireplaces are available, and they just plug into a standard wall outlet. And, if you don’t want to commit to a permanent outdoor fireplace, portable ones are also available, allowing you the flexibility to move them inside if needed.


An outdoor electric fireplace saves you the time and hassle of having to have extra wood on hand, taking the time to build and light the fire, tending the fire and getting smoke smell in your clothes and hair. You also avoid the ashes, sparks and smoke generated by a wood burning fire. Certain models of outdoor electric fireplaces even include speakers so that you can enjoy music from your MP3 player as you enjoy the fire’s ambience.


An outdoor electric fireplace provides ambience and relaxation at the flip of a switch. Whether you have a fully equipped outdoor kitchen and living area or a less-elaborate setup, different types of outdoor electric fireplaces are available. With many designs in both fireplace and fire pit styles, it is easy to match the decor of your outdoor living area or deck. As with interior electric fireplaces, some outdoor fireplaces can look built in, and include stone surrounds, a hearth and a mantel. Outdoor fireplaces can be inset into a wall, and can even be double-sided. Double-sided outdoor electric fireplaces can be freestanding, while others can be built into the house’s exterior wall, offering a fire that you can enjoy from both inside and outside your home.


Note that although many outdoor electric fireplaces are designed with waterproofing and using materials that can withstand being exposed to the elements, some are designed to be installed under an overhang or roof. Before you finalize placement of a unit you’re researching, check with the manufacturer to determine what, if any restrictions apply to your unit.

This summer, save your wood for your barbecue and invest in an outdoor electric fireplace.


Scott JacksonComment

Electric Fireplaces for the 21st Century

The hypnotizing play of the flames while relaxing with family and friends and the cozy feeling having a fireplace during the holiday season and having flames with or without heat: This is a recipe for relaxation –– even when it’s 80 degrees on Thanksgiving day.

Those are just two of the reasons our Gilbert, Arizona-based general contracting company recommends electric fireplaces. Energy efficiency, no smoke with its potentially carcinogenic agents, low maintenance, and, of course, safety are also reasons why electric fireplaces make sense, especially here in the desert Southwest.

In particular, we like the products, and the people, at Modern Flames, and so do our clients.

Known for innovations in modern, contemporary electric fireplace design and technology for residential and commercial settings, Modern Flames is a six-year-old Phoenix developer and manufacturer of electric fireplaces. Modern Flames is the only electric fireplace company that exclusively manufactures its products, so you can be assured of superlative craftsmanship and quality control.

In 2008, the company pioneered the contemporary linear electric fireplace throughout North America. These are designs that fit particularly well into great rooms, living rooms and master bedrooms.

“Our linear line has become very popular with architects, designers, builders such as Arizona Structures and homeowners because of the extremely realistic flame appearance, the ease of installation and overall cost compared to a gas or wood fireplace. This look is the choice of most interior decorators and designers today.” Tom Foy, general manager

The company’s many products are traditional designs to modern ones such as the linear line, with an eclectic flair if desired. An insert for conversion of an existing gas or wood-burning fireplace is also available, he explains.

Modern Flames products are available in lengths up to 12 feet long and offer a competitive look versus gas fireplaces but without the installation and operation problems. They are all UL listed by InterTek Laboratories to meet all building codes, Foy says.

In addition to their beauty, electric fireplaces are high in energy efficiency –– a major concern for new-home buyers and those who are renovating existing homes. Think of the environmental impact of bringing wood logs to burn into your home: forest stripping, fuel use to transport them, and a waste of energy compared with the alternatives. You can lose up to 90 percent of the heat up the chimney, and you also lose energy from your room, because it is drawn up the chimney as well.

At Arizona Structures, safety has always been a priority for both our trades and clients, and electric fireplaces notch high marks here, too. There’s no worry about flames, ashes, smoke, children and pets.

And, you have no concerns about family or friends with medical conditions such as asthma and allergies, and you don’t have to worry about dangerous fumes such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.

In addition, remote control convenience allows you to start the fireplace flames, turn the heat on or off and not be concerned with the comfort or safety of your family and guests.

Ease and low cost of installation are also competitive selling points. “There are so many potential places in the home for a fireplace without the very costly installation of a chimney, and many times impossible conditions disallow a gas fireplace installation because of safety concerns.

“Our products are very easy to install,” Foy says. Although Modern Flames, as a designer and manufacturer, does not offer installation, he notes that its Phoenix distributor provides expert installation.

In addition to Arizona Structures, Modern Flames has provided fireplaces for Wendy’s corporation, Tim Horton’s, Massage Envy, Marriott Hotels, Shea Homes, Oakwood Homes, Larsen’s Steak Restaurants and other high-profile commercial and residential customers.


Scott JacksonComment

If you want to bring an amazing new look to your home then you need to invest in a contemporary electric fireplace. Electric fireplaces have vastly improved from what they used to be. Contemporary electric fireplaces are no longer plain metal boxes with heating units attached.

Flame Technology

Artificial flame technology for contemporary electric fireplaces works through projection. The image of a realistic flame is projected onto the front of the electric fireplace. Doing this creates the illusion of a realistic flame that looks like a traditional wood burning fireplace!

Save Money With A Contemporary Electric Fireplace

Most beneficial of all is the fact that you can save a large sum of money over what it would cost to add a traditional fireplace to your home. You will have the best of both worlds as you will enjoy the convenience and cost savings of a contemporary electric fireplace combined with the visually pleasing aesthetics of a real fireplace. Essentially, you don’t have to sacrifice the visual style you love in order to have a cost-effective fireplace for your home!

Don’t Compromise On Style

Modern electric fireplaces are made with aesthetics in mind. They are made in a variety of different styles guaranteed to match any kind of modern decor. Plus, many contemporary electric fireplaces come with artificial flame technology that reproduce the look of a much more expensive, traditional fireplace.

Troubleshooting Your Pellet Burning Issues

Scott JacksonComment

1. Mama always said, 'a clean stove is a happy stove!'

First and foremost, start with a clean stove. Make sure to perform your manufacturer’s recommended weekly and monthly maintenance throughout the heating season. In addition, we recommend having your stove cleaned and serviced by a professional once a year (or every 2-3 tons, whichever comes first).

  • Thoroughly clean and inspect hopper, auger plate, and switches.
  • Inspect and clean auger, auger motor, combustion blower, and convection blower, and repair as necessary.
  • Inspect all seals throughout the unit.
  • Thoroughly clean out exhaust pipes and venting to the outside air.
  • Inspect and clean wiring, terminals, electrical sensors, and igniter.
  • Clean entire fire chamber (including burn pot, fire walls, draft chambers, exhaust ports, heat exchangers, and glass) and hearth area, and remove ashes from propert

A little bit of preemptive work can save you a whole lot of headache later on.

2. Know what to expect from your stove and your pellets.

Did you know…

  • Most people remove ash from their stove about every 3 days.
  • Most people give their stove a thorough cleaning (including glass, burn pot, fire walls, heat exchange, and ash pan) once a week, and perform monthly maintenance according to the recommendations in their stove manual.
  • Most stoves require a professional cleaning after burning 2 tons of pellets.
  • Your pellet stove (or insert, boiler, or furnace) needs the right balance of feed rate, air flow, and heat settings to burn efficiently. If any of those settings are out of whack, you will likely experience problems, even with the highest quality pellets.

3. Troubleshoot like a pro.

Every stove is different, and you’ll find some of the best advice in your stove manual. But whether you’re burning pellets for the first time in a new stove, firing up your system at the start of a new season, or switching to a new brand of pellets or a new shipment, here is a quick reference guide for troubleshooting some common burn quality issues.

7 Grills for 7 Couples: HPBA Matches the Most Ideal Grills for Couples' Lifestyles

Scott JacksonComment

For couples just starting out, a new grill is an essential addition to their homes. But, which grill is the right one? According to Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), it all depends on their lifestyle.

Whether adventure junkies or introverted homebodies, and from city dwellers to suburbanites, there is an ideal grill for each type of couple. To help find the perfect fit, HPBA offers seven grill and smoker suggestions for the seven types of couples:

1. The Foodies: Always seeking out the hottest restaurants and newest food trends? Invest in a smoker, ideal for exploring new flavor combinations that are sure to excite taste buds. With tasty smoking chip flavors such as apple, cherry, and pecan, trying a new flavor combination each week is easy. 

2. The Adventurers: Always on the go to the next hiking trail or campground? Go for the portable grill, essential for a life in tune with nature. 

3. The Entertainers: For all of those that love entertaining, a charcoal grill will elevate any party. Instead of the traditional burgers and brats, impress guests with grilled lamb or a tasty steak. As an added bonus, cleanup is a cinch. 

4. The Homebodies: Prefer a quiet night in? The traditional gas grill will elevate any homemade meal. Throw dinner on the grill and then curl up with a loved one for a relaxing night of TV. 

5. The Techies: Always on top of the latest trends, techies should choose grills decked with the most high-tech features such as voice-controlled speakers that communicate commands to the grill, Wi-Fi that connects to a smartphone app, and LED lights.

6. The City Dwellers: Living in the city doesn’t mean that someone can’t partake in the grilling fun. Choose a small electric grill – compact and ideal for tight quarters, with many of the capabilities of a full-sized grill. 

7. The Suburbanites: If you just bought that dream home out in the ‘burbs, complete the outdoor living space by adding a customized built-in-barbecue. It’s the focal point for your best backyard – great for a simple family dinner, or a neighborhood gathering.

Recipes for Your Traeger!

Scott JacksonComment


Bring a little surf to your turf and take a page from Dennis The Prescott’s cookbook. You’ll be dreaming about this smoky ocean dweller for a long time.



  • (4) 1 1/2 LB LIVE LOBSTERS


  • 1/2 TSP SEA SALT


Bring a large stockpot of water to a rapid boil. Working in batches as necessary, submerge the lobster in the water head first, then cover with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes, then transfer to an ice-bath to cool and stop the cooking process.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat. When melted, add the remaining ingredients and whisk together until smooth. Set aside.

Using a very sharp knife, split the lobster into 2 halves. Clean out the tomalley from the body and discard. Brush the lobster halves all over with olive oil.   

When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 400 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, 10-15 minutes.

When hot, place the lobsters on the grill, flesh side down, and cook for 4 minutes. Turn, and spoon about 2 tsp of compound butter onto each lobster halve. As the butter begins to melt, baste with a brush all over the flesh. Cook for 4-5 minutes until cooked through and coated in melted butter.

Serve immediately with sliced lemons. Enjoy!

This recipe was provided by our friend Chef Dennis The Prescott. Check out more of his recipes and photos on his Instagram @DennisThePrescott.



A smoke-kissed custard base is Traegered in a water bath. The finishing sugar is melted to a golden brown, culminating in a rich wood-fired dessert.




When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 325 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Pour the cream into a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the vanilla bean and the scraped seeds. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to steep (about 15 minutes). Remove the vanilla bean from saucepan and discard.

In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar until the mix starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually.

Pour the mixture into 6 (8 oz) ramekins and place the ramekins into a large roasting pan. Pour hot water into the pan so that it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Place water bath pan on the grill and bake until the Crème Brûlées still jiggle in the center, about 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

To serve, let the Crème Brûlée come to temperature (about 20 minutes) before torching the tops.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup sugar equally on top of each ramekin. Using a torch in a circular motion, melt the sugar until it caramelizes and forms a crispy top.

Allow the Crème Brûlée to sit for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!


3 Mistakes Homeowners Make regarding Fireplace Safety

Scott JacksonComment

Without realizing it, many homeowners create hazardous situations related to the use of their fireplace. Don’t light your fireplace again without making sure that you aren’t making any of the following mistakes which could lead to life-threatening situations:

Mistake #1: Using a fireplace that hasn’t been cleaned or inspected recently.

A report on U.S. fires in 2009 found that about 59,000 house fires were related to heating equipment. Of those fires, 55% of them were caused by using a fireplace that wasn’t clean or properly maintained. There are many potential issues which can interfere with the safe use of a fireplace, some of which can be difficult for the untrained eye to spot. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recognizes these hazards and recommends that a chimney and fireplace be inspected at least annually.

Using a fireplace is a dirty business. Creosote, a flammable tar-like substance, is deposited in the chimney lining every time logs are burned. It’s possible for the creosote to catch fire because of a hot spark or ember. A chimney fire is extremely hot, very dangerous, and can do serious damage to the chimney and flue. If the flue becomes damaged, the combustible parts of the house near the chimney are highly susceptible to catching fire. Home blazes caused by chimney fires usually spread rapidly because of the intensity of the heat.

When one of our professional chimney sweeps inspects your home, the flue is checked to be sure that it is intact and the creosote buildup inside isn’t significant enough to either obstruct the chimney or start a chimney fire. The chimney is also checked for other possible obstructions. There are more than a few potentially dangerous situations that are checked so that the homeowner’s safety when using the fireplace can be assured.

Mistake #2: Hiring a chimney sweep because of low prices without checking the legitimacy of the company.

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation has advised homeowners to be cautious because of an outbreak of chimney cleaning and repair scams. Con artists sometimes take advantage of the unregulated chimney sweep industry and lure homeowners into their scams in which extremely low prices for chimney maintenance are offered via phone solicitations, door-to-door sales pitches, and other types of advertisements.

Once they have had a chance to look at your chimney, scam artists routinely make false claims about expensive repairs that are immediately needed, to prevent fires or deadly carbon monoxide leaks. They will accept your money for these costly repairs, and then what they usually do is take the money and run. If they do work on your chimney, there is a chance they will do more harm than good. Though the industry isn’t regulated, there are building code requirements which apply to the chimney; fake chimney sweeps aren’t equipped to do repairs that are up to code. Also, if a fake chimney sweep supposedly cleans your chimney, you can’t be sure your fireplace is safe to use.

Before hiring a chimney sweep:

  • Make sure the company is an established business with a good reputation within the community.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau to see if there is any information about the company.
  • Make sure he or she is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), a designation which serves as proof that the person has proper training and experience for the job.

Mistake #3 – Failing to install carbon monoxide detectors in the home.

Even when a chimney has been routinely inspected, unexpected situations can occur which could cause carbon monoxide to enter the home in large amounts. Known as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is not detectable until dangerous physical reactions are manifested. The toxic fumes have no smell and are invisible. To avoid the dangers of carbon monoxide which can occur through the use of a fireplace, simply install carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home.

All of our chimney sweeps are certified professionals and will give you a true assessment of your chimney’s condition. Our customers always get the VIP treatment because we want the ongoing privilege of helping you keep your chimney and fireplace safe.

Problems with Wood Burning Stoves: Causes and Solutions

Scott JacksonComment

Modern wood burning stoves are beautiful, efficient appliances and excellent heat sources; but they are not always trouble-free. Many of the potential problems that can arise with wood burning stoves are solved by first having them installed by professionals and then having them inspected and cleaned annually by certified chimney sweeps. Smoking is the most common problem that homeowners have with their wood burning stoves. The following are possible causes of a drafty wood stove, along with helpful solutions:

  • Faulty door. It’s possible that the door of a wood burning stove is not airtight, when there is a problem with draftiness. Check gaskets on the door; if they are broken, stove suppliers can provide replacements. The glass may also need to be replaced, if it is damaged and creating a draft.
  • Unseasoned firewood. It’s important to burn seasoned or thoroughly dried firewood. When you burn green or unseasoned firewood, the result is a great deal of smoke and a lot of messy creosote and soot deposits in the stove and chimney.
  • Chimney obstruction. There are many things that can possibly obstruct a chimney, such as animals, debris as a result of a storm, deterioration of the masonry, and an excess buildup of creosote. When the combustion materials are prevented from exiting through the chimney the way they are supposed to, the result is a drafty wood stove. Contact our chimney sweeps for help removing chimney blockage.
  • A tightly sealed home. Modern homes are well sealed, which means there isn’t a lot of air being exchanged between inside and the out-of-doors. For this reason, chimneys are often unable to operate the way they are supposed to. As the smoke is drawn up the fireplace, there needs to be a source of air to keep the fire going and to keep the air flowing outside. This causes an insufficient air supply. A temporary solution to this problem would be opening a window to keep the air moving. Consult our chimney professionals for help addressing this type of draft problem.

Another problem we often hear about from consumers is the smell of paint. This is a typical occurrence when a new stove is initially fired up; it happens when the paint is still curing. The odor should completely dissipate within a few days. Contact our chimney professionals or the manufacturer of your wood stove if the paint smell lingers beyond four days.

Most stoves today have a feature called an “airwash facility” which keeps the glass clean. The airwash burns soot off the glass while the stove is being used. For stoves that do not have self-cleaning glass, wipe off soot before the glass is hot; it should come off easily. If the glass is hot, the moisture on the cloth will turn to steam, and this should be avoided. When the stove is cool, dip your cleaning cloth in the ashes and rub stubborn stains with them; this should remove the stains. Do not use abrasive cloths or cleaning fluids on the wood stove glass because it will cause long-term damage.

There are many potential problems that can occur with chimneys, such as moisture getting into the masonry and causing deterioration. Contact our chimney professionals for any questions or problems and to schedule a cleaning and inspection.

Wood Fireplaces vs. Wood Stoves

Scott JacksonComment

Not much can beat the look, feel, and smell of a wood fire, but many homeowners can get hung up on deciding whether a wood burning fireplace or wood stove is a better, more efficient choice. While each type has its own advantages & disadvantages, a little research into the comparisons of both can help you make the right decision for your family, your style, and your heating needs.

Leaving cost out of the equation since both types of wood burning appliances can range greatly depending on the size & setup you need, we’ll discuss the aesthetics, safety, efficiency, and eco-friendliness of each type. Here’s a look at the differences of a wood burning fireplace and a wood burning stove:


The breathtaking design of a masonry fireplace is often like none-other. With endless possibilities encompassing mosaic tiles, brickwork, stacked stone, veneer, or marble, a wood fireplace & hearth will be the centerpiece of any living space. Open views of dancing flames and the incredible appearance, feel, and smell of wood burning in a fireplace makes this style extremely popular among homeowners.

On the other hand, while wood stoves can come in a variety of beautiful designs, from modern & sleek to rustic & traditional, they lack the natural ambiance that a fireplace provides. Free standing stoves can act as a decorative accent to a room when in use. Since wood stoves feature glass doors, homeowners don’t have the same view as an open burning fireplace design.


Any hearth appliance featuring a wood burning fire can come with natural safety challenges. As opposed to gas or pellet fuel, byproducts & creosote from burning wood can buildup in the chimney, posing a serious fire hazard if not addressed properly. Since EPA certified freestanding stoves offer a more complete combustion process than open burning fireplaces, wood stoves are able to burn away the byproducts more completely. They are not as susceptible to creosote buildup as open burning masonry fireplaces.

Sparks are another hazard of wood fires. Sparks can easily fly out of fireplaces causing injury or property damage. Installing screens & doors to fireplaces can help ensure that hot embers won’t land on nearby furniture or carpeting and start a fire. Stoves, on the other hand, are already equipped with a glass door since they are a closed combustion unit, which means escaping sparks are not an issue unless you are tending to the fire.

An open burning fireplace can be a potential safety issue for children or pets. If your little one or your furry friend wanders to close to the fire, they have a chance of being burned by a stray ember. Wood stoves are a bit safer in that respect since the fire is not directly in the open, but there still is a minimal risk of someone being burned if they touch the stove or the glass door of the stove. Safety gates are a great way to keep children and pets away from wood fires, no matter if they are in a fireplace or free standing stove.


It’s no secret that wood tends to be the least expensive fuel type among gas, pellet, oil, and coal. Although cheap to fuel, wood fireplaces are not the most efficient hearth appliance in the industry. In fact, they tend to be the least efficient heating source with a heat efficiency of only about 10%. Most of the heat escapes out of the chimney, leaving the room feeling cooler than it should be. On the other hand, wood burning stoves can provide 3x as much heat with 1/3 of the firewood, meaning they are more efficient and offer more heating power than open burning fireplaces. When it comes to efficiency and heating capabilities, wood stoves win.


Burning wood is carbon neutral which means that burning a wood fire releases no more CO2 than a tree does decaying naturally in the forest. That being said, the wood stoves available today are EPA certified and produce very little harmful emissions thanks to their closed combustion burn system. Since they are more efficient & better at providing heat, wood stoves can help supplement your current heating system, allowing you to lower your utility bills during the cold winter months.

When it comes down to it, the heating appliance you choose will depend on what you prefer. If aesthetics, atmosphere, and authenticity are your main priorities, than a wood fireplace will be the choice for you. If you desire a highly efficient heating powerhouse, a wood burning stove would be a better choice.

No matter what you are looking for, our hearth experts can help. Contact us today to learn more about the requirements of both a wood stove and a wood burning fireplace and find out how we can help you choose the best wood burning appliance for you needs and lifestyle.

Types Of Wood Used For Smoking And Barbecuing Meats

Scott JacksonComment

Wood and the smoke that emits from burning logs differentiate BBQ from any other type of outdoor cooking. BBQ traditions vary by location. Usually, BBQ is done using hardwood logs. However, too much heat and smoke and using the wrong type of wood can ruin the meat. There is a variety of wood to use for BBQ from Hickory to Pecan. As the pitmaster, you should already know how to burn the wood effectively. You can also enhance the texture and taste of your food by basting or rubbing to create the perfect meal.

Geographical BBQ traditions

Different geographical areas in the United States have different traditions for BBQ. These traditions have come about due to the local flora, as availability of wood for BBQ depends on it. Traditionally, most places tend to favor hickory, mesquite, oak and even grapevine cuttings to flavor meats while barbecuing and smoking.

Types of wood to use for BBQ and smoking meats

If you want to become a great at-home pitmaster, you should be aware of the best wood for BBQ.

Hickory is popular among Southern and several Midwestern states, giving strong flavor to the meats. However, be careful while using hickory, as too much smoke can cause meats to taste bitter.

Out of all the oaks and hardwoods, red oak is considered the best, especially for smoking meats. Oak is strong, but it does not tend to overpower the taste and texture of the meat. If you are cooking or smoking beef or lamb, this is the best hardwood to use.

Restaurants tend to favor mesquite, which is naturally oily and tends to burn hot and fast. Mesquite is not the best choice for hosting long and lazy barbecues.

Use Grapevine cuttings for BBQ beef, poultry and fish to give your meats a nice and delicate flavor. The downside of grapevine cuttings is the vast amounts of pungent smoke.

Apple wood imparts a mild flavor and sweetness to meats. It would be best to only use this wood for BBQ pork, especially ham, and poultry.

Cherry wood is ideal for barbecuing pork and beef, and gives a vibrant mahogany color to the meat. You can balance cherry wood by mixing it with hickory, oak, or pecan.

The Pecan tree belongs to the hickory family. This wood is great for long barbecues, as it burns slowly, and gives meats a delicate flavor. Also a wonderful smoking wood, but pecan tends to be pungent and is best used in moderation.

Other woods that are popular to use for BBQ and smoked meats include maple, alder ash, pear, and plum. Herb woods such as rosemary, thyme and basil are popular as well.

There are some woods that are not recommended to use for smoking and cooking meats. These woods include spruce, redwood, sycamore, cedar, cypress, elm, pine, fir, and eucalyptus.

The knowledge of the pitmaster

A good pitmaster knows not only about wood, but also how to burn it effectively and control flare-ups. You also need to know about the different cuts of meat. Some meat cuts require more heat to cook thoroughly, while others need less.

Enhancing texture and taste with basting or rubbing

As you barbecue and smoke meats over wood, you will need to baste the meats to prevent it from drying. Basting has an effect on the texture, and also the taste. When you slowly BBQ or smoke meats, rub the meat with a dry mix of spices. Rubbing this mixture of spices onto your food is all that is needed to keep juices intact and enhance the taste.

Recipes For Your Big Green Egg!

Scott JacksonComment

Hop’s Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Pizza

“Howdy, folks, John Driskell Hopkins here.

I’ve been singing since I could talk, and like a lot of us who grew up in the South, my earliest musical experiences were in the church choir. I started piano lessons and later learned to play my Dad’s old Martin guitar knock-off that I found under the bed.

I went on to Florida State University … my band at FSU was called The Woodpeckers. We played every bar in Tallahassee, I think, and I was the lead singer. After college, I moved home to Atlanta and formed the band Brighter Shade with great guys that I still play with today.

I began to focus more on producing and writing in my studio where I recorded, produced and performed on many different records with many different artists over those years. One of them was named Zac Brown.

Early years with the band were sometimes brutal, sometimes hysterical, sometimes glorious, but always magical. Some weeks we made negative money and other weeks we made up for it. We rode in an airport shuttle death trap up into the Rockies and back down to Miami. Guys got divorced. Guys got married. Babies got born. Families got built. Dreams got realized. When Chicken Fried made it to the radio in 2008, the sky opened up.

Being in this band has taught me so much about myself; it made me realize a lot about who I am and who I want to be. It’s a band where anything is possible – there are no limits to what can be achieved. The music that we write and perform has a Southern identity, but is in many ways without genre. We never come to the table with a preconceived notion of what the music should or shouldn’t be. We debate. We disagree. We celebrate. We rejoice. In the end, we stand together and we often marvel at what has come to pass this far. It’s an incredible journey filled with incredible people, and it has only just begun.”

This is a super easy pizza recipe that my family uses and frequently modifies. Serves a family of eight or one hungry daddy.



  • 1 lb pizza dough
  • 4 oz chopped chicken
  • 2 oz chopped ham
  • 4 oz chopped pineapple
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella


Fire up the EGG and get her hot! About 500-600°F/260-316°C indirect.

I soaked my chicken breast in pineapple juice and BBQ sauce for an hour before I threw it on the EGG. Once it was done, I chopped off what I needed for the pie and ate the rest.

Next, I added the Pizza Stone, heat the stone before putting your pizza in the EGG. If you’re good at making your own pizza dough, then you’re ahead of me already. I got mine from the grocery store and rolled it out over a bed of finely ground corn meal so it doesn’t stick to the counter; I prefer cornmeal to flour.

Throw some corn meal on the hot stone in the EGG and place the dough on it, close the lid and cook the dough for about 2 minutes per side. This will make a crispier crust and will make it easier to handle with the ingredients on it.

Remove the dough from the EGG and spread on the BBQ sauce. Now you’re ready for the ham, chicken, pineapple and cheese. If you want more chicken, add more chicken. If you want more cheese, add more cheese. It’s pizza, for crying out loud! Put the pie back into the EGG and cook it covered for 12-15 minutes or until properly browned.

Very Berry Pizza

Recipe adapted from Pizza on the Grill Expanded, by Elizabeth Karmel and Bob Blumer.



  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallizedginger
  • Zest of ½ lemon, finely grated with a Micro- plane or zester
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, for kneading the dough
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 ball prepared pizza dough, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup uncooked grits or polenta, for rolling the dough
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (such as canola) or nut oil (such as walnut)
  • ½ pint fresh blueberries, picked over
  • ½ pint fresh raspberries, picked over
  • ¼ cup honey


Combine the ricotta, vanilla, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the ginger, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Reserve for topping.

Sprinkle the work surface with the flour. Mix the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon and knead it into the dough. Set aside until ready to make pizza.

Set the EGG for direct cooking at 400°F/204°C. Preheat a Pizza & Baking Stone.

Roll out and shape the dough, add to preheated Pizza & Baking Stone ,and cook the first side of the crust. Use tongs to turn the crust over. Continue cooking until the bottom crust is well browned.

Remove from the EGG and immediately spread it evenly with the ricotta mixture. Let your inner artist dictate how you arrange the berries over the top. Finish with a generous drizzle of honey. Slice and serve immediately.

Serves 2 to 4

*You may also want to try adding the pulp from 2 fresh passion fruits to the ricotta cheese mixture.

*Buy a few extra raspberries and make your own raspberry lemonade.


Scott JacksonComment

You know that feeling you get – the one like the outdoors is calling you, and you just can’t fight the itch to get outside? It turns out there’s a reason for it. In the mid-1960s, German-born psychoanalyst Erich Fromm coined this basic need to seek connection with nature “biophilia.” It’s why we crave time on our porches, our decks, and our patios. And since we’re spending so much time in these outdoor spaces, why not make them a bit more comfortable?

Up the Ante with an Outdoor Kitchen
Everything tastes a little better when it’s prepared on a grill. But when everything else needed for the meal is inside the house, we end up running back and forth constantly to get beverages, plates, utensils, condiments, etc. An outdoor kitchen simplifies meal prep and provides easy access to all the tools you need to enjoy dinner on the patio.

Think about it: without walls and other limitations, the outdoors is the perfect spot for your ideal kitchen. A grill, a surface area for food prep, and an area to stow supplies are essential. But why stop there? A cooktop is nice to have for preparing side dishes. Add a sink and refrigerator and you can virtually eliminate trips inside.

The design of your outdoor kitchen will depend on the area you are working with and the amenities you choose. Many homeowners have found that an island is an efficient design for an outdoor kitchen since it can comprise everything needed in a fairly compact and efficient space.

Move Indoor Comforts Outside
Our yards and outdoor spaces are part of our homes. Today more than ever, it’s possible to extend the comforts of our living rooms outdoors, especially with regard to furniture.

If you think outdoor furniture lacks comfort and style, think again. In addition to being weather resistant, today’s outdoor furniture is every bit as comfortable as its indoor counterparts. Gone are those harsh, sweat-generating cushions of the past; they’ve been replaced by pliable, soft, weather-tolerant fabrics that make you want to nestle in and stay longer. Wicker or rattan bases are equally cozy and are designed to stand up to weather for years.

Extend the Season with Warmth
Just as a fireplace is the heart of the home, it is also the centerpiece of any outdoor space. If you’ve ever enjoyed a campfire on a moonlit night, you know fire and the outdoors belong together. That’s why outdoor fireplaces are so popular, and continue to gain momentum as one of the most popular outdoor space amenities. If you make only one improvement to your outdoor space, install a fireplace to transform it from run-of-the-mill to the place where everyone wants to spend time. There are many style options for outdoor fireplaces, including the on-trend Heat & Glo Carolina.

Let There be Light
Enhance starry summer nights with strategically placed low-voltage lights. In addition to providing light for your guests to move safely from one area to another, lighting adds interest by illuminating your landscape. Most lights are fairly easy to install, provided there’s an electrical source. If electricity isn’t an option, consider solar-powered lighting, which can be set to operate dawn-to-dusk. Also, skip the incandescent lights and go with LED. They produce less heat and save money over time by using about 90 percent less energy.

Just Add Water
Add the sound of gently falling water to the comforts of a fireplace and you have the perfect outdoor oasis to engage your senses. Rock fountains (sometimes made from concrete-reinforced fiberglass) are popular now because they don’t require a lot of maintenance and are fairly simple to install

Recipes For Your Traeger!

Scott JacksonComment


Tired of the same old meat grind - Get your Opa! On with this roasted leg of lamb with rosemary. It will take your taste buds to the Mediterranean and back, it's a memorable meal that everyone will want mixed into the weekly rotation.




Using a paring knife, make a series of small slits in the leg.

On a cutting board, finely mince the garlic, rosemary, and oregano with a chef's knife to make an herb and garlic paste. (Alternatively, put the garlic and herbs in a small food processor.)

Stuff a small amount of the paste into each of the slits, driving it into the slit with a spoon handle or other utensil. Put the lamb on a rack inside a roasting pan. If desired, like the pan with foil for easier clean-up.

Rub the outside of the lamb with the lemon juice, then the olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator and let the lamb come to room temperature.

Remove the plastic wrap and season the lamb with salt and pepper. When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 400F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Roast the lamb for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350F (300 if you have a manual controller) and continue to cook until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the meat - be sure the temperature probe is not touching bone - is about 140F for medium-rare, about 1 hour more, longer if you're cooking at 300F or prefer your lamb more well-done.

Transfer the lamb to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing on a diagonal into thin slices.



Peaches are the sweet meat of summer, so grab a few and give 'em the smear and sear. With our Bourbon honey butter glaze, they grill up tender and dripping with flavor. Natural sweetness with a touch of fire is the perfect man-style confection.


  • 1/4 CUP HONEY


When ready to cook, start the Traeger on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to High 450F, and preheat, lid closed (10-15 minutes).

On the stove, in a saucepan, combine the honey, bourbon, and butter, and cook until melted.

Halve the peaches, remove the stones, and brush with the honey bourbon sauce.

Place the peaches on the grill; cut side down until grill marks are achieved.

Remove and top grilled peaches with smoked whip cream. Garnish with fresh mint.

Serve and enjoy!


This Father’s Day, Change Up Tradition by Grilling Breakfast for Dad

Scott JacksonComment

Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association Offers Breakfast Recipes for Dad and the Entire Family

Arlington, Va. – Dad deserves the best, starting with breakfast. This Father’s Day, Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) is encouraging a new tradition for dear ol’ dad: surprising him by grilling up a breakfast feast.

“Father’s Day is the fourth most popular grilling day, when 49% of grill owners will be firing up their grill to prepare a celebratory meal,” said Carrie deGuzman, Senior Manager of Communications for Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA). “Most likely, it’s basic burgers and brats for lunch or dinner. This year, whether you are a grilling novice or an aspiring pitmaster, you can create an unforgettable gift by starting his day with a hearty breakfast you prepared over the flame just for him.”

HPBA recommends a savory as well as sweet dish for your Father’s Day breakfast on the grill:

Grilled Eggs by Steven Raichlen, Author of Perfect Smoke

1 ½ tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs
1 ounce slivered ham or crumbled cooked bacon (optional)
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 ounce grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, Gouda, cheddar, or other cheese
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs

Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium-high (400 degrees). Grease a small ovenproof skillet, baking dish or ramekin with ½ tablespoon of the butter or olive oil. Crack in the eggs and sprinkle ham or bacon (if using) on top. Pour in the cream. Sprinkle with cheese and breadcrumbs. Dot the tops of the eggs with
the remaining butter or oil. Place the skillet with the eggs on the grill away from the heat. Toss the wood chips on the coals or place in the smoker box of your gas grill. Grill over indirect heat until the crumbs are browned and the eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes. (The yolks should remain a little runny in the center.) Serve the eggs at once with strips or slices of fire-grilled toast. 

Outdoor Cinnamon Rolls with Bacon by Ray Lampe, Dr. BBQ

The little bit of flavor from the grill combined with the smokiness of the bacon really makes this easy dish something special! 

1 roll of 8 refrigerator cinnamon rolls
4 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled

Prepare the grill to cook indirect at 350 degrees. Place rolls on a baking sheet in a circle so they are just barely touching each other. Cook on the grill for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from grill, top with package icing, then sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

A Common Cause of a Chimney Leak: Flashing

Scott JacksonComment

A leaky chimney can cause all sorts of problems which require costly repair.  When we go on service calls related to leaks in the chimney system, we often find that the source of the trouble is faulty flashing.  The flashing is sheet metal installed for the purpose of ensuring that the connection between the chimney and roof is watertight, but the effectiveness of flashing eventually expires.  The best way to avoid moisture issues caused by flashing is to get an annual chimney inspection; every aspect of the chimney system is carefully inspected.

How is Flashing Installed?

Typically, flashing consists of two metal panel parts.  The step or base flashing is the first part and is installed underneath a shingle and bent upward against the brick chimney.  Upon inspection of the L-shaped sections of base flashing, we often find holes and cracks.

The second piece of flashing is called counter flashing. This piece is bent down over the step flashing and also cuts back and is embedded into a chimney mortar joint at the top and caps or seals off the top portion of the step flashing.

The installation of flashing can be challenging; in particular, corners tend to be vulnerable.  Even with top quality installation, there is a small spot to which high-quality urethane caulking should be applied, to complete the waterproofing aspect of the process.  If leakage around flashing isn’t allowed to go on very long, it’s possible that re-application of caulk is all that may be needed.  But if the flashing materials are not properly overlapped, the problem can’t be fixed with caulk.

The type of metal used for flashing varies according to region and cost.  In the south galvanized steel and aluminum are the standard choices and on some high-end installations copper is used.  Copper is the best material for flashing because it’s durable and the corners form a more watertight connection, since they can be soldered.  Masons in the Northeast tend to favor lead flashing since it is a soft metal that can easily be bent to shape.  No matter what type of material is used, correct layering during installation is essential to form a watertight connection.

Are There Warning Signs that Flashing Needs Repair or Replacement?

Leaks around the chimney are not always evident right away but they can cause serious structural damage.  Moisture enters the roofing, the attic, and possibly the ceiling areas causing wood rot, roof damage, attic damage, and drywall damage in the ceilings.  It’s a good idea to inspect the chimney area in the attic every six months to a year, to be sure that there are no signs of leakage. 

Our chimney professionals carefully scrutinize chimney flashing during inspections.  When a chimney is especially vulnerable to moisture because it’s at the bottom of a roof slope, we typically install a cricket, which is a roofing term for a triangle shaped diversion roof built behind the chimney at the roofline.  Crickets help to ensure that the flashing can do its job well, keeping moisture from entering the home where the roof and chimney connect.

If you need a chimney cleaning, chimney inspection, or flashing repair, contact us today!