Monday, January 23, 2017

HearthMasters to Open a Masonry School June 2017

Press Release 

HearthMasters is opening a masonry training school in Independence, Missouri in June in answer to requests for masonry skills courses in the Midwest region. Gene Padgitt, an award-winning master mason, will be heading up the workshops.

Kansas City, Missouri January 23, 2017

The first course offering is Introduction to Masonry. This hands—on workshop is geared towards chimney professionals who want to learn how to do basic masonry repairs that are commonly needed when doing chimney relining, minor masonry repair, and repairing or rebuilding a firebox, however, anyone wanting to learn basic masonry is welcome to attend.

Participants will attend classroom courses and get hands-on experience learning how to grind and point brick masonry joints, how to repair a firebox, how to build cement caps/crowns, how to cut out and replace a section of bricks to access a smoke chamber, how to repair a smoke chamber, and rebuild several courses of brick on an exterior chimney. We will also discuss block and stone chimneys, stucco application, and other forms of masonry fireplace restoration using pre-cast kits.

A certificate of completion will be issued to participants who successfully complete the course. A maximum of 10 attendees will be accepted. The cost is $800 per person and includes all lunches, handouts, and a film of the project after it is completed. CEUs for CSIA, NFI, and MHA will be applied for.

Gene Padgitt has 34 years of industry experience. He is a State Certified Private Fire Investigator, CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep, NFI Certified Gas Specialist, Licensed Mechanical Contractor, and holds a degree in HVACR Technology. Padgitt has been an instructor for 20 years and he and his wife, Marge, author of The Chimney and Hearth Pro’s Resource Book, decided to open a training center in answer to requests from industry professionals. HearthMasters will offer more classes in the future.

Future classes will include Brick Oven Building, Masonry Heater Construction, business building, marketing, and technical training.

For more information visit or call 816-461-3665.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Best Wood-Fired Restaurants in Kansas City

To the wood-fired connoisseur, there is nothing that can compare to food – any food -- cooked in a wood-fired oven. This is because the taste imparted to the food from the wood is something that can’t be obtained from gas or electric ovens.

A team of taste testers was sent to each of these restaurants – on multiple occasions -- over the past year in order to sample some of their wonderful dishes. The results were unanimous: Eat wood-fired whenever possible.

Rock & Run Brewery and Pub, 110 E Kansas St., Liberty, Missouri offers an exotic brew pub menu which includes appetizers such as deviled eggs, mini bruschetta, and house-made meatballs, salads, soups, sandwiches, pastas, and of course, pizza. Rock & Run’s specialty pizzas include a white pizza with chicken, bacon, white garlic sauce, and mozzarella & provolone cheeses, a pulled pork pizza, Reuben pizza, and a super-hot diablo pizza.  Of course, Rock & Run offers an extensive wine and beer list since the restaurant brews their own beer on site.  A must for any visit is to top the meal off with campfire s’mores cooked in the wood-fired oven which are to die for.

Pizza Bella, 18th & Baltimore, Kansas City, Missouri offers a menu which features gourmet pizza designed by the owner/chef. Pizzas featured are Margherita, prosciutto, mushroom, leek, potato, egg, and others that are not found in standard pizza joint. The appetizers and desserts feature brussels sprouts, olives and olive oils, mussels, and a charcuteirie plate with assorted cheeses, mustards, and baguette. All of the breads and doughs are made on site. A true gourmet food experience can be found here. Ask the bartender to suggest a wine or beer with your meal.

Blue Grotto, Brookside Plaza at 63rd & Wornall, Kansas City , Missouri serves antipasta, soups, salads, entrees, and wood-fired pizza featuring Funghi and Salsiccia, and a Quattro Stagnioni pizza with artichokes, criminis, olives, peppers, and fontina cheese. The cast iron apple cobbler is a fitting finish to a delicious meal. The Blue Grotto has more good reviews online than most restaurants in town so it is worth the trip.

Providence Pizza, Hwy 71 and Main Street, Grandview, Missouri specializes in pizza but also serves great calzones, sandwiches, appetizers, salads, and desserts. The restaurant offers the customer a choice of thin or thick crust, and an extensive list of toppings, cheeses, and sauces. Pizza is cooked in their large copper-clad wood-fired oven at the front of the restaurant.

Keep Your Fireplace in Tip Top Shape for Winter

Keep Your Fireplace in Tip Top Shape for Winter 

By Marge Padgitt, President of HearthMasters, Inc.

The following are some tips for keeping your fireplace in good order for the winter: 

  •    Have all chimneys inspected annually by a professional chimney sweep to be sure they are in good working order. The sweep will inspect the interior with a chimney camera and the entire exterior wood or masonry structure visually.  He will look for cracks, gaps, or missing mortar joints in the flue, check for proper flue size, check the smoke chamber and fireplace condition, flashing, crown, and chimney cover.
  •   Have flues serving wood-burning appliances swept annually or bi-annually to remove flammable creosote and reduce the risk of chimney fire. All wood creates creosote - even dry hardwoods. 
  •   Have the furnace or water heater flue inspected annually by a professional to be sure it is not a Carbon Monoxide risk. Blockages or flues in poor condition can be a CO risk. Even a CO detector does not register all levels of CO. 
  •   Have gas direct vent fireplaces or stoves tuned up and serviced annually to assure proper performance. Dirt, dust, and spiders clog orifices and can make the unit inoperable. Annual service is required by the manufacturer for warranty coverage on all brands.
  •   Have a chimney cover installed to keep damaging rain and animals out of the flue. A cover should be installed on each flue or a custom-cover can be made to cover all flues and the cement crown.
  •   Masonry problems such as cracked mortar or bricks, deteriorating mortar or spalling bricks should be repaired in the spring and summer months to allow for proper curing so plan accordingly.
  •   Have an elastomeric sealant applied to the cement crown to protect it from weather damage. 

Get a Wood Stove Now

Everyone needs a wood-burning stove in their home for emergency heating and here's why:

  •  Wood-burning stoves work without the use of electricity or fans (unlike gas furnaces or pellet stoves).
  •  Wood stoves and inserts produce TWICE the amount of heat (BTU's) than gas stoves or inserts!
  •  Fuel is readily available either by using your own trees on site or purchasing through a firewood dealer.
  •  No electricity is needed for a wood stove or insert to work! In case of emergency when the power is out you'll be able to stay in your home instead of going to stay with friends or family or going to a hotel.
  •  With a freestanding stove you can cook on the top if needed.

Use a wood-burning stove during fall and winter as a supplemental heating source to save money and provide a more comfortable, even heat. Radiant heat from a wood stove or masonry heater has more health benefits than a gas furnace or electric baseboard heaters.

Good quality wood stoves aren't inexpensive - but they are worth the investment. A good stove will last many years. Note: beware of box store wood stoves that have no warranty and may burn out after a few seasons. 

New wood-burning stoves and inserts are 75%+ efficient which means that most of the heat is staying in your house rather than going up the flue as with a standard open fireplace. 

Call us to discuss upgrading your inefficient open fireplace to a high-efficiency wood-burning insert or if no fireplace is available we can install a freestanding wood stove for you along with a Class A chimney or chimney liner. 

Note: Regency is offering a great deal on their products with $100 - $600 off wood stoves until February 20, 2017. An on-site inspection is required first so call now for an appointment. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Carbon Monoxide Risk from Gas Chimneys Worse in Winter

By Marge Padgitt, CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep, NFI Certified Wood-burning Specialist
President, HearthMasters, Inc.

Homeowners need to be aware of the risks of Carbon Monoxide hazards with chimneys serving gas appliances. This can be a real issue when getting a home ready for rent or sale. Chimneys are the LAST thing anyone investigates, and are often overlooked when it comes to budgeting a remodel or restoration project.

 © Kheng Guan Toh

Chimneys and their flue liners and connecting pipes are designed to get toxic heated flue gasses out of the house. If a chimney is in poor condition or blocked it cannot perform its intended function, putting the occupants at risk. It is interesting to note that even with installation of CO detectors, low levels of CO (less than 9 ppm) which do not register on a detector. can cause long term health problems and even irreversible brain damage. Visit for more information on Carbon Monoxide symptoms, hazards, and more.

When inspecting a chimney what professional chimney sweeps look for are items that can be risks to the occupants. Among these are:
  • §   Damaged or deteriorated flue liner
  • §   Missing mortar joints between tile flue liner sections
  • §   No flue liner installed as required by IRC code
  • §   An abandoned water heater (new furnace installed, water heater is left to vent alone)
  • §   Flue liner too large for the appliances to vent properly
  • §   Flue liner too small for the appliances to vent properly
  • §   Connecting pipes installed incorrectly
  • §   No chimney cover installed to keep damaging rain, birds, and animals out of flues
  • §   Debris (sand, mortar, twigs, bird nests) clogging the flue
  • §   Masonry chimney in poor condition, missing mortar joints
  • §   Cement crown deteriorated, cracked, or missing, allowing rain water to enter the chimney

Carbon Monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. 

During winter months when houses are closed tightly, the problem with CO becomes much worse. There is often inadequate dilution air provided so CO and other toxic gasses from off-gassing of carpet, woodwork, furniture, etc. increase in volume, making the indoor air quality worse than the rest of the year.  As a result, the occupants can experience unexplained headaches, nausea, dizziness, fainting, or death. 

If the house is under negative pressure this can exacerbate the problem. A whole house ventilator may be needed in addition to chimney repair to bringing the chimney to code and working order.

The most commont problem with chimneys serving gas appliances is rain. Rain water entering a chimney from the top through the flue or gaps in the cement crown cause mortar joints to wash out of the flue liner. Typical clay tile flue liners have mortar joints between each two-foot tile section.  Excessive condensation of flue gasses is also a major cause of missing mortar joints. This occurs when the flue liner is sized too large for the appliances and this is extremely common.

Methods of repair: There are different methods for relining, lining, or repair available. Your chimney professional is the best qualified person to address these issues and offer recommendations.

Licensing: Note that a Master Mechanical Contractor License is required to do chimney flue relining or repair in the greater Kansas City area. Check with the Johnson County Contractor Licensing website at /dept/planning-and-codes/cls/home to find a licensed contractor. 

Finding a Professional: The Chimney Safety Institute of America offers training for professional chimney technicians. The CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep designation is a minimum requirement to look for when hiring a chimney pro. Certified Chimney Sweeps know the Codes and Standards and correct methods for repair. Visit for more information. Additionally, request proof of liability and workers comp insurance and contractor licensing. Make sure the contractor pulls a permit for the work and it is inspected by the building inspector. Also check Angie's List for reviews. Unfortunately, there are a lot of untrained and unqualified chimney companies in existence so due diligence will pay off in the end. A mistake in this area can be deadly for occupants so it isn’t worth going the cheap or DIY route.