2601 Cambridge Beltway
Cambridge, MD 21613

Mon–Fri: 9am–5pm
Sat: 9am–2pm
Sun: Closed


McCready Masonry & Chimney Restoration, family owned and operated since 1983, is a full range masonry and fireplace company. We offer everything and anything relating to chimneys, fireplaces, hearths and accessories. We specialize in historic fireplace and chimney restoration, chimney evaluations/inspections, fire restoration, draft consulting and house depressurization for problematic fireplaces or appliances. We expanded our business in 2007 with the addition of McCready’s Hearth & Home Showroom. It has been a great fit with our already successful chimney business.

We take great pride in offering cutting edge design consulting to incorporate a fireplace or stove unit into the home with seamless measure. With oil on the rise, solid fuel and zone heating with stoves or inserts is a smart solution. We believe the installation and aesthetics of a unit blending harmoniously into the home is extremely important. Each job is approached with the client’s individual style and decor in mind. We do more than just install stoves; we infuse comfort in a manner you will enjoy for many years.


Q. I’m working with a builder, will they provide all the information for me?

A. Usually, but it still does not hurt to be prepared. Some things like aesthetics, how much heat you are looking for, etc. are questions which only you may know the answers.

Q. What information should we have with us when shopping for a fireplace or stove?

A. How many fireplaces / stoves are you looking for?
What size of appliance do you have in mind?
Do you want your fireplace / stove to produce a lot of heat, some, or none at all?
Where would you like to put the fireplaces / stoves?
If you’re shopping for an insert, you should have the dimensions of the existing fireplace opening.
Do you have a single, two, or three story home?
How high is your ceiling?
What is the pitch of your roof? (if applicable)
What type of fuel would you like to use? (Gas, Pellet, Wood)
How large of an area do you want to heat?
Do you, or will you, have a raised hearth?
You should have your address, your phone number and directions to your house.
You should have blueprints, if new construction.
What type of style are you looking for? (Contemporary, Classic, Rustic)

Q. What questions should we ask when shopping for a fireplace / stove?

A. What fireplaces / stoves do you have that will fit my space / location?
How much heat will it produce?
How will it be vented?
What materials may we install around it? tile, stone, marble, drywall, mantel?
Does it have a fan option?
Can it be installed with a remote control?
How efficient / clean burning is it?
How hot will the surface temperature get?
Any special requirements (hearth pad, metal framing, electricity, non-combustible material around it)?

Q. Who purchases the fireplace, the builder or the homeowner?

A. Usually the builder for new construction and the homeowner for remodels.

Q. What does zero clearance mean?

A. This is a term used typically when purchasing a fireplace for new construction. The term zero clearance should be named close clearance. The term refers to being able to surround or build around your fireplace with combustible materials, usually wood and drywall. With that said, there is usually some clearance needed. For example, clearance to side 0″, clearance to top 0″, clearance to back 1″.

Q. When is a fireplace insert used?

A. This term refers to the application of installing a fireplace insert into an existing fireplace.

Q. When do you need to install a liner in your existing fireplace?

A. When installing an insert (gas, wood and pellet) or if your chimney flue is cracked or heavily worn.

Q. How often should my chimney be cleaned?

A. You should examine your chimney and flue once a year, to see if there is a buildup of creosote and any signs of water damage. A chimney sweep can provide this service.

Q. What is creosote?

A. Creosote is a byproduct of incomplete combustion. Incomplete combustion consists of smoke, gases, liquid droplets and solid particulates. This flammable tar-like substance is called creosote.

Q. How often should my fireplace / stove be serviced?

A. Just like your chimney, we suggest that your fireplace or stove be serviced once a year.

Q. What does direct vent mean?

A. Direct vent applies to gas fireplaces, gas inserts and gas stoves. It is the process of using outside air for combustion, thus eliminating the use of preheated indoor air, which is lost up your chimney. Using a direct vent system gives you better indoor air quality, higher efficiency and greater venting options.

Q. What is a B vent system?

A. B vent systems work much the same way as a standard masonry chimney system. It uses indoor air for combustion and removes indoor air, smoke and gasses up your chimney / vent.

Q. How is pellet pipe different?

A. Pellet pipe for stoves is a 3″ diameter pipe (4″ for 2 or more story applications) made out of stainless steel and gasketed inside the pipe. Woodstoves typically are 6″-8″ diameter pipe while gas fireplaces / stoves range between 6-5/8″-8-1/2″ (sometimes larger). Wood fireplaces range between approximately 8″-16″.

Q. How will a fan help my fireplace / stove?

A. A fan’s main contribution is distributing the heat your fireplace or stove produces throughout the house. Another great quality about fans is that they push the heat away from mantels or shelves above the fireplace, preventing them from getting really hot.

Q. How does an air-wash system work?

A. Most wood and pellet stoves / inserts have this helpful feature. Just above the door there is a slot of holes where superheated air flows through and immerses your glass, burning off smoke and creosote.

Q. How do I clean the glass on my direct vent gas fireplace / stove / insert?

A. You will probably need to refer to your owner’s manual. Most new fireplaces / stoves will have a bottom louver, which folds down. Just under the glass there will be a glass retaining latch, pullout and down. To remove glass, pull lower glass towards you while lifting upward. Gas fireplaces / stoves will commonly have a white film residue. To remove or clean use a ceramic glass cleaner. (Do not use any abrasive cleaners. They will scratch your glass.)

Q. What is the best way to clean the glass on my wood or pellet stove / insert?

A. For daily cleaning, use very fine steel wool (while glass is hot) to wipe away deposits. Remember to wear your hearth gloves when doing this! For deeper cleaning, use a glass cleaner designed for removing creosote. Spray cleaner on glass and wipe away deposits using paper towels. Do this when glass is cool.

Q. How do I light my pilot light?

A. Again, you will probably need to refer to your owner’s manual or call your local dealer. Most gas log systems will have either a key valve or a safety pilot valve. To light with a key valve, light a long match, slowly turn your gas on by using a key into the key valve, rotating clockwise. Extend your lit match or lighter under the logs and grate. To light gas logs with a safety pilot valve, turn your on/off pilot knob by pushing in and turning counter-clockwise to full on. Turn knob (without pressing in) clockwise until it stops, this is your pilot position. Light a long match or lighter, find your thermal pile (this is typically under the grate, in the right back corner, looks like a rod and funnel.) Push in on the on/off pilot knob while lighting the thermal pile. Once lit, keep your on/off pilot knob pressed in for approximately 45 seconds. Depress and turn counter clockwise to full on. To light a zero clearance gas fireplace or insert: pull down bottom louvre, turn on/off pilot knob to pilot position (pilot will be even with the white dash). Press in and hold while pushing the red spark igniter button. Once you see the pilot light, hold in the on/off pilot knob for 45 seconds, depress and turn counter -clockwise to on. At this point you can light your fire by pressing the on button, using a wall switch or remote control.

Q. What is the difference between natural gas and liquid propane?

A. You will most likely have natural gas in urban housing and propane in rural housing. Natural gas is lighter than air and is 138,000 BTUs a gallon, while propane is heavier than air (caution: propane will pool up if you have a leak – shut gas off immediately until leak can be fixed) and is 90,000 BTUs per gallon.

Q. What is a BTU?

A. British Thermal Unit. It is a measure of heat energy, or the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.

Q. What type of wood should I use in my wood stove?

A. There are hardwoods (oak, hickory, apple, etc.) and soft woods (pine, birch, poplar, etc.). Your wood should be dry and seasoned before using. Hard woods will have a higher BTU content than soft woods.

Q. How can I tell if my firewood is dry?

A. Look at the ends to see if they have cracks in them. If they don’t, your wood could be wet. Take two pieces of wood and hit them together. If they have a cracking sound, it’s dry. If they thud, it’s wet. You could also take a core sample to determine moisture content. Moisture content should be about 20%.

Q. Is it better to burn an oak or pine pellet?

A. Hard woods are generally the preferred species for cordwood appliances because of their higher BTU content and lower emissions. Pellets from soft woods generally have slightly higher heat value and lower ash content than pellets produced from hard woods. Pine is a soft wood which will outperform oak in a pellet application.  Though, oak is less expensive.

Q. What is cultured stone?

A. Cultured stone is a brand of manufactured stone veneer. Cultured stone looks exactly like the natural stones from which they were molded. As a building material, real stone can be problematic, but cultured stone is lightweight, versatile (can use indoors or out) and affordable.

Q. What is the difference among single wall, double wall and class A chimneys?

A. Single wall stove pipe is a single layer of steel mostly used with wood stoves. Double wall stove pipe has the same use, and has an air space between an inner pipe and outer pipe, which makes the outer portion of the pipe cooler, enabling your stove to be closer to a combustible surface. Class A chimney is double wall pipe but instead of an air space, it is packed with high heat insulation, which can handle more heat. Class A chimney is used in the attic and outside of the home.

Q. How close can my fireplace / stove be to combustibles? And what does combustible mean?

A. Every stove / fireplace is different, so you will want to check the manufacturer’s specifications. The type of venting / pipe you use will play a roll in this as well. Combustible means able to burn.


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McCready's Hearth and Home

McCready Masonry & Chimney Restoration, family owned and operated since 1983, is a full range masonry and fireplace company. We offer everything and anything relating to chimneys, fireplaces, hearths and accessories.

Office Information


 FAX 410.221.0824


 2601 Cambridge Beltway,
           Cambridge, MD