Why a fireplace is only as good as its chimney
There’s nothing like a roaring fire on cool fall and winter evenings to bring warmth into a home and add a beautiful touch of elegance. A fireplace that works properly is a blessing. One that doesn’t is a headache and is usually the result of problems with the chimney, not the fireplace itself.
Before looking at some common chimney problems and their solutions, we need to say that the most important practice in operating a fireplace is to have the entire unit maintained and inspected on a regular basis. This way, issues that are just starting can be stopped before a full-scale problem exists.
When smoke rises through a chimney, it leaves creosote and soot deposits along the chimney’s lining. This process is unavoidable if you’re burning wood in your fireplace.
A chimney fire that can result from flammable creosote, however, is very avoidable by having your chimney cleaned thoroughly at least once a year. In addition to fires, excess creosote can cause an obstruction leading to smoke and deadly carbon monoxide entering the room from the fireplace.
In addition to creosote build-up, there are a variety of other things than can lead to a dangerous obstruction in your chimney. Obstructions can begin and grow at any time, but chimneys that haven’t been used for long periods of time are definitely good candidates for an obstruction.
Only a professional chimney technician should be given the job of inspecting a chimney for obstructions. He or she will commonly find blockages such as nests of birds and other animals, twigs and leaves, broken masonry and other objects. A fireplace should never be operated with a suspected or known obstruction in the chimney.
When a chimney is built with a lining of clay tile, problems can happen over time. Chimneys experience a lot of wear and tear and high heat, and eventually chimney linings that aren’t made from durable materials like stainless steel can begin to deteriorate, resulting in blockage.
Even more critical is that with a compromised chimney lining, fire can attack surrounding areas of the home that are combustible through cracks in the clay tiles. Many house fires every year are started because the homeowners neglected to have regular professional chimney inspections performed.
The brickwork used to construct a chimney should last a very long time. But eventually, the mortar holding the bricks together can deteriorate, creating gaps and exposing the entire chimney to moisture. This can lead to rapid further deterioration.
Chimney caps and crowns are excellent defenses against outdoor elements like rain and snow and other elements as discussed above. Broken or damaged caps and crowns can let in a variety of problems no one wants to deal with. Inspection and repair of these devices is part of regular chimney maintenance.
Do you worry that your chimney might not be in perfect working order? Know for sure by calling Chimney Solutions, your greater-Atlanta chimney experts. We’ll send out a trained inspector who can tell you exactly what is needed for your chimney to work great and be safe for you and your family. Call us at 770-255-1300.
Chimney Solutions, Inc.
1155 McFarland 400 Drive, Alpharetta GA 30004