Ashes, wood chips and parts of logs not fully burned are often seen on a fireplace floor. Other types of debris, however, shouldn’t be ending up inside the fireplace. If you notice the following debris falling from your chimney flue, action should be taken sooner rather than later.
When you find any of these in your firebox, it means some kind of structural damage is occurring. As clay chimney liners age, chunks or sections of their tiles can dislodge and fall away. The danger here is that a compromised liner will allow the intense heat and corrosive gases from combustion to begin attacking the interior masonry of the chimney. When pieces of brick or mortar are found inside the fireplace, it means some level of decay is happening with the masonry.
Most often caused by water infiltration, a seriously damaged chimney may keep losing sections of masonry until it begins to lean and eventually collapses.
Wood-burning fireplaces create a substance called creosote, which is the byproduct of combustion. Creosote builds up in the chimney flue, attaching itself to the chimney liner or the bricks. While creosote debris in your firebox means the material is accumulating inside your flue. Exactly how much is there can’t be known until a professional inspection is performed. One thing that is known is that creosote is highly flammable and is the cause of most chimney fires in the U.S. each year. A creosote buildup in a chimney is best addressed by a certified, trained chimney sweep who has the equipment and training to safely remove it.
Squirrels, rodents, birds and other small animals love building nests inside chimneys. Some of them also like to venture down the flue and into the house. Occasionally, a critter will die inside the chimney, unable to get back out. Along with animal-caused problems, a chimney can also end up containing leaves, small pieces of branches, fruit, tree nuts and other debris from nearby trees. If you’re seeing animal or tree debris in your fireplace, you may be heading toward an obstruction that will impede drafting and send smoke and deadly carbon monoxide into your home.
A chimney sweep is able to solve the problem. If your chimney doesn’t have a full-width custom chimney cap at its top, you should have one installed. These components block the flue opening(s) and cover the chimney crown to prevent infiltrating debris as well as crown damage. The floor of your firebox should contain only ash and wood particles. When you notice anything else in there, it’s time to arrange for a thorough chimney inspection followed by either repair work or cleaning.
Chimney Solutions of Alpharetta, GA, provides our customers with top-rated chimney sweep, inspection and repair services. We’ll help keep your chimney safe and clean all year long. Schedule a visit or get your questions answered at (770) 771-5501.