Pro Tips for a Well-Maintained Chimney and Fireplace
Your chimney and fireplace need more than a once-a-year check-up from a professional. Though we can never stress enough the importance of an annual cleaning and inspection by a certified chimney technician, you shouldn’t leave all the work to your trusted chimney sweep. A lot can happen to your chimney in between cleanings that could cause a catastrophe if you don’t keep a wary eye.
We’ve put together a list of tips from the pros at Chimney Solutions to help you maintain your fireplace and chimney.
1. Test the damper once or twice a month.
Even during the spring and summer, when your fireplace isn’t being used, it is still a good idea to test the damper to make sure it does not get stuck open or closed.
2. Look for signs of moisture in and around the fireplace regularly.
Check for water spots or dampness in the firebox or along the walls around the chimney consistently especially after a big rainstorm. Leaking chimneys are common and can cause expensive damage. Water damage from a leak in or around the chimney can destroying nearby walls, beams and flooring or deteriorating the chimney masonry. The sooner you notice a problem and take action, the more damage you can prevent.
3. Invest in a chimney cap and waterproofing.
If you do not want to pay to repair water damage, it is a good idea to invest in a chimney cap and waterproofing treatment for your chimney. Bricks and mortar can absorb water like a sponge. If that water freezes and thaws, it can break down your chimney causing a wide range of problems. Having the masonry treated with a waterproofing sealant prevents this. A chimney cap prevents rainfall, hail and other precipitation from falling straight down the chimney. It also prevents birds, bats, racoons and other critters from making a nest in your chimney.
4. Pay attention to your chimney when you pass it.
Whenever you pull into your driveway or walk to your front door, take a moment to look at the outside of your chimney. Do you see cracks, peeling flashing or chipped bricks? Is it standing tall or leaning? If you notice that your chimney looks like it has started to lean or has any of the other problems, it is a good idea to call in a professional chimney sweep. These are all warning signs that something is wrong. Just like with water damage, the sooner the problem is identified and fixed, the more money you’ll save in the long run.
5. Keep the walls and space around the fireplace clear during winter.
Once the weather drops and you start using your fireplace again, make sure nothing is left around it. Every year thousands of house fires are started because combustible materials—such as furniture, rugs, and toys—were left too close to a fireplace and caught fire from a stray spark. Making a habit of keeping everything 2 to 3 feet away from the face of the fireplace is the best way to prevent this type of tragedy.
6. Check for creosote throughout the winter.
Creosote is a highly flammable byproduct created by burning wood. During the winter, it is a good idea to shine a flashlight into your chimney every once and a while to see if it is building up in your chimney. If you notice a tar-like substance in your chimney, call on a professional for a cleaning. Creosote is the main cause of chimney fires. These fires can burn at extremely high temperatures doing serious damage to your chimney and potential spreading to your home. Do not try to remove creosote yourself! Without the right equipment and cleaning products, you can damage your chimney.
If you need a chimney inspection or cleaning, give us a call! All of our chimney sweeps are CSIA certified technicians with a thorough understanding of chimneys and a commitment to provide outstanding service to our customers.