Cooler weather has arrived. A fireplace is a great way to supplement your home’s heat source, but before you light a fire, it’s important to make sure the chimney is in good condition. Here are a few helpful tips for chimney maintenance.
1. Chimney Maintenance: Order a Chimney Inspection
Have the chimney inspected annually. This will help ensure that it’s in good condition and that there are no dangerous conditions present. A chimney inspection can reveal several problems, including:
- Blockages caused by leaves, nests, or other debris
- Cracked or missing mortar
- Damaged flue tiles
- Erosion of the flue lining
- Rusting or damaged flashing
2. Test the Damper
The fireplace damper should be open when you have a fire burning in the fireplace. If the damper is closed, heat and smoke will escape into your living room. Before building a fire, check the damper to verify it opens and closes easily. If it isn’t working correctly, make repairs so it will function as intended.
3. Chimney Maintenance: Hire a Chimney Sweep
It’s essential to clean your chimney regularly to prevent dangerous conditions and improve efficiency. Here are some tips on how to clean a chimney.
Start by covering the opening of the fireplace with plastic sheeting. The plastic will keep soot from falling into your home.
From the roof, use a wire brush to remove the build-up of soot and creosote from the inside of the chimney. Be sure to wear gloves and safety glasses for this step.
Vacuum out the remaining debris with a shop vac or handheld vacuum cleaner.
Chimneys should be swept at least once yearly to remove ash and other deposits from the flue liner. Cleaning the chimney is a messy job. While homeowners can do this task themselves, hiring a professional chimney sweep is best. A chimney sweep is well-trained and has the tools and equipment necessary to perform the job safely.
4. Install a Chimney Cap
If your chimney isn’t capped, install one. A chimney cap is a metal accessory that fits on top of the chimney. It keeps leaves, twigs, and other debris out of the flue. The cap will also prevent animals from nesting in the flue or entering your home via the chimney. As an added benefit, a chimney cap helps reduce blowbacks. This occurs when the wind drafts down your chimney and into your home, leading to ash or smoke blowing into your living spaces.