Summer and early fall are ideal times to start prepping your fireplace and chimney for another winter season. Here are some preparation tips that will allow you to enjoy all the benefits of your fireplace and know that it and your chimney are safe and in top condition.
Have your chimney cleaned
Chimney cleaning is important, especially if you use your fireplace a lot. When wood burns, creosote forms within the flue. Creosote is highly flammable and can easily start a chimney fire. Additionally, chimney sweep service also will remove obstruction-causing debris such as leaves, twigs and small-animal nests that can hinder the proper drafting of smoke and toxins.
Check out the system yourself
A good self-inspection of your fireplace/chimney system can turn up early signs of a leaky chimney or other damage. Look for:
- Debris from crumbling bricks and mortar near the chimney on the roof
- Water or mold inside the firebox
- The smell of natural gas/propane
- Dampness on the walls and ceiling near the fireplace
- Warped flashing
- Strong odors coming from the fireplace
- White staining on chimney bricks
These signs tell you that your system should be looked at by a chimney professional before you operate the fireplace again.
Arrange for a chimney inspection
The above signs of damage and many other signs should be evaluated by a certified chimney inspector. Even if you don’t notice any symptoms of damage, a qualified inspector can see things you can’t. It’s always a good idea to have your entire fireplace/chimney system inspected before you start using your fireplace for the winter.
Check the seal on fireplace door gaskets
With age, gaskets begin to lose their ability to create a tight seal. Faulty seals can be caused by gasket issues or damage to the fireplace doors themselves. In some cases, an improper gasket seal can allow excess air into the fireplace and lead to an over-aggressive fire.
Check the damper
Dampers can become rusted because of a chimney leak or fall into disrepair for other reasons. Damper operation should be smooth, and the flap should fully open and tightly close. A faulty damper can lead to drafting problems when using the fireplace and can allow insects and tiny animals to get into the house in the off-season if the damper won’t close tightly.
Have a chimney cap installed
If you’ve been running your chimney without a quality chimney cap, you could be asking for trouble. Chimney caps block rain and snow, which can cause serious water damage to the chimney and its components. A good cap also prevents tree debris and the aforementioned small animals from creating a drafting obstruction. All chimneys need a secure chimney cap.
These six tips for getting your fireplace and chimney ready for the cold season are good places to start. But remember – there’s no substitute for a professional chimney inspection performed by a skilled, certified chimney technician.
Get your chimney and fireplace in top shape for the coming winter by calling High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, at (301) 519-3500.