Another brutal winter is over, and it’s time to forget all about your chimney and start getting ready for better weather with so much to do. Well, not exactly. Just because you aren’t regularly using your fireplace doesn’t mean that your chimney doesn’t need some attention. Here are some things that can happen to your chimney in the spring and how to address them.
Animals and their nests
Operating a chimney without a full-width chimney cap or at least a basic flue top cap is asking for trouble.
In the spring, small animals such as squirrels, birds, bats, raccoons and others love to set up home and build nests in chimneys. The nests, and the animals themselves when they die in the chimney unable to get out, create drafting obstructions. The result? Sluggish fires, lots of smoke and a backup of deadly carbon monoxide.
Chimney leaks often get noticed in the spring when rains are the heaviest in many regions of the country. Over the winter, water may have gotten into the mortar joints or cracks in the chimney crown where it froze, expanded and caused significant damage. With heavy rains, large amounts of water can move into the chimney and start a cycle of decay and deterioration.
Chimney component damage
As noted, water can cause damage to various parts of the chimney. But so can springtime events such as gale-force winds and pounding hail. Components of a chimney that can take a beating by the elements include chimney caps, chimney chase covers, chimney crowns, roof flashing and top-sealing dampers. The problem with chimney damage is it doesn’t reverse itself. Once it starts, it keeps going until very serious problems have to be dealt with.
Creosote and Soot
Without a thorough chimney cleaning each spring, when warmer weather arrives your flue may begin to send off some pretty powerful odors caused by a buildup of creosote and soot. This problem is worsened if there is a chimney leak that allows water to get into the mix. Creosote should be removed once a year, not only to keep odors at a minimum but, more importantly, to reduce the chance of a chimney fire when you start running the fireplace again in the fall.
inspections & chimney sweep
Fire-safety and hearth-industry agencies throughout the United States recommend annual chimney inspections and chimney sweeping by trained, certified technicians. Inspections are ideally scheduled during the spring months so any damage that may have occurred during the burning season can be spotted and fixed. Leaks can be repaired to prevent widespread damage during the rainy months.
Chimney cleaning, which includes removing creosote, soot and obstructions like those mentioned above, is the best way to prevent destructive chimney fires when you start using your fireplace again. Most chimney companies are less busy during the spring, so that’s another good reason to arrange for service at this time of year. High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg MD is ready to help with chimney cleaning, chimney inspection and all types of chimney repair. All our work is performed or overseen by a CSIA-certified professional. Get your chimney into top shape and ready for next winter by calling (301) 519-3500.