Fireplaces and chimneys are valuable features of your home during the winter. However, there is a risk of injury and fire without proper upkeep. Here are a few necessary chimney maintenance tips that will help keep your chimney functional, safe, and in good condition.
Maintain Your Chimney to Keep it in Good Condition
Check the Fireplace Damper
The fireplace damper helps improve the energy efficiency of your home. When the fireplace is not in use, the damper should remain closed, so drafts don’t enter the house through the chimney. Open the damper when using the fireplace so smoke can escape and doesn’t get trapped inside the house, contributing to harmful carbon monoxide in your indoor air. Repair or replace this component if it is damaged or not operational.
Use the Right Wood
Only use well-seasoned wood in the fireplace. This type of wood will burn cleaner and hotter. Use wood seasoned for at least six months, but longer is better. Store firewood off the ground so it is less likely to be affected by moisture. Unseasoned wood produces more soot, increasing the risk of a chimney fire.
Choose dried hardwoods like maple, oak, beech, and ash instead of softer woods like spruce and cedar.
Chimney Maintenance: Have the Chimney Swept
An important maintenance task is having the chimney swept to remove leaves, animal nests, and creosote. As a general rule, hire a chimney sweep when there is one-eighth of an inch of soot buildup on the flue liner or after 50 fires.
Invest in a Professional Chimney Inspection
While examining the chimney, you can spot many issues, but some may be less evident to the untrained eye. A professional will know what to look for and catch signs of problems to keep your chimney and fireplace safe. Hire a professional to perform a chimney inspection once a year.
Chimney Maintenance: Trim Branches
When preparing your fireplace and chimney for use, examine the exterior of your home, looking for overhanging tree branches. Large limbs can break during severe weather or heavy snow, falling on the roof and damaging the chimney. Branches too near the home may ignite if embers float up the flue. Hire an arborist to prune trees over the roof and chimney.
These maintenance tips will help keep your family and property safe and save you money in the long run. If you feel chimney maintenance is beyond your abilities, contact a trained professional to handle the cleaning and inspection.