When it’s cold outside, nothing beats cozying up to a nice fire in your fireplace. Before the the next chilly season, take some time make sure your chimney is in good shape and protected from the elements. There are a few things you need to know about fireplace and chimney care so that you and your family can cozy up to your fire with peace of mind.
- Sweeping the chimney and performing an annual inspection should be your highest priority in maintaining your fireplace and chimney. The work is difficult and dirty, so hiring a certified professional is recommended.
- Since regular bricks aren’t made for the higher temperatures that fire bricks can tolerate, they will begin to crack, and the mortar will disintegrate. If you have regular brick, the best thing you can do is to remove the old mortar and replace it with high-temperature cement.
- If you have trees that hang over the roof, make sure they’re pruned, and your chimney is not obstructed by limbs.
Use a chimney cap
Chimney caps can prevent several hazards that could affect your home and your safety. The modern chimney cap standard is stainless steel, and they come in several sizes. If you don’t already have a chimney cap, you should have one installed.
Benefits of chimney caps
- Reduce or correct draft problems
- Protect against embers from escaping the chimney and causing damage to the roof
- Prevent damaging moisture from entering the chimney. A cap protects the crown and the interior of the chimney.
- Keep animals out
- Prevent buildup of debris
Animal nest backup can cause smoke and soot damage and even carbon monoxide poisoning, which is another reason a chimney cap is essential. Certain species of birds are also protected by the government, so preventing them from making your chimney their new home is imperative.
Follow these guidelines so that you don’t cause any damage to your chimney or your home.
- Burn hardwoods, not softwoods, because hardwoods like oak, maple and ash are denser, they put out more heat than woods like pine or cedar. It’s important to burn seasoned wood (wood that has been cut and dried for 6-12 months). Green wood doesn’t burn as thoroughly as seasoned wood, so it produces more soot and creosote. Creosote is a dark-colored flammable tar that collects on the walls of the chimney.
- Don’t burn paper-based products or trash in the fireplace.
- Don’t put too much wood on the fire. Making smaller fires will cause less build up.
- Keep the area in front of the fireplace clear of paper and debris. It can be tempting during the holidays to place decorations close to the fireplace, but keep them at a safe distance.
- If your fireplace doesn’t have a glass door, use a wire mesh screen.
- Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working condition.
If your chimney needs a cap or it’s time for a gutter cleaning, give the professionals at Ned Stevens a call!