5 Tips for Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance You Should Know
The feel of a warm crackle on a cold winter night is soothing beyond anything under the sun. This glow of your indoor fireplace can be boundless if you maintain it well. Like any other household appliance, your fireplace also craves pampering.
Here are few tips which will help you enjoy the winter season with a well-conditioned fireplace.
Have a Fireplace Damper Intact
Ensure to close the damper when the fireplace is not in use. A damper prevents outside drafts from entering your home and also helps in controlling the room temperature.
A fireplace damper helps in reducing your energy consumption. An unmaintained damper allows air from the room to escape, making it difficult to regulate and keep up the desired temperature. This, in turn, results in greater energy consumption and a steep rise in your energy bill.
According to Burn Wise, a US Environmental Protection Agency program, though smoke smells good, it can prove fatal at times. Any smoke escaping or entering your room through your chimney means it needs attention.
Fire consumes a lot of air as it burns. A negative pressure may be created here as air from the outside is drawn to substitute for the air consumed by the fire. If this air contains inflammable gases, it can pose a serious threat.
A well-maintained fireplace damper, however, controls the amount of air fed to the fire, which in turn, regulates its intensity. This eliminates possibilities of a fire mishap.
Clean Your Chimney at Regular Intervals
Are you skeptical about how often you should clean your chimney? The answer is, it depends on the type of chimney you have.
Gas log fireplaces throw out less soot and need to be cleaned less frequently compared to wood-burning ones. However, it is considered best to have your chimney cleaned after every 50 burns.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) emphasizes that fireplaces be cleaned at periodic intervals. Ideally, the chimney will need to be cleaned after a soot build-up of 1/8”. It is possible that house owners may not be able to gauge the condition of their fireplaces. It is, therefore, recommended that a chimney assessment be performed by experienced professionals at least once a year.
Another instance demanding a detailed evaluation is an upgrade of your fireplace. If you have added an insert or replaced few portions of the fireplace or the chimney, it is best to have an inspection done before you begin to use it.
What if fireplaces are not used often?
It is strongly recommended that fireplaces be inspected and maintained annually regardless of the frequency of its usage. Any assumptions about the condition of fireplace may lead to a fire hazard. Do not wait for the weather to change, you can as well have your fireplace assessed and ready for use by spring or summer.
Ensure Your Chimney Is Protected
Moisture in the chimney can impact its structural strength. It may result in formation of rust and mold, which can cause serious damage to your chimney. It is important that your chimney’s chase, crown, and flashing are water-proofed appropriately.
Here are few ways to do this.
- Chimneys include a vent to allow smoke to escape. However, there is always the risk of rain, snow or even birds and rodents entering your home through this vent. Though closing it completely is not recommended, using a chimney chase cover has proved to be a better alternative. Chase covers come with a pipe to let out the smoke, while partially covering your chimney. They are available in steel, aluminum, and copper, which are rust-repellant.
- Crowns are similar to chase covers, but are meant for masonry chimneys. They cover the chimney vent and have an outlet for the smoke to pass through.
- The point of contact between the roof and the chimney is the flashing. There is possibility of moisture seeping through this point. It is important that this place be sealed and maintained appropriately.
Maintain Motor Joints and Bricks Well
It is important that the brick and motor joints of your chimney are strong enough to resist deterioration over time. When they loosen, there is a high risk of rain, snow or animals entering your home through the chimney.
It is also important that you assess the strength of your chimney and apply a water-proof sealant, if required. Tuck pointing, which is the repair and maintenance of mortars, comes handy here. It helps the bricks to stay intact and also prevents the entire structure from crumbling down.
Get Professionals to Perform Periodic Chimney Check-Ups
Though a general overall chimney assessment will eliminate chances of careless damages, there is also a need to perform professional evaluation at regular intervals.
This will need a team of local experts to scrutinize the built quality and other aspects of the chimney. You should prefer a local expert as they can better gauge risks and precautions based on the climatic conditions and requirements pertaining to your topography.
Consider the climatic needs of Portland, which are different from those in California. A Portland chimney sweep service can cater to aspects which may not be even considered in California. A local expert stands out as they can serve your purpose contextually.
Though fireplaces are an integral part of most households, we usually tend to overlook the necessity to maintain them. They actually need proper care even when not in use. Adhering to a stringent inspection regimen at regular intervals will not only rule out unprecedented expenses, but also improve the durability of your fireplace on the whole, making your home a safer place to live.