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Fall Fireplace Maintenance Checklist

highland wi chimney inspection and chimney cleaningFall’s getting ready to kick in, and you know what comes after that – another cold winter and a lot of fireplace use.  This means that now is the perfect time to give your fireplace and chimney a once-over in preparation for the winter season.  Here’s a handy fall fireplace maintenance checklist that will help.

1. Look at the outside of the chimney

You’ll want to check the entirety of all exposed exterior areas of the chimney.  Do you notice staining or discoloration on the bricks?  What about rusting, if it’s a metal chimney?  Are there signs of crumbling brick and mortar?  Is the chimney leaning a little to one side?  All of these can point to potentially serious problems.

2. Check the chimney cap, crown and flashing

If you feel comfortable getting up on your roof, do so carefully.  Make sure the chimney cap is in good shape to prevent water and debris from getting into the chimney.  Check the crown (the cement layer at the top of the chimney) for cracks and decomposition.  Check the flashing around the base of the chimney that seals the gap between it and the roof for signs of warping and cracking.  Compromises in any of these components could let in water and lead to significant damage.

3. Inspections inside the house

Are walls proximal to the chimney damp or discolored?  Is there water in the firebox?  Do you smell offensive odors coming from the fireplace?  What is the condition of the building materials of the attic near the chimney and of the fireplace bricks, if the fireplace is exposed in the attic?  Is there dampness, odors or discoloration?  All of these clues signal a leak somewhere in the system.

4. Checking the flue

You may be able to get a decent view of the flue by opening the clean-out door at its base.  Try using a flashlight and mirror to see if you can spot an excess buildup of creosote or obstructions such as debris, animal nests or small dead animals.  Creosote is highly flammable and should never be allowed to accumulate in a flue.  Obstructions hamper air flow and can send dangerous carbon monoxide into the house when a fire is burning in the fireplace.

avoca fireplace inspection and chimney repair5. Fireplace inspection

Look over the brickwork for signs of wear or decomposition.  Make sure the damper opens and closes completely and smoothly.  Is there a large buildup of soot in the smoke chamber?  Are the glass doors securely attached and is the seal solid?

If you don’t feel comfortable doing any of these maintenance checks or if you do them but aren’t sure if what you’re seeing is actually a problem, it’s best to call in a professional.

Chimney Specialists of Highland, WI, offers complete chimney inspection, cleaning, repair and rebuilding services for homeowners throughout our region.  Our technicians are specifically trained in all the work necessary to ensure that your fireplace and chimney are clean, safe and ready to roll in the winter.  Schedule an inspection and cleaning this fall, or get your questions answered by calling (608) 929-4887.

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