The Road to a Healthy Chimney Begins with the Homeowner
Chimneys are amazing structures. Because of them, you can burn fire after fire in your fireplace and always be safe from smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation as all of that gets channeled up the chimney and away from you. However, when chimneys aren’t working properly, serious problems can result.
How can you make sure your chimney is healthy and efficient? Here are some tips.
Smart burning practices
A wood-burning fireplace is going to create some smoke, and this will translate to some level of creosote deposits within the chimney liner. When wood is burned correctly, minimal smoke is created, and that’s what you’re after.
Smart burning practices include using only seasoned (dry) wood, because wet wood gives off huge amounts of smoke. Also, hotter fires tend to produce less smoke than slower, cooler fires.
You would think that sturdy bricks and mortar than make up most chimneys would keep water from rain and melting snow out of the system. Over time, however, cracks in these building materials can allow water to seep in, beginning a freeze/thaw cycle that will eventually cause significant damage.
Minor cracking often can be fixed with a professionally applied waterproofing substance. In other cases, some structural repair or rebuilding might be necessary. The important thing is, you need to know about damage in its early stages rather than later.
Creosote is highly flammable and can ignite while a fire is burning and sparks are flying into the inside of the chimney. It’s common for a “small” fire to begin and then go out on its own without people in the home being aware of it. And this can be dangerous.
Multiple fires will finally cause serious damage to a chimney liner, which, if compromised, can allow very high heat (and flames, when there’s a fire) to make contact with a home’s building materials in close proximity. Clues that a chimney fire is happening include excess smoke pouring from the top of the chimney and the sounds of crackling or deep rumbling coming from the firebox.
Chimney cleaning and inspection
All chimneys need to be inspected and cleaned annually by a certified technician. Cleaning will remove the majority of creosote and soot, and inspection will turn up problems that can be dealt with before they become big and expensive to fix.
A thorough inspection looks at all parts of the chimney and fireplace system including the chimney cap and flashing, the chimney liner, the damper and the materials from which the chimney was built. By taking a preventative approach, you’ll be ensuring that those who live in the home are safe and that your fireplace will continue to bring enjoyment for years to come.
Chimney Specialists of Highland, Wis., provides a full menu of chimney and fireplace services including inspection, cleaning, maintenance and repair. We’re in business to keep your home safe and your family happy. You can schedule an appointment or get your questions answered at (608) 929-4887.