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Before You Start Using Your Fireplace This Autumn

chimney sweepIn Wisconsin, we get some cold nights before actual winter arrives. If you enjoy using your fireplace to take the chill off autumn evenings, here are a few things you should know before you start that first fire.

Professional inspection can save you a lot of money

If you haven’t had a certified chimney inspection since you last used your fireplace, schedule one now. A basic chimney inspection takes a look at the masonry structure as well as important components such as the chimney cap, chimney crown, flashing, chimney liner, damper and more.

The cost of a Level 1 chimney inspection can be just a fraction of what it could cost if your chimney is damaged and you begin using it again on a regular basis. The point of a thorough inspection is to spot early signs of trouble and get them fixed quickly before they turn into expensive repair or rebuilding projects.

The reason for annual chimney sweep services

All fire-safety agencies recommend yearly chimney sweep services for homeowners who operate wood or pellet fireplaces. There are two good reasons for regular chimney cleaning:

  1. Your chimney technician has specialized brushes, scrapers and vacuums to safely remove flammable creosote from inside the flue. Creosote is responsible for the majority of chimney fires in the U.S. each year.
  2. Professional chimney sweeps also will remove obstruction-causing debris such as leaves, twigs, animal nests and the like that lead to smoke-drafting problems. Smoke that can’t draft smoothly can end up in the home and bring with it dangerous toxins such as carbon monoxide.

Give your chimney a raincoat

fireplace inspectionBricks and water don’t mix. Rain, melting snow and melting ice are common causes of chimney brick and mortar damage. Porous bricks easily absorb water, and if there are cracks in the masonry, water will get in, freeze, expand and cause significant damage

Often a good solution is having your chimney technician apply a coat of waterproof sealant to the exterior of the chimney. If minor cracking is the only problem, the sealant will keep water from seeping in and give you years of solid protection.

The three advantages of burning seasoned wood

When you start firing up your fireplace this fall, burn only seasoned (dry) wood. Here’s why.

  1. Dry wood burns more completely – you’ll need fewer logs
  2. Wet wood creates a lot of smoke and creosote
  3. Dry wood burns hotter

Remember these fireplace safety tips

  • Keep kids and pets away from the fireplace and its glass doors
  • Make sure the damper is fully open during a fire
  • Don’t place furniture/rugs/curtains too close to the fireplace
  • Never use lighter fluid or other accelerants to start a fire
  • Never burn newspaper, clothing, household trash or anything except seasoned wood
  • Regularly test the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • If you hear loud clicking sounds or rumbling from the fireplace, it may be a chimney fire. Extinguish the fire and call local emergency services. You cannot safely put out a chimney fire yourself.

A clean and well-maintained fireplace and chimney will give you season after season of warmth and enjoyment. To ensure your system is ready to roll for another winter, Chimney Specialists of Highland, WI, is here to provide expert chimney cleaning, fireplace/chimney inspection and all levels of repair work. Learn more about how we help keep you safe and warm by calling (608) 929-4887.

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