Winter Chimney Maintenance Tasks
Keeping your chimney safe and efficient takes a little work. Fortunately, most of the “heavy lifting” will be done by your chimney company or chimney technician.
National Chimney Cleaners of Fairfield County, CT, and Morris County, NJ, would like to present a basic checklist of important winter chimney maintenance tasks.
It’s ideal to have most of your chimney maintenance work done before winter sets in, but the old saying “better late than never” applies quite well to taking care of chimneys.
With safety and efficient operation as the goals, let’s look at what needs to happen.
Have your chimney inspected
Of all the chimney maintenance that happens during a given year, the most important is a chimney inspection. This is the only way for you to know if there’s trouble in areas of your chimney system that you’re not familiar with or can’t see.
A level one chimney inspection covers all readily accessible areas of your chimney, including the chimney cap and crown, the exterior masonry, the chimney flashing and more.
Have your chimney swept
Chimneys connected to wood-burning fireplaces should be cleaned once a year to remove flammable creosote buildup. Creosote is responsible for most chimney fires each year throughout Connecticut and New Jersey, and only a trained chimney sweep has the tools and experience to remove this substance.
Chimney sweeps also can remove leaves, twigs, animal nests, and other debris that could be blocking the flow of smoke and dangerous carbon monoxide. (See below about chimney caps.)
Handle repairs promptly
If an inspection turns up something that needs repair, schedule it right away. The same goes for damaged or worn-out components: don’t use your chimney until they’re replaced.
Most chimney inspectors are also chimney technicians and can make whatever repairs or replacements are necessary.
Keep an eye on your chimney
You may not be a trained chimney professional, but you can do simple inspections to spot things that don’t look right. Keep an eye out for:
- Damaged or loose masonry bricks
- Crumbling mortar between the bricks
- Fires that burn sluggishly and don’t draft well
- Strong odors coming from your fireplace
- Cracks in the chimney crown and damage to the chimney cap – but only if you’re comfortable getting on the roof
- Water dripping into your firebox; damp patches on walls or the ceiling
Call your chimney technician if you notice these or any other unusual signs.
Check smoke and carbon monoxide monitors
Make sure your smoke and CO monitors have fresh batteries and are working properly.
Get the most out of your chimney
Here are seven helpful tips.
- Use only dry wood (six months’ drying time is ideal).
- Don’t burn plastics, particle boards, sheetrock, fabrics, furniture pieces, or anything else other than firewood.
- Never start fires with gasoline, lighter fluid, or other accelerants.
- Make sure your damper is fully open when starting a fire to prevent smoke backups.
- If your chimney is drafting poorly, try cracking a window or shutting off bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans that draw air away from the fireplace.
- If you have no chimney cap, get one installed to keep debris and animals out of your flue.
The right solution for a safe chimney
National Chimney Cleaners specializes in chimney inspections, chimney sweeping and all types of chimney repairs. Call us first to help with your winter chimney maintenance tasks.
Reach us at (800) 631-6177. You can also get in touch with our contact form.