Chimney maintenance is absolutely necessary for the safe operation of a fireplace or wood burning stove. We see some pretty serious mistakes that homeowners make unintentionally throughout the year while inspecting and cleaning local chimneys. We’re going to go over some of those today and show you how to avoid chimney problems through regular maintenance.
- Always use seasoned wood. The smoke and gases that escape your chimney are dangerous in more ways than one. Yes, they are dangerous to breathe, but they also create creosote inside the chimney as they travel higher and begin to cool before leaving the chimney. Using seasoned hardwoods slows the buildup of creosote.
- Always burn hardwoods. Hardwoods are denser and burn more efficiently than soft woods. Hardwoods that you should look for include oak, maple, elm, alder, and ash. Soft woods include a variety of pine trees, fir, hemlock, and cedar.
- Always build your fire for effective burning. The simple fact that your fire exists doesn’t necessarily mean it is burning as effectively as it could. Remember, compact stacking burns longer for a sustainable fire while a loosely stacked load will burn more quickly.
- Never use fire starters such as gas, kerosene, or lighter fluid. These chemicals are not necessary for starting a fire, and they can present a very dangerous situation. The fumes can easily carry the flames back to your face or clothing and cause serious burns.
- Install a chimney cap if your chimney doesn’t already have one. A chimney cap will protect your chimney from debris, birds, and small animals that may seek refuge from predators during the summer months.
- Maintain a safe perimeter with all surrounding trees and other objects. Cut all tree branches so that they maintain at least a 15 foot distance from the chimney.
- Install and maintain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as required by local building codes. Change the batteries in these devices once a year.
- Waterproof your chimney to protect it from water damage. The chimney stands above the roof line most of the time and catches a lot of wind and rain throughout the year. The winter is excessively damaging to unprotected chimneys because the trapped water freezes and expands, creating cracks in your nice masonry chimney.
- Schedule chimney inspections and cleanings at least once a year. A lot of area homeowners schedule their chimney inspection and cleaning on a date that they can easily remember such as a birthday, the first day of summer, the first day of fall, or the day school resumes. Make a note to change the batteries on the same day as the scheduled inspection so it all gets done at the same time.
- Educate your family and friends about fireplace safety and chimney safety. Education is the key... We’ve all heard that phrase multiple times in our lives. We may have been bettering our lives by continuing our education or we may have uttered those very words to our children when they’re learning something new. Fireplace and chimney safety are things that every homeowner or future homeowner should be familiar with, so take the opportunity to educate your family and lead by example.
Lou Curley Chimney Service is located in Drexel Hill and we provide all types of chimney services throughout the Main Line. Call us at 610-626-2439 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.