The calendar has officially turned over and the new year is in full swing (even though you’re accidentally still writing “2023” on your checks). It’s the point in January when you may be questioning your New Year’s resolutions – and whether or not you’ll make good on them. That’s okay. It’s not too late to shift gears and choose a resolution that’s easier to keep: committing to a cleaner and more efficient chimney in 2024.
Lou Curley’s Chimney Service is here to help you reach that goal with some tips to keep your chimney in peak condition throughout the new year. For more than a decade, residents all over Delaware County have turned to us for quality chimney sweep and fireplace repair services.
When you need chimney maintenance or repair work, we’re the team to trust. Get in touch with us at 610-978-5463 or contact us online.
6 Tips to Keep Your Chimney Cleaner
Your fireplace can work in tandem with a primary heat source to help offset utility expenses, but only if it’s clean enough to give off an adequate amount of warmth. Take the following steps to keep your chimney clear of creosote, soot, and other debris:
1. Don’t Slack on Professional Chimney Services
The key to a healthy chimney is proper maintenance. That right plan for your home can differ depending on how much you use your chimney, but the general standard of chimney care is at least one chimney inspection and chimney cleaning (sweeping) per year – with repairs completed, as needed.
And yes – even if you don’t use your chimney much (or at all), you still need to have it inspected and swept regularly. You may be able to stick to a schedule of one cleaning and inspection every two years if you’re not an avid fireplace enthusiast like we are, but that should be discussed with your chimney technician.
2. Preheat the Flue Before Use
Would you attempt to bake a loaf of bread in an oven that hasn’t been preheated? We won’t blame you if you’re not sure, but the answer is no, you shouldn’t. The bread won’t rise the way it’s supposed to, and you’ll end up with a crumbly, dry loaf.
The chilly temperatures of winter can cause your chimney flue to cool down quite a bit. If you try to start a fire with a cold flue, it may cause condensation within the chimney that can speed up creosote buildup and lead to a fire that burns too low to be effective. Try priming the flue by lighting the end of a rolled-up newspaper and holding it towards the flue opening until you can see smoke traveling up through the chimney.
3. Choose the Right Firewood
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you have to be very selective about the type of wood you use. Hardwoods – like oak, maple, and hickory – are better for your system because they burn longer and hotter. Hardwoods also have lower resin and sap content compared to softwoods, so they don’t contribute as much to creosote buildup. How your firewood is treated is just as important. Go with seasoned firewood that has been left out to dry for six months or longer.
4. Make Your Fires Hotter
The hotter your fire burns, the better it is for your chimney. Of course, a hot fire increases heat output. It improves the draft and promotes proper ventilation. Preheating the flue can help prevent condensation, and a hot flame can help eliminate any leftover moisture. To get a hotter fire, stack the logs following the “teepee” or “log cabin” methods and use kindling – like dryer lint and small twigs – to get the flames going.
5. Clean the Firebox After You’re Done
After you’re done enjoying your crackling fire and it’s been extinguished, take the time to clean up excessive ashes. When there’s a significant amount of ashes in the firebox, it can make it harder for the fire to burn well and may not keep your living area as warm as you’d like.
6. Consider a Top-Mounted Damper
The damper helps control the intensity of the fire. If you partially close the damper while the fireplace is in use, less air comes into the chimney and the fire burns more slowly. When the fire is out, closing the damper all the way helps your home retain heat longer. If your damper is old or malfunctioning, it will fail to control the draft properly. This can lead to difficulties in starting and maintaining a fire and causes creosote buildup.
Schedule Annual Chimney Maintenance Today
The best time of year to have your chimney inspected and cleaned is the spring and summer. It may seem too early to book your appointment, but our calendars fill up quickly around that time. Don’t wait until the last minute, set up your yearly chimney maintenance now. Get in touch with the customer service crew at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service by calling 610-978-5463 or contacting us online.