I am a firm believer in regular home maintenance and the fact that keeping an eye on things on a regular basis is the best preventative maintenance possible. This is also true with your fireplace and chimney. You, as the homeowner, should be familiar with how your fireplace works and how it looks. You should notice things like moisture buildup or know when it’s time to empty the ashes. Things like this are very basic parts of fireplace maintenance. Let’s take a look at several things you should make mental notes of while visually inspecting your fireplace and chimney.brick chimney

Efficient Burning: Your fireplace or wood stove will burn more efficiently if you clean out the ashes when they begin to build up. Efficient burning reduces the amount of creosote that builds up inside the flue. Always burn well-seasoned firewood cut into small enough pieces to comfortably fit on the fire grate.

The Firebox: The firebox is the area where you build the fire. It should always be dry and rust-free. Any time you notice rust in the firebox, call me. Rust in the firebox means moisture is getting in from somewhere, and it can spell disaster for the entire chimney and fireplace structure.

The Damper: Make sure the damper opens and closes as it should. It should never be completely closed while the fireplace or wood stove is in use.

The Flue: You can shine a powerful light up the chimney to visually inspect the flue. It should appear smooth with no rough edges or blockages. Call me if you see anything that looks like a cracked or damaged flue or a blockage. Blockages in the flue allow dangerous gases and smoke to enter your home, and cracks in the flue create potential fire hazards that put your entire home at risk.

The Masonry: Most chimneys are built of masonry of some type. A quick visual inspection will often reveal problems if they exist. Missing mortar, cracked bricks, or any other damage should be reported to a certified chimney sweep at once.

Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: This is the perfect time of year to double check the batteries in your safety equipment. These two pieces in particular have saved many lives over the years. Press the test button to make sure the batteries are good.

Fire Extinguisher: Every fireplace or wood stove should have a fire extinguisher nearby. You should always have a way to put the fire out in case of an accident.

Lou Curley’s Chimney Service is located in Drexel Hill, PA and serves the surrounding counties. I am a CSIA (Chimney Sweep Institute of America) Certified Chimney Sweep and I’m licensed and insured to work on your fireplace or chimney. Call me at 610-626-2439 to discuss potential chimney problems or to schedule a chimney inspection or cleaning.