If you have just moved into a brand new home and are already feeling intimidated by the large brick chimney on top of your house, you are in good company. Perhaps you don’t know the first thing about chimneys although you have heard that they can be quite expensive to maintain. However, before you get too stressed out about it, let me just offer you some of the basics about chimneys and how you can arm yourself for keeping them in tip top shape.

Chimney Type – There are three different types of chimneys: masonry, single-walled metal and pre-fabricated metal. The masonry chimneys are the most commonly favored on newer homes however, should you have purchased an older home the single-walled metal type would be more common. Pre-fabricated metal chimneys are most often used for large factory structures.

Bricks – Assuming you have the most common masonry chimney, it is very important to keep an eye on the condition of your bricks. Chimneys are often constructed out of firebrick, which is designed to withstand a higher degree of heat. However there can be no way of knowing for sure. So it is important to look for any sign of brick deterioration or crumbling mortar as this will need to be repaired.

Damper – This is a major component of your venting system from your fireplace to the outdoors. Always make sure your damper is open before you light a fire. If you feel it smelling a bit smoky in your home it is a good sign that the damper is closed or that the flue needs to be cleaned.

Liners – All chimneys should have a liner, or flue, installed. These come in three different varieties: metal, tile or clay. They allow your chimney to act as a heat funnel to channel all the smoke and other unwanted gases out of your chimney. Some older homes may not have one installed, so you should make sure to check this out. Having a flue is critical to the safety of your house. Going without one, could run the risk of serious fires as well as carbon monoxide leakage into your home.

Cap – If your chimney does not have a chimney cap on the top, you need to get one. They are inexpensive and are one of the easiest ways to keep unwanted precipitation, rodents and birds out of your flue. Trying to survive without a chimney cap will only invite unwanted water into your home.

Inspection – It is essential that you have your chimney inspected on an annual basis. Doing so will be a good investment for the overall health of your chimney, plus the inspector can assess any damage you may have and tell you how to fix it.

Sweep – In addition to your inspection, it is also a good idea to have your chimney regularly cleaned by a professional. Doing so will ensure that there is very little creosote buildup and will keep your flue clear for the smoke and other gases to expel from your chimney.

Hopefully, these tips have been helpful for you. All the best!