Your chimney is an essential part of your home. It provides a safe and efficient way to vent smoke from the fireplace out of the living spaces, but only when properly maintained. Chimney upkeep is necessary to preserve the life of the fireplace and help prevent house fires. Here are a few helpful tips for chimney maintenance to keep your family warm and safe this winter.
Hire a Chimney Sweep
Hire a professional to clean the chimney at least once each year. A chimney sweep will use brushes to remove soot, creosote, animal nests, and other debris from the flue. These materials are flammable, and by keeping the chimney clean, you reduce the risk of a fire.
Chimney Maintenance: Inspect the Chimney
Have your chimney inspected annually by a qualified professional who will check for structural issues, such as cracks in the mortar and chimney bricks and water damage. A professional inspection helps identify ventilation system problems, so you can correct them before they become dangerous.
Install a Cap
If you don’t have a chimney cap, install one. A chimney cap keeps birds, rodents, leaves, and debris from getting into the flue while allowing smoke to escape freely. The cap will help prevent blow-backs and keep the rain out of the chimney, which can cause damage over time.
Choose the Right Firewood for Chimney Maintenance
Creosote is a common cause of chimney fires. This flammable material is produced as a by-product of burning, and over time it will accumulate on the walls of the chimney.
Burning seasoned hardwood is a great way to keep your chimney safe. Seasoned firewood is dried for at least six months, making it easier to light and burn than green wood, which still contains more moisture. It produces less smoke, soot, and creosote buildup in your chimney than green wood does.
When selecting wood for your fireplace, choose oak, ash, hickory, beech, locust, and maple. For a cleaner burn, avoid softwoods like pine, firs, cypress, and cedar.
The Importance of Smoke Detectors
No matter how great your chimney maintenance is, it’s still necessary to have smoke detectors in your home. Install these devices on every floor and in every bedroom. Test the batteries monthly by pressing the button and verifying the alarm sounds. Replace the device itself after ten years of service.
Following these tips for chimney upkeep and maintenance, along with installing smoke detectors in appropriate locations throughout your home, you will ensure a safe and warm winter season.