8 Ways to Prepare Your Fireplace & Chimney for the Cold Season
During the summer, most people don’t give a second thought to their fireplaces and chimneys. But the truth is, this is the best time to think about getting your heating system ready for regular use during the winter. Here are eight preparation tips you’ll find helpful.
1. Hire a chimney sweep
The last thing you want is to fire up your fireplace if the chimney is full of flammable creosote and obstructions. A professional chimney sweep will remove both creosote and obstructions such as twigs, leaves and other tree debris as well as any animal nests or small dead animals that may have gotten into your chimney since the last burning season.
2. Do your own preliminary inspection
You can spot a variety of issues with your chimney and fireplace and schedule necessary repairs. Things to look for include:
· Crumbling bricks and mortar on the roof around the chimney
· Discolored exterior chimney bricks
· Odd smells coming from the fireplace
· Water on the floor of the firebox
· Dampness on the walls adjacent to the fireplace/chimney
· The odor of natural gas
All these point to problems you’ll want to get fixed before using your system again.
3. Schedule a chimney inspection
Along with your own examination, it’s always smart to schedule a thorough chimney inspection by a certified technician. Inspections can turn up early signs of damage or compromise within your chimney/fireplace system and let you get them repaired so your appliance is safe to use.
4. Check fireplace door gaskets
If you have fireplace doors, make sure their gaskets create a tight seal, and make sure the doors themselves aren’t warped or in other states of disrepair. Doors that don’t seal correctly can allow too much oxygen into the firebox and make fires burn too aggressively.
5. Ensure efficient damper operation
When you open and close your fireplace damper, do you meet with resistance? Do you hear a lot of squeaking? A rusted damper may not create a solid seal when closed, and it may not be able to open fully and lead to drafting problems when you use the fireplace.
6. Add a chimney cap
If you don’t have a chimney cap, you’re setting the stage for all kinds of problems including water damage and animal-infestation. A lot of people run their chimneys without a cap. If you’re one of them, consider having a quality chimney cap installed as soon as possible.
7. Check the cleanliness of the blower
If your fireplace has a blower, do a good visual inspection to see if it needs cleaning. The majority of blowers don’t come with a filter, so it’s up to the homeowner to keep them clean.
8. Make sure alarms/monitors work
Check all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors to make sure the batteries are fresh. It’s not a bad idea to simply replace all the batteries with fresh ones prior to the time of year you start regularly using your fireplace.
As you can see, some fireplace/chimney preparation tasks can be done by you, while others need the services of a professional. Together, you’ll ensure that your chimney is running safely and efficiently to create a warm, enjoyable environment during the coming winter.
Hudson Valley Chimney of Poughkeepsie, NY, is standing by to help with all your preparation needs to get your fireplace and chimney ready for the winter. We provide complete chimney sweep, chimney inspection and chimney repair services. Call us today at (845) 471-1071.