How to Prepare Your Chimney & Fireplace for Winter
In most northern cities throughout the U.S., one thing we can count on is a cold winter, which is all it takes to get most of us to crank up our fireplaces and add a little comfort to the season. To keep you, your family and your home safe, here are some important preparation steps you should take.
A clean chimney is a safe and efficient chimney. Burning wood causes flammable creosote to build up within the flue and can lead to a chimney fire or drafting issues.
Creosote is the cause of most chimney fires, and drafting obstructions can cause smoke and carbon monoxide to back up into the home. These are two good reasons to have your chimney cleaned once a year. Hire a certified chimney sweep to remove creosote and any obstructions (tree debris, animal nests, etc.) that may exist in your chimney to make it safe for the winter.
Have your chimney masonry inspected
Season after season of hot and cold cycles eventually cause problems in the chimney structure. For example, small cracks in the mortar joints become bigger cracks and allow water to infiltrate. When this happens, cold temperatures will cause the water to freeze and expand, leading to significant brick damage. Older chimneys may have begun to fall apart for a variety of reasons, making them unsafe to use.
A professional chimney inspection can spot damage in its early stages and initiate repair work before problems get out of hand.
Waterproof your masonry
The exterior of chimneys can be coated with a waterproof sealant that blocks moisture from getting into the bricks and mortar. This is an excellent safeguard to prevent the decomposition of your chimney’s masonry. Even if small cracking has started, sealing the chimney often can keep the cracks from enlarging.
A chimney caps is more than a decorative addition to the top of your chimney. Its most important job is to create a barrier that prevents debris and rain/snow water from entering the chimney. Without a chimney cap in place, your chimney is open to the serious dangers of water damage and smoke-drafting obstructions, as discussed above. Chimney caps are easily installed and last for years.
If your fireplace has a blower, you’ll want to have it cleaned and inspected on a regular basis. Most blowers don’t have protective filters, so it’s your job to remove accumulated dust that can throw off the blower’s balance and cause excess wear on the bearings.
Chimneys and fireplaces have multiple components, all of which are designed to allow the units to operate efficiently and safely. A thorough inspection will cover:
- Chimney masonry
- Chimney cap
- Chimney crown
- Roof flashing
- Chimney liner
- Smoke chamber/smoke shelf
- Fireplace damper
- Structure of the firebox
- Glass fireplace doors
- and more
When work on your chimney and fireplace is performed by technicians certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America, you know that you’re getting top-level inspection, cleaning and repair services by individuals who are highly trained in these jobs. If you live in the Poughkeepsie, NY, area and want to make sure you chimney and fireplace are ready to take on winter, call Hudson Valley Chimney today at (845) 471-1071.