Tips for Chimney and Fireplace Care in the Wintertime
If you want to keep the warm hearth fires burning in the winter, it’s important to tend to ongoing fireplace and chimney care. Chimneys are subject to damage caused by harsh winter weather. Protecting chimneys against moisture intrusion is a year-round job, but the most destructive effects of moisture in masonry occur in wintry weather. Below, learn step one and more in caring for your chimney and fireplace in winter.
Schedule a Chimney Inspection
If a chimney inspection has not already been done in the past year, it is essential to schedule one as soon as possible as a first step in chimney safety. The leading fire safety experts in the U.S. agree that everyone with a chimney needs to schedule an annual chimney inspection as a critical safety measure.
It can be dangerous to assume that a chimney is in good working order. Due to the vulnerability of chimney masonry, diligence is needed to ensure that no moisture is entering the chimney system. The following are among the chimney components that can become damaged and allow moisture into the masonry:
- Chimney crown
- Chimney flashing
- Chimney cap (Debris, as well as moisture, can enter the system without a chimney cap)
During freezing and thawing cycles in winter, the moisture inside of bricks will freeze and thaw, expand and contract. The movement created by the moisture causes destruction of the masonry that cannot be reversed. Affected bricks must be replaced. Otherwise, the bricks will cause the chimney to lean and it could collapse.
Chimney Liners and Fire Safety
Another element of chimney inspections that is directly tied to the safety of the home and family is checking the condition of the chimney liner or chimney flue. The chimney liner serves to protect combustible parts of the home from intense heat, and the liner also prevents toxic gases from entering the living spaces of the home. Carbon monoxide is among the kinds of fumes in combustion gases, and it is known as the “Silent Killer.” Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, invisible, and creates no early symptoms. Carbon monoxide detectors are an essential piece of equipment to prevent all occupants of a home from potentially succumbing to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
Without the proper equipment, it can be impossible to identify the existence of damage in the chimney liner. A Level 2 chimney inspection includes the use of a video camera that can examine the flue from top to bottom.
Clean Ashes Regularly
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, ashes need to be removed on a regular basis. In winter, it is good to leave about an inch of ashes on the fire pit floor because it provides helpful insulation. When a fireplace is not in use, all ashes should be removed because they are toxic and could pose a health threat if inhaled, especially by pets and children.
Always follow safety protocols related to ash removal, such as placing the ashes in a non-combustible container and removing them from the home altogether.
Ensure a Good Chimney Draft
The chimney draft is what draws toxic gases from the home. If the chimney draft is adversely affected by negative pressure in the home, contact chimney professionals for help identifying the problem. A common issue in modern homes is that the building is sealed so tightly that there isn’t an adequate amount of air to feed fires and allow for a healthy chimney draft. Opening a window near the fireplace provides a temporary solution.
Call the CSIA-certified chimney sweep technicians at Hudson Valley Chimney for trusted chimney sweep services. Call (845) 471-1071 to schedule a chimney inspection and make sure to have proper fireplace and chimney care during winter.