Ways to Keep Your Fireplace & Chimney From Becoming Dangerous
If you read or watch the news, you’ve probably heard of disasters caused by problems with fireplaces and chimneys. Unfortunately, these reports are very true. A chimney can be a dangerous structure in any home. But on the flipside, chimneys can be quite safe and enjoyable, as long as you, the homeowner, see to certain maintenance tasks. Here are four ways you can keep your fireplace and chimney from becoming dangerous.
Keep your chimney clean
This means have an annual visit from a certified chimney sweep, who will remove flammable creosote buildup and drafting obstructions such as leaves, twigs, dust, small-animal nests and the like. Professional chimney cleaning involves the use of motorized brushes and whips, specialized solvents, commercial vacuums and more to remove stubborn creosote.
This substance, which can present in a sticky, flakey or solid form, is responsible for the majority of chimney fires in the U.S. each year.Once-a-year cleaning is recommended by all fire-safety and health organizations.
Address chimney leaks
A leaky chimney is a somewhat common problem, but it’s one that needs to be addressed as soon as it’s discovered. Water in a chimney system will begin a cycle of decay and destruction that will leave your home vulnerable to fire or a collapsed chimney. Look for the following signs of a leaky chimney, then contact a certified chimney repair technician to solve the problem.
- Water in the firebox
- Dampness on walls and the ceiling near the chimney/fireplace
- Efflorescence (white stains) on the exterior chimney masonry caused by water leeching salt from the bricks
- Musty odors coming from the fireplace
Have the chimney structure inspected once a year
Beyond chimney sweeping and leak repair, chimneys are prone to various types of masonry damage. Small cracks in the mortar joints can expand when water gets in and freezes, leading to more damage. Bricks can spall and begin to crumble. Entire sections of the masonry can fall away from the structure. No matter what kind of damage your chimney may have, it needs to be addressed and fixed. Minor cracking often can be dealt with by applying a waterproof sealant.
Smaller sections of missing masonry can be rebuilt through a process called tuckpointing. Severe damage may require partial or complete chimney rebuilding.Fireplace and chimney component issues. Every part of a fireplace and chimney is there for a reason. When any of these parts become worn, damaged, broken or otherwise compromised, using the system can be dangerous. Component issues that will be checked during a certified chimney inspection include:
- Cracked or broken chimney liner
- Damaged/ill-fitting chimney cap
- Rusted or damaged chimney chase top
- Cracks in the cement chimney crown
- Warped or rusted roof flashing
- Damaged throat damper or top-sealing damper
- Damaged smoke chamber
- Cracked/decayed bricks within the firebox
- Improperly connected or loose gas line hookups for gas fireplaces
CSIA-certified chimney sweeps & chimney inspectors
All these issues we’ve noted here may sound like a lot to keep up with, but certified chimney professionals handle these problems on a daily basis. For this reason, the very best way to keep your fireplace and chimney from becoming dangerous is to bring in the experts who understand these systems inside and out. Is it time for a thorough chimney inspection, chimney cleaning or some needed repair work? Hudson Valley Chimney of Poughkeepsie, NY, provides exceptional workmanship and service for all chimney and fireplace concerns. Call us today at (845) 471-1071.