Follow These Pro Tips to Keep Your Chimney & Fireplace Healthy
Too often homeowners don’t realize how important it is to regularly inspect their fireplace and chimney until it’s too late. Warning signs go unnoticed and small issues become big, expensive problems.
Chimneys are surprisingly complex systems. When they fail, your health and home can be at risk.
Even homeowners who are vigilant about scheduling their annual, professional cleaning and inspection can find themselves footing a bill for unexpected, costly repairs if they don’t make a habit of paying attention to their chimney and fireplace for warning signs. A lot can happen to your chimney in the 12 months between inspections.
If you follow these tips for chimney professionals, you can stop a small issue from becoming a big problem.
• Assess the outside of the fireplace and chimney
Make a habit of looking at the chimney whenever you come home. Pay attention to any cracks or holes in the mortar or the flashing between the chimney and your home. Notice if it looks like it is leaning or if the bricks and mortar become discolored. Any of these things can be a sign of structural or water damage that should be repaired quickly to prevent the problem from growing.
• Check for moisture in the fireplace
Shine a flashlight over the walls and into the corners of the fireplace to see if there is excess moisture. If the walls or corners are damp, it could mean that the chimney cap or chimney chase top is leaking or that the masonry needs to be waterproofed. If you notice moisture in the fireplace, take action!
A damp fireplace can become a breeding ground for mold. Water damage can also do everything from ruining walls and ceilings to causing a fireplace to collapse. Catching a leaking chimney cap or broken crown early is the best way to prevent structural damage to your fireplace and home.
• Inspect the flue lining
Use a flashlight and mirror to look up the mouth of the chimney and take a look at the walls of the chimney, also known as the flue. Notice if it looks like the flue lining is cracked or chipping. Also, look for large build ups of a dark, sticky looking substance called creosote. Large build ups of creosote and cracks in the flue lining can make your home more susceptible to a chimney fire or house fire.
• Make sure the damper is working properly
Even when you aren’t using your fireplace, you should flip the damper open and closed occasionally to make sure that it is working properly. You should also use a flashlight to look up the mouth of the fireplace at the damper to visually inspect it to make sure that it is not rusted or warped. A fireplace damper is important both when your fireplace is being used and when it isn’t. When you are using your fireplace, the damper should be open to allow oxygen from outside to feed the fire and allow smoke and other combustion byproducts to escape. When your fireplace is not in use, the damper should be closed to prevent air conditioned and heated air from escaping up the chimney. If the damper is damaged or warped, your home will be less energy efficient or your fireplace may not vent properly.
By making a habit of performing these inspections and taking action when you notice a problem by contacting a certified chimney technician, you can save yourself a lot of money in the long run.
If you notice any warning signs, give us a call at 860-233-5770. Our certified technicians at Hudson Valley Chimney Sweep & Restoration serve homeowners throughout Central Connecticut.