Things That Can Happen to a Chimney in the Spring
The weather is getting warmer – the flowers are blooming – spring is in the air. Now that winter is over, it is the perfect time of year to make inspecting and cleaning your fireplace one of your springtime chores. While winter can be especially damaging, a lot can still happen to a chimney in the spring.
The top of your chimney is a favorite gathering spot for small animals like birds, squirrels, and raccoons. These naturally curious critters find a flue without a chimney cap, a cozy place to build a nest and hide their food from predators. They are not particularly tidy creatures and can make for a messy cleanup. Unfortunately, some small animals will become trapped and perish. Also, leaves, twigs, and debris from nearby trees can be blown into the flue on windy days.
Soot, Ash, and Creosote
While the fireplace or heating stove was keeping you warm in the winter, the by-products of combustion, including soot, ash, and creosote were collecting inside the flue. Creosote can be especially troublesome. It begins as a benign powdery substance that is quite easy to sweep away. However, after several uses of the fireplace without cleaning, the creosote continues to accumulate. It also turns into a thick, tarry, and crusty substance that is extremely difficult to remove. It is also highly flammable, increasing the risk of a chimney fire.
Waking up to a strange smell in the house is never a pleasant experience. The warmer spring weather can cause foul odors due to the accumulation of dirt, debris, and decaying organic material in the chimney. Opening the windows to let in fresh air or treating the air with deodorizers may temporarily mask the odor, but cleaning the chimney is the only way to get rid of it.
There are plenty of places for a chimney to spring a leak, especially after several cold and wet winters with frequent bouts of the freeze-thaw cycle. Some of the more obvious signs are water dripping in the firebox or water stains appearing near the fireplace after a spring shower. There could also be hairline cracks in the masonry, gaps in the mortar joints, and damage to the chimney crown, and chimney cap.
Spring Inspection and Cleaning
With all that could happen to a chimney, scheduling a chimney inspection and cleaning should be on top of your spring-cleaning checklist. Spring is one of the best times of the year for hiring a chimney sweep. Schedules start filling up in the fall when many homeowners are rushing to have their chimney cleaned and inspected in time for the next winter season.