It's easy to overlook problems with your chimney, whether you use it regularly or not, but there are a few problems you need to be aware of so that you can look for them on a regular basis. These issues are even more critical if you use your fireplace heavily during the winter, as some can result in catastrophic fires if not addressed. Spotting the problem is simply a matter of being attentive, though resolving issues with your chimney is normally best done by a professional.
From the Inside Looking Out
Once your fireplace is clean and cold for the season, poke your head inside and look around. Pay attention to any masonry joints that might be cracking or crumbling, and take a look at your flue. The brick surrounding your firebox protects nearby structures from the heat of the fire and your flue protects you from sending AC and heating up your chimney when a fire isn't lit.
A loose flue can drive up your energy bill quite a lot over the course of a year, so make sure it's making contact around its perimeter and no light can be seen around it. If the brick work in your fireplace is failing you'll either need to replace the entire fireplace with an insert, or you'll need to have the masonry repaired. Even a small gap can cause big problems in both cases.
From the Outside Looking In
Start any inspection of the exterior of your chimney with an eye toward safety, since the chimney cap itself is dangerously high. Make sure any mesh around the cap is solid and free of damage to ensure local wildlife doesn't end up nesting inside your chimney. You should also look for signs of water damage around the outside of the chimney and use a flashlight to look down into the chimney itself to see if creosote has begun to build up.
The worst way to find out a squirrel or a bird has made your chimney its home is during your first fire, so if the screen is damaged it's important to have the chimney itself swept clean before using it. Water damage around the outside of your chimney can also be a sign that flashing or caulking has failed or was improperly installed to begin with, so err on the side of caution and simply replace it. Creosote build-up can also provide a fuel source for chimney fires, so even if there's no obstruction it's a good idea to have it professionally cleaned periodically to avoid the risk.
The more attentive you are about maintaining your chimney and fireplace the more use you'll get out of them. Avoiding common pitfalls and easily overlooked problems can ensure your fireplace lasts as long as is physically possible. If you suspect problems with your chimney, contact a business such as Carleton Chimney Services Inc.Share