5 Important Chimney Chores Homeowners Should Never Forget
With today’s hectic lifestyle it is easy to forget or put off our chimney chores for another day. There always seems to be something more important to do. And before you know it, months or years have gone by. But your chimney never forgets what it’s supposed to do. It will continue to pump the smoke out of the flue scattering soot, ash and creosote throughout the chimney which could eventually pose some very dangerous consequences for your home and family. So here are 5 important chimney chores homeowners should never forget:
Check for creosote inside the chimney
Creosote is the leading cause of chimney fires so it’s good practice to look inside the chimney and visually inspect the walls at least once a month while your fireplace or wood stove is in use during the winter season. You will probably notice a combination of creosote and soot along the walls. While soot is a black powder, creosote is a black or brown tarry and sticky substance that is also highly flammable. You can use a chimney brush to remove it. If it doesn’t come off easily it is best to contact a chimney sweep for a professional deep cleaning. If you forget to remove the creosote and it gets too thick, burning embers along with the high heat in the fireplace is all it takes to ignite a chimney fire.
Empty the firebox
Don’t forget to occasionally empty the soot and ash from the firebox. While it is a good idea to leave a small amount of ash in the firebox to induce heat and make it easier to start the fire, too much of it can result in the premature failure of the grate from excessive heat. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends leaving approximately 1 inch of ash on the firebox floor and removing the rest. However, to prevent rust and corrosion it is recommended to remove all the ashes at the end of fireplace season.
Look for obstructions – can you see the sky?
Look inside the chimney and up the flue. Even if you have a chimney cap you should be able to see the sky peeking through the wire mesh. If the flue is obstructed in any way you will need to contact a chimney sweep to clean it out. It is not unusual to find bird’s nests, small animals and other debris sheltering in the flue in an uncapped chimney. An obstructed chimney, though, prevents dangerous carbon monoxide and other toxic fumes from escaping the chimney in a burning fireplace which is a significant health hazard to your family. Thousands of people are treated for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning every year.
Never leave a burning fireplace unattended
The last thing any homeowner wants is to wake up to a home engulfed in flames or come home to a burned out structure. That’s why it is important to never leave a fire unattended and always safely extinguish the fireplace before going to bed or leaving the house. It only takes a few short minutes for a small fire that starts in the chimney to quickly spread through an entire home.
Annual chimney sweep and inspection
When properly maintained, your fireplace and chimney will provide years of comfort and enjoyment for you and the entire family. Fire safety and chimney experts recommend homeowners have their chimney inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep at least once a year. A chimney sweep is also highly recommended at least once during the winter fireplace season.