6 Tips for Off-Season Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance
There isn’t much use for a fireplace in summer, but there are some important steps that are recommended, to ensure that the fireplace and chimney are ready when cold weather returns. Safety issues are important to consider, especially with the following statistic:
Of all home-heating fires in the U.S., 42% of them involve fireplaces and chimneys.
Summer is a great time to ensure that your home is safe from a house fire caused by a faulty or improperly maintained fireplace and/or chimney. Giving your solid-fuel appliance needed attention can also help you cut energy costs.
1 – Schedule a Chimney Inspection
A professional chimney sweep is qualified to check your fireplace and chimney, looking for signs of wear and tear, damage, moisture leaks, inefficiency, blockage, cracks, and more. It can be difficult to discover damage in the chimney flue without the help of a professional. Failing to detect even the smallest crack in the chimney lining can mean a possible house fire caused by intense heat from the fireplace reaching combustible parts of your home.
2 – Schedule a Chimney Cleaning
A chimney cleaning is not always necessary, such as when a fireplace is rarely used during winter. Cleaning is usually needed with moderate use of a fireplace that burns logs, however, because creosote is deposited in the flue every time there is a fire. Sooty, tar-like creosote is highly flammable; it can catch fire and cause a dangerous chimney fire. Extreme buildup of creosote can cause obstruction that hinders the draft. Rather than going up and out of the chimney, toxic fumes can enter the home, due to the blockage.
3 – Close the Damper
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, be sure the damper is closed when the fireplace is not in use. One purpose of the damper is to seal off the flow of air between the chimney and the home. When a damper doesn’t seal properly, the effect is similar to having a window open in the home at all times. Energy costs are significantly higher when summer air conditioning and winter heat escape through the chimney. The damper can also help to prevent critters from entering your home through the chimney. If you have a gas fireplace, experts recommend that you keep the damper open at all times, to prevent gas from building up in your home, in the event of a gas leak.
4 – Install a Chimney Cap
A chimney cap is an appliance that should top every chimney. This affordable appliance, when complete with mesh, keeps moisture out, keeps animals and birds out, prevents debris from entering the chimney, and serves as a spark guard, so that hot embers won’t catch the roof and other combustible materials on fire.
5 – Clean out the Ashes
If you leave ash and soot in the fireplace during the off season, you may be lowering your air quality and exposing your home to foul odors. Your fireplace will simply look much better with the ashes cleaned out, as well.
6 – Upgrade your Fireplace
Without having to make a major investment, there are ways to upgrade the efficiency of your fireplace. Glass doors and fireplace liners are just two of numerous ways to get more out of your fireplace.
Contact our office today for help choosing a fireplace or wood stove, to schedule a chimney inspection or cleaning, or for whatever you may need, related to solid-fuel appliances.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110