Be Prepared for Summer Chimney Problems
Your chimney isn’t being used during the summer months, so there’s nothing going on with it, right? Wrong. Although there are no fires burning to create smoke and heat, various things can be happening with your chimney in the off-season that you definitely need to be aware of.
When professional chimney sweeps are called out during the summer, there are several things they know they need to be looking for. Most problems with chimneys that come up in the warmer months can be fairly easily addressed, but only by someone who is trained in this discipline. Use these warm weather months when your fireplace or stove is not in use to address some of these typical chimney problems.
Five common summertime chimney issues
- Structural damage. If your chimney is falling apart, you’ll be able to spot this by standing outside and looking up at it. But early damage isn’t so easy to see. This early damage includes small cracks in the bricks and mortar, which can let water seep in and start a process of deterioration. Water erodes, and water expands when it freezes, pushing in every direction against the structure and breaking it apart little by little. You always want to spot damage as early as possible. It its earliest stages, cracking can be sealed with a special spray coating. With more extensive damage, repair work or rebuilding sections of the chimney may be necessary.
- Odors coming from the chimney. When the weather heats up, smells become more noticeable. The inside of your chimney can get quite smelly in the summer due in part to excess creosote and soot and in another part to animal droppings and the occasional small dead animal. A thorough chimney cleaning will fix this problem.
- Creosote, smelly or not. Wood-burning fireplaces create large amounts of creosote, a byproduct of smoke from burning wood. This substance is sticky and highly flammable. It builds up within the flue and before long poses a significant safety risk to the house and those who live in it. It’s always a smart idea to have your chimney professionally cleaned once a year, preferably before the burning season begins.
- Storm damage. High winds and summer rains can play havoc with the chimney’s flashing and possibly the chimney cap if it hasn’t been installed securely. The flashing is the metal barrier that skirts the outside of the chimney where it touches the roof. When flashing is warped or otherwise damaged, it can allow water to run in and destroy building materials of the home or parts of the chimney itself.
- Temporary – or permanent residents. Small animals and insects are attracted to chimneys when no fire is burning in the fireplace. Everything from birds and squirrels to bees and snakes can get into a chimney, where they may build nests, have babies and in some cases die. These animals and their nests can create serious air-flow obstructions in the chimney and also act as fuel should a chimney fire start.
The answer to these and other chimney problems is a professional inspection followed by the necessary repair work or cleaning. If you want to make sure you chimney is safe for the winter, call Northeastern Chimney of West Hartford, CT, this summer at (860) 233-5770. We provide complete inspection, cleaning, repair and maintenance services for the entire West Hartford region.