Cozying up beside a crackling fire is one of the best things about having a fireplace at home. But, regular chimney upkeep is mandatory to make sure that everything functions as it should. Before you build the first fire of the season, here are some chimney maintenance tips to put into practice.
Chimney Maintenance: Check the Fireplace Damper
If you don’t have a functioning damper, repair or replace it before using the fireplace. The fireplace damper is important for boosting your home’s energy efficiency. It seals the chimney when you aren’t burning a fire to keep the cold air out and the warm air indoors.
If your damper isn’t closing completely, this will be reflected in your energy bills. Your furnace will have to work harder to maintain desired indoor temperatures, increasing the electricity bills. Make sure the damper is in good condition before using the fireplace this winter.
Tips to Reduce Creosote
Creosote is a byproduct of wood burning in the fireplace. It’s a black tar-like substance that condenses and accumulates on the chimney’s walls over time. While this build-up may not seem like a big deal, it is flammable and can lead to chimney fires. Remove creosote regularly to keep your home and family safe.
To prevent creosote build-up, build smaller, hot fires. Use seasoned hardwood, like oak, cherry, and maple. Hardwoods have a lower moisture content and produce less creosote as they burn.
Clean the Chimney as Part of Regular Maintenance
Hiring a professional chimney sweep is the easiest and most efficient way to clean your chimney and remove creosote. An expert will thoroughly inspect your fireplace and inform you of any issues or concerns.
Though calling a professional is the most effective way to clean your chimney, you can DIY this project. With the proper tools and a little motivation, you can clean your chimney yourself.
- Spread a drop cloth to protect the floor around your fireplace and remove debris and ash from the firebox.
- Separate your fireplace from the rest of your house with plastic sheeting to prevent soot from falling into your home.
- Wear protective gear when cleaning your chimney. You will need a mask, gloves, and safety goggles.
- Remove the chimney cap. Use a large chimney brush. Insert the brush into the flue, and scrub the flue in an up-and-down pattern.
- After removing the brush, check the chimney to verify you’ve removed the creosote. If you haven’t, repeat the process.
- Once the flue is clean, use a shop vacuum to remove soot that has fallen into the lower areas.
Maintain your chimney to keep your home safe from fire this winter. The above tips will help you save money and improve the efficiency of your fireplace.