A fireplace is cozy in winter. The flames will keep you warm, and it’s aesthetically pleasing. However, it can be unsafe to use the fireplace if you don’t keep up with routine chimney maintenance. Below are some valuable tips to make sure the chimney is well taken care of and functioning as it should.
Chimney Maintenance to Remove Creosote
Creosote is a type of soot that forms in the chimney when you use a wood-burning fireplace. Over time, it accumulates on the inside of the flue. Because this build-up is flammable, it can ignite inside the chimney.
To remove creosote, hire a professional to clean the chimney. If you must do it yourself, wear protective clothing such as gloves, safety goggles, and a mask. Soot will cling to everything, including your clothes, skin, and furniture.
Have a Working Fireplace Damper
The fireplace damper can greatly impact a home’s energy efficiency. Whenever you’re not using the fireplace, the damper should remain closed to keep drafts from entering the living spaces. If the damper isn’t functioning correctly, it will reflect on your monthly energy bills. When temperature-controlled air can freely escape, it’s more difficult for the HVAC unit to maintain a comfortable temperature indoors. As part of your chimney maintenance, have the damper replaced or repaired before using the fireplace.
Choose the Right Firewood
Not all firewood is the same. Newly cut or softwoods produce more creosote they burn. Use the right kind of wood. When in doubt, opt for hardwoods like beech, oak, and birch instead of softwoods like pine, spruce, and cedar. Well-seasoned hardwoods burn cleaner and produce fewer ashes and less creosote.
Chimney Maintenance: Cleaning Your Chimney
The easiest and most practical way to clean the chimney is by hiring a professional sweep. An expert has the tools and training to access the entire chimney and spot potential problems. They will also provide you with feedback on the current condition of your fireplace.
However, if cleaning your chimney is a task you feel confident handling, here are some tools you’ll need.
1. Use a Flashlight
Use a flashlight to examine the chimney to see how much soot has accumulated before deciding the clean the chimney yourself. If the soot looks thick or tarry, you may need to hire a professional to eliminate it.
2. Purchase Chimney-Cleaning Brushes
You will be able to find the chimney brushes you need at your local hardware store. Pay close attention to whether your flue liner is made of metal or clay, as this will help determine the type of brushes you need.
3. Plastic Sheeting & Shop Vacuum
Use a shop vacuum to clean the fireplace. Run the hose from the fireplace’s interior to your vacuum in an outdoor space to prevent soot from escaping the vacuum housing.
Before you brush the flue, place plastic sheeting over the fireplace opening so you can clean the chimney without soot entering your home.
When it comes to chimney maintenance, it’s best to let an experienced professional handle it. While it might be possible to clean the chimney yourself, an expert has the necessary tools to complete the job quickly and effectively.