Few things are as comforting as cozying up to a warm, glowing fire. However, fireplaces can be a safety hazard, especially when you neglect your chimney system. Lack of regular maintenance can necessitate costly repairs or complete replacement of your chimney.
Have a professional chimney technician fix your fireplace, and make sure you also take steps to keep your chimney in good shape.
Follow these tips to improve the life of your fireplace and chimney system.
1. Burn Seasoned Wood
Choose seasoned wood over freshly cut wood. Ideally, opt for wood that is cut 6 or 12 months in advance and is dried in the sun to minimize water content. Pick hardwoods, as they smoke less and will slow down creosote accumulation, a leading cause of costly chimney repairs.
Wet wood, which contains a high amount of water, does not burn efficiently and can increase the risk of fires, odor, smoking, and creosote buildup.
In addition, green wood takes a long time to burn. Therefore, the fire will not warm up your home sufficiently. Prolonged combustion can also cause acidic water to accumulate, which can shorten the life of your chimney.
2. Check and Replace the Damper
The damper is a hinged opening that sits atop the fireplace and regulates the amount of air flowing in and out of the chimney. The damper also prevents water from seeping through and damaging the firebox.
You may leave the damper open when the fireplace is in use, but be sure to close it when the fire is out. This will mitigate heat loss and potential corrosion, which can seriously hamper the efficiency of your chimney.
Traditional flap dampers may not always shut tightly and can easily let in moisture and accelerate cool air exchanges. Consider replacing this default flap damper with a top-mounting damper that seals completely and is easy to close and open.
3. Install a Crown
The chimney crown is a large cover at the top of the chimney. The crown protects the chimney from elements of the weather and prevents water and debris from running down the chimney. Common crown materials include concrete, stone, or metal, as these can withstand harsh weather.
A neglected or poorly installed crown can allow water and other dirt to percolate through the chimney. This could potentially cause interior damage to the chimney system, firebox, and flue and drastically reduce the life of your chimney.
If you are not sure whether your chimney has a crown, ask a chimney technician to inspect the chimney. If your chimney does not have a crown, the technician can build and install one.
Have your chimney technician inspect your crown regularly to detect cracks and prevent extensive damage that would require you to replace the crown altogether. The technician can easily seal fresh cracks to help extend the life of the crown.
4. Repoint the Brickwork
The motor between your chimney's stonework will wear out with time. Consider repointing as soon as cracks appear on your brickwork. Repointing entails repairing crumbling motor to seal gaps and prevent water from seeping into the chimney.
A well-maintained chimney can serve you for many years. Bear in mind that the cost of regular inspection and maintenance can be comparably lower than the price you may pay for repairing a badly damaged chimney system. Be sure to work with a professional chimney sweeping and repair company to get the most out of your chimney and fireplace.
At Carolina Ductmasters, we know chimneys in and out. Our experienced technicians can clean and restore your chimney to add beauty, safety, and functionality back to your home's fireplace. Call us today to learn more about our services.