Getting the most out of your chimney requires periodic maintenance. Some of this maintenance should be done by a licensed chimney professional; other tasks are ones you can easily take care of yourself. Let’s look at six important maintenance activities for your chimney.
Inspect the chimney’s bricks and mortar
Damaged chimneys leave signs. You can do a visual inspection of your chimney’s masonry and spot early signs of trouble so it can get fixed fast. Look for:
Crumbling mortar on the roof near the chimney
Cracks in the bricks or mortar
White staining on the masonry (could point to a chimney leak)
A tilt in the chimney
Inspect the chimney’s components
Damaged components can allow water to get into the chimney system. You should periodically check:
Chimney cap – make sure the mesh isn’t torn and the cap is sealed tightly to the top of your chimney.
Chimney crown – look for cracks or decay in the cement.
Flashing – if the flashing that seals the gap between your roof and chimney is warped or rusted out, water can flow down into the house.
Fireplace damper – it should work without a lot of squeaks and should open completely and close fully.
Inspect the firebox
People use their fireplaces all the time but often don’t really look at them. Start your firebox inspection by removing all the ashes and soot. Check for bricks that are loose or cracked. Feel for dampness on the surfaces. You can use this time to clean smoke and soot stains from the perimeter of the firebox opening.
Watch for chimney leaks
A variety of events can cause a chimney to leak. You can’t always prevent things like lightning strikes, pounding hail, and earthquakes, but you can stay on top of leaks and get them fixed quickly.
The most common leaky chimney signs for the average homeowner to watch for include:
Water in the firebox
White stains on the exterior masonry (as noted above)
Strong, musty odors coming from the fireplace
Damp sections of the walls or ceiling adjacent to the chimney and fireplace
Make sure smoke detectors and CO monitors are working
Smoke detectors alert you to smoke. Carbon monoxide monitors alert you to the presence of this deadly gas within the smoke. Replace batteries in these devices once a year and test them several times a year.
Have your chimney cleaned and inspected
Annual chimney sweeping and chimney inspections are critical parts of smart maintenance. Chimney sweeps use electric scrubbers, brushes, cleaning solvents, and industrial vacuums to remove flammable creosote and drafting obstructions from your chimney flue.
Licensed chimney inspectors will alert you to early signs of damage and malfunction so you can resolve the problem before an extensive – and expensive – repair issue unfolds. Chimneys should be cleaned and inspected once a year.
As you’ve probably figured out, the key to a safe, efficient, and long-lasting chimney is staying on top of necessary maintenance and fixing problems as early as possible. The tips outlined here will help.
Fluesbrothers Chimney & Fireplace of Kansas City, KS, provides CSIA-certified chimney sweeping, chimney inspections, and all levels of chimney repair and rebuilding services. Trust our experts to do it right the first time. Arrange an appointment or get your questions answered at (913) 236-7141.