It looks like Old Man Winter may be arriving sooner than expected in the Kansas City region. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, it will be a colder winter in the Midwest, and our area could start to see some snow showers around the Thanksgiving holiday. However, with the early arrival of colder weather, now is an excellent time to remind our neighbors of four important reasons to ensure your chimney system has been properly maintained
Fire prevention is the most significant reason for maintaining your chimney & fireplace in good working condition. Creosote is a naturally occurring material produced during the wood-burning process. The volatile organic compound (VOC) sticks to the damper, smoke chamber, chimney liner, and other components as smoke and gases vent up the chimney. The longer that creosote lingers in the flue, the more harmful this volatile organic compound becomes. It eventually hardens into a dark, tar-like substance that is extremely difficult to remove and is highly flammable. As a result, chimney creosote build-up is the leading cause of heating-related house fires, which areis entirely preventable with routine chimney maintenance.
Avoid Exposure to Harmful Fumes
Another important reason to not neglect chimney maintenance is to avoid exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) gas and other harmful fumes. Animal nests, creosote build-up, and debris that clog the flue due to a damaged or missing chimney cap can restrict the venting of dangerous fumes. The restricted airflow can ultimately cause the draft to reverse, known as a backdraft, that forces soot, creosote, and smokey debris into your living room. Also, masonry damage like masonry cracks or missing bricks and gaps in the mortar joints can cause carbon monoxide to leak into your home. Carbon monoxide is often referred to as the “silent killer” because the odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas can quickly reduce oxygen levels that can cause sudden headaches, nausea, vomiting, and even death. To avoid exposure to carbon monoxide, be sure to have working CO detectors on every level of your home when using gas or wood-burning heating appliances. Also, be sure to do regular chimney sweeping and timely masonry repairs to keep your chimney and fireplace in safe working order.
Prevent Water Damage
Although a masonry chimney is a tall, heavy, and durable structure, water is its arch enemy. As water invades the masonry, it accelerates its deterioration causing bricks to spall or chip, crack, crumble, with gaps in the mortar joints. If left unresolved, entire bricks can loosen and separate from the chimney leaving large holes in the structure that can ultimately cause a partial or complete chimney collapse. Water can leak through these gaps and cause foul odors, corrosion, and extensive damage to the interior masonry and components. In addition to water damage, there is an increased risk of fire and exposure to carbon monoxide fumes, making it unsafe to operate your fireplace.
Improve Heating Efficiency
Keeping your chimney and fireplace in good working order with regular inspections and cleaning will also increase its heating efficiency, which means you’ll stay warmer with lower fuel costs. That’s because the soot, creosote, dirt, and debris can reduce the chimney draft. A proper draft is essential to optimum heating efficiency; otherwise, it will result in incomplete combustion. Not only does this result in higher fuel costs, but it also produces more smoke and creosote that will require more frequent chimney sweeping.
Chimney & Fireplace Inspection and Cleaning in Kansas City
Scheduling your annual chimney inspection and cleaning today will ensure your chimney and fireplace are in good working order. It will also help keep your home and family safe while enjoying the warmth of the fireplace. Our certified and licensed professionals serve Lawrence, KS, Blue Springs, MO, and communities throughout the Greater Kansas City area.