How many people do you suppose have fireplaces in the area where you live? With winter just around the corner, it’s that time for everyone with a chimney to make sure it’s clean and ready to accommodate safe fires. This time of year is the busiest for chimney sweeps as every family with a fireplace scrambles to get a chimney inspection and cleaning in before the cold months are in full swing. The time is definitely now to get your fireplace ready; and failing to do this could be hazardous to your health.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the authority on fire safety, did a five-year study and found that the leading cause of home heating fires was the failure to clean solid-fueled heating equipment – and the chief problem in particular was creosote in chimneys.
So, yes, one of the nicest things about wintertime may be the ability to warm yourself in front of a cozy fire. But the chimney should be cleaned and inspected by a professional, to prevent potential disaster.
There are plenty of reasons to plan early for your chimney cleaning, not the least of which is that you are more likely to book an appointment that is convenient for you. As you can imagine, most people tend to wait until the cold weather is right over the horizon before making that call. Which means the off season isn’t nearly as busy for chimney sweeps, although other services are important year-around, such as getting your dryer vents cleaned.
Another reason not to wait for your chimney-cleaning appointment is that the cold weather could possibly interfere with work you may need to have done on your chimney. Masonry materials will freeze. Any repair work that you may need done on your chimney could delay your use of the fireplace. And it’s important that you also get an chimney annual inspection along with the cleaning, so that every potential complication can be spotted and remedied before your home and family are unintentionally endangered.
As mentioned above, creosote buildup in the chimney which results from using your fireplace can be a serious hazard. The smokier your fires are, the more creosote buildup you’ll have in the chimney; this is one reason it’s best to use optimal firewood, which equates to logs with low moisture content. You should never burn such things as treated wood used in construction; but if you do, there will be a greater likelihood of more creosote, in addition to the release of unhealthy gases.
Creosote can corrode your chimney and cause chimney fires. During the off season, particularly in humid environments, the flue liner can become corroded and mortar joints can be worn away because of creosote.
Humidity in warmer months can also cause unpleasant odors to enter your home through the flue, if your closed damper isn’t well sealed.
Both the chimney cap and damper at the top of your chimney need to be inspected each year because various conditions can cause damage. For instance, soot could accumulate on the wire mesh screen and interfere with the proper operation of your chimney. It could also corrode the mesh and allow critters to enter your chimney.
The chimney needs to be checked for signs of deterioration, and the flue lining should be carefully inspected. A cracked flue lining creates the possibility that heat could enter into your home and cause a house fire. Once a cracked flue has been identified, it’s hazardous to use your fireplace until the problem is fixed.
If you haven’t had your fireplace cleaned and inspected by a professional chimney sweep yet since last winter, it is NOT too late! Just don’t delay, and call us today!
Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
formerly Nayaug Chimney Services, LLC
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110