6 Common Chimney Maintenance Tips
Nothing beats enjoying your fireplace on a cold winter night. It’ll keep you warm and looks stunningly beautiful. However, if you don’t follow a few chimney maintenance tips, it might not be safe to use your fireplace.
Maintaining your fireplace and chimney is crucial to keeping your home safe when using your fireplace. Without proper attention and cleaning, you’re susceptible to fires and water damage. Plus, you can save money on your energy bills.
These 8 chimney maintenance tips will help ensure that your fireplace and chimney are well taken care of and working properly. Don’t worry about anything because Vertical Chimney Care is here to help!
1. Have a Functioning Fireplace Damper
Your fireplace damper makes a huge difference in your home’s energy efficiency. When you’re not using your fireplace, the dampers should be closed to keep outside drafts from getting into your home through the chimney.
If your damper isn’t closing, it’s going to reflect on your energy bills. It’ll be much harder for your furnace or air conditioner to achieve your desired temperature because they’ll constantly be in battle with the drafts. They’ll end up using more power to heat or cool your home and the price of your electric and heating bills will skyrocket.
When you use your fireplace, the dampers need to be open. If your dampers are broken and can’t open, you can’t use your fireplace. The damper will trap the smoke in your home causing you to breathe in carbon monoxide which is very bad for your health.
Having your dampers fixed or replaced when they’re not working properly is crucial. When getting a replacement fireplace damper, make sure it fits properly – it must be snug and not have any gaps.
2. Make Sure your Chimney is Waterproof
Moisture and the elements can be major problems for your chimney. They can weaken the structural integrity of your chimney, cause mold and even damage the walls and floor around your fireplace. You’ll need to make sure your chimney waterproofing, chase cover, crown and flashing are all functioning properly.
Start by waterproofing your chimney. Adding a water sealant to the outside of your chimney will prevent moisture from breaking down the bricks and mortar and sneaking into you home.
Obviously there’s a large hole at the top of your chimney which allows smoke to escape. You don’t want to seal that hole but you also don’t want rain and snow from getting into your home. What can you do?
For prefabricated chimneys, chase covers are a great addition. It covers the top while still allowing smoke to escape through a small pipe. Most prefabricated chimneys come with galvanized steel chase covers which have a tendency to rust. Replace it with a stainless steel, copper or aluminum chase cover so you don’t have to worry about rust again.
For masonry chimneys, you’ll need to get a crown. It’s a concrete cover that prevents anything from getting into your home. Like chase covers, the smoke escapes through a pipe coming from the crown.
The flashing is where the chimney meets the roof. Without a sealant going around the meeting point, moisture can seep into your home. Make sure your flashing is in good condition.
3. Know When to Have Your Chimney Swept
No matter what type of fireplace you have, you’ll need your chimney swept in order to keep your home safe. The question is, how often do you need a chimney sweeping?
While there’s no specific amount of time to get your chimney cleaned, there are a few things to consider. The amount you use your fireplace will determine how often you have your chimney swept. Once the chimney liner has 1/8″ of soot, it needs to be cleaned.
If you’re not sure how to measure soot, there’s an easy metric you can use – your chimney should be cleaned every 50 burns. This differs from the type of fireplace you have. For instance, a gas log fireplace needs to be swept less often than a wood burning fireplace. About 50 burns is a good place to start.
4. Gas Log Fireplaces Are Better for Your Chimney Than Wood Burning Ones
This is one of the more unique chimney maintenance tips. Replacing a wood burning fireplace with a gas log fireplace could be safer for your home. Gas logs burn much greener than real logs – they produce a less harmful smoke and are extremely energy efficient. In fact, they have a 92%-99% efficiency rating vs the typical 60%-80%.
Not only is that safer for the efficiency, but it’s safe for you. Since the gas log fireplace is burning up to 99% of the gas used, there’s less soot in your chimney. That means you can go longer between chimney sweeps and you’re less at risk of fires.
Don’t think you’re sacrificing beauty for efficiency. For a time, gas log fireplaces lacked the elegance of a wood burning fireplace, but things have changed. Now, the hand painted, ceramic gas logs are made to look identical wood logs.
5. Make Sure Your Mortar Joints and Bricks Aren’t Crumbling
The bricks and mortar joints of your chimney play a crucial role in avoiding water damage inside of your home. However, they begin to crack and crumble over time and give moisture an entrance into your home.
Chimney tuckpointing is the act of repairing mortar. If you notice that your mortar is crumbling and the bricks are starting to become loose, then you’re in need of chimney tuckpointing.
Make sure you get a waterproofing sealant for your chimney stack. This will help keep the mortar and bricks protected from moisture.
6. Have Your Chimney Inspected Once Per Year
Just looking at your chimney isn’t enough to spot problems – some are underlying and need a professional to find them. Having a chimney inspection once per year is crucial to ensure your chimney’s safety.
There are three levels of chimney inspection to consider:
- Level 1: used for chimneys that seem to be functioning properly. Examines all readily accessible portions
- Level 2: best for homes that are changing how they use their chimney or the heating source. Required before selling a property. Includes everything in a level 1 plus attic, crawlspace and exterior inspections
- Level 3: most in depth inspection. Includes everything in inspection 1 and 2 plus checking more concealed areas. This inspection is for chimneys where there’s a major problem that needs to be addressed
These Chimney Maintenance Tips Will Save You Money and Keep Your Home Safe
There are many different chimney and home maintenance tips but these are our 6 favorites. They cover everything from minor chimney inspections to completely changing how you use your fireplace.
Vertical Chimney Care offers everything mentioned above – we’re Chicagoland’s chimney and fireplace experts. We can help you with everything from a chimney sweeping to an entire fireplace and chimney remodel. Contact us and start your project with a company that has been trusted by thousands of homeowners for over 30 years.