The magic of a wood burning fireplace is unparalleled this time of year. From the smell of freshly spit wood at a slow burn filling the air outside to the vibrant orange glow lighting up your living room, fireplaces bring endless relaxation and cheer. Though we really only see the fireplace itself on a day-to-day basis, we must remember that we owe our toasty tootsies to the chimney as well! To continue enjoying a good roaring fire, we must be mindful of issues that impact chimneys in order to keep them functioning properly. Our safety depends on it! (Even Santa has knows the importance of a properly working chimney!)
- Chimney blockage. You can usually tell if your chimney is blocked because smoke and fumes with begin to fill your space instead of flowing out. With a gas flue, however, dangerous odorless gas could be flowing into your home. (This is what carbon monoxide detectors are for!) Reasons for blockage can vary. Perhaps some feathered or furry friends have decided to make themselves at home. Maybe there is soot buildup, and your chimney needs a good cleaning. It could also be negative pressure pulling smoke into your home instead of out. In any case, a bright flashlight can sometimes determine what the problem is. If you are physically capable of accessing your chimney from the roof, a chimney brush might be all you need to push the blockage down into the fireplace for a simple cleaning.)
- Chimney Leakage. Water is a fireplace’s worst enemy. There are several components of a chimney that could potentially be allowing water to leak in. Most often it is the chimney crown that ends up cracked from exposure to the elements. Installing a chimney cap (bird cage looking device with a lid) is much more cost effective than replacing an entire chimney, so check for cracks in your chimney crown annually and have a chimney cap installed if you don’t already.
- Cracks in the Flue Lining. A flue lining is defined as “A conduit installed inside of a chimney, intended to contain the combustion products, direct them to the outside atmosphere, and protect the chimney walls from heat and corrosion.” Depending upon when your home was built, you may have a ceramic, clay or metal flue. If you have a clay flue lining, it is possible that it can end up cracking. A crack in the flue lining allows the fire you are burning to reach combustible parts of the chimney. What you end up with could be a dangerous and costly chimney fire. Checking your flue lining before use each year is paramount to prevention. Many professionals will bring a camera to do this more effectively. If any cracks are discovered, the best thing you can do is upgrade to a more modern metal flue liner. They come at a higher cost, but are considerably more durable and you will avoid the extravagant repair expenses of a chimney fire.
For chimney advice and so much more, don’t forget that the experienced pros at Repairman are here to help. Enjoy your winter season safely!
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