Chimney cleaning is among the essential tasks for homeowners. Regular maintenance, including basic sweeping and keeping the flue cleared, can reduce the risks of fires.
At some point, the need for a chimney repair that requires the services of a professional may also arise. Wood-burning and gas fireplaces are both susceptible to particular problems. At any point in the structure, from the foundation and ash dump to the crown and cap, issues can occur.
Fall is typically the best time for annual maintenance inspections, although the need for repairs may arise at any time of year. A professional chimney sweep can assist with hard-to-reach flue areas and will work from the inside with specialty brushes that can access higher spaces.
Routine hearth maintenance is a task anyone can manage, starting with ash removal. After embers are dead, shovel them into a fireproof canister with an airtight cover. A thorough scrubbing with soap and water will eliminate soot buildup. Use wire brushes to remove creosote, which is a natural solid that results from burning wood. Soot from gas fireplaces is a hazard along with condensation and blockage from animal activity. Always check the damper to ensure it is working properly.
Fires resulting from a lack of chimney cleaning can be disastrous.
They usually start as a new set of logs begins to blaze or when adding logs to an existing stack that is already burning. Often, the fire begins higher up in the flue, which means homeowners are not aware of the flames until they are out of control.
Exterior maintenance is usually a task for professionals.
Some minor inspections are easy, such as checking for deterioration in mortar between bricks or looking for cracks that indicate structural separation. Termite damage, dry rot and warping can affect wood siding. Chimney caps, where birds can nest and leaf debris builds up, are also critical inspection points. Tips on how to repair a chimney exterior include replacing mesh coverings at the cap area and re-mortaring as needed. Some experienced do-it-yourselfers can perform these tasks, but if they are not done correctly, they can lead to further damage.
Annual inspections may also include cleaning. Pros will make chimney repair recommendations as needed. For advice on how to repair a chimney, inside or out, it is best to consult service professionals to prevent further damage.