Winter is here and if you have a fireplace or wood burning stove in your home it’s still not too late to get it ready for the rest of the winter.
At least once a year you should do a visual inspection of your home
This should include looking over the chimney. Look at the chimney and see if it is leaning. Does it have chips in the bricks or masonry joints? Are there cracks or holes visible? Is there any rust or corrosion on the metal parts, flashing or cap? If you see any of those kinds of issues, call a professional to make necessary repairs.
Your chimney cap
If your chimney cap is missing or in bad shape, replace it. A cap will keep out water, snow, ice and wildlife. Birds or small animals can nest in your chimney and cause clogs. They also can bring pests like fleas and ticks into your home via the chimney. A good cap with mesh will solve that problem.
Continue your inspection inside
Check from the attic down for leaks or staining in the ceilings or walls. This could mean that the flashing on the roof is faulty or that the flue liner is damaged. The last one is especially troubling since the flue liner is a safety feature that keeps excessive heat from setting walls on fire.
Call in a professional
Lastly, call in a professional to have the chimney cleaned. A good cleaning will remove built up creosote and remove any animal or bird nests. Creosote is an oily byproduct of burning wood. Once it builds up in the chimney the danger of it catching fire and causing a house fire are pretty high.
Getting your chimney cleaned once a year will prevent this build up. You can also help prevent creosote from building up as fast by burning oak or other hardwoods instead of pines.
Some types of wood are higher in the materials that become creosote than others. Pines are easier and faster to burn, but they cause a build-up of creosote much more quickly than a hardwood like oak. Also, when you burn a fire in the fireplace, you should burn them hot for most of the burn cycle.