Ahhhh winter. Finally here! Longer nights, shorter days, and ample amounts of snow greet you every day. With the weather conditions dropping to freezing temperatures, you want to stay at home and keep yourself warm and cozy.
The best part about winter is that you can start using the fireplace in your house, to crank up the temperature. It is also a great place in the household to spend time with your family while sharing experiences and stories.
However, as you haven’t used the fireplace in a long time, you need to prepare it before you get a fire going. Chimney care is crucial, as it prevents accidents from taking place in your property. Don’t put your family at risk when you can follow the necessary measures to avoid problems with the fireplace.
Here are seven tips which will help prepare your chimney every ‘burn’ season:
1 – Ensure there is a chimney cap
The first thing you need to do is find out if there is a cap on your chimney. As you use the fireplace for a handful of months in a year, several animals and birds will make it their home. If they reside in the chimney, their nests will cause an obstruction, preventing the fireplace from operating efficiently.
To avoid these problems, it is essential you use a chimney cap. The wire mesh in this accessory will keep animals and birds away. If you already have a cap, then you need to take a closer look at it, to see if it functions properly.
If you do have a chimney cap, it’s also important to make sure that it is still in decent condition to ensure none of the obstructions mentioned before could happen.
2 – Find out if you need to waterproof it
Winter is a harsh month for your chimney due to the presence of large volumes of moisture. Exposure to this element over extended periods will weaken the structure, making it vulnerable to water damage.
Get in touch with professional chimney companies and find out if it is necessary to waterproof this structure.
3 – Inspect the flashing on the chimney
During the colder months, your chimney has to face severe elements such as ice and snow. As a result, this structure needs to keep the moisture from entering your household, to avoid water damage. Although the rest of the chimney uses durable materials, the metal flashing is a weak point. Even something as small as a rusty nail can wreak havoc on this accessory, causing it to deteriorate rapidly. Always check the flashing of your chimney, before you start using the fireplace.
4 – Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers
If you don’t have any carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms, and fire extinguishers, now is a great time to get these equipment for your household. They are basic safety requirements for the fireplace in your property. The carbon monoxide detector shouldn’t be close to the fireplace. If it is near the fire, this appliance will go off frequently, triggering false alarms. Make sure you replace the batteries in the smoke detectors every six months so that they can operate effectively.
This is also a good time to make sure that all of the equipment is in working order and has batteries where applicable.
5 – Make sure you have the right tools
When you light the wooden logs on fire, there is a high chance the sparks will fall on your furniture and carpet. Despite the small size, they are a fire hazard, as they can ignite any flammable substance instantly. To prevent the sparks from flying everywhere, you need to use a fireplace shield.
Also, you need to have the right tools, which will help handle the burning materials easily. For example, it is vital you have tongs, a broom, a poker, and a shovel near the fireplace.
6 – Take a look at the masonry
The masonry is the most durable part of the chimney as it can last for decades without facing any problems. However, the substance which holds it together is mortar, which doesn’t have the same lifespan. According to chimney experts, you must replace the mortar at least once every 20 – 25 years. Any issue with this substance will allow moisture to enter the chimney, which causes a lot of problems. Inspect the masonry carefully to see if there are any cracks or flakes.
7 – Get professionals to inspect and clean the chimney
Once you have the basic inspection out of the way, it is time you ask professionals to help you out. Why should get an expert to take a look when you completed the majority of the examination? You should know that these professionals have years of expertise examining different types of chimneys throughout their career.
Due to this reason, they have access to immense amounts of knowledge, making it easier to spot problems in the fireplace, which are invisible to the untrained eye. Never try to clean the insides of your chimney without the necessary safety equipment. There is a high chance you might expose yourself to hazardous substances, which can cause severe health problems in the future.
Also, they have the perfect tools to get rid of these materials from the chimney. They can identify and eliminate obstructions, which will prevent carbon monoxide from entering your household. Blocks due to creosote, debris, and other types of substance prevent logs from burn efficiently, which create harmful by-products.