After enjoying the fireplace during the cold season, it’s easy to neglect chimney maintenance. Forgetting essential annual maintenance can lead to fire hazards, water damage, and higher energy bills. Here are some tips to keep your chimney in proper condition.

Dust Your Fireplace Often

Reduce the need for professional cleaning by sweeping out the inside of your fireplace regularly. Many chimney problems arise because of the accumulation of ash and soot. How often you dust your fireplace depends on how often you use it. For example, if you use it daily, clean it weekly. A monthly cleaning session is sufficient if you light it up once a week.

Before cleaning, wait a few hours for the fireplace to cool down. Place a tarp down to catch dirt and debris. Next, remove the ashes from the chimney’s base with a shovel. However, DIY cleaning does not mean you should not call a professional for routine inspections and chimney maintenance.

Check Your Damper

Your fireplace damper is crucial for your home’s energy efficiency. When not using the fireplace, close the dampers to prevent outside drafts from entering your home through the chimney.
One sign that your fireplace damper is not working is increased energy bills. Your air conditioner or furnace will constantly conflict with the drafts. As a result, they will use more power to cool or heat your home.

Check to make sure the dampers can open. When using the fireplace, the dampers should be open. If the dampers can’t open, they will trap smoke in your home, posing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Fixing or replacing your fireplace dampers is an essential step in chimney maintenance. If you choose to replace the fireplace damper, ensure it fits properly. It should be snug and without any gaps.

Addressing Leaks is Part of Chimney Maintenance

Various events cause a chimney leak. Some cannot be prevented, but it is essential to fix leaks before they cause problems.

One of the signs that your chimney is leaking is water in the firebox. Other signs include a strong, musty odor from the fireplace, damp areas on the walls or ceiling adjacent to the fireplace, and white stains on the exterior masonry. If you notice any of these signs, call a professional.

Check that CO monitors and smoke detectors are working. Carbon monoxide monitors alert you if there is carbon monoxide within the home. Make sure you replace the batteries in these devices once a year.

Chimney maintenance is best performed by a professional. However, there are routine practices that every homeowner should keep up with for a clean fireplace. Follow these three tips to prepare yourself for the winter.

TUFF Home Inspections provides home inspection services to New Jersey. Contact us to schedule your appointment.