No doubt, your chimney plays an important part in warming up the interior of your home. It provides an avenue through which poisonous fumes escape your fireplace and air, needed for combustion, gets to the burning wood. However, when the chimney is not properly maintained, it becomes a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Yes, it’s that bad!
In the United States alone, a significant amount of house fires are caused by untended chimneys. This shouldn’t be surprising considering how negligent most homeowners are. Many don’t have the time to assess this segment of their home while others are not well-informed on this subject.
Besides the unwanted loss of lives and property, there’s the trauma which comes with accidents of this nature. Knowing that your home, which you probably toiled long hours to obtain, has been destroyed by a fire is not something anyone should be made to face. This explains the need to plug all possible ways through which such an accident can happen. As well as points to how vital it is to maintain your chimney.
But before we go into the tips on ways to make this happen, a look at some basic information about the combustion of wood could be helpful.
When wood is burnt, several substances are produced as byproducts. Two of which include creosote and soot.
Creosote is a flammable substance which is culpable in most chimney fires. When your fireplace is poorly aerated or the logs of wood used are not properly dried, the quantity of creosote produced increases. And this accumulates within the walls of your chimney amplifying the possibility of a chimney fire.
Soot, unlike Creosote, is not flammable but it is also a byproduct of the incomplete combustion of wood. This is often due to an inadequate airflow within the fireplace. The problem with soot is that it worsens the aeration of the fireplace. When soot deposits within your chimney, it reduces the amount of air which gets to the burning wood and this increases the amount of soot and creosote that has been produced. If this sequence continues, your home can fill up with smoke and the risk of a fire in your home also increases. Therefore here are some tips to properly maintain your chimney.
A professional sweeping is inevitable
Maintaining your chimney isn’t a task you want to carry out on your own because it requires a collaborative effort. You will need to seek the input of a professional to analyze the condition of your chimney. The chimney expert will carry out a level one inspection on this segment of your home. If there are deposits of creosote and soot, you will be informed. And if a sweep is required, the professional will inform you of the cost and then get to work.
Sometimes the chimney expert might recommend a more in-depth inspection. He might decide that a level one inspection is not enough. However, the chosen inspection level will depend on the condition of your chimney.
Wood is all you need
While fire can burn a lot of things, only wood is suitable for use in your fireplace. The wood shouldn’t have any form of chemical substance applied to it. You don’t want to expose your household to chemical fumes which are released when this sort of wood is burnt.
Avoiding burning wet or green wood. Because this has the potential of increasing the amount of creosote and soot produced. Instead, ensure your wood is dried for a while (a six month period should be quite sufficient).
A chimney cap is worth it
Exposing the interior of your chimney to the elements should be avoided at all cost unless you intend having a chimney inspection procedure carried out monthly. A chimney cap can keep rainwater away from your fireplace. As well as birds and other unvanted creatures. Installing a chimney cap made from stainless steel is recommended since steel caps last longer compared to those made from other metals. However, don’t just go on to purchase a chimney cap, because you need to measure your flue liner beforehand, which is the part of your chimney that provides support to the cap.
Check your damper for consistency
Never underestimate the importance of a damper. It could increase the quantity of creosote and soot produced. And that is your chimney’s worse nightmare. You certainly don’t want that, especially when you consider the amount of effort and money a chimney sweeping will take. So, why not just go ahead and check your damper frequently while burning? Apparently, this adjustable metallic plate gives you maximum control over the amount of air which gets to the burning wood. And ensuring the activity of your damper improves the burning efficiency of your fireplace and keeps the buildup of dangerous byproducts to a minimum. And if your damper isn’t doing a good job, perhaps it’s time to put in a new one.
Smoke detectors can help
Sometimes, your attention is held by the myriad of activities going on in your home leaving your fireplace working unattended. Dense smoke, which indicates the poor input of air in the burning process, might be enough to get your attention. How? Smoke detectors! When installed, they are known to sound an alarm whenever smoke is detected. And that should be enough to get your attention and make sure everything is okay with your fireplace.
Efficient wood burning
Lastly, overworking your chimney has its own set of repercussion. If you burn too much wood over a long period of time, the number of cracks on the chimney walls increases. Keep doing that, and you might not have a chimney for long. Burning a small amount of wood over a long time is a much better approach to meeting the heat demands of your household. And it’s also a more efficient way to reduce the buildup of creosote and soot.
By keeping your chimney in great condition, you’re not only keeping your household warm when needed but preventing the grief that comes with a burning house. So keep your chimney in the best condition possible and you should be able to avoid any fire or smoke-related accidents and mishaps.