Having professional cleanings done helps ensure that you can use your fireplace and chimney safely when it’s cold out. These cleanings are an important part of reducing the risk of carbon monoxide leaks, fires, and other hazards. However, you don’t have to wait for these visits to make sure your fireplace and chimney are in good shape. The following chimney and fireplace maintenance tips can help yours stay safe and clean in between professional cleanings.
Check and Clean the Damper
Before you use your fireplace, check the damper for debris that might prevent it from opening and closing properly. You should clean the damper as needed and open it when using your fireplace. When you’re done using your fireplace, you should close the damper in order to seal it.
Choose Dense and Dry Wood
The type of wood you use in a wood-burning fireplace can affect how fires burn and how dirty your fireplace gets. You should use wood that is dense and dry rather than damp or green wood. Dry, seasoned wood helps reduce creosote buildup inside your fireplace, while green wood adds to it. Burning the right kind of wood also ensures a safer fire, since this wood doesn’t give off sparks or smoke as much.
When the ashes from your last fire are cold, you should clean them out. You might need to wait a few days after using your fireplace to make sure the ashes aren’t still warm or hot, since this can be a fire hazard when you dispose of them. You can vacuum or sweep out cold ashes from your fireplace to reduce creosote buildup. However, you should leave about an inch of ashes in your fireplace to help it burn better the next time you use it.
Check Your Chimney Cap
Your chimney cap helps prevent animals, debris, and rain from getting inside your chimney and fireplace. You should take a look at your chimney cap from time to time, such as after bad weather, to make sure it’s still in good condition. If you look up at it and notice any signs of damage, you should have it professionally repaired. Keeping your chimney cap in good shape helps stop birds and other animals from building nests in your chimney. You also won’t have to worry about having to clear out leaves and other debris.
Trim Tree Branches
Tree branches that overhang your roof could cause problems for your chimney. Leaves and twigs could fall inside if your chimney cap is damaged. Tree branches can also scrape against your chimney cap and flashing, which could lead to cracks or other damage. You should keep tree branches trimmed, so that they aren’t hanging over your roof, especially close to your chimney.
Schedule Your Next Cleaning
Fireplace and chimney sweep maintenance throughout the year can help cut down on the amount of professional cleaning needed. While you should still have professional cleanings done at least once a year, these visits shouldn’t take as long when you’ve been keeping your chimney and fireplace clean on a regular basis. Set up your next professional cleaning, so that your fireplace and chimney will be safe and ready to use.