What Homeowners Should Know About Their Chimney and Venting System

Property owners need to make sure they are well aware of everything that has to be done to maintain their homes. This includes the chimney. Even for people who have lived in their home for years, the chimney can be an intimidating topic. After all, this is not something that homeowners regularly discuss or think about. Aside from using it for a few fires during the winter, it is not exactly used on a regular basis. As a result, home maintenance on a chimney can be difficult as well.

Homeownership responsibilities include the chimney and the fireplace. Forgetting the chimney and the hearth could lead to dire consequences that could place the safety of families in jeopardy. Even though it is not a pleasant thought, house fires do happen from time to time. Therefore, all homeowners need to make sure they are armed with the latest information when it comes to taking care of chimneys. There are a few key points that all homeowners need to keep in mind.

The Different Types of Chimneys

One of the first pieces of information that all homeowners need to know is the chimney type, which is one of the most important fireplace features. Aside from the appearance on the outside, there are numerous other ways in which chimneys are different. Knowing which type of chimney is present in the home is important for providing proper home maintenance. In general, are there are three separate main types of chimneys. These include:

  • A Single-Walled, Metal Chimney: This is one of the most common chimney types. It resembles a thin metal pipe that sticks out from the roof. The chimney also comes with a circular top. These chimneys are commonly found in older homes. Newer building codes have favored traditional masonry chimneys.
  • A Masonry Chimney: This is the standard brick chimney with which most homeowners are familiar. Currently, these chimneys are also viewed as the safest. Masonry chimneys usually come with a liner that has been previously installed prior to the sale of the home. The liner is important for ensuring the chimney vents properly.
  • A Pre-Fabricated Metal Chimney: Often, these chimneys are referred to as being factory-built. These chimneys are most commonly found in commercial structures.

These are the most common types of chimneys. While there are some other types out there, they are rarely used. Knowing the chimney type is the first step in properly maintaining it.

Focus on the Bricks

When it comes to problems that arise with chimneys, they usually impact bricks. Most homeowners are unaware that the bricks that are used to build the chimney are not the same as the bricks that are used to construct the rest of the home. The bricks that are used to build chimneys are a specific type of fire brick. These are engineered in a different manner and are designed to withstand temperatures up to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition to the bricks, it is important to know the type of mortar that is used as well. When it comes to chimney mortar, using high-temperature cement is the safest choice. This will ensure the chimney holds together even under stressful conditions.

At the same time, there is no guarantee that firebrick was actually used to build a chimney. Homeowners need to keep an eye on the bricks and mortar that make up their chimneys. If this starts to crumble, then it will need to be chiseled out. Then, it has to be replaced with appropriate materials.

Check the Flue During Chimney Cleaning

In addition, it is important to check the flue of the chimney as well. The flue is the chimney’s venting system. This is a pipe that is found on the inside of the chimney liner. The flue allows smoke and other gases that build up during use to safely exit the home. If the flue is clogged, then this leads to toxic fumes going back into the home. This can place families in harm’s way, leading to serious health concerns. An improperly working flue is one of the most common chimney warning signs. If the living room appears to get smokey during a fire, then the culprit is usually the flu.

In this situation, it is important to wipe the flue clear of debris and take care of fireplace features. Always make sure the flue is open before lighting a fire. If it is open, smoke from the flames should be able to exit the home without any issues, allowing the family to safely enjoy its warmth. If smoke is not exiting, then the flue might be clogged. That is why it is important to clean the flue on a regular basis.

Invest in a Chimney Liner

In many chimneys, there are liners that have already been installed; however, this is not always the case. The job of the chimney liner is to protect the home from heat and other flammable materials that might be produced as side effects from a fire. If the chimney is not properly lined, then the heat from the fire could rise too quickly. This could cause belonging that are nearby to light on fire. Liners simply provide an extra barrier between the heat and other belongings.

When it comes to chimney liner, there are three separate options to choose from. One of the best options for open fireplaces is a clay tile liner. Another option is a metal liner, which is usually used if extensive repairs have been done on an existing building. Finally, the most customizable liner is a cast-in-pace liner. This is a cement unit that has been designed to uniquely fit the shape of the fireplace.

Apart from these types, it is important for homeowners to also consider the size of the liner. Arguably, this is the most important factor. If the liner has been properly sized, then it will allow all the combustible materials to exit the home in a safe and secure manner. On the other hand, if the liner is not the right size, then there is a chance for carbon monoxide to build up. This is an odorless, colorless gas that could lead to dire health concerns.

Invest in a Chimney Cap

Another critical step that all homeowners need to take us to invest in a chimney cap. This is a little luxury that could seem unnecessary at first; however, once it is used, homeowners are going to wonder how they ever got along without them. In general, it a chimney cap is self-explanatory. This is a vented metal piece that sits on top of the chimney pipe. The job of this cap is to prevent unwanted materials from entering the fireplace.

For example, heavy rain could seep down into the chimney, soaking the inside of the fireplace, causing leaks, and leading to serious concerns. Furthermore, animals might want to come down the chimney pipe and build a nest inside of the fireplace. The job at the chimney cap is to prevent this from happening.

Chimney Maintenance Should be Done Annually

Finally, it is important for all homeowners to make sure that they inspect their chimney on an annual basis. Even though most people think they only need to worry about the chimney when a home inspection is getting performed to place the building on the market, chimney maintenance is an annual task.

In general, issues with the chimney are going to start out small. There could be a small tear in the liner that allows trace amounts of harmful gases to back up into the home. Or, there could be a hairline fracture in the stack that grows slowly. These problems might not seem like big issues right now; however, if people wait two years to deal with them, they are only going to grow. As a result, the repair bill is going to be substantially larger.

Scheduling an annual chimney cleaning and inspection is a great way to prevent this from happening. With an annual inspection, small issues are going to be caught early. As a result, repair bills are going to be smaller and homeowners can save money. This is the biggest reason my all homeowners have to make sure that they get their chimneys inspected on an annual basis.

Know the Basics of Chimneys and Chimney Care

All homeowners need to know the basics of chimney care. Knowing these basics will allow homeowners to take care of their chimneys properly.