What to Do and Don’t: Tips To Maintain your Chimney and Fireplace Clean and Safe
Maintaining your home’s fireplace and chimney can be a daunting task, especially with all the physical—and dirty—work that come with it. There are some tasks you can do on your own; however, most of the time, you will be in need of professional services to properly clean and maintain your chimney.
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Here are the important areas of your chimney and fireplace you always have to check to properly maintain their efficiency:
- Watch out for rust. Rust can start from just one streak, to solidifying its presence in your chimney. Keep an eye on it, from your chimney’s exterior especially on its cap and flashing, to the chimney flu and firebox, and accessories. If you spot any sort of rust, no matter how small, call your trusted fireplace and chimney company.
- Constantly check for a creosote buildup. Creosote is a blackish-brown, tar-like substance that naturally builds up in your chimney due to exposure to moisture. Especially applicable during the winter season, moisture builds up in your chimney as a result of a push-and- pull with the cold temperature outside and the warm temperature inside. If not checked properly, creosote can eventually cause fires with the pressure and heat that got built up through the months and even years.
- Check for masonry damage. Chimneys are made with bricks so they last longer. Although sturdier, the problem is they absorb more moisture that eventually causes the bricks to crack or chip. It is important to check for any crack or chip, however small, for they can grow bigger in time.
- Check for any leaks. Any type of leak is not good for any fireplace and chimney. These leaks open up your chimney to vulnerabilities from the changes of weather outside. Once you hear sounds of dripping water, see signs of moisture in your firebox, or feel warm air coming out of your chimney, call a specialist as soon as possible.
Aside from the aforementioned, make sure you keep watch of things to be burned in your fireplace. Whatever you put in your fireplace also contributes to the overall maintenance of your chimney and fireplace.
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Here are some materials you have to avoid having burned in your fireplace:
1. Manufactured wood. This type of wood is filled with chemicals like arsenic and chromium that are not at all healthy for your health and home. Burning them in your fireplace releases these dangerous chemicals and you want to avoid that.
2. Cardboard. Like manufactured wood, cardboard is manufactured with chemicals that can be released to the air once burned. These fumes are very damaging to one’s health and home.
3. Commercial waxy paper. It is common to get paper from wastebaskets to save up on money; and most likely, it will be outdated magazines. The problem is, these magazines were printed on highly processed paper that can give off dangerous fumes when burnt. As a safer alternative, you can use twigs or uncoated newspaper to have the fire started and burning.
4. Dryer lint. This is one of the cheapest ways to accelerate the burning of your fire. However, it is filled with chemicals and is very dangerous for one’s health. As mentioned above, as a safer alternative, you can use twigs or uncoated newspaper.
5. Christmas trees. This is probably one of the worst materials you can use. First off, a Christmas tree is too big, around 6 to 10 feet tall, and to have it burning in your home fireplace would be a total disaster with your home now more vulnerable to a chimney fire.
6. Plastic. There is a reason why plastics do not decompose until hundreds of years later: this is because it’s made of all-synthetic materials. Plastic is the last thing you want to put on your fireplace. Its toxic fumes can be very devastating on your health, your pets, and your plants.
Doing an annual cleaning on your fireplace and chimney is very beneficial for it addresses current problems, as well as problems you might have overlooked in the past. Check for cleaning companies with certified chimney staff. The website should always be updated with their staff’s names and areas of jurisdiction. With a research well done, you can end up saving time and energy with chimney and fireplace specialists doing the technical—and hard— work for you.