Whether you have been dealing with an old chimney in your home for a lot of years or you just moved into a house that has an older chimney, this is one home feature that does require a little extra attention. Outdated and unattended chimneys can easily be a fire hazard in your home, which is something you do have to face if you burn wood for heat. To ensure that the chimney you are using for your wood-burning stove or fireplace is as safe as it should be, there is a simple rule set that you need to follow.
Always have your chimney cleaned before the heating season starts.
Just before the start of the season when the temperatures are starting to take a downturn, it is a good idea to go ahead and have your chimney professionally cleaned. A lot of homeowners are under the impression that as long as they can peer inside their chimney and see the light, they are good to go. However, it is not just debris from birds and trees that you have to be concerned about. Layers of creosote and soot are a fire hazard all alone because if they heat to a high enough temperature and there is a low oxygen level, these components can ignite and cause a chimney fire.
Be on the lookout for signs of chimney damage.
Even if you don't climb up on the roof, you will likely be able to spot signs of chimney damage from the ground. Go outside and take a good look at your chimney, grab a pair of binoculars if you have them, and check to see if all of the outward components seem to be in place. Pay careful attention to cracks in bricks and stones, the chimney cap, and the concrete rim that you may have around your chimney. If you do spot signs of damage, get in touch with a chimney repair professional for advice. Even slight chimney structural issues can get big and create the potential for a fire hazard once the high temperatures from a fire in your home start funneling through.
Check to make sure your chimney still draws smoke the way it should.
Before you build an actual fire in your wood stove or fireplace at the start of the heating season, grab a piece of paper or a fireplace match and light it. Place the object near the flue inside of the stove or fireplace and make sure the smoke that is emitted is being drawn outward like it should be. It is much better to take a few minutes to perform this test than to find out after you build a fire because your home fills with smoke. If the chimney is not drawing well, it is a definite sign that something is wrong.
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