How to Care for a Chimney
How to care for a chimney
The weather is cooling down, many of us have turned off our A/C’s and soon it will be time to huddle and cuddle around the fireplace. Over 50,000 fires in occur each year in residential homes in the United States with 87 percent of those fires classified as “confined” fires meaning they are confined to such areas as fireplaces, chimneys/flues, pots on stoves, or other noncombustible containers. Of this 87 percent, 56 percent are chimney/fireplace or flue fires. These types of fires dominate the loss of home and life so now is the time to inspect the structural component of your fireplace to make sure your fireplace and chimneys are safe for winter use.
Our family just relocated to Prescott from Las Vegas and we purchased a home with a wood burning fireplace. We have never had a fireplace before. Should we have our fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected before the first winter use?
Fireplaces certainly add ambience to a home, however they should be inspected at least once a year by a qualified chimney sweep. We are so fortunate, right here in Prescott we have two of the nicest, most qualified, certified chimney sweeps around. Daniel Malachowski and Shane Gist, both of Builders Wholesale are the chimney sweep experts, offering you piece of mind when it comes to your fireplace and chimney. One of the most common problems Daniel and Shane see is the build-up of creosote, a gummy substance that sticks to the lining of your fireplace. Creosote is created by smoke, soot and other particles that cling to the walls of the chimney. Creosote is highly flammable and not knowing the age or use conditions of your fireplace, Daniel does recommend at the minimum an inspection and then a cleaning if required. Both Daniel and Shane are trained to determine whether or not or chimney is structurally sound. Keep in mind prices vary for inspection and cleaning as each home is different and it depends upon whether you have a single story or a two story home. Even if you do not use your fireplace often, checking the unit once a year can also protect against obstructions such as bird nests, debris and leaves and an inspections can also uncover other types of deterioration that can cause your chimney to be unsafe.
Since creosote buildup is one of the major causes of fire, it is important to make sure that you purchase and burn the right type of word. Burning the right type of wood can have a positive effect over how well your fireplace performs. All firewood contains water and freshly cut wood can be over 45% water. Well-seasoned wood is in the range of 15-20% water. Well seasoned and properly dried wood is easier to start, has a higher heat content and burns cleaner. It takes approximately one year for wood to become well seasoned. Well seasoned wood has a gray color on the surface, the ends are cracked and is relatively lightweight. Unseasoned wood tends to build up creosote more rapidly and produces a steam effect that causes creosote to build up and unseasoned wood prevents the fire from burning hot enough to keep the chimney clean. Cleaning logs are not recommended to clean your chimneys. Daniel said that if “a fireplace smells that is normally a sign of creosote build-up in the chimney and cleaning will help alleviate the smell, but will not eliminate the odor entirely.” The smell usually is tied to pressure problems in the home and it is possible a different type of damper would have to be installed.
So remember, using dry wood, having your chimney cleaned and fireplace inspected at least once a year can prevent the risk of fires. There is no substitute for proper fireplace and chimney cleaning, just ask Daniel and Shane at Builders Wholesale, they love their job and if your chimney needs a check-up now is the time to have peace of mind that your fireplace is clean and sound.