Is Your Fireplace Ready?
One of our favorite things about autumn is enjoying a cozy evening in front of the fireplace. There is nothing quite like the warmth and relaxation that comes from a wood-burning hearth at home.
While they are a great part of any home, it is downright chilling when you realize how dangerous an improperly maintained fireplace can be. It is important to inspect your unit annually, ensuring it is in good shape before firing it up for the first time each fall.
For wood-burning fireplaces, here’s a checklist to help determine if you’re good to go:
- Does the chimney look good from the outside? Are there visible cracks or holes in the brick? If it is made of metal, is there corrosion? Is the chimney straight or leaning?
- Are there leaks or gaps between the chimney and the roof? Is there any visible water damage in this area, either to the chimney or the roof?
- Is the chimney cap securely fastened? Is there visible debris on or in the cap? Does the cap screen need to be replaced?
- Removing the cap and looking down from the top, is the chimney interior clean and free of animals and debris?
- Are there stains or water damage to walls along the chimney line?
- If a portion of the chimney is exposed in the attic, is it in good shape?
- Opening the bottom of the flue (typically located in the basement or outside), is there soot buildup, dirt or debris? Are there any structural issues?
- Do you see any signs of soot buildup inside the fireplace?
- Has ash and debris been cleaned out?
- Using a mirror and a flashlight to look up the chimney, are there signs of clogs?
- Are bricks and mortar in good shape?
- Does the damper open and close without problems? Is the glass, mesh or screen damaged?
Fireplaces Should Never Be Ignored
Fireplaces are an easily ignored part of the home, but they are something that every homeowner should be serious about maintaining. Structural problems in a chimney can cause major damage to a home, even if the fireplace is never used. Cracks, holes and leaks cause drafts, and allow all sorts of animals to get into the home. Poorly maintained fireplaces can create health hazards like carbon monoxide poisoning. Volatiles like creosote can build up in wood-burning fireplaces, greatly increasing the risk of a house fire.
Make sure you have a professional chimney sweep clean your fireplace at least once a year. Use this checklist between cleanings to help spot signs of problems before they get worse.
Stay warm with a wood-burning fireplace all winter long and most importantly, stay safe!