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How to Keep Your Chimney and Fireplace in Tip Top Shape

Fireplaces are a great addition to the home, but they don’t see much use during the summer. Good maintenance, however, never takes a vacation. Poorly maintained fireplaces can be a major fire hazard in the home when they start seeing use after a long time without a cleaning, so it’s important to stay on top of fireplace maintenance – especially now that fall is approaching.

Schedule a Professional Inspection

The mention of a chimney sweep might conjure up images of Mary Poppins, but it is also a very real and important profession. Chimneys act as a funnel for ash and smoke, and if your chimney clogs up without regular maintenance, it can prove to be dangerous for you and your home. A clog in your chimney can cause a buildup of heat and smoke, leading to the possibility of a fire.

Chimney sweeps won’t just handle your routine cleaning; they can also do chimney inspections. If you don’t use your fireplace regularly during the winter, especially with logs, your chimney might be relatively clean. At the same time, however, wood-burning fireplaces often deposit a substance known as creosote – which is highly flammable and can easily ignite if not maintained.

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Install a Chimney Cap

A chimney cap is an essential item for any homeowner. Think about how chimneys work – they have a large opening where all the outside elements can enter your home. While this might be great for letting jolly St. Nick into your home at Christmas time, it’s not so great if a raccoon manages to crawl in and get stuck. A chimney cap serves as a barrier to the outside world, closing out the elements and unwanted visitors.

Chimney caps are made to keep moisture, rain, and snow out, as well. Make sure you replace yours if it is damaged. Ask your chimney inspector or chimney sweep if it’s time to replace yours.

Close Your Damper

Similar to a chimney cap, a damper seals off the chimney and home from the outside. Common for wood-burning fireplaces, closing your damper is important for ensuring your home is closed off from the outside world. Much like a good chimney cap, it can keep out wild animals and protect your home from the outdoors. An open damper is like an open window – it allows airflow and heat loss. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, keep yours closed when not in use. Gas burning fires, however, should be left open to avoid a gas buildup in your home.

Install a Cricket

A cricket is a ridge for your roof that helps divert water away from your chimney. Having a steep roof can divert water to your chimney. Installing a cricket can protect your chimney from water damage and extend its lifespan.

Always Clean Your Fireplace

Don’t wait until winter before you clean your fireplace. It’s good practice to clean after every few uses, and never let it sit full of ashes during the off-season. Sweep up the soot and keep it well-maintained so your fireplace is dust- and ash-free during the summer. Try to have it in pristine shape before the winter even starts. For masonry installation and repair, contact Able Roofing for a free estimate!