Chimney maintenance is a crucial part of being a homeowner, not only can a dysfunctional chimney put your property at risk but also the lives of its occupants. Most specialists would recommend yearly chimney sweepings, particularly if it is regularly used during the colder months. As a homeowner, you can begin this process by inspecting your chimney yourself to make the call of when it will need to be cleaned. In this article, we will talk you through step by step the various conditions, defects and problems you should be looking for during your inspection.
One of the most hazardous elements to look for when inspecting your flue is the build-up of creosote. Typically creosote build-up is found in wood-burning fireplaces and can become highly flammable. Typically there are 3 stages of creosote; it starts as thick soot, develops into thicker black flakes and then finally forms into a hard tar-like substance. If the thickness of the build-up surpasses 1/8 of an inch in this tar-like state it can be extremely difficult to remove and will put you at risk of a chimney fire.
When inspecting your chimney you must look at both ends and this means looking at the chimney cap and crown for any defects. If the cap is missing or damaged you may be at risk of water leaking into the chimney and causing the flue to rust or water damaging the masonry.
It is also important to regularly check for any blockages or damaged areas within your flue. Any damage can put a flue at risk of leaking harmful gases such as carbon monoxide into your home. It could also allow sparks to enter the cracks and start a building fire. There is also the potential for water to leak down the flue and into cracks in the masonry ultimately compromising the structural integrity of the building.
Checking the direction of air flow is another important test which can be done with placing a tissue above the opening of your fireplace. This will allow you to see which direction the air is travelling in and if there is a blockage causing the air to drop back down. If the air is not properly escaping your property it can cause harmful gases and soot to drop into your home. Not only will this damage your furniture it can also be extremely harmful to your health.
Rust is another problem you may come across if your chimney is exposed to moisture for prolonged periods of time. Different components of your fireplace may suffer from rust starting at the top of the flue all the way down to the damper. If your damper is rusted open it means that debris can easily fall down into your flue causing blockages.
These are just a few of the basic regular check you can carry out as a homeowner with a chimney and fireplace. If you feel that your chimney is damaged in any way or that incomplete combustion is occurring it is imperative that you have it professionally inspected right away. Whilst there is the temptation to forget about the problem because it is not yet cold enough to be using your fireplace this can often worsen the problem.
For professional, friendly advice – contact Sooty And Sweeps today!