Keeping up with your chimney maintenance is extremely important to ensure the safety of you and your home. Whilst a lot of maintenance needs to be carried out by a professional chimney sweep to remove blockages and check for the build-up of tar and creosote there are some checks you can do yourself. To help you understand when it’s time to bring in a professional we have created a list of tips to help you inspect your chimney.
Regular checks to your fireplace are essential, most people will check their fireplace before moving into the winter months and at the end of this period. Consistent checks will help you to discover any potential problems that if left over time could create a bigger and more dangerous issue. Small and regular maintenance jobs such as removing the build-up of creosote or removing blockages may seem to be an inconvenient expense but it will save you a lot in the long term. If these problems are left your home is at high risk from fire and structural damage.
When carrying out a check you should make sure you have the right tools with you for the job. The two most basic items are a flashlight and protection for your face, i.e.-safety goggles and dust mask. This will help you carry out a basic visual inspection but if you wish to be more thorough the following items are also recommended; a drop cloth to cover the floor and any nearby furnishings, a vacuum to clear up residue, a wire brush and a ladder for roof checks.
Flue liners can be made from a variety of materials such as metal or concrete- both of which come with their own potentials problems. With clay or concrete flues you should be looking for any cracks on the surface that may allow gas and sparks from the fire to escape into causing damage to your property. With metal liners you may find that it has warped from the high temperatures and as a result gases are also escaping. If you cannot find any fault with the liner the next thing to look for is the build-up of creosote. This highly flammable material condensates onto the walls of the flue liner and leaves you at risk of a chimney fire. You can use a wire brush to scrape at the material to see how hard or soft it is and at what thickness it is at. If it is more than 1/8 of an inch thick it is time to call in a professional to have it removed.
Be sure to check the chimney from all angles, this means visually observing from underneath that the damper is functional and that you can see clearly up the liner. It also means checking the chimney from the roof (if possible and safe to do so) for any structural damage. However, if this a job you do not feel comfortable carrying out yourself or you have reason to believe there is a serious fault with your chimney do not hesitate to call in a professional.
For professional advice and service, contact Sooty & Sweeps today!