Seasonal Chimney Maintenance
Updated: Mar 22, 2022
Everything has a season, and that goes for chimneys too! Although adding another thing to an already hefty to-do list may not seem appealing, it's definitely worth your while.
A few, small steps will help to lengthen the life of your fireplace and promote proper functionality. Here are some seasonal maintenance tips that will enable your family to enjoy cozy memories by your fireplace for years to come.
Moisture and the elements can wreak havoc on your chimney. They weaken the structural integrity, cause mold, and even damage the walls and floor around your fireplace. Ensure your chimney has the proper protection it needs to keep moisture outside where it belongs.
Spring downpours may reveal leaks and other problems that have gone unnoticed possibly for months. If you are experiencing any issues, call a certified expert ASAP to prevent further damage. To identify a leak, here are a few things to watch for:
- Water stains on your ceiling near a chimney
- Pinging sounds while it's rain
- Foliage growing in between bricks
If your chimney is within 15 feet of any tree limbs, take some time to trim them back. Trees affect the performance of your chimney and can also be a fire hazard. Trees also pose a structural risk to your chimney should they fall during a storm or high winds.
If you intend to cut your own firewood, you’ll want to do this far in advance of needing it. This is because hardwoods, such as oak, can take one to two years to dry out and season.
Ideally, you’ll want enough wood for your regular winter usage plus around 20% extra. If there happens to be an extremely cold winter, that 20% will be put to good use! If not, you can save it for the following year.
When it comes to storing firewood, it’s generally best to keep it outside of your home. This avoids any insects or pests finding their way inside. Wherever you store your firewood, make sure it is dry, elevated from the floor, and receives plenty of fresh air.
Summer is a great time of year to plan ahead and book your annual maintenance visit for sweeping. This will help to avoid any odors that are caused by the heat and humidity that come with warmer months.
Schedule an annual inspection to make sure your chimney waterproofing, chimney cap, crown, and flashing are all functioning properly before you use it during the colder months. It may seem early to schedule an inspection, but this will allow you to have more flexibility and choose your ideal time. Our winter and fall schedule fills up quickly!
Walk around your home and look at the outside of your chimney (if you have one). Check for cracked joints and missing bricks. Make sure you can still see your chimney cap as that protects your chimney from debris and animals creating a home in your chimney.
Summer is the best time of year to have your exterior masonry repairs completed. Mortar and other materials can only cure properly when the weather is consistently in the mid 60s or warmer.
As the weather starts to get cooler, heating appliances and fireplaces are lit after months of not being used. Before you put your home’s chimneys to use, an annual inspection of your appliance by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep is a must! The demand for these services peaks at this time of year, so don't delay and be left out in the cold.
Before using your fireplace again, you should clear out any old ash or other debris which has accumulated in your fireplace or has been leftover from the previous season.
You should have both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed in the same room as your fireplace. It’s vitally important for your safety that your carbon monoxide alarm is fully functional.
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be checked once a month and batteries should be replaced at least once a year to ensure your family is protected.
A damaged damper can cause a number of problems in your home. When it functions properly, it will allow smoke to leave your home when your fireplace is being used and seal cold air out of your home when it's not in use. To examine your damper, open it completely and check the metal for cracks, pitting, and rust.
Make sure that your fireplace and chimney are ready for winter before you start using them. Unfortunately, chimneys have been out of sight and out of mind in the summer months, and many don’t think of their chimneys until there's a problem. Fireplaces are heavily relied on during the coldest months, and problems usually surface when the appliances are under the most consistent stress.
Too much ash on the floor of your fireplace will cause fires to burn out quickly. The CSIA recommends having 1 inch of ash to help you construct and maintain your next fire.
Wait 72 hours after your last fire to remove ash build up. This will allow plenty of time for all ash too cool for safe removal.
When using your fireplace, make sure to keep an eye out for any unusual sounds, smells, and changes. If you notice any potential problems, contact a certified professional to check the integrity of your appliance.
Pro Tip: When using your fireplace, all flammable materials should be a kept minimum of 6 inches away from the opening of the firebox.
When it comes to having a live fire in the middle of your home, you don't want to be guessing that your fireplace functions properly. As CSIA Certified professionals, we have gone through educational classes and have professional experience under our belt so that you don't have to.
We're ready to help you with any and all of your fireplace needs, from installation to inspection and seasonal maintenance! At FireTec, our goal is to get each service done swiftly and correctly, the first time.