Getting Your Chimney Ready for Winter

Chimney sweep at work cleaning a chimney out of soot
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Chimney sweep at work cleaning a chimney out of soot

As you put away your patio furniture and pull out the winter clothes, don’t forget about your chimney. Using a fireplace or woodstove can keep heating costs down while simultaneously creating a wonderful ambiance in the home. To start the season with a clean chimney and follow these steps to prevent chimney fires.

1. Cut Back Overgrown Vegetation

The first step to getting winter-ready is to make sure there’s no flammable vegetation or other debris around it. Cut down any tree branches that hang over the roof; if you have a flat roof, consider hiring someone to climb up there and check it over for you.

2. Schedule a Chimney Sweep

The next step is to hire a chimney sweep to come in and inspect your chimney flue, the metal pipe that runs from your fireplace, or other solid-fuel-burning appliance up through your roof. Over time, creosote forms in the chimney flue. 

Why Creosote is Dangerous

Creosote is a by-product of wood combustion, and it’s highly flammable. In fact, chimneys have been known to catch fire from nothing more than creosote buildup! A professional chimney sweep will be able to tell you whether your chimney needs sweeping and can recommend some way to care for it in between professional cleanings.

3. Inspect the Chimney Liner 

The reason chimney liners are a crucial part of cold weather preparation is that they protect your home and family from fire. Liners do this by keeping heat contained inside the flue, rather than allowing heat to transfer from the flue to your home’s construction materials. Chimney liners also prevent damage to the masonry itself, which means that carbon monoxide and other gases can’t leak into your living space.

What do Chimney Liners do?

Chimney liners are flue linings made of metal, ceramic, or clay that direct combustion byproducts to the outside atmosphere. They protect your chimney and increase home safety by allowing smoke to exit as quickly and efficiently as possible. They also help maintain the structural soundness of your chimney by shielding its inner walls. Additionally, chimney liners help prevent the flue from getting cold, which lessens the chance of smoke blowing back into your house.

Improves Energy Efficiency.  It’s not the fire itself that keeps your heating costs down. It’s the chimney liner that properly insulates your chimney trapping the heat in your home. Insulated liners reduce the chances of cold air blowing into your home while drawing harmful gases to the outside. 

Prevents Damage From Freezing and Thawing. When brick masonry begins to crack and disintegrate, this is known as “spalling.” Spalling happens when moisture gets inside and then freezes. This freezing causes expansion which then weakens the brick. In addition to having a solid chimney cap (a covering at the top of your chimney), correctly sized and installed chimney liners prevent spalling by keeping moisture out and protecting the bricks.

4. Clean the Firebox and Burn Chamber

Once you’ve determined that your chimney is okay, it’s time to look at your fireplace and wood stove. Clean out the ashes and soot and sweep any loose debris from around them. Open up the damper (if there is one). 

If you have a wood stove, make sure to clean off the glass. It might seem silly to clean the glass on a wood stove, but if you don’t, you’ll end up with a lot of ash and soot buildup on it. Then load up your fireplace or wood stove with newspaper and kindling; when they’re good and hot, add some seasoned hardwood logs.

Professional Chimney Sweep

This may seem like a lot of work to go through in order to get your chimney ready for winter, but it’s a good idea to do this once a year- Just think of all the fires you’re going to build! Priddy Chimney Solutions is licensed and certified to perform various types of flue sweepings including:

  • Wood Burning Fireplace
  • Wood Stoves and Inserts
  • Gas Fireplaces
  • Oil Furnace Flues
  • Gas Furnace Flues

Schedule your chimney service online and make sure your chimney is winter ready!

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