Has winter hit your town yet? If yes, then the time has probably come to start prepping up your chimney for the ensuing cold months. But there’s more to prepping a chimney than simply cleaning it and lighting it up. Did you know that residential fires triggered in the fireplace are the reason for over 12,000 deaths every year in the US alone? This would make it essential for you to follow an important checklist when getting your fireplace and chimney ready for the winter months. And here are some of the more important items on that list.
Clean the fireplace and chimney regularly
It is wise to get the chimney cleaned properly by a professional at least once a year. Your first step towards readying the fireplace for the winter is to clean it thoroughly. Remove any ash or creosote that may have accumulated in the pipes over time as these may lead to sudden flares if the temperature is too hot.
You would also need to hire a professional chimneysweeper to check and clean the chimney flue as well as damp. Doing this will remove any soot build-up in these areas. A professional chimneysweeper aka inspector would also be the right person to spot anomalies in the chimney. While a chimney that has not been upgraded recently and is not acting funny, a level 1 inspection (a basic check of the chimney for any obstructions, including the way it works and the sounds it makes). If the chimney inspector finds something wrong, he may recommend a higher level of inspection to check for the problem and correct in order to avoid a potential disaster later on.
Install a shield or frame
Install a protective shield or frame around the fireplace to prevent sparks and embers from flying into the room. Wire meshes are the most common options for fireplace frames while you can also opt for glass grates. Consider investing in a switch lock so that your kids don’t end up starting a fire by accident even if they get hold of the matches of fireplace remote.
Keep a lookout for any quirks
You know you fireplace best. As such, you will know how it functions, thus making it easier for you to spot any quirks or irregularities. Anything that appears out of the ordinary, including odd smells and unusual drafts needs to be reported to the chimney inspector who would then check the issue in detail.
Check for water damage or leaks
It is not enough for you to check only the chimney and the fireplace. You would need to check the surrounding areas too. For instance, you would need to check the roof to see if the chimney is properly attached to it and if there are any suspicious gaps or holes in it. Any signs of leakage, water damage, rust and other forms of deterioration need to be dealt with immediately to prevent problems in the future.
Close the chimney damper when not using the fireplace
Another way to keep your chimney winter is to close the damper when you are not using the fireplace. If you keep the damper open, you are inadvertently creating an entry way for cold drafts. This would make your home colder and force your heating system to work overdrive, thus costing you plenty on your energy bills.
Consider installing a wire mesh on the chimney damper to keep out rain and debris from entering the chimney. A wire mesh will also protect the chimney from squirrels, birds and other rodents that may seek refuge in it to ward off the winter months. If the existing mesh or cap on the damper is broken, consider getting it repaired or replaced immediately.
The arrival of winter means it’s time to start getting the fireplace and chimney ready for the cold weather. The points mentioned above would help you clean the chimney and keep it working in optimum condition for years to come.