Preparing your fireplace and chimney for the cold months of winter should rank high on your to-do list of early fall home maintenance tasks. To be sure your chimney is safe before lighting that first fire of the season, scheduling your annual chimney sweeping and inspection now is essential, especially if your chimney is in need of important repairs. At American Chimney & Masonry, our busiest time of the year falls between September and December, and if you procrastinate for too long, you may have to wait for three to four weeks before you can arrange an appointment for our certified technicians to visit your home to clean, examine, and repair your chimney. For safety reasons, fire safety organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend your annual chimney sweeping and inspection take place before you light your first fire of the season. We would like to share with you the essential chimney maintenance steps our chimney technicians will take to prepare your chimney for winter.
When the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified sweeps at American Chimney & Masonry clean your chimney to prepare it for the cooler months, our main concern is removing all of the creosote deposits that have accumulated on the walls of your chimney. Forming naturally as the by-products of combustion (smoke, gases, tar fog, vapors, etc) exit the cooler walls of your upper chimney, creosote is the highly combustible result of the condensation that occurs. Creosote can be either black or brown, and its appearance can vary. Whether it is sticky and gummy, crispy and brittle, or shiny and hard, creosote, especially in large amounts, is extremely flammable, which makes it the cause of a majority of chimney fires. Getting rid of these creosote buildups before winter is essential to the safety of your chimney.
American Chimney & Masonry takes pride in performing detailed pre-winter chimney inspections because we want to find any damage that needs repairing to ensure the safety of your fireplace and chimney. Of course, we seriously examine every part of your chimney; however, there are specific repairs we are looking for, including the following:
• damaged or deteriorated masonry — Loose bricks and chipped mortar on the exterior of your chimney are sure signs of water penetration damage, and this alerts us to the possibility of water leaking inside your chimney that creates even more damage to its interior. If this masonry damage goes unrepaired, you will end up with costly repair work, including a possible rebuild of your entire chimney.
•cracks in the chimney cap— Your chimney cap serves as protection from both water and animal intrusions of your chimney. A deteriorated chimney cap serves no help at all to your chimney. We can repair cracks and other damage to chimney caps as well as install new caps if the existing caps are beyond repairing.
• cracks and holes in the chimney flue liner — Water leaks can cause serious damage to the liner of your chimney that can endanger your family’s health. A deteriorating flue liner allows toxic gases like carbon monoxide to leak into your home. Repairing or replacing a damaged chimney flue liner will keep those gases exiting out of your chimney instead of infiltrating the interior air of your home.
Save yourself the hassle of waiting for weeks to prepare your chimney for winter by contacting American Chimney & Masonry now. We are happy to schedule an appointment for your annual sweeping and inspection that will ensure you safely enjoy your fireplace all winter long.