There is nothing more inviting than a wood-burning fireplace in your home on a cold winter’s night. But no one ever talks about what it takes to maintain them. Fireplaces are grand and all, but with their warm, welcoming glow, comes much upkeep and many risks if you do not keep it in good condition. The chimney is one of the essential parts of the fireplace that comes with a great deal of maintenance. Without the chimney, where would the smoke go? That’s right; it would not go anywhere, well besides inside your house, and we do not want that.
What Happens if We Don’t Take Care of Our Chimney?
Before we talk about what you can do to keep your chimney in good condition, let’s talk about the risks involved with a dirty chimney. If a chimney is unkempt and dirty, a lot of terrible things can happen. These include carbon monoxide poisoning, a build-up of soot which can cause fires, respiratory problems, skin irritations, and even eye irritations. So, now you can see just how important it is to keep your chimney clean and in good condition.
How Do We Maintain Our Chimney?
So, let’s talk about chimneys and what you can do to keep yours in the best condition possible. If you live in an area that is still very reliant on indoor fireplaces for heat, then chances are services can maintain your chimney. However, it doesn’t hurt to follow these steps as they will keep your chimney that much cleaner and safer! Chimney fires are no joke, and according to recent statistics, dirty chimneys caused over 25,000 fires in 2018, which translated into over $125 million in damages. So, you can see why keeping your chimney clean and maintained is so important.
Does the Chimney Need to be Cleaned?
Chances are if you are asking this, then the answer is yes. Chimneys can accumulate a lot of soot and creosote, which is the leading cause of chimney fires, so start by using a flashlight to look into the chimney from the inside of your house. If you can see an extensive build-up of sticky black substance, then get ready to clean. That sticky black substance is the creosote, and that is what we need to remove. So now that you are sure you need to clean your chimney, it is time to get the tools. You can head to your local hardware shop to find them. You will need a chimney brush and extension pipes, a stiff wire brush, a dust mask, a plastic tarp, and a ladder. Got it all? Ok, let’s get started!
Start from the Inside
So, you have your protective mask on, and the next step is to cover the area inside your house around the firepit, and it will keep any chimney debris from making its way into your home. Once that is completed, locate the damper handle in the chimney and clean it with the wire brush. Once you have finished cleaning this, set it aside, and move on.
Get on the Ladder
The best, and most recommended way, to clean a chimney is from the top down. Otherwise, you would end up with a face full of black soot, and well, that’s not what we are after on here. So, get out the ladder and start climbing! Once you are at the top, you can take your assembled brush and brush extenders and start scraping the inside of your chimney. You may need to extend the brush further if you are not reaching the bottom of the chimney. Climbing a ladder can be dangerous, so be sure to use extra caution while you are on the roof. Once you have finished scrubbing the entire chimney, you can take the brush apart and climb back down to safety.
Clean the Bottom of the Chimney
So, the hard part is finished. Well, pretty much, but the bottom of the chimney is going to be pretty bad now, especially with all the soot and ash that you just scraped from the top, currently sitting at the bottom. So, now you can take the small wire brush and scrub away. It may even be beneficial to use the extended brush from the bottom of the chimney, so you can be sure you cleaned the entire thing. Be sure to wear your protective face mask while doing this, as you will be breathing in many toxins if you don’t!
Your Almost Finished!
Now that you are covered in black soot and possibly crying because you want a shower, let’s finish the job. Your fireplace should have a flue, which will be at the bottom of the chimney. Sometimes it can be found in the basement, depending on how and when your home was constructed. Clean this out and put the creosote and soot into a bucket and make sure to dump this somewhere safe. Then, you need to get the drop cloth or tarp out of your sitting room! Be sure to take care while doing this, as you do not want to cover your whole house in soot and ash. Toss it in the trash, or you can wash it off and reuse or recycle it.
And That Is It!
It might not be the easiest work, but it is something that has to be completed. Depending on how often you use your fireplace, you may be cleaning your chimney every 3-6 months, or once a year if you rarely use it. There are also ways you can minimalize how dirty your chimney gets. You can burn creosote sweeping logs, which can reduce the amount of creosote in your chimney, and you can even burn certain types of wood. Also, always stay away from any wood that has been treated or painted. If you do not feel comfortable doing this yourself, you can always call a good old fashion chimney sweep to come out and clean your chimney! They are not cheap, but if your chimney is worse for wear, it may be the better option.