East Coast Energy Products Of Monmouth County Provides Tips On How To Clean Your Chimney.
Fortunately, there are some DIY maintenance for your fireplace, but you must first have the chimney flue professionally cleaned by a chimney sweep. Your cleaning includes a complete inspection, but it's well worth the money. East Coast Energy Products reminds its customers the best way to avoid having your home burn to the ground.
We use our wood-burning fireplace for heat. It has not been cleaned out for year and we noticed bad spots on the outdoor chimney brick. What maintenance steps can we do ourselves?
There are some maintenance items you can do yourself, but you must first have the chimney flue professionally cleaned by a chimney sweep. A cleaning also includes a complete inspection. Thousands of homes burn to the ground each year due to chimney fires.
The bad outdoor spots on the chimney should be checked, but are not as serious as issues inside the chimney. The most common problem is creosote deposits from too little combustion air or burning too much unseasoned firewood. Creosote is extremely flammable when it gets hot inside the chimney.
Many homes have small chimney fires from creosote buildup and the homeowners are not aware of it. If you have ever noticed a sudden increase in the fireplace draft, this is a sign of a chimney fire. The heat from the creosote burning creates the strong draft.
When there is a creosote fire in the chimney, even a small fire, it can damage the mortar and break some tiles. If cracked tiles fall across the flue and block the air, this causes heavy smoke back drafting. You will definitely notice this if it happens.
A more serious problem is the slow deterioration of the mortar between the chimney tiles from repeated smaller fires. This can allow the fire itself or just the intense heat to penetrate the chimney and start the wall framing on fire. Wall framing may be burning for quite a while before you notice it. If you are sleeping and don’t have smoke detectors, this can be catastrophic.
Another sign that there is creosote buildup and there have been some chimney fires is puffy black pieces that fall into the fireplace. Creosote is a hard material when cold, but when it burns, it puffs up and feels somewhat like chunks of black polystyrene foam. It crumbles very easily when it is touched.
When the chimney sweep runs brushes up and down inside the chimney, it will definitely knock the puffed creosote loose if there has been a fire. When the cleaning is done, the entire length of the chimney is inspected with a small video camera. Each mortar joint and tile can be carefully checked this way.
Before hiring a chimney sweep, ask if he will do a camera inspection that you can watch. If the chimney sweep immediately suggests you need a new chimney liner without doing a camera inspection, be skeptical. Installing a new chimney liner, especially with some of the newer techniques, can cost thousands of dollars.
Once the chimney is professionally cleaned and no internal problems were found, exterior and cosmetic problems are easy to repair yourself. Professional chimney repair products are available in smaller quantities for do-it-yourself use. When working on a roof or high on a ladder, always make sure to wear a harness that is secured to the structure and have a helper support the ladder.
You may think that brick and mortar are very hard, but they are permeable to water. Over years of exposure, outdoor moisture can penetrate and deteriorate the mortar as you have noticed on some posts. This is most common in regions with many freeze/thaw cycles over winter.
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