Here in the Carolinas, we have been experiencing an unusually cold winter—and around the country, many others are grappling with severe winter snows and storms. As such, it’s probably fair to say that many homeowners are making good use of their home fireplaces. If you’ve got a fireplace and a chimney—particularly a wood-burner set-up—then it’s important to ensure you’re maintaining it properly, especially during this season of heavy use.
Chimney maintenance is something that each individual homeowner should understand. If you’re got chimneys in the homes in your community, make sure you share these quick chimney maintenance tips.
- At the top of the chimney itself, you always need to maintain a safe perimeter. Branches and tree limbs should always be a minimum of 15 feet away from the chimney top.
- Hopefully, you have a chimney cap—but if not, you might wish to invest in one. Chimney caps keep rodents and birds from making their way into your chimney, or from trying to nest within it. It is also an important safeguard against chimney moisture damage.
- Make sure you’re using the fireplace with the kind of fuel recommended by the manufacturer. The starter logs sold in stores are often fine, but old furniture and green wood are not. Always err on the side of caution here—and if you’re just not sure, get a chimney inspector to come look things over and advise.
- Make sure you’ve got a barrier around your fireplace—a screen or safety doors—to keep embers from getting out into your home or onto your furniture.
- Make sure there are no old rags or newspapers—or any other flammables—around the hearth area.
- Make sure you’re getting your chimney and fireplace cleaned and inspected regularly. The rule of thumb is that you need a cleaning after every 50 fires or so, but really, it is smart to have this done every year.