The recent cold spell here in Maryland had some of us firing up that fireplace one last time this season. But 80-degree weather is just around the corner, so your fireplace and chimney will enjoy a nice, long rest until next fall. But this doesn’t mean that you should close the damper and forget about that piece of masonry in the middle of your home. Here are a few things our Baltimore chimney experts recommend to maintain your fireplace and chimney in a good shape throughout the year.
Clean the Firebox
There’s probably some coals and ashes lefts in your fireplace. Vacuum them up and make sure your fireplace is free of debris. To go the extra mile, you can clean the creosote buildup on the lower parts of the chimney. Keep in mind that this job can be messy, and if you decide not to hire a professional chimney sweep, wear safety goggles and a face mask to avoid inhaling ash and dust.
Check for Damage
You might not be able to check the entire length of the flue for damage by yourself, but you can at least take a look at the firebox. Examine the brick and mortar as far as you can see up the chimney, looking for cracks and chips. If there are signs of damage in the lower part of the chimney, there is a good chance the part that extends above your roof is also not in its best shape. Don’t climb on the roof by yourself, as it can be dangerous. Instead, contact a local Maryland chimney inspection and repair specialist to conduct a thorough chimney inspection.
Determine What Needs Replacing
In a traditional open fireplace, there aren’t really any parts that can be replaced, besides maybe the chimney liner. However, if you are using a fireplace insert, whether it’s gas or wood-burning, you way have some parts that wear out with age. Closely examine the door gasket, baffles and the catalytic combustor—replace as necessary.
Hire a Chimney Sweep
If you haven’t had your chimney swept since last fall, now is the best time to do it. Most homeowners wait till the busy season when the cold settles in, so by getting your chimney swept in spring or summer you will get better rates and won’t have to get on a waitlist. Regular chimney sweeping helps remove creosote buildup that forms during combustion of wood. A creosote-filled chimney is known to lead to chimney fires, which can be serious and even deadly. Chimney sweeping is certainly not a DIY project, because it requires special knowledge and tools. To find an experienced and reliable Baltimore chimney sweep, look for a sweep with CSIA certification.
If the inspection reveals that the damage to your chimney is extensive, summer is a good time to think about rebuilding. Don’t worry, rebuilding your chimney doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to take the entire structure down and build from scratch. In many cases, you just need to replace the outer layer of masonry that started crumbling away.
If you have any questions about chimney maintenance or need someone to conduct an inspection, get in touch with our chimney pros at Town and Country Chimney.