Time to Inspect Your Chimney
It is that time of year to inspect your chimney as winter approaches. Winter in southeast Texas is just as long as it is inside the Arctic Circle…on the calendar. We do have cold days, but frankly, fireplaces and chimneys are more often decorative rather than necessary during our brutally mild winters.
Nonetheless, your chimney requires care and maintenance to improve its efficiency and minimize harm to the rest of your home. Chimneys are not designed to create heat and hold in your home. Fireplaces do that. Your chimney has the crucial role of drawing smoke and gases out of your home. It is designed to keep excessive heat from your home.
When your chimney is not in good shape you can have major problems. Cracks in your chimney can lead to structural damage, possibly causing house fires. Because it is made of brick does not mean your chimney is impervious to wear and weather. The first rule of thumb about maintaining just about everything is…wait for it…keep it clean! Your chimney is difficult to clean. About the only person that can fit into a chimney is that jolly guy in a red suit and a white beard. We recommended you engage a professional once a year. This time of year is really good. Here is important information for you to know about maintaining your home’s chimney.
Inside Maintenance of Your Chimney
You can, and should, do the things necessary for caring for the inside of your chimney and fireplace. Clean your fireplace. Remove the ashes with a shovel and a bucket. It won’t get all the ash so you might need to get a shop vac to collect the rest. Make sure the shop vac has a filter or you’ll be wearing grey makeup.
Remove the soot on the walls of the fireplace. Get soapy water all over the fireplace walls and let that sit for half an hour. Scrub with a stiff wire brush to get the soot off the wall. Clean that residue off the floor of the fireplace. Don’t forget the damper! This is more difficult and messier but necessary. Wearing gloves and goggles remove the rust and other debris on the damper.
Then, there’s the creosote. Creosote is that dark brown or black flammable tar deposited on chimney walls from wood smoke, primarily. Did you read that part that says that it’s flammable! Never burn green wood in your fireplace. Christmas trees are probably the worst. Scrape off as much as you can get to. Leave the rest to the chimney professionals.
Care of Your Chimney Outside
Don’t forget there are things you can do to the visible part of your chimney. The top of your chimney might have a cap. If it doesn’t, it should at least have a heavy gauge wire screen to keep your chimney clear of leaves, birds, bird nests, varmints, etc. “It’s too high! I can’t tell if my chimney has a screen on it or what its condition is!” See why you need a professional?
Please conduct an inspection of the mortar between your bricks. The recent deluge from Hurricane Harvey revealed hundreds or problems across the Houston metro area. The leaks experienced during the onslaught of rain were probably not new. They were existing leaks that went unnoticed. Until Harvey. The leaks were revealed by the volume of rain. If your mortar is cracked or flaking off it needs to be repaired, perhaps replaced. Remove plants that are growing into your mortar. Vines love to cling to mortar and reach for the sky.
Check the flashing where your chimney sits on your roof. Caulk any gaps to make the flashing a watertight seal.
Clear tree branches away from your chimney by at least 15 feet. Trees are not your roof’s friends.
You can do many good things to take care of your chimney. It is time to do it. It will perform for you better this winter and serve you for many more years to come. Call Duran’s Roofing and Remodeling, 281-342-4436, if you find need for a repair. Our expert technicians are committed to providing the best service at a great value.