Is My Fireplace Telling Me Something?
Does Your Fireplace Need Some TLC?
There are several indicators a homeowners may notice that should prompt a phone call to a certified chimney sweep. How do you know? Start with the following blinking red lights.
Toxic Fumes and Smelly Fireplaces
One of those symptoms is actually the smell coming from your fireplace and it is actually blessing you with the warning that all symptoms provide. When water reacts with creosote, acidic fumes are given off; that may be the smell that is making you sneeze. If so, those acidic fumes are both speeding the deterioration of your flue liner and suggesting that water may be penetrating your chimney. This can cause structural damage, health problems and a buildup of creosote is the leading cause of chimney fires.
Drips, Leaks and Congested Chimneys
Another clear indication of water getting into your chimney is the absence of a chimney cap. If you are trying to track down the source of a new stain or outright drip near the chimney, check your chimney cap first. The frequency with which wind and animals remove these covers warrants investing in a good strong one – and even then you cannot be sure!
Stuffed Up Chimneys and Damaged Flues
When they do manage to pry the chimney cap off, or just take advantage of favorable winds, animals cause terrible headaches for homeowners. Even if no animal is dead or alive in the chimney now, that does not mean they did not get in at some point, and potentially leave debris and droppings behind. If your chimney cap is gone or damaged, the flue really needs to be inspected by a certified sweep.
DIY or Call a Professional
There are many things you can do as a homeowner to make sure your heating system stays in good working order. Always burn dry, seasoned wood. Regularly clean out your fireplace or wood stove and dispose of ash properly. But…many of the pieces and parts that require inspection to maintain safety and efficiency are jobs for a professional. Your sweep should be certified by the Chimney Institute of America and should inform you of what is included in an inspection.