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Up in Smoke: Don’t Forget to Maintain Your Wood Burning Fireplace

richmond va chimney sweep prosThere is nothing like the romantic ambience and warmth of a fireplace to take the chill out of a home on a cool winter’s day. A wood-burning fireplace can reach temperatures of over 1,100 F, providing warm, cozy heat. During combustion, the burning embers snap, crackle and pop into creosote, soot and ash. While most of these dangerous contaminants are vented through the chimney, a thin layer of residue sticks to the flue with every burn. Creosote is of particular concern because this highly flammable substance is the leading cause of chimney fires. An accumulation of as little as 1/8” of creosote is enough to spark a fire.  So to prevent your home from going up in smoke, don’t forget to maintain your wood-burning fireplace.

Sweep the Chimney

The inside of the chimney is not for the faint of heart and is best left for a certified chimney sweep. It can be a dark, filthy, musty and cramped space with barely enough room to turn around. But if you insist on doing it yourself wear coveralls, work boots and a respirator to avoid breathing in toxic contaminants. A hard hat with a flashlight attached can give you plenty of light while protecting your head and keeping your hands free. First, vacuum out the chimney. Second, use a brush to sweep away the soot and dust particles inside the flue.  Finally, vigorously scrub the creosote to remove it from the flue and chimney walls. Be sure to scrub the entire chimney from bottom to top. A creosote remover is commercially available at our store and can make this job much easier. Simply follow the manufacturer’s directions and safety precautions before applying.

Clean the Firebox

Cleaning the firebox is an important part of maintaining your wood-burning fireplace. While a small amount of ash can help wood burn more efficiently, too much of it adds moisture that can dampen flames, stink up a room and increase smoke. When vacuuming ash from the firebox, start with a clean filter and bag. If you have an ash dump, you can simply push the wood ashes through the metal plate that’s in the floor of your firebox. Then use a mop or damp sponge to wipe away any remaining dust particles. Finally, spread a thin layer of ash in the firebox before lighting your wood-burning fireplace.

Inspect the Damper

Inspect the damper for signs of wear and damage, and consider scheduling an appointment for necessary repair work or replacements. The damper should open and close easily and form a tight seal when closed. If the damper does not seal properly water will accumulate in the flue damaging the chimney and its components.

Remove Chimney Obstructions

Birds, squirrels, and other animals can sometimes take up residence in the chimney especially when the chimney cap is either non-existent or damaged. This can also allow falling leaves and other debris to clog the chimney. These obstructions can prevent smoke and dangerous fumes from venting increasing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Be sure to remove any chimney obstructions immediately or you can seek the services of a qualified professional.

Schedule an annual chimney inspection

henrico va chimney sweep mastersFire safety experts recommend all homeowners have their wood-burning fireplaces inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney sweep. Safety is the number one priority of a chimney sweep. Our affordable service lets homeowners know whether their chimney is safe for use or if repairs are necessary so their home won’t go up in smoke. Contact chimney saver solutions to schedule your annual chimney inspection today.

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