Let’s face it. Winter isn’t complete unless there’s a fire burning in the fireplace. That said, a lot of preparation goes into making this a reality. We always advise homeowners invest in proper professional maintenance before the start of every burning season before ever lighting their first fire.
Why? Well, think about it like you think about maintaining a car… When you don’t have necessary maintenance, like oil changes, performed, your car will eventually break down and you’ll end up paying a whole lot more in the long run.
The same goes for your chimney, which is why the earlier you invest in any necessary chimney and fireplace maintenance, the better. Along with this, early maintenance will turn up small issues that can be fixed before they become much larger issues.
Here’s what we recommending for ensuring a safer, more enjoyable burning season.
Schedule Your Annual Inspection
We really put our chimney systems through the wringer during the colder months, which is why reputable sweeps recommend investing in a thorough inspection every single year.
These should always be completed by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified chimney sweep, so if you live in the Nashville area, be sure to trust in on our trained and experienced crew for all of your seasonal maintenance. We’ll ensure your system is all set for use and free of clogs.
Along with this, we’re able to look into any issues with airflow, bad odors, or a lack of efficiency. Perhaps a bad storm damaged your chimney cap, allowing a family of birds the opportunity to set up camp. Or maybe leaves and twigs found their way in. It could even be that that masonry repairs, like tuckpointing, are in order. Regardless, we’ll figure out the problem and set you up right in no time.
Safeguard Against Water
Keeping water out of your chimney is one of the most important things you can do in terms of longevity, safety, and functionality. Here at Ashbusters, we specialize in repairing and preventing leaky chimneys, so if your chimney is struggling, count on us to help. Whether it’s installing a new chimney cap, rebuilding your chimney crown, or repairing or replacing your flashing, our techs have got you covered.
We also strongly recommend investing in professional waterproofing. Neglecting this maintenance will open the door to a multitude of problems, as your masonry is highly absorbent. Once water soaks in, the freeze/thaw process will cause deterioration all throughout the overall construction of your chimney, which is why the sooner you invest in professional care, the better off your system will be.
Our waterproofing products are also vapor permeable, which means any pre-absorbed water (as well as any fumes and vapors from your fireplace) won’t remained trapped inside.
In the end, water in your chimney will cause a multitude of problems, like rust on steel and cast iron components, wood rot throughout your home, staining on your walls and ceiling, mold growth, four odors, and more. All of these things combined greatly compromise the overall structure of your chimney.
Schedule a Sweeping
Sooner or later, every chimney needs to be cleaned to remove creosote buildup and any other debris that may be forming clogs. Why is this important? Well, as you build fires, a substance called creosote forms when the by-products of combustion (like smoke, gases, and other vapors) exit the cooler upper chimney walls.
Now, creosote can break down your chimney on its own, but what’s more concerning is its flammable nature. And if left unaddressed for too long, creosote can eventually turn into a baked-on glaze that’s highly flammable and difficult to remove. And the more creosote you have, the higher your chances are of experiencing a chimney fire.
Chimney fires can cause chimney damage, roof damage, and a host of other problems. In fact, some chimneys are so far gone after one has occurred that we have to start over and rebuild it from scratch. Don’t let what could have been a simple and affordable sweeping turn into something major and out of control.
Another reason sweepings are important are because your system could be clogged up with outside debris, nesting materials, or even some woodland critters. Clogs cause airflow issues, and they increase the risk of carbon monoxide exposure, so the sooner they’re spotted and resolved, the better.
In the end, the likelihood of a clean chimney catching fire or producing deadly levels of carbon monoxide is far less than a dirty one. If you’re due for a sweeping, get one on the books today!
Once the Season Starts…
Now, once a professional has finished up with your seasonal maintenance, there are still things you can do throughout your burning season to ensure your system operates safer and more efficiently. Here are some tips from our experts:
- Only burn seasoned firewood. Plastics, wrapping paper, garbage, and other synthetic materials should not be tossed in your fireplace, and doing so can increase creosote accumulation.
- Clear out ash, as needed. Leaving behind a 1 – 2 inch layer is fine for protecting your firebox floor and fueling future fires, but any more than that can draw in moisture and damage your grate.
- Test your damper regularly. If it’s not opening and closing properly or seems to be sticking, call in a sweep to repair it, or consider upgrading to a top-sealing damper.
- Stay alert to draft or airflow issues. If smoke is backing up into your home at all, then there’s clearly issues that need addressing… and using your fireplace could be putting you at risk.
- Regularly test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Change the batteries as needed, and replace them per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Never leave a fire unattended. Before leaving your home or going to bed, ensure all flames are fully extinguished.
- Pay attention and stay alert. Be aware of any strange changes in fireplace efficiency, and regularly check for any structural flaws. The sooner these issues are noted and addressed by an expert, the better!
Need a Dryer Vent Cleaning?
As long as you’re getting annual chimney maintenance done, why not have your dryer vents cleaned, too? Many don’t realize that failure to clean the dryer vents is one of the leading causes of dryer fires in the U.S., causing major home damage, injury, and sometimes death.
Clogged dryer vents also increase the chances of carbon monoxide entering your space. It’s not worth the risk. Kill two birds with one stone by calling us in to get this annual cleaning done right away.
We Care About Your Safety – Call Today
Mark Stoner, the founder of Ashbusters, knows firsthand what can happen when fireplaces go bad. He once had a terrible holiday experience with a chimney that ended up in a house fire. In fact, that experience is one of the chief reasons he started working as a chimney sweep, and why he’s so passionate about ensuring no one else has to go through anything similar.
It’s also why we always want to do more than perform chimney services for our customers. We want to ensure every homeowner knows how to operate their system as safely as possible!
If you’re seeking quality, we’re the team to trust. Reach out today to get started.