Most traditional fireplace and chimney systems are quite inefficient, losing as much as 80% of the heat they generate to the outdoors. That’s why, with the long, cold season fast approaching, winterizing chimneys is important for millions of home and business owners across Michigan.
It is crucial to remember chimney maintenance and preparation in the autumn, when many light the fireplace for the first seasonal usage. Overlooked or neglected chimney maintenance can cause a lot of problems, including higher heating bills, poor ventilation, carbon monoxide accumulation, smoke damage, animal infiltration, creosote buildup, rusting, mold growth, and chimney fires.
Nobody wants any of that!
So, continue reading to learn about important winterization tasks you can perform to ensure a safe, cozy winter for your home and family.
Inspect Chimney Cap & Mortar
It’s smart to routinely inspect your chimney for any obvious damage or missing components. You can learn a lot with a simple visual inspection from the ground. Ensure that your chimney cap is in place and not overly rusted (read this post for more information on chimney cap damage). Look for any obvious gaps in the chimney mortar and schedule mortar repair if needed. In the brickwork, look for cracks, spalling, loose or uneven bricks, and staining.
Clean Your Chimney System
Soot is a powdery, black/brown substance made primarily of tar and carbon. Creosote is a light-yellow, oily substance that contains phenols and other compounds found in fossil fuels and wood. Both of these substances are flammable, so it’s important to keep them from building up in your fireplace and chimney system.
Industry leaders recommend at least one professional annual inspection for early detection of creosote or soot buildup, as well as other problems that could lead to fire, CO2 poisoning, or structural deterioration. If you’re not sure whether your chimney system is due for a cleaning, ask an expert. It’s better to stay on the safe side and be sure your system is safe.
Install a Chimney Cap If You Don’t Have One
A chimney cap is an essential component of every fireplace system. If you notice your chimney doesn’t have one, it is important to have one installed. Chimney caps perform the following functions:
- Block wind from blowing down through your chimney.
- Prevent hot embers from escaping and causing fire.
- Keep out leaves, sticks, and animals.
A chimney cap will also help protect your chimney’s interior from rain, snow, and moisture, which will help prevent mold and mildew accumulation.
Perform Necessary Repairs Before Winter
Even the best-built chimneys don’t last forever, and they need repaired from time to time from the effects of typical wear and tear. Mortar and masonry repairs—as well as replacement components like dampers, gaskets, crowns, and flashing—should be addressed as soon as possible. Fireplace and chimney problems almost always worsen with time if not fixed.
The best time to have a certified chimney technician to inspect and service your system is either during the summer or autumn. Both of these seasons typically feature drier, warmer weather, and most fireplaces are not in use.
The wetter, colder winter months can cause a lot of damage to chimneys, and that’s why all necessary repairs should be completed before the cold season hits. In most cases, even the most skilled chimney specialists cannot perform chimney mortar repairs or other types of repairs during wintertime.
In some cases, a skilled technician is able to wrap the chimney with a waterproof membrane to offer increased protection until the temperatures are warm enough to accommodate proper mortar application.
Avoid Winter Emergencies With Help From All Brick
Routine visual inspections, maintenance, repairs, and winterization are all key elements of maintaining the safety and functionality of any traditional masonry fireplace and chimney system. Winterizing chimneys and ensuring prompt chimney mortar repair when needed are both essential steps to avoid emergencies.
If you do experience an emergency situation, All Brick is here to help. Our masonry experts specialize in fireplace and chimney system inspections, chimney cap installations and replacements, mortar repairs, and everything else needed to ensure a safe and dependable system. Don’t hesitate to contact our friendly, knowledgeable team today to schedule a chimney inspection. We’re here to help you stay secure, cozy, and happy all winter long!