Chimney and Fireplace Maintenance: Tips, Tasks & Frequency

When it comes to keeping a chimney and fireplace in great good condition, quite a lot of effort is necessary.

Chimney maintenance entails inspection, cleaning, and repairs. The specific type of maintenance performed on a chimney is determined by its state.

Here, we’ll be looking at the various maintenance actions you can take.

What is Chimney and Fireplace Maintenance?

First off, before we get into the maintenance side of things, it’s necessary to state what a chimney is as well as a fireplace. By simple definition, a chimney is an architectural ventilation structure.

This works to isolate or vent out exhaust gases produced as a result of combustion.

Chimneys are widely used for a variety of purposes such as in fireplaces, boilers, incinerators, and furnaces, etc. Our interest lies in chimneys used with or attached to fireplaces. So, what’s a fireplace? Just what it implies!

Fireplaces are mostly built for domestic fires.

These structures (fireplaces) are commonly found at the base of a chimney. It may consist of a hearth or grate designed in such a way that it sustains combustion. Fireplaces are modified according to fuel type.

For instance, gas fireplaces are designed differently from those using firewood fuels.

From the brief introduction, it’s evident that chimneys and fireplaces are both components of a system. These structures help with heating and ventilation.

Who Performs a Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance?

A chimney sweep is a professional that specializes in carrying out all chimney maintenance services. Chimney and fireplace issues are readily tackled by calling such experts (chimney sweeps) to have a look.

When it comes to details of what maintenance services are carried out on chimney systems, these are varied. In other words, quite a lot of actions may need to be taken to keep a chimney functional.

These will be discussed in greater detail as you read on.

Maintenance of Chimneys and Fireplaces

As mentioned earlier, the term ‘maintenance’ is quite broad.

In other words, it includes chimney and fireplace inspections as well as cleaning of both components. In the course of inspections, certain components of chimneys and fireplaces may be found to be faulty.

For these, the repair is necessary. This is another aspect of maintenance required to keep chimneys in top condition.

So, without further delay, let’s discuss each of the listed maintenance categories as follows;

i. Chimney and Fireplace Inspection

For most chimney and fireplace designs, chimney stacks are visible from outside the building. These are mostly situated on building roofs.

However, such structures aren’t isolated as they connect to the fireplace which is inside the building.

Now, as combustive activity goes on within your fireplace, by-products result. These include soot and creosotes which are common with firewood and pellet fuels.

Gas chimneys may also become blocked by debris or the presence of animals such as raccoons, rodents, and birds, etc.

This calls for a scheduled inspection to determine the state of the chimney and fireplace. Inspection solves a lot of issues as it investigates the causes of chimney malfunctions.

However, a chimney and fireplace don’t need to malfunction before calling for an inspection.

Preventive maintenance is carried out to ensure that possible issues are detected before they worsen.

The point of chimney and fireplace inspections is to identify blockages and buildup inhibiting performance.

  • Levels of Chimney and Fireplace Inspection

There are about 3 levels of chimney and fireplace inspections. These include the levels 1 through 3 inspections. Such levels have to do with the thoroughness and intrusive nature of inspections.

Under level one inspection for chimneys and fireplaces, a visual check is carried out on the chimney and fireplace. In most cases, this process won’t require climbing your roof or the use of special equipment.

With the help of a flashlight, a chimney sweep takes a look at creosote and soot buildup as well as possible obstructions. No further action is taken if the chimney and fireplace are found to be in great shape.

Otherwise, there’ll be a need for some cleaning or fixing.

Level two chimney inspections are mostly required for persons who have just moved into a new home. Also, extreme or adverse weather events like tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and the likes will require this type of inspection.

The level two inspections of a fireplace and chimney are inclusive of level one as well as climbing your roof, crawlspace, and attics to identify the state of the system. Specialized tools, including video scans, are done to determined functionality.

Under level three chimney and fireplace inspection, a more intrusive approach is adopted. Most times, this requires some demolition to fix damaged parts of a structure. Rebuilding is mostly done after such teardown.

As expected, the inspection cost for level three is greater than for the others.

iii. Chimney and Fireplace Cleaning

After conducting a level one inspection on a chimney and fireplace, it is determined whether a chimney will need some cleaning or not.

This cleaning includes animal nest removal from the chimney when present.

Also, a thorough cleanup of the fireplace is done to remove all sorts of debris, ashes, and stains. Cleaning your chimney flue lining follows when there are soot and creosote deposits.

Using a wide range of specialized cleaning tools, a chimney sweep clears out all such debris, thus improving its condition.

iv. Chimney and Fireplace Repairs

Chimney repairs are inevitable for damaged or malfunctioning chimneys and fireplaces. Having inspected different parts of the system, necessary repair actions are taken to fix problematic areas.

A damaged chimney cap is fixed or replaced.

Also, trimming of overreaching tree limbs may be necessary when they block airflow from your chimney. Such tree limbs are also known to increase the risk of chimney fires when debris from these gets into the chimney.

In the event of an extreme weather situation such as hurricanes or earthquakes, certain parts of the chimney will need to be torn down and rebuilt.

Cracks and crevices are also fixed or sealed when they appear.

v. Chimney and Fireplace Maintenance Frequency

Chimney and fireplace maintenance should be a yearly occurrence. This action is sufficient enough to keep a chimney in a proper functional state.

These are basic chimney and fireplace maintenance actions taken to ensure a chimney is in top condition all year round. While DIY strategies may seem attractive, it’s best to allow professionals to handle the job, especially when having limited experience.

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