Whether you’ve had a masonry chimney built on-site or a factory-built chimney installed, your system was designed to provide years of efficient service, with components built in to protect not only your home but the chimney itself from heat and weather and wear. That said, even the best-built chimney system will sustain damage when it isn’t properly maintained and cared for. In a sense, it’s like your car — if you treat it right, you can expect proper performance for a good long haul. If you keep putting it to work without paying any mind to its routine needs and preventative care, you can pretty much put money on a breakdown occurring.
Part of our job at Old Hat Chimney Service is sharing our knowledge about proper chimney care with our valued clients. If you call us for chimney service, our technicians will always be glad to share pointers and tips for keeping your chimney system in top shape. In that spirit of sharing, here are a few tidbits that can help you extend the life of your chimney — and have fewer chimney-related headaches along the way.
Always Be Diligent About Annual Maintenance
You don’t have to be a chimney professional to recognize that a chimney system is doing hard work — use after use, it’s dealing with high heat and taking on acidic deposits; day after day, it’s having to stand up to the effects of weather, whether it’s baking sun or pounding rain. It never gets a break. And that’s why regular maintenance is so important — we want to do our best to give the chimney system a little help along the way and to make sure there isn’t damage that needs our attention.
The first step is having a regular chimney sweeping. When you use your heating appliance, the byproducts of combustion are traveling through your flue, creating creosote deposits and/or leaving other acidic materials on the flue walls. Left unswept, those deposits can block the flue, degrade your flue liner or — since creosote is extremely flammable — even lead to a chimney fire. Sweeping is key to the short-term performance and long-term durability of your chimney system, so we recommend scheduling a sweeping appointment every year before the heating season starts again.
Everyone from the Chimney Safety Institute of America to the National Fire Protection Association recommends that you get your chimney system professionally inspected each and every year. That allows us to find small problems in a chimney system before they turn into large (and potentially dangerous and/or expensive) issues, which, long-term, keeps your chimney system in shape to last longer.
We’ll make sure that all of the components that are helping your chimney to fend off water intrusion — like your chimney cap and chimney flashing — are in good shape and performing effectively. If we find a problem, we can repair or replace the failing components, and get your system back to keeping water out.
In the immediate sense, a chimney inspection also allows Old Hat Chimney Service to make sure that you’re not using a chimney system that has potentially hazardous defects, like a blockage that’s allowing toxic carbon monoxide to leak into your living area.
Use The Right Fuel
If you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, choosing the right wood is important now and long-term. Burning green or moist wood won’t allow the fire to get hot enough, which creates excess smoke now and excess creosote later – you may even develop Stage 3 creosote, which is highly dangerous and difficult to remove. Burning trash or other materials can create similar issues and release toxic chemicals into your living area. Burn seasoned or kiln-dried cordwood only.
Take An Extra Step To Fight Off Water Intrusion
Masonry materials are porous, so from the beginning, your bricks and mortar joints will absorb a certain amount of water. Over time as that masonry wears down, though, excessive amounts of moisture can start wicking into your chimney, leading to chimney leaks and further damage. We highly recommend having a waterproofing sealant applied to your masonry chimney. Chimney waterproofing helps your masonry deflect water in the short term, but also contributes to its long-term health, extending its service life.
If you have any questions or concerns about your chimney system’s health, Old Hat Chimney Service is always here to help. Give us a call!