Fall Fireplace Maintenance Checklist
Before firing up your fireplace and chimney for the winter season, the fall is the perfect time to do a little checking to make sure everything is in order. Felgemacher Fireplace Shop of Buffalo, NY, would like to share our five-step fall fireplace maintenance checklist to help you get your system ready to take on the winter.
1. Inspect the chimney masonry
The bricks and mortar of your chimney masonry should be sound. There should be no crumbling areas, cracks or loose bricks. The chimney stack should stand straight up and not lean to one side.
Look for white stains on the masonry, which are called “efflorescence” and happen when bricks absorb water and then leach out salts. Some of these bricks may soon cause a serious leak. Look also for dark, sooty stains around the top of the chimney, which may indicate that a chimney fire has taken place.
2. Look closely at the chimney cap, crown and flashing
Make sure the chimney cap that covers the top of the chimney is in good shape and not warped or damaged.
The concrete crown should be solid, with no signs of cracking or crumbling. The flashing that seals the gap between the chimney and the roof should be flat and secure, never warped or rusted. These three components are in place to keep water out of your chimney/fireplace system. Water is a major cause of substantial damage to masonry, chimney liners, home building materials and more.
3. Check for signs of water leaks
There are several common signs of a chimney leak that you can check for this fall and at various times throughout the year.
- Stains or damp spots on the walls or ceiling near the fireplace and chimney
- Musty odors in the attic or crawlspaces
- Musty and/or sooty odors coming from the fireplace
- Water in the firebox after a rain storm
4. Clean and inspect your firebox
Cleaning the fireplace is important because it’s nicer to look at when it’s clean. But even more important is the fact that a thorough cleaning will allow you to spot issues within the firebox. Cracks, breaks, splits or crumbling inside or just outside the firebox could point to serious trouble in the near future. With a clean fireplace, you’ll be able to know about these issues and get them resolved before problems begin. If you have a fireplace insert make sure that is cleaned properly too!
5. Schedule a professional chimney cleaning
If you use a wood-burning fireplace, you should make it your practice to schedule a professional chimney sweep once a year, and fall is the perfect time to do this. Chimney sweep technicians use specialized tools and equipment to remove creosote and soot from your chimney flue. Creosote is a major concern because it builds up every time the fireplace is used and is the #1 cause of chimney fires in the U.S. each year. Annual chimney cleaning is recommended by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and most fire-safety agencies throughout the country.
Proper care for your fireplace and chimney
Felgemacher Fireplace Shop wants everyone to safely enjoy their fireplaces all winter long. With proper inspections, repairs and maintenance, that’s exactly what you’ll do. When help is needed, our field division, Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney, can help with chimney sweeping, chimney repairs, chimney rebuilding and licensed chimney inspections. Reach a fireplace and chimney expert today at (716) 482-1820 or get in touch with our handy contact form.