4 Things You Need to Know About Chimneys

Posted by Greg Geilman on Monday, September 23rd, 2019 at 8:30am.

What You Need To Know About ChimneysMany homeowners who have a home with a chimney don’t know the proper ways to take care of it or the kind of repairs it may need to have done one day. Chimneys often seem like they’re very low maintenance, and they can be if they aren’t used often. But for homeowners who like to have a fire burning during cold winter nights, learning more about chimneys can be very helpful. Here are four important things all homeowners should know about their chimneys and how to take care of them.

Hiring a Professional Chimney Sweep is Necessary

Many homeowners make the mistake of thinking they can clean their chimney on their own. However, this can lead to disastrous results, especially if the chimney has a lot of soot built up. Professional chimney sweeps have specialized brushes and vacuums to get rid of the soot and ash so it doesn’t end up inside the home, but the average homeowner does not have that equipment. While sweeping a chimney may seem like an easy job thanks to Mary Poppins, it’s actually very difficult to do without the proper training and equipment. When a chimney needs cleaning, always hire a professional chimney sweep to handle it, don't try a DIY project.

Chimneys Build Up Creosote

When a fireplace is used, the smoke rising up the chimney causes a substance called creosote to collect. Creosote is natural residue that comes from burning wood and is carried by smoke. Creosote buildup comes in three degrees, with first degree buildup being the mildest, and third degree buildup being the worst. If creosote is allowed to build up to third degree, it can completely cut off the chimney, and if the homeowner tries to use the fireplace, it can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning due to the smoke having no place to escape the home. Homeowners who use their fireplace regularly need to get the creosote cleaned to protect themselves.

Chimneys Can Be Blocked

In addition to creosote buildup that can obstruct a chimney, chimneys can also fall victim to other obstructions like twigs and leaves falling inside. This is especially common during autumn due to the falling leaves, but it can happen in any season. Small animals like squirrels and birds can also get stuck in chimneys. If this happens, don’t use a fire to try to free the obstruction—especially in the case of animals. Chimney sweeps and animal control specialists will know the best way to free their respective obstructions from a chimney safely so it doesn’t harm the animal or the home. 

Chimney Liners Need To Be Replaced

On the inside of a chimney, there’s a layer called the chimney liner. This liner can be made from clay, ceramic, or metal, and it helps prevent smoke from sticking directly to the inside of the chimney so creosote can’t build up, and it directs the smoke up and out of the chimney. All Palos Verdes homes with chimneys will have chimney liners unless they’re particularly old. Over time, chimney liners can weaken and deteriorate, so it’s important to get the chimney inspected regularly to catch any weakness before it fails.

For fans of fireplaces, chimney ownership is something that needs to be managed along with the rest of their home. Chimneys may not need as much attention as other parts of a home, but they can’t survive on their own indefinitely. Be sure to hire a chimney inspector regularly to come inspect the chimney and ensure it’s in peak condition. 

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