Keep Your Fireplace in Tip Top Shape for Winter
By Marge Padgitt, President of HearthMasters, Inc.
The following are some tips for keeping your fireplace in good order for the winter:
- Have all chimneys inspected annually by a professional chimney sweep to be sure they are in good working order. The sweep will inspect the interior with a chimney camera and the entire exterior wood or masonry structure visually. He will look for cracks, gaps, or missing mortar joints in the flue, check for proper flue size, check the smoke chamber and fireplace condition, flashing, crown, and chimney cover.
- Have flues serving wood-burning appliances swept annually or bi-annually to remove flammable creosote and reduce the risk of chimney fire. All wood creates creosote - even dry hardwoods.
- Have the furnace or water heater flue inspected annually by a professional to be sure it is not a Carbon Monoxide risk. Blockages or flues in poor condition can be a CO risk. Even a CO detector does not register all levels of CO.
- Have gas direct vent fireplaces or stoves tuned up and serviced annually to assure proper performance. Dirt, dust, and spiders clog orifices and can make the unit inoperable. Annual service is required by the manufacturer for warranty coverage on all brands.
- Have a chimney cover installed to
keep damaging rain and animals out of the flue. A cover should be installed on each
flue or a custom-cover can be made to cover all flues and the cement crown.
- Masonry problems such as cracked mortar or bricks, deteriorating mortar or spalling bricks should be repaired in the spring and summer months to allow for proper curing so plan accordingly.
- Have an elastomeric sealant applied to the cement crown to protect it from weather damage.