Maintaining Your Chimneys for the Long Term

Maintaining your chimney is essential in keeping your house safe when you’re using the fireplace. Without proper cleaning and attention, your home is susceptible to water damage and fires. Keeping the chimney clean is the other essential step to prevent chimney fires. Moreover, you can also save money on energy bills. If you don’t use your fireplace regularly, you may be unaware of whether the chimney is clean or not.

This chimney maintenance guide will help make sure that your chimney is working properly and cared for.

1. Have a Working Fireplace Damper

Having a fireplace damper creates a massive difference in the energy efficiency of your house. When you’re not using the fireplace, the dampers must be closed to prevent outside drafts from getting inside your home through your chimney.

If the damper isn’t closing, your energy bills will be higher. It’ll be more difficult for your air conditioner or furnace to reach your desired temperature since they’ll regularly be battling the drafts. They’ll end up applying more power to cool or heat your home, and the cost of your heating and electric bills will skyrocket.

Getting your dampers replaced or fixed when not properly working is vital. When getting a replacement, ensure that it fits correctly and doesn’t have any gaps.

2. Ensure that the Chimney is Waterproof

The elements and moisture can be significant problems for your chimney. They can cause mold, weaken its structural integrity, and even damage the floor and walls around the fireplace. You have to ensure that your chimney waterproofing, crown, flashing, and chase cover are all functioning correctly.

Begin by waterproofing the chimney. Putting a water sealant to the exterior of your chimney will keep moisture from sneaking into your house and breaking down bricks and mortar. 

So there’s a huge hole at your chimney top that lets the smoke escape. You don’t fancy sealing that hole, but you also don’t want snow and rain from getting inside your home. So what can you do?

For masonry chimneys, you have to acquire a crown—a concrete cover preventing anything from getting inside the house. Similar to chase covers, the smoke leaves through a pipe originating from the crown.

For fabricated chimneys, it’s great to add chase covers. It seals the top while still allowing the smoke to go out through a small pipe. Most prefabricated chimneys have galvanized steel chase covers with a tendency to rust. Replace it with a copper, aluminum, or stainless steel chase cover, so you won’t have to fret over rust again.

The flashing is where your chimney meets your roof, so be sure to keep it in good condition.

a graphic of a house with a chimney

3. Know When to Sweep the Chimney

No matter what fireplace type you have, you’ll need to have your chimney swept to keep your house safe. But just how often should you have your chimney cleaned?

While there’s no definite amount of time to have your chimney swept, there are some things you should consider. How often you use your fireplace determines how frequently you should clean your chimney. Once the liner of the chimney has one-eight of an inch of soot, it needs cleaning.

If you aren’t sure how you should measure soot, there’s a simple metric you can apply— the chimney must be swept every 50 burns, although this differs from what type of fireplace you have. For example, a gas log fireplace requires cleaning less frequently than a wood-burning fireplace.

4. Gas Log Fireplaces Are Better Than Wood-Burning Fireplaces

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, it could be safer for your home to replace it with a gas log fireplace. A gas log burns much greener than a real log; gas logs are also very energy efficient and produce less harmful smoke. They have an efficiency rating of 92%-99% compared to the usual 60%-80%.

It is both safer for efficiency and you. Since the log fireplace burns about 99% of the gas utilized, there’s less soot in the chimney, meaning there’s a lesser fire risk, and you can go longer between chimney cleanings.

5. Ensure the Bricks and Mortar Joints Aren’t Disintegrating

The mortar joints and bricks of your chimney play a vital part in preventing water damage in your house. However, they start to crack and break over time and allow moisture an entrance inside your home.

If you notice your bricks becoming loose and mortar crumbling, then you require chimney tuckpointing, which is the feat of repairing mortar.

Be sure to get a waterproofing sealant for the chimney stack, as it will aid in keeping bricks and mortar protected from moisture.

6. Have Your Chimney Checked Once a Year

Just looking at the chimney isn’t sufficient to spot issues, as some are underlying and require a professional to detect them. Having your chimney inspected once every year is essential in ensuring the safety of your chimney.