When it comes to chimney maintenance and care, most homeowners are not as proactive as they should be. It doesn’t get used all the time, and since it’s relatively self-sufficient, it’s easy to neglect it until something goes wrong.
One of the more common issues isn’t necessarily with the chimney itself. Debris can be a substantial problem if left unchecked, which is why homeowners have to take steps to prevent clogs and blockages before they occur. In this article, we want to look at some of the best ways to prevent debris around the chimney, and why doing so is so essential.
Why A Blocked Chimney is Dangerous
Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Buildup
The chimney plays a vital function in your household -without it, you’d be breathing toxic smoke fumes every time you lit a fire. This is also why it’s so crucial to open the damper to the flue whenever you plan on using the fireplace.
Unfortunately, not all blockages are immediately noticeable. For example, you might notice an odd smell instead of a giant plume of smoke coming back into the living room. If that is the case, you could be breathing carbon monoxide without realizing it. Over time, the buildup could be hazardous and potentially deadly. While a CO monitor is a good idea to have near the fireplace, removing these clogs will be better for you and your family.
You should already be aware of the danger of creosote buildup, but if debris gets inside your chimney, it can go up in flames much faster. Dry sticks and branches are highly flammable, particularly when mixed with any other substances (like creosote) present inside the chimney. If a fire does break out, it’s incredibly hard to extinguish, and it could put the whole house at risk.
If you’re not vigilant about preventing debris, chances are that you’re not paying close attention to your chimney. As with other parts of your house, this piece will wear down over time, which can lead to cracks, crumbling, and leaks, So, by monitoring it regularly and removing debris, you can spot potential hazards before they get out of control. Preventative maintenance is always cheaper than fixing something after the fact, so this strategy will save you a lot in the long run.
How to Prevent Debris and Blockage
Because clogs won’t be readily apparent, you have to stay on top of these practices to ensure that nothing gets stuck inside. However, some signs of a blocked chimney can include:
-Excessive Soot When Opening the Flue
-A Strong, Smoky Odor When Using the Fireplace
-Dirt or Debris Inside the Fireplace
Whether you notice these signs or not, here’s how you can maintain a pristine chimney.
Install Or Replace the Chimney Cap
One of the simplest ways to keep your fireplace and chimney clear is to have a full-size chimney cap. Many older houses either don’t have one that covers the entire opening, or it’s damaged and needs repair.
The cap provides more benefits than just keeping debris at bay. It ensures that rainwater doesn’t come into the house and helps keep the upper chimney from damage when the winter comes and water freezes. If you’re not sure how old your current chimney cap is, or if it is sufficient to get the job done it’s best to have someone check it out for you.
Trim Tree Branches Around the Roof
There are several reasons to trim branches away from your roof. First, you can avoid potential disaster if one of them breaks off and crashes into your home. Second, it’s harder for animals like raccoons and squirrels to get to both the roof and the chimney. Finally, you can keep your gutters cleaner overall. Since leaves, seeds, and other debris won’t be falling on the roof, they won’t clog your rain gutters and lead to water damage. If any branches are growing directly over the chimney, be sure to cut those back first, as they could cause damage.
Get Your Chimney Cleaned Regularly
No matter how diligent you are about preventing debris, your chimney will get dirty over time. Even if you don’t use the fireplace too often, regular cleaning will ensure that it’s both safe and efficient. We recommend a deep cleaning once a year before the cold season hits.
Contact Ray Arnold Masonry Today
We make it easy to keep your chimney in tip-top shape. Our experienced team can do it all – clearing out debris, scrubbing the interior, installing a new cap, or repairing any cracks or damage. Call us today to find out how we can help maintain your chimney.