Rachael Ray’s house fire highlights chimney dangers. Here’s how to check yours is safe
TODAY• September 22, 2020
A massive fire that destroyed Rachael Ray’s New York home in August was started in the chimney, according to the celebrity chef. The sad news comes as a reminder to homeowners about the dangers of chimneys as fall begins and cold weather approaches.
Ray told “Entertainment Tonight” the fire started after the fireplace “burped,” causing the roof to catch on fire. The house in Lake Luzerne, about an hour north of Albany, was only 15 years old, she said, and they had the chimney cleaned twice a year.
“Basically the fireplace burped, and when it burped onto the roof, the roof lit, and just the way the day was and the weather, it just went up in kind of no time, but it burned for a long time,” she explained. “It caught again the next day for a short time.”
Russ Dimmitt, director of education for the Chimney Safety Institute of America, told TODAY that the “burp” Ray describes could have been caused by creosote — the deposits that are left in your chimney after you burn wood.
“If you have a chimney fire, what happens is that creosote is very flammable as it burns,” he explained. “It can burn so violently that it will actually shoot some creosote out top and it might land on the roof.”
Dimmitt said that with chimney fires like Ray’s, there’s lot of investigating to be done to determine the actual cause. But it does highlight the dangers associated with having a fireplace at home. Low section of couple resting by fireplace at home (Cavan Images / Getty Images)
According to data provided to TODAY by the National Fire Protection Association, fireplaces or chimneys were involved in an average of 16,030 fires per year from 2012-2016, with an average of 40 civilian deaths, 80 civilian injuries, and $256 million in direct property damage annually.
It’s scary to think about, but there are steps you can take right now to help prevent a chimney fire at your own home.
Have it professionally inspected and cleaned
The NFPA reports that the leading factor contributing to home heating fires is failure to clean the equipment. The organization recommends having your chimney inspected and cleaned every year by a qualified professional who can check to make sure it’s structurally sound and in good working order.
Make sure the wood you burn is dry
Man putting wood in fireplace (Johner Images / Getty Images)
Burning wet wood can create more flammable material deposits (creosote) on the inside of the chimney, Dimmitt explained. That’s why it’s important to make sure the wood you use is dry. “The ideal moisture content for wood to burn is between 15-25%,” he said. “If you just go cut wood, it’s going to be 50% moisture content or higher. So in order to dry that, you really have to split it.”
To split wood, cut it lengthwise so more surface area is exposed, and do so at least six months before you use it, he advised. Also, don’t put anything else in the fireplace except for wood.
“No Christmas trees,” Dimmitt said, adding that doing so can result in a massive house fire.
Make sure you have a chimney cap and take other precautions
Chimney caps are designed to keep animals out, said Dimmitt. “It’s possible (they’ll still come in), but they’ve got to really want to get in there,” he said.
Without a chimney cap, animals can nest inside. When you light a fire, the nesting material can ignite a chimney fire.
Other things you’ll want to ensure: Make sure there are no branches or trees within 15 feet of the top of your chimney, always keep your hearth area clean and void of combustibles, use a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room, and never leave the fire unattended.
Know the indications of a chimney fire
“You might hear loud cracking or popping noises,” Dimmitt said. “There might be dense smoke coming out of your chimney. There might be a hot smell — everyone knows that hot smell, although we can’t really describe it.”
Gas fireplaces can also create problems
“It’s possible for someone to think, ‘Well, I don’t have wood so I don’t have a problem to worry about,’” Dimmitt said. “That’s actually not true.”
Your furnace or water heater could be vented into your chimney, and if the chimney is blocked for any reason, carbon monoxide could be coming into your home.
“With a gas burning appliance in particular you don’t have any smoke so you may not know you have a problem,” Dimmitt said. That’s why it’s important to have both carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your home, he added.
- Published in Chimney, Chimney Cleaning, Chimney Dampers and Caps, Chimney Liners, Chimney Rebuilding, Chimney Repair, Chimney Sweep, Cincinnati Chimney, Cincinnati Chimney Sweep, Water Leaks
Solutions to liner damage
Below is a list of the remedies used by Best Cincinnati Chimney to fix chimney liner issues that can lead to house fires.
- Flue Tiles – Used mostly for straight , short chimneys, this method of lining is used mostly on new construction. You generally cannot replace Terra cotta tiles but you can repair them.
- HeatShield® Cerfractory Flue Sealant Restores Your Chimney tiles– HeatShield® is a specially formulated “Cerfractory®” sealant material that restores the integrity of your chimney’s flue to vent hazardous flue gases from your home. It eliminates the dangers in your chimney caused by gaps, cracks and spalling for years to come. Best Cincinnati Chimney is a certified HeatSheild distributor. By using either the Joint Repair System or Resurfacing System, depending on the defects found, your chimney can be restored to its original peak level of safety and efficiency. View the HeatShield® manufacturer’s website.
- Stainless Steel Liners – This method of relining involves installing a round or oval stainless steel liner in the chimney. The liner can be either rigid or flexible; flexible liners are used for chimneys with offsets. Stainless steel liners are used mainly for woodstoves and oil furnace installations. Best Cincinnati Chimney offers UL Listed stainless steel lining systems that come with a manufacturer’s Lifetime Warranty.
- Aluminum – This method is similar to stainless steel, but the liner is made of aluminum. Aluminum liners do not tolerate the heat that stainless steel will. Aluminum liners can only be used to vent certain types of gas appliances. Note: Gas logs intended for installation in wood-burning fireplaces may not be vented with aluminum liners. We do not recommend, nor will we install aluminum liners in woodburning fireplaces or stoves.
Fighting Masonry water leaks
WATER LEAKS IN MASONRY
At Best Cincinnati Chimney we know that durability of masonry depends primarily on its resistance to water penetration and water leaks. Water leaks can cause corrosion, deterioration, dimensional damage, efflorescence, freeze-thaw spalling, staining, damage to interior finishes, and, ultimately, structural failure.
It is well established that water will penetrate a masonry wall that is one unit thick. Even if built to every requirement masonry work can always leak. Material selection, the design itself and the quality of construction can all be factors in water resistance. Understanding the causes and mechanisms of water penetration in masonry will enable technicians to better diagnose and solve problems before severe damage occurs.
The main source of masonry water leaks is driving rains, and the level of penetration is affected by rain quantity and wind pressure. The directional consistency of wind-driven rains can create severe water damage to the affected side of an exposed masonry surface. Damage from wind-driven rain is most severe at the corners and top of a wall or chimney system because of changes in air flow patterns at these locations. Since wind speed and rainfall are such critical factors, a driving rain index for the United States was developed to illustrate climatic patterns. The driving rain index considers the average wind speed and rainfall for the country and creates zones on a scale of one to five, with ‘one’ indicating the least and ‘five’ the greatest exposure. Most severe water damage in masonry occurs in ranges three, four, and five due to frequent freeze-thaw cycles.
Once masonry walls are exposed to hours of driving rains, they usually reach a saturation point. Saturated walls will take from one to several days to lose most of this water. Trees, plants, and micro-organisms like algae can prevent it from drying. With cumulative cycles, a saturation point can be reached in masonry pores that often leads to leaks or damage to the wall system.
Water leaks can also be caused by condensation within the wall system itself. Chimney systems are especially vulnerable to condensation because water vapor is a large component of flue gases. Most of the water vapor escapes out the flue, but some will pass through tile liners and the mortar joints between the liners.
The greatest exposure to condensation occurs during the heating season as surface wetting and use of the system produce high humidity in the air cavities surrounding the liners. When the temperature of outer masonry walls of a chimney falls below the temperature of the air in the cavity, condensation often occurs on the inside walls. Masonry units can absorb up to .5 lbs of water from condensation; though masonry is relatively dense, it is also a porous material composed of a network of interconnected pores called capillaries that circulate water by means of suction. Capillary suction is an important factor for openings smaller than 0.5mm. Pores in clay brick generally have a diameter of about 0.01mm, while hairline cracks can range between 0.1mm to 1mm in width.
Water can enter a wall system through pores and cracks in the masonry units and the mortar joints, but very often water seeps through cracks or separations between the masonry and mortar. The water accumulates until it either penetrates to the interior, drains to flashings where it is redirected through weep holes, or simply evaporates through the exterior wall.
Although we try hard to solve water leaks, they can be very difficult to diagnose and even harder to stop. If you have a water leak going in, it may not be solved by the first attempt. Water leaks are not the fault of the last guy on the roof.
3 Reasons Why It’s So Important To Have Annual Chimney Cleanings
Chimney cleaning is something that people tend to put off or forget about far too often. Your chimney is more than just an aesthetic piece of your home, it provides a variety of functions, as long as you take care of it. You want it working as intended to provide not only a way to vent smoke and fumes but to help save you money on your heating bills. If you don’t pay close enough attention you may end up with some expensive chimney repair work on your hands.
The chimney and corresponding fire source also provide a gathering place and social aspect to your family life. By performing the proper chimney maintenance when it is supposed to be done, you will give your family the best chance at enjoying it for a very long time to come. You will never know how important your chimney is until you can’t use it anymore.
Continue reading below to see exactly why you need to take care of your chimney, and why it is so important to your home.
Chimney Cleanings Help Avoid Expensive Repairs
Most homeowners should know that just like replacing your roofing, repairing or replacing a chimney is not a small or insignificant task. It can be extremely costly, depending on the scale, and is not something any homeowner would want to shell out money for. Something as simple as doing a regular chimney sweeping and inspection can point out minor issues before they become major headaches.
It would make sense to carry out less expensive maintenance and small repairs regularly than to get into chimney rebuilding due to forgetfulness. This would be like spending money to do an interior painting job without cleaning the walls first. Preventative maintenance is the key here and keeping up on small issues and keeping things clean will make sure your chimney has a long life.
Save Money On Heating Bills
Everyone likes to save money as it is essential to living a comfortable life. Annual chimney cleanings, such as power washing, will go a long way to keep your chimney healthy and working well. Keeping your chimney clean will keep it free from any build-up that may happen, either from nature or the fumes going through the chimney itself. It is also going to keep it looking its best and add value to your home.
It Keeps Your Family Safe And Secure
This is by far the most important aspect of having regular chimney cleanings at your home. These cleanings will help keep anything from coming back into the home that should be going out. Smoke from different types of fires and heating systems will be full of toxins that you and your family could get very sick from. By doing the preventative maintenance you will be going the extra mile to keep your loved ones safe.
Chimney Cleanings Are Common Sense
Now that you can see how important it is that you keep your chimney in proper order, you can understand why chimney cleanings are a very popular service in the area. As with most things in home maintenance, your chimney will need attention and regular maintenance to work safely and effectively. You owe it to yourself and your family to keep it running the way it should.
5 Considerations When Choosing a Chimney Sweep
Now that fall is over, we need to start thinking about the winter season here in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. Once the winter hits, the temperatures drop, and we need to start using the chimney. Chimney maintenance and chimney cleaning are essential tasks for homeowners that have fireplaces in their homes. In this short guide, you will be informed of the top five considerations when choosing a chimney sweep for your home.
- Hire a professional
The number one consideration when choosing a chimney sweep is to use a professional. Do not attempt to clean your own chimney if you have never done so before. Do not hire a neighbor or a friend of a friend, as you do not know if they have the education, experience, insurance, or even a roofer who have never performed a chimney sweep before. Make sure you go with a respectable person or company that has years of experience under their belt!
- Education & experience
Another consideration when choosing a chimney sweep is to take the knowledge and expertise of the chimney sweep into account. If they are brand new and have never performed a chimney sweep, your home may not be the best one for them to learn on! On the other hand, if the individual has years of experience and is certified in their profession, you want to snatch them up as they will do a great job getting your home ready for fall!
When hiring a professional of any kind, you want to verify if they have insurance. The reason this is important is that of liability. If the chimney sweep is on your roof performing necessary chimney maintenance and chimney cleaning and they fall off your roof and do not have insurance, you could be liable for their injuries because they fell off your roof. If you do not have the knowledge or the time to complete chimney cleaning on your own, it may be wise to seek help from a professional handyman or vent cleaning company. Just like with HVAC maintenance, roofing fixes, power washing, cleaning of the gutters, simple remodeling, and exterior painting, make sure to investigate the company thoroughly to determine if they are respectable, accountable and insured before hiring them to perform any work for you!
- Online reviews
Another consideration to take into account when choosing a chimney sweep is to look at online reviews. Sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau are all places you can study to make sure the individual you select is acting in good faith and is responsible for their tasks. It will state in the reviews if the person you are considering is highly rated or if you should pass on their services.
- Price comparisons
The last consideration you need to take into account when choosing a chimney sweep is the cost of the individual you plan on using. There can be large price differences between chimney sweeps based on experience as well as location. You want to make sure you are getting the best value you can, and the best way to accomplish this is complete price comparisons between area professionals.
As you can see, there are multiple things to look at when hiring a chimney sweep. You want to ensure you have chimney maintenance and chimney cleaning performed every year to keep your home in good condition and to have heat when it is needed. If you follow our advice on the top five considerations when choosing a chimney sweep, you will have the warmest and cleanest chimney in all of Cincinnati!
- Published in Chimney, Chimney Cleaning, Chimney Dampers and Caps, Chimney Liners, Chimney Repair, Chimney Sweep
What are Chimney Caps and Why Do You Need One?
There are more elements to your chimney system than most homeowners realise and each one plays a crucial role in ensuring your chimney system is functioning properly. While for the most part, the primary role of your chimney is to allow smoke from your fireplace to safely leave your home, it’s important to ensure nothing comes back in.
Chimney caps are a critical component of your chimney system and are the one element that protects your entire chimney system. With a properly installed and functioning chimney cap in place, you can be sure that your fireplace will function correctly and safely.
Keep reading to find out exactly what a chimney cap is and why you need one for your chimney system.
What are Chimney Caps?
Chimney caps are located at the very top of your chimney that cover sand protects the opening on top. Chimney caps are installed above the opening of the chimney to allow smoke to pass between the top of the flue and the cap itself. There are many different styles, shapes, finishes and sizes used depending on the aesthetic and exterior painting job on your home but they all serve the same basic functions.
Why Do You Need a Chimney Cap?
A chimney cap is essential in keeping your fireplace running smoothly and safely. Essentially, it acts as a barrier to protect the top of the flue, allowing smoke to exit from your chimney while keeping birds, animals, debris and water out. Chimney caps also help to keep sparks and embers off your roof to prevent potential fire problems. Let’s take a look at four of the main reasons a chimney cap is important.
Prevent Animals From Entering
Birds, squirrels, racoons and other animals often seek out chimney systems to protect themselves from predators and from the weather. Having animals camped out in your chimney system can cause blockages, allows an entryway for wildlife into your home and can be unnerving for adults and children alike. However, with a chimney cap installed, you can easily avoid this problem.
Keep Debris Out
If you don’t utilize chimney caps, your chimney is highly susceptible to blockages from debris entering the flue. Not only can this cause damage to the flue liner but leaves, twigs, branches and other debris can block up your chimney and prevent proper ventilation.
Avoid Issues With Moisture
Although the outer elements of your chimney system are built to withstand elements such as rain, hail, ice and snow, your fireplace inside is not. In order to keep moisture out, a chimney cap should be installed or you could end up with expensive repair work to your fireplace that could cost you a lot in handyman bills.
Protect Your Roof From Fire
When your fireplace is in use, sparks and embers can often travel up the flue. Without a chimney cap to get in their way, they can find their way onto your roofing, into your gutters or even land on your garden and be the cause of a fire. This is something that all homeowners want to avoid and a chimney caps are a simple way to do so.
A Chimney Cap is Essential in Keeping Your Home Protected
Your chimney is a potential entry point for wildlife, debris and moisture to get into your home. Installing a chimney cap is crucial in keeping your chimney system free of blockages, keeping fire risk at a minimum and ensuring your home and your family are always kept safe.
5 Of the Most Common Causes of Chimney Leaks
No matter what time of year it is, it’s important to ensure that your chimney system is in perfect working order. As with any other element of your home, your chimney is prone to problems from time to time, which should be addressed immediately. If you don’t look carry out chimney repairs and look after these issues promptly, they can very quickly become major issues and cause further problems down the line.
Chimney leaks are relatively common and can occur for a number of different reasons. Stonework consists of different materials, which can be affected by water and cause your chimney to leak. However, if you are aware of the potential cause of the problem you should carry out the necessary chimney repairs to resolve the issue before it goes any further.
Let’s take a look at four of the most common causes of chimney leaks in Cincinnati homes.
Damaged or Faulty Chimney Caps
The chimney cap installed at the top of your chimney serves a number of purposes. It is there to keep birds, animals and debris out and also to stop rain from getting in. However, over time, chimney caps can become damaged due to bad weather conditions, general wear and tear and from abuse by animals. If damaged, rainwater can easily get into the chimney flue, damage your chimney system and cause a leak which can result in expensive remodelling work being needed in your home.
Cracked Chimney Crown
At the top of every chimney, is a large slab that covers the top opening to your chimney, known as the chimney crown. Its main function is to keep your chimney protected against harsh weather conditions such as high winds, rain and snow. Over time, it’s common for the chimney crown to deteriorate due to exposure and to fluctuations caused by changes in temperature. When this happens, water can gather in the cracks and eventually seep through resulting in your chimney leaking and you needing expensive chimney repairs.
Broken Mortar Joints and Cracked Bricks
With time, the mortar and cement holding your chimney in together can become cracked and the bricks themselves can also crack. Freezing and thawing of water deposits in the bricks over a long time period get into the concrete and eventually allow the water to start leaking into your chimney system. Many people choose to waterproof their chimney to avoid this from happening. However, with natural deterioration and bad weather, it is still a common cause of leaks which can cause huge damage requiring re-painting of your home and professional handyman services to get your home back to its original condition.
Poorly installed Flashing
In the area where your chimney intersects with your roofing, you will notice a layer of thin metal sheeting, this is your chimney flashing. Installing flashing must be done very carefully as the angle of the roof and the materials used have to be given careful attention. When the flashing is not installed properly, water is allowed to penetrate the system easily. Flashing problems are very common and one of the most common causes of water leaks in a chimney system that require immediate chimney repairs.
Avoid Expensive Chimney Repair and keep Your Chimney Leak-Free
Rain, snow, high winds and fluctuating temperatures can damage to your chimney over time. It’s important to pay attention to your chimney to ensure that you catch any water leaks early on before they develop into more serious problems. Conduct regular chimney inspections and carry out any required chimney repair promptly to make sure you keep your chimney leak-free and healthy so that it will stand the test of time.
Chimney Liners: Everything You Need to Know
Although many people don’t realize it, chimney liners are one of the most important elements of any chimney system. Whether your chimney burns oil, gas or solid fuel, the liner assists in guiding the by-products caused by the combustion up the chimney and away from your home. Chimney liners are crucial in not only protecting the inside of your chimney but also ensuring that your chimney operates as efficiently and effectively as possible.
While other elements of your chimney system are easier to monitor, a professional chimney inspection is essential in detecting any issues with your liner. Many homeowners overlook this part of their chimney system, simply because they can’t see it. Your chimney liner covers the inside of your chimney system, providing protection for your chimney. If your liner becomes damaged or worn, you might need to have it replaced or repaired to prevent further damage to your home, interior painting or risk of harmful chemicals entering your home.
Let’s take a closer look at chimney liners so that you can stay informed about this vital element of your chimney system.
The Function of Chimney Liners
Chimney liners provide three main functions and play a vital role in your chimney system.
Protecting the Chimney System
Chimney liners protect the brickwork and concrete that your chimney is made from. Corrosive byproducts created by the fire can cause serious damage to the masonry work if there is no liner in place. In addition, creosote and soot can harm your chimney from inside your chimney.
To ensure that your chimney is providing optimal ventilation, it’s important to have a chimney liner in place. Essentially, chimney liners create the right sized vent for your fireplace ensuring the right amount of space is available and a smooth passage is present for smoke to escape and for your chimney to operate efficiently.
Providing a Barrier
Your chimney liner serves the function of acting as a barrier in two main ways. First of all, it eliminates the risk of harmful chemicals entering your home through the brickwork of your chimney, which can be harmful to those inside. Secondly, it prevents heat being transferred to other building materials used in your home such as those supporting your roofing.
Different Types of Liners
There are three main types of chimney liners in use today. While each one provides the same basic function, different types of chimney liners are used in different situations depending on a number of factors.
Clay Tile Chimney Liners
Clay tiles can withstand very high temperatures and hold up very well to damage from corrosive materials, making them a great material for chimney liners. This method has been used since the 1900’s and while the clay tiles themselves are not very expensive, the work involved in installing them is very comprehensive, making this the most expensive option. Most of the time these are installed during the homebuilding process and replacing and maintaining this system is costly and time-consuming. Installing this type of chimney liner after your home is built can require heavy remodeling work.
Cast-In-Place Chimney Liners
If your chimney flue is in disrepair, a cast-in-place liner can be a great option. These liners work to reinforce the structure of your existing chimney as they are very durable and are not easily affected by harmful gases or heat. They also stand the test of time, often lasting up to 50 years. However, installation of these liners is a big job and should only be attempted by a professional.
Metal Flue Chimney Liners
Metal flue liners are the most popular option with homeowners nowadays due to their versatility and flexibility. Usually, metal liners are made of either alloy or stainless steel and they come in either rigid or flexible constructions. Your chimney professional will choose rigid or flexible construct depending on the shape of your chimney. Flexible liners have the added benefit that they can expand and contract with exposure to heat, helping to knock off deposits of creosote and other buildups.
Take Some Time to Understand Chimney Liners and Make the Right Choice
There’s more to chimney liners than most homeowners may think and with them playing such a pivotal role in the functionality and protection of your chimney system it’s important you make the right decision. Take some time to speak with a professional and make sure you make the right call for your home’s chimney system.
Protect your house from water
Chimney Crowns and caps are an important functional component of your home. They stop rain water from pooling and soaking into your home’s structural components. Without properly functioning chimney crowns, your home and finances will be in big trouble. We’ve found that leaky chimney crowns caused by rust, wear and tear, and weather damage can lead to serious problems for home owners. We’ve also found leaky chimney crowns can be prevented by consistently checking them. You should have your crowns and caps checked by a trained chimney sweep every time that you have your chimney cleaned, which is at least once a year.
Stopped up and leaky gutters is another way that water can work its way into your home. If you are unsure of how to properly check your home’s gutters for leaks, we recommend using the following sequence:
Remove Debris from Your Gutters
Gutters can be clogged by tree branches, leaves, and/or dirt. Before testing you gutters for leaks, you must remove any and all of the above mentioned elements so that testing can be done properly. It’s neither the easiest nor cleanest jobs, but it most be done. Use a ladder to access the top of your gutters. Cover your hands with yard gloves, and scoop all debris until the gutters are clear.
Use a Garden Hose to Run Water Through Your Gutters
This is best done with two people. Ideally, you want to bring the garden hose up the ladder while the water is not running. The garden hose should be placed in the gutter and your helper should turn it on. You or your helper should hold the hose in place while the other inspects the gutters and the house’s perimeter for any leaking water. Notes should be taken to ensure you know exactly where any and all leaks are.
Repeat the Process
Once you’re done one section of gutters, move on to the next. Repeat this process until all sections of your gutters are checked. When finished, you should have a comprehensive list of all leaks and their locations.
Take Action if You Have a Leak
Having a leak isn’t really a big deal. Not fixing it is. First, try to patch it with roofing cement or a metal/aluminum (*this is determined by what your gutters are made of) patch kit. Most leaks can be easily fixed in this manner. If a patch doesn’t work because too much is damaged, it’s time to replace the gutter. Replacement can be done in part or entirety. This depends on how much of the gutter is actually damaged. For a partial replacement, simply cut the damaged gutter and replace it with a new one of appropriate size and length. For a total replacement, simply remove the gutter and replace it with a new one of appropriate size and length. Make sure that the gutter is working properly by checking it as described above.
If for any reason you aren’t comfortable with doing any of the above-mentioned tasks, you can always contact an experienced chimney sweep and gutter service company to do them for you. Checking your gutters and chimney might cost you some time and money, but it’s definitely worth it.
5 Maintenance tips for your Cincinnati Chimney
It is that time of year again in Cincinnati where you are trying to stay warm and it is time to fill the flues with smoke in your Cincinnati chimney. It is nice to have a fireplace, but you need to be a responsible homeowner if you have one and msintsin your Cincinnati chimney. In this short guide, you will be informed of the top five tips for fireplace and chimney maintenance this winter.
1. Inspect the flue
The most important tip when maintain your chimney and fireplace in the winter is to inspect and clean your flue. Just like regular maintenance to the house with power washing and painting, checking the flue is imperative. The flue along with the firebox takes the brunt of the heat and damage from a burning fire. It can crack and become hot causing the potential for a fire. Make sure to check the flue before each use or at least monthly for damage.
2. Remove the ash during chimney maintenance
Another important task to complete when maintaining your Cincinnati chimney is to remove the ash in the firebox. Just like the HVAC system, this does not have to be performed after each use, but should be done regularly. You do want to clean it out at regular intervals though as too much ash will cause your fire to burn too quickly and burn out. If you do not have enough ash, you will have problems building and maintaining a fire. A delicate balance is needed and depends on how much you use your fireplace.
3. Clean the fireplace doors and hearth
A wood burning fireplace can build up a lot of soot in all areas of the fireplace including the firebox, masonry, glass doors, and hearth. When performing your Cincinnati chimney maintenance, it is critical to remove the soot from these areas. The buildup can vary, but usually, about every four to six weeks is the timeline for cleaning these items. By doing so, you have a better view of the fireplace, which gives you a more cozy environment in which to snuggle up with a good book.
4. Remove debris near the chimney
Winter in Cincinnati brings about cold and snow, but there are still some leaves that have not fallen. Make sure when performing monthly chimney maintenance to check the outside of your home, including the gutters, to verify there are no twigs, leaves, or other debris on your roofing surface or near the chimney. This dry debris could fall into the chimney and cause a fire. In addition, check for chimney repairs of the masonry on the outside of the home to make sure it is intact and safe.
5. Check all the smoke detectors
The last smart tip for maintaining your fireplace and Cincinnati chimney system this winter is to check the smoke detectors in your home. It is crucial to replace batteries in smoke detectors often and to test them monthly. If a fire were to break out when you are sleeping or in the shower, you want to verify the alarm works so you can get yourself and your family out safely.
As you can see, there are multiple tips for maintaining your fireplace and chimney in the winter. When you inspect and clean the fireplace, remove the debris near the stack, and check all the smoke detectors, you are doing your due diligence in keeping your home safe as well as your family. If you follow our advice on the top five fireplace and chimney maintenance tips for winter, you will have the warmest and safest chimney in all of Cincinnati!