Few things feel as cozy as a warm, crackling fire on a cold winter night. However, if you don’t keep up with chimney maintenance, it might not be safe to use your fireplace. Here are five tips to make sure your chimney and fireplace are in good condition and functioning correctly.

Chimney Maintenance: Look For Signs of Water Damage

Checking your chimney for moisture or water damage is integral to basic maintenance. An obvious sign of a problem is hearing dripping, even if you can’t see the water. A musty smell emanating from the fireplace suggests the presence of mold or mildew, which is usually an indication of excess moisture.

Other signs can include water stains inside your firebox or cracks in the masonry. Call a professional to make repairs if you encounter any of these signs of damage.

Install a Chimney Cap

A chimney cap is an essential accessory that helps to keep snow, sleet, rain, and debris from falling into the flue. It also prevents birds from building nests in your chimney. If your cap is damaged or missing, have it replaced before using the fireplace this season.

Purchase Smoke Detectors

If you don’t have smoke detectors, purchase and install these devices before building a fire. Smoke detectors help keep your family and property safe if a fire occurs. When they detect smoke in the air, the device will sound an alarm so you and your family can get to safety.

If possible, purchase carbon monoxide detectors as well. Set a reminder to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly. Keep spare batteries on hand so you can replace them as necessary.

Clean the Chimney

The fastest and most effective way to clean your chimney is by hiring a professional chimney sweep. A pro will thoroughly clean the flue and remove any traces of creosote. They will also inspect the chimney for signs of damage and inform you of problems.

If cleaning your chimney is a task you feel confident handling yourself, make sure you have the right tools. You’ll need a flashlight, shop vacuum, plastic sheeting, mask, and specialized chimney brushes.

Test Your Fireplace Damper During Chimney Maintenance

The fireplace damper impacts your home’s energy efficiency. The damper should be closed when it isn’t in use to stop chilly air from outside from entering your home via the chimney.

If the damper is damaged, your HVAC unit will work overtime to achieve the desired indoor temperature. Test the damper by opening and closing it to make sure it works correctly. If it’s perfectly functional, have it fixed before using your fireplace.

Chimney maintenance is more effective when performed by a trained professional. While it’s possible to handle cleaning the chimney and fireplace on your own, a professional has the necessary tools and experience to complete tasks quickly and correctly. They will also inform you of damage, which will help you plan for repairs. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected at least once per year by a professional.

Old House Home Inspectors offers inspections for older homes and historic properties in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Contact us to schedule our services.