You don’t need a cockney accent or a bowling hat to take care of your chimney — a little know-how and a helping hand from the best chimney sweeps in Cleveland will keep your fireplace roaring comfortably. With Chimcare opening a location in Cleveland, you now have easy access to consistently high-quality chimney maintenance and repair services.
Chimney care is a job for professionals, but just like with your car, that doesn’t mean you can’t take care of a few basic maintenance jobs yourself. We’ll start there, and move on to how professional chimney sweeps can help keep your fireplace safe and functional.
What You Can Do
Just like washing your car and changing its oil regularly, staying on top of simple tasks can help minimize how often you need professional help to maintain your fireplace.
Remove the Ashes
How much you remove depends on how cold it is. If you are in the middle of a cold season, just ensure that the ashes do not build up over two inches. For the rest of the year, remove all of the ashes from your fireplace.
Use a flat fireplace shovel to scoop out the ashes, and have a bucket on hand to easily dispose of them. Once you have cleared all you can with the shovel, switch to a shop vacuum with a filter bag.
Clean Fire and Soot Stains
Removing fire and soot stains takes a bit more work. Start by spraying soapy water onto the surface. Don’t worry about using too much — you want to lather the surface with it. Let the solution sit for about 30 minutes before scrubbing the surface with a stiff wire brush.
Time to Bring in the Professionals
However good of a handyman you may be, some jobs require a specialist. When it comes to serious chimney problems, a few regular offenders require immediate attention.
Creosote, a dark-colored tar, is more than a burden — it’s a direct threat to your safety. When wood burns, it creates creosote, which rises with the smoke and settles along the lining of your chimney.
While creosote appears in different variations, they are all equally flammable and, as such, dangerous. Thousands of house fires start each year because of poor chimney cleaning, allowing creosote to build up.
If left unchecked for long enough, creosote can also prevent proper venting of your chimney, causing dangerous gases from your fireplace to settle in your home instead. Carbon monoxide is one of the most lethal of these gases.
Professional chimney sweeps such as Chimcare use specific tools to remove creosote deposits from your chimney lining, preventing carbon monoxide buildup and chimney fires in your home.
Cracks in the Flue
When building a chimney, you have two types of chimney lining, or flue, options to choose from: steel and clay tile. People often use clay tile to save money, but it isn’t nearly as tough as a steel lining.
Because chimney linings are subjected to an immense amount of stress and heat, they often become damaged. Even steel linings can grow ragged over time and need repaired, if not replaced. You wouldn’t know if the flue were damaged without an inspection, which is problematic, because a damaged flue is dangerous. For that reason, an annual chimney inspection should be a top priority for maintaining your chimney.
The problem with cracks in the flue is that heat escapes, potentially reaching places in the home that are combustible and starting a house fire. Additionally, gases like carbon monoxide can leak through the cracks into other parts of the house.
Professional chimney sweeps repair flue damage in a number of ways, depending on how extensive the damage is. This can include repairing cracked tiles, patching them with mortar, casting a new liner, inserting a new stainless steel liner, or, in extreme cases, completely replacing the existing liner with a new one.
Leaves, bird nests, and other debris always seem to find their way into unused chimney systems. These can be even more dangerous than creosote buildup, as they completely block venting of dangerous gases produced when your fireplace is in use.
Despite appearances, brickwork is not timeless. Chimney masonry typically lasts upwards of one century, assuming that the mortar is in excellent condition. Once the mortar goes, everything else begins to fail with it. This exposes the entire chimney system to moisture, which creates more erosion. Left unchecked, this is a problem that continues to snowball in severity until completely collapsing.
The best way to protect your chimney’s brickwork is to keep moisture out, which at times means replacing the mortar altogether.
Damaged or Missing Chimney Caps and Crowns
Chimney caps and crowns serve the same purpose: They are the first line of defense for your chimney’s interior against the elements. Should either one of these be damaged, moisture can work its way into your chimney and tear it apart brick by crumbling brick.
Chimney sweeps certified by Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) can find and fix all of the issues listed above, and then some. If you want a safe home, you need to make these solutions a priority.
- Creosote buildup can result in carbon monoxide poisoning and housefires.
- Damage from weather and wear can result in structural instability.
- When you use your chimney infrequently, blockages can build up, causing dangerous gases to back up into your home.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends annual chimney inspections. This way, professionals can discover and correct creosote, cracks, blockages, and any other issues before they escalate. Fortunately, Chimcare is coming to Cleveland! Contact us to schedule any one of our services.