Chimney Caps

Chimney Checkup: Periodic Maintenance for Your Fireplace, Flue, and Chimney

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 Posted by Stephanie H.

When is the best time address a problem? We all know the answer to that question. When it comes to home improvement, in general, the best way to solve a problem is by preventing it from happening in the first place. Maintenance of a fireplace, flue, and chimney top are no exception to this rule. Like any other part of your home, your firebox and chimney need attention and regular maintenance. Here's a list of things to look for:

  1. How great is your grate? - The heat from a frequently used fireplace takes its toll on most grates. The regular cooling and heating of this fireplace accessory takes its toll on this otherwise stalwart log holder and leads to its eventual "melt down". Look for signs of warping and melting. If it's about to go, retire it and replace with a new wrought iron or cast iron grate.
  2. Mesh curtains, doors, and spark screens may need updating or cleaning. Fireplace glass is like any other kinds of glass. A good cleaning inside and out will restore the sparkle in that fireplace flame. Mesh curtains and spark screens attract dust. Take them out to the garage and use a vacuum brush attachment to remove the dust and soot. Avoid using cleaners or water on screens or curtains as they may cause premature rusting or degradation.
  3. Is your firebox in good condition? A stitch in time saves nine. Taking the time to repair firebricks and mortar joints in your chimney will save you the headache and expense of more costly repairs down the road. Use high temperature refractory cement for your fireplace. This type of cement is engineered to stand the heat.
  4. Is your throat damper in need of attention? This is the metal unit above your firebox. Over time this can become rusted or corroded. Even brand new, these are inefficient. Replacement or repair of these is expensive and labor intensive. If you need to replace one of these, you might consider installing a top sealing damper instead. They are simple to install and pay for themselves in energy savings.
  5. Have your chimney flue cleaned regularly. Some experts recommend that frequently used fireplaces be inspected and cleaned monthly. This can be expensive if you hire someone to do it. You may be surprised by how inexpensive a set of cleaning tools can be. For the cost of one cleaning you can buy the needed tools to sweep your own chimney. Once you own them, you can clean your chimney as often as you like.
  6. Check out the crown. If your chimney has a stone or concrete top, check for cracks or chipped mortar. There are flexible coatings that are easy to apply and seal and beautify chimney tops. If you have a metal chase on your chimney top, check for rust and evidence of broken seals or seams. Chase covers are easy to replace. Replacing a worn or rusted chase cover can save you thousands in water damage inside your chimney and home.
  7. Seal the bricks on the outside of your chimney. Make sure you use a sealant designed to allow water and vapors to escape while keeping the rain and moisture out.
  8. Caps need to be secure and in good shape. Make sure birds have not found a home in your cap. Worn or rusted chimney caps round or square can easily be removed and replaced.

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