A fireplace is an advantage in your home. Naturally, a fireplace can help warm your house. However, a fireplace also creates a sense of coziness for you and your guests. However, don't forget one of the most important parts of the fireplace - the chimney. If your chimney is dirty or in need of repairs, it can present a hazard to you and your family.
Find out telltale signs that your chimney needs to be cleaned or repaired.
Burning Wood Odor
If you smell the odor of burning wood even when the fireplace isn't lit, you may have stage one or two creosote, which is a byproduct of burning wood. Stage one creosote is flaky or dusty, while stage two looks more like tar. Creosote buildup can cause chimney fires, so you need to clear it as soon as it starts accumulating.
Smoke Flooding your House
Smoke flooding your house could be a sign of stage three creosote or even a chimney fire. Stage three creosote resembles a tar-like glaze on the chimney liner. You may also notice a honey-comb of black tar, which indicates you may have had a slow-burning fire in your chimney. Professionals may be able to clean the liner, but it may need replacing.
Slow-Starting or Burning Fire
If you have difficulty getting your fire started, or it slowly burns when you do get it started, you may have an obstruction of airflow. This obstruction can come from creosote or just soot in general. A slowstarting or slow-burning fire is an indication that you need your chimney swept.
Rust on the Firebox or Damper
If you see rust on your firebox or damper, your natural response will be to clean it. You should do so, but you should also investigate the cause. Moisture causes rust, and there shouldn't be an excess of moisture around your fireplace. A likely cause of the moisture are cracks in the flue lining. Such a breach in the chimney system can cause a fire, meaning you should get it repaired immediately.
Chimney Remnants in the Fireplace
If you notice remnants at the bottom of your fireplace that don't come from burning wood, they could be thin slices of chimney tile. These chimney tile remnants can come from a shaling flue liner. Shaling flue tiles are another example of a flue liner that's lost its structural integrity, necessitating a repair.
Moisture from rainfall or melting snow can permeate the brick of your chimney. As it freezes, the moisture expands. Over time, this creates spalling, which looks like white flaking on the outside of the brick. A white flaking called efflorescence is actually an indication that the bricks are deteriorating and need replacing.
Cracked Mortar Joints
The mortar joints actually hold your chimney onto the roof, so naturally, they need to be structurally sound. You may notice cracks when you're up in the attic or when you're visually inspecting your roof. Also a victim of the freeze-thaw cycle, cracked mortar joints could lead to an eventual collapse of the chimney.
Damaged Chimney Crown
As the name suggests, the chimney crown tops the chimney. Its purpose is to deflect weather and moisture from entering the chimney itself. If the crown contains masonry, it can become cracked. If it contains metal, it can start to warp or split. A damaged chimney crown can allow moisture to enter the chimney, causing spalling or shaling.
USA Today recommends getting your chimney inspected every year for damage and creosote buildup. How often you should clean or repair the chimney depends on its condition. Consult with the experts at R & R Fireplace And Chimney about whether your chimney needs cleaning or repairing.