Chimney Maintenance Tips For Carolina Homeowners

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Chimney Maintenance Tips For Carolina Homeowners

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Fireplace and Chimney Care

Even though winters in the Carolinas tend toward the mild on average, it still gets pretty cool at night. Sometimes it can get downright chilly. And when cooler days and evenings arrive, is there any cozier feeling than sitting by a warm, cheery fireplace?

A fireplace can be enjoyed all year round. However simple as a fireplace and a chimney may seem, they still need regular maintenance to operate safely and efficiently.

Here is what you need to know to take proper care of your chimney.

Conduct Frequent DIY Inspections

Make a habit of looking at your fireplace. Keep an eye out for ash accumulation in your fireplace, and clean it out every day, especially during the colder months. Also, take note of any stains that are difficult to clean and consider calling in a specialist cleaning service to help handle them.

The main problem, however, is that it’s not always easy to know when your chimney needs professional cleaning as it’s often difficult to see inside it. Here are some signs that should signal it’s time for a professional fireplace and chimney cleaning:

  • It’s difficult to get a fire going. A clogged chimney and restricted airflow might cause this.
  • Your fire doesn’t burn as well as it usually does.
  • Even when not lit, you can smell charred wood from the fireplace.
  • The room gets smokey even when the flue is open.
  • The fireplace damper is black. This indicates creosote buildup.
  • You notice evidence of animals nesting or hear animal noises coming from your chimney.

If you think your chimney is malfunctioning in any way—whether inside or outside—contact some chimney experts right away for a thorough inspection and cleaning.

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Have a Regular Inspection Schedule

The frequency of your need to inspect your chimney may depend on how often you use it. While once-per-year inspections are ideal for occasional fireplace use, you should also schedule inspections immediately following extreme weather events such as hurricanes and blizzards. Having a maintenance routine will help you uncover potential problems early and allow you to solve them before they get worse.

Why Cleaning Your Chimney Is Important

If your chimney hasn’t been cleaned in a while, creosote can accumulate in the flue while it’s being used. Creosote can be highly flammable, and its buildup could lead to a potentially dangerous chimney fire.

Blockages will not only fill your home with smoke but could also expose you to high levels of undetectable carbon monoxide.

A clean chimney is a safe chimney.

Cleaning Your Chimney Yourself

Should you do it?

Technically, nothing is stopping you if you have the right tools and safe access to your chimney. The procedure is relatively straightforward, but it’s highly recommended you research the process in detail before beginning.

For most chimneys, the process involves the following:

  1. Clear out and seal the fireplace. Lay a drop cloth down during cleanup. Remove ash and unburnt wood. Open the damper and detach it if possible. Cover the front of the fireplace.
  2. Remove the rain cap. This requires safe, careful roof work.
  3. Brush chimney flue. You can do this either from the top or the bottom, bearing in mind that if you do it from the bottom, you may end up with more soot in your room as you won’t be able to have the fireplace front covered.
  4. Scrub the flue walls with an up-and-down brushing motion. Use extensions to help you get all the way through your chimney.
  5. Replace the rain cap.
  6. Clean up debris. Shop vacs can be helpful for this.
  7. Reattach the damper if needed.

Take special note that cleaning a chimney can be messy, especially if you’re new to chimney cleaning. Depending on how much you used your fireplace over the past year, you could be dealing with a lot of soot and debris. You might even find yourself confronted with dead animal remains.

Be prepared. Plan ahead. Have dropcloths, tools, and safety gear all on hand before beginning.

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Hiring Professionals

In most cases, the best decision will be to hire professionals with know-how, experience, and proper equipment.

That said, don’t let just anyone handle your house. Find out which chimney service providers are well-regarded in your area by conducting thorough research. Request recommendations from people you can trust. Verify any certification claims, and find out whether insurance or work guarantees exist.

While anyone can sell chimney sweeping services, there are professional chimney sweep organizations. You should see if your potential service provider is a member of the Chimney Sweep Institute of America (CSIA), which certifies its members, and/or the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG), which keeps members on top of the latest developments in practice and technology.

For More Information

Want to learn more about protecting your home and enjoying your fireplace at the same time? Contact our Renovations & Maintenance Division if you need your chimney cleaned! 704.535.1122

Shelly Henderson
Shelly Henderson
Shelly calls herself a “Charlottean” because her family has been there since her elementary school days. She serves as Henderson Properties’ co-founder, along with her husband Phil, managing the day-to-day operations, social media branding and leadership development. Her different life experiences, both positive and challenging, earned the title to her first book Starting From Scratch. Shelly has a servant’s heart and leads her company with purpose and passion. She is mom to two sons who continue as young adults to make her heart swell.