Spring is officially here, and we can finally look forward to the joys she brings upon us: sunshine, baseball, April showers, cookouts and, of course, spring cleaning. Soon you’ll be turning the heat off completely, and not even think about your fireplace until the fall when the cold starts to return.
Here’s why you DON’T want to do that.
As you dive headfirst into spring cleaning, you need to include your chimney and fireplace to the list of things to take care of, and make it one of your top priorities. Here’s why:
Waiting until the cooler seasons to have your chimney looked at is like going to the DMV on the first OR last of the month. Once September comes, nearly every reputable chimney company will be booked solid with appointments and have a waiting list that’s weeks or even months long.
Don’t get waitlisted. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned this spring.
Chimneys only get dirty when you use them. Creosote is a flammable substance that builds up in fireplaces and needs regular cleaning to prevent the risk of having a chimney fire. It’s also one of the most common contributors to a stinky chimney, leaving a strong musty smell that gets stronger as the temperature and humidity rises.
Because you’re not using the fireplace during the spring or summer, creosote won’t build up before the fall, meaning your chimney will be as clean all summer as the day you cleaned it.
Water and moisture is your chimney’s worst enemy. The bricks in chimneys are porous, which means that water and moisture can penetrate and pass through them. This causes deterioration as a result of prolonged contact with water, especially during the wetter months.
During the harsh winters, the bricks can deteriorate quickly when exposed to the freeze/thaw process, where moisture that’s penetrated the masonry periodically freezes and expands, causing undue stress. And when snow sits on a chimney over the whole winter, it tends to melt slowly, dripping down into the chimney. If water seeps into the masonry, the water inside the bricks will freeze when the temperature drops, expanding into ice crystals that can crack and shatter masonry. This freezing and thawing cycle can do massive damage to a chimney over a single winter.
There are a few things you can do to protect your chimney against the moisture. Be sure you have a chimney cap to allow rain to roll away from the flue opening, and to have your chimney waterproofed.
Some animals have been known to find themselves stranded after falling into a chimney, while others use chimneys as a nesting shelter. Either way, this leads to unwanted things becoming stuck in your chimney, including leaves, branches, animal waste and even carcasses of those who were stranded.
Summer is also the season for chimney swifts. These birds are known to nest in hollow trees, but have found that chimneys are a suitable alternative to nest, lay eggs and make lots of unholy noise that echoes from throughout the chimney. Contrary to other birds, swifts are able to fly up and down the chimney with ease.
Getting a chimney cap installed is a simple precaution to keep animals out of your chimney.
We often find that chimneys need moderate or extensive repairs after the winter, which can be costly. By having the chimney inspected in the spring, you have the fortune of identifying any problems early on — or stop them from developing entirely — long before the cold season returns.