Have your chimney sweep ensure that your chimney has an appropriate liner. Chimney liners are required in new construction to separate hot heating system emissions from the structure of your home.
Have a sealing damper installed in your wood-burning chimney system and save energy dollars and eliminate unpleasant off-season odors.
Have your chimney flashing (the seal between the chimney and the roof) inspected and maintained. Flashing prevents rain water and snow melt from entering your home and causing costly damage to your walls and ceilings.
Following a violent storm, earthquake, flood or lightning strike, have your chimney inspected for damage, inside and out. This includes checking for cracks and fallen bricks.
Prefabricated chimneys for heating systems, and for fireplaces, are equipped with rain caps to keep rain water from entering the chimney flue. Look for a flat or curved plate at the very top of the chimney, the rain cap can be viewed from the ground. It is important for the home owner to periodically verify the integrity of the rain cap, especially after heavy rains and winds because weakened rain caps can often fail under these conditions. If a rain cap becomes dislodged, rain water can enter the flue and then run down into the heating system, or fireplace, and cause damage or system mal-function. During a rain, look for water and rust in and about the chimney flue located at the heating system, or fireplace; this is a sure sign that something is wrong. In addition, a dislodged rain cap can sometimes cause a blockage in the flue which resticts the natural flow of toxic combustion gasses which contain carbon monoxide produced by the heating system, or fireplace; if the flow of flue gasses is restricted, toxic carbon monoxide may enter the house.
To help reduce creosote build-up in your wood-burning chimney system, burn only well-seasoned hardwoods. If you don't know how to build a hot, safe fire, ask your certified chimney sweep for tips on proper wood-burning techniques.
Gas logs release a lot of water vapor when they are burning. You should be wary of mold and mildew, especially if you have asthma and respiratory problems, when using them for longer than a few hours. A CO detector is a great gas-log accessory. You can find one in many home-improvement and mass chain stores
Mild winters mean more chimney fires! It's true. People choke back their woodstoves in mild weather - leading to more creosote accumulation - but many don't realize this, so they skip getting it cleaned, thinking it doesn't need it as bad as it would after a cold winter.
Install a carbon monoxide detector to warn of harmful gases that may be entering your home because of a blocked or damaged chimney or faulty heating system.
Springtime is the right time to get your chimneys checked! Sweeps are generally less frantic in the spring (vs. the crazy fall season) and if your chimney needs repairs, they can be made before the cold weather hits!