Most fires involving either masonry or prefabricated metal chimneys occur because of improper installation, use or maintenance. Here are a few of the most common causes: chimney installation too close to wood framing; thermal insulation too close to the chimney; and, passing the stovepipe or chimney through a ceiling or wall, causing ignition of wood framing. Also, always operate your appliance within the manufacturer's recommended temperature limits. Too low a temperature increases creosote buildup, and too high a temperature may eventually cause damage to the chimney and result in a fire.
Putting a chimney cover or chimney cap on top of your flue can save you a lot of money in the long run. The covers keep out damaging moisture, which wears away masonry and steel chimneys - not to mention that they keep those birds and other critters out.
Now that the heating season is over, have a chimney sweep clean any fireplaces and flues.
When using a wood-burning fireplace, more heat can be lost up the chimney than is produced by the fire itself. To reduce heat loss when using your fireplace, follow these suggestions: 1) Lower the thermostat setting so your system doesn't keep trying to replace the warm air being drawn toward the chimney. 2) Open the window nearest the fireplace about one inch and close any doors in the room so the fireplace can't draw heated air out of the house. 3) Install glass fireplace doors to help keep the warm air in the room. 4) Close the chimney damper when the fireplace is not in use.
Back to school time means the home heating season is beginning to kick in. Have your chimneys and vents checked before you fire up the furnace or fireplace to make the most of those cool fall evenings.
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.