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This might sound like a strange analogy, but your chimney is like a car: it does its job but it needs the right kind of chimney maintenance.

And like a car, your chimney needs an annual inspection. Still, there are steps you can take to find out whether there are problems with your chimney that need to be addressed right away through chimney sweep or chimney maintenance services.

The Chimney Exterior

Head outside and walk around your chimney to look for a phenomenon known as “efflorescence.” This is a fancy term for the white residue on your brick. It’s a sign that there’s too much moisture in your chimney.

You can wipe the residue away, but the larger problem is inside the chimney. If you can’t get rid of the moisture inside the chimney, it will cause the brick and mortar to deteriorate.

In fact, your outside inspection might even reveal signs of deterioration. Look for crumbling mortar or loose bricks. Both conditions require immediate attention. Left unaddressed, these issues will result in much more expensive repairs to your chimney both inside and outside your home.

Your Fireplace in Bucks County

Inspect the brickwork on your fireplace, and make sure the damper opens and closes with ease. Look into the smoke chamber and check for creosote buildup. (Look for a black/brown tar-like substance.)

If you see rust, you’ll know that you have moisture problems in your chimney.

Leaks in Your Chimney

Leaks in your chimney can cause damage to the chimney itself as well as the inside of your home, and need to be addressed right away. You can find out whether your chimney has leaks by examining the areas in your home immediately around the chimney. Look for peeling wallpaper, stains, or dampness near the chimney.

And while it’s important to have regular chimney maintenance in PA and to have your fireplace inspected every year, there are steps you can take to keep them well-maintained:

  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Keep anything flammable – carpets, drapes, furniture – away from the fireplace when it’s lit. Put a guard in front of the fireplace to protect children and pets, and make sure there is nothing combustible within 12 inches of the lintel – the metal plate at the top of the fireplace opening.
  • Having an inch or so of ash can help you maintain a fire, but too much can impede airflow. Clear ash from the fireplace when it reaches the bottom of the grate, and make sure you wear a dust mask and gloves.
  • Never burn green wood – new wood – in the fireplace. It won’t burn as thoroughly, and will create excess soot and creosote. The wood you use should be “seasoned,” meaning wood that’s been cut in the last 6-12 months and has been left out to dry.
  • Burn hardwoods – ash, maple and oak – rather than soft woods (cedar, pine, poplar). Hard woods are more heavy and dense, and will provide you with more heat.

If your chimney needs cleaning – or if you need an inspection – contact Estates Chimney Sweep Inc. For one low fee, our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps can make sure your chimney and fireplace are doing their jobs.