Maintaining Your Chimney

by Darwin Hall

brick chimney

The main problem with modern, efficient wood-burning stoves and fireplaces is creosote build-up.

If the creosote ignites, it can become a roaring inferno, hot enough to destroy some types of chimneys or stovepipes.

Even if there is no fire, creosote is caustic enough to cause real damage.  Always use materials that have been tested and approved for your area, and install them to local codes.  High-quality materials cost more, but they are definitely worth it.

Installing a rain cap.  The mixture of rain, soot, and fireplace gases can produce an acid that deteriorates the chimney surface.  To prevent deterioration and prevent downdrafts, install a rain cap.  You can buy a pre-fabricated rain cap in the roofing section of your local home store.

To protect your roof and neighboring houses, you should have a wire spark arrester.  Make one from heavy galvanized mesh with a one-inch grid.  Cut the mesh into a rectangle that will wedge into the flue opening.

chimney-capOr cut the mesh large enough to fit over the opening.  Then wire it to the flue.

Cleaning A Chimney

Clean your chimney at the start of each heating season and two or three times during the season, depending on use.

Although chimney sweeps have specialized equipment, you can do the job yourself with brushes that you rent, buy, or improvise.  Start by removing the fireplace grate and opening the damper.

Block off the fireplace opening with a large piece of cardboard or plywood.  Stuff rags around the barrier.  Do the actual cleaning from the roof.  Dress in old clothes and wear a dust mask.  Tie a weight and cleaning brush onto a rope and lower them into the chimney.

Work the brush up and down vigorously along the entire length of the chimney.  If you do not have a brush,  place some rocks and crushed newspaper in a burlap sack that you lower down the chimney.

After retrieving the rope and brush or sack, remove the barrier from the fireplace opening and shovel up the soot.  Use a brush or broom to knock soot down from the damper and shelf.  After you have swept the fireplace, give it a final cleaning with an old vacuum.

Relining A Chimney

Unlined chimneys, or those with cracked tile liners, can allow the heat from a chimney fire to start a house fire.  Chimneys with these conditions need to be replaced.  There are two relining methods.  With both methods, the old liner is removed.

With one method, a vinyl or rubber hose is inserted into the chimney and inflated.  Lightweight concrete is poured around the hose, which is then deflated and removed after the concrete sets.

Watch the VideoWith the second method, a stainless steel liner is inserted into the chimney.  The liner is surrounded with lightweight concrete and either connected directly to a wood stove or used as a fireplace chimney.

Dotted Line Post Separator

Related Articles

Share Button

Previous post:

Next post: