When you think of winterizing your home, you probably have a checklist of products to be bought and chores to be carried out. But how many of you remember things like window insulation kits and weather stripping but forget to check your chimneys?
Chimneys are so mundane and ubiquitous, they’re literally up and out of the way, and so it is easy to forget they’re even there. But there are several very good reasons why you should not neglect this task, and why this is the perfect time to do it.
The first thing you need to know about chimney maintenance is that it’s a matter of health and safety. Poorly vented smoke can be a killer. In fact, it is a killer in the developing world. According to the WHO, 4.3 million people die prematurely per year due to poor smoke ventilation in homes. If your chimney is damaged, then in all likelihood it’s not venting smoke properly, and that is a problem.
A damaged chimney is not just hazard to the health though, it can also be a hazard to your safety. This is especially a problem with older chimneys, which, while they have stood the test of time, tend to also have more problems. Over time, chimneys can crack, lean, or leak, and cause major structural damage to your home.
But chimney maintenance is not just a case of inspecting, or hiring a company to inspect the chimney for you. Ensuring that your chimney is clean also plays a critical role in the maintenance of your chimney. Depending on the kind of fireplace or stove you may have and its combustion efficiency, you may have a build–up of tar or creosote. This can cause chimney fires, and no one wants a chimney fire. Traditional fireplaces are more susceptible to this than wood stoves or pellet stoves, but all chimneys need to be checked to see if they need cleaning. It is well worth the money to hire professionals to periodically come and check/clean your chimney.
Check That Chimney Now!
Some of that is pretty scary stuff, right? But hopefully it has inspired those of you with chimneys to check them! Unlike those other tasks though, I would advise that you do not wait to make sure your chimney is in good repair.
This is a great time of year to get that chimney checked! We may still be a few weeks out from those cooler temperatures, but that is ideal. Because if there are any serious problems with your chimney, it gives you plenty of time to get any needed repairs done, leaving you free to enjoy that first fire of the season.