Fireplaces of any kind add a cozy feel (not to mention monetary value) to a home. But old-fashioned wood fireplaces with chimneys can be a bit intimidating if you’ve never owned a house with one before. Here are three things you should know about to safely use your fireplace and keep costs down:
- How Chimney Liners Work
When wood burns, it creates a buildup of a flammable deposit called creosote in your chimney flue. One of the main functions of a chimney liner is to reduce this buildup and thereby lower the risk of fire. In fact, fire codes in most places mandate liners.
Another benefit of chimney liners is that they increase heat efficiency, which can pay off in a lower utility bill in the winter months. Chimney liners can be made of clay or metal; stainless steel chimney liners are very popular and efficient choices.
- How to Choose Chimney Caps
Some kinds of chimney flues come with caps, while others don’t. But installing a chimney cap is a good idea for almost all chimney types. They keep out rain, preventing both unpleasant odors and damage to the inside of the flue, and wind, which can cause smoke. They also stop embers or sparks from flying out of the flue and onto your roof, causing damage or even starting a fire.
Chimney caps also prevent animals, drawn by the heat of your fireplace, from nesting in your flue during the winter months. Squirrels and birds are both common unwelcome critters. There are many different styles of caps, so choosing one is largely a matter of picking a style that matches the architectural design of your home.
- How to Clean a Chimney Flue
Even if your chimney is properly outfitted, cleaning a chimney is an occasional necessity. The easiest solution is simply to hire a professional. This also ensures that you’re not causing a fire hazard through improper or incomplete cleaning practices.
Different kinds of wood create different amounts of creosote; if you burn pine, for example, you’ll probably need cleanings more frequently. An annual inspection and cleaning is standard.
Do you have any advice on properly outfitting or cleaning a chimney? Share in the comments.