Most homeowners tackle regular household maintenance but don’t usually think about the chimney until there’s a problem. Like any other part of your home, your chimney needs regular cleaning and upkeep to function correctly. Keep your chimney clean and efficient and prevent costly repairs with these chimney maintenance tips.

1. Chimney Maintenance: Inspect the Chimney Regularly

At least annually, look at your chimney from the outside to check for damage. Inspect for cracks in the mortar or bricks, missing bricks, or any other signs of deterioration. Chimney repairs are not usually a DIY fix. Call an experienced professional to make the necessary repairs if you spot damage. A pro will have the proper tools and materials to handle repairs safely.

2. Hire a Chimney Sweep

Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, it’s essential to clean your chimney at least once a year to remove leaves and animal nests and to prevent soot and creosote buildup. Hiring a professional to do this job is best because they will have the necessary tools and safety equipment. However, you can do it yourself using a chimney brush. Wear old clothes, a mask, and safety goggles to protect yourself from the soot.

3. Chimney Maintenance: Install a Chimney Cap

If your chimney isn’t capped, install one. A chimney cap helps to block leaves, pine needles, and animals from your chimney, reducing the chance of a fire in the flue. The cap also helps prevent blow-backs when the wind blows smoke from the fireplace back down the chimney.

4. Don’t Burn Trash in the Fireplace

It might seem like an easy way to get rid of garbage, but burning trash in your fireplace is dangerous. Household garbage, including magazines, newspapers, and cardboard boxes, releases harmful chemicals as they burn. Burning debris can float up the chimney and ignite nearby tree branches, debris in the gutters, or even your roofing materials.

Only use well-seasoned hardwood in your fireplace. It will burn hotter and cleaner, limiting creosote buildup and reducing the risk of a chimney fire.

5. Prune Trees Near the Home

Hire an arborist to trim trees growing near the house, especially if they have overhanging branches. Branches near the chimney can ignite if embers float up. Keeping nearby trees pruned also helps to protect your roof and chimney from damage during storms.

These simple tips keep your chimney in good working order and prevent costly repairs. Enjoy worry-free fires all winter long by investing a little time in chimney maintenance.

Encompass Home Inspection Service offers inspections for home buyers and sellers in Southern New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania. Contact us to request our services.