Prepare Your Chimney for Winter
The winter season is the best time for a warm, cozy fire. As middle Tennessee welcomes cold temperatures this winter (and even a bit of snow, as we’ve seen!), make sure that your fireplace and chimney are clean, safe, and prepared to last through the cold.
Creosote buildup occurs as your chimney experiences increased use, and can be dangerous if not taken care of. As creosote levels increase within your chimney — which is more likely to occur when the temperature of the chimney is much cooler than that of the fireplace — your risk of a chimney fire increases as well. If you regularly ignite your fireplace during the winter months, check to make sure that creosote levels are minimal and have an inspector assess your chimney’s interior as well. You’ll be able to identify creosote by looking for dark-colored material inside of your chimney that resembles tar.
Seasoned wood is crucial for maintaining a healthy fireplace and chimney during the winter. Seasoned wood has been dried for at least six months, thus reducing moisture buildup and resulting condensation and creosote buildup within your chimney. Always buy your wood from a trusted source, and test to make sure it’s properly seasoned. Well-seasoned logs make a sharp ring when they’re struck against each other, and appear cracked and dry on the ends. When lit, they should burn easily and not release any steam.
Ash buildup can be dangerous. After you light a winter fire, make sure to remove the ashes when they are completely cooled — and dispose of them safely to ensure that they do not reignite. A good rule of thumb is to clean your firebox once a week or before ashes reach one inch in height.
Chimney caps can be open doors for critters looking for refuge this winter, as well as victims of nearby branches that fall during snow, ice, or wintery storms. Make sure that your chimney cap is structurally sound and has proper protective screening to keep animals and pests out. Trim any nearby branches to protect your chimney’s exterior.
Cold and smoky airflow problems can occur in winter if the temperature difference between your chimney and the outdoor air is significant. Referred to as the “stack effect” or “chimney effect,” this issue is a result of air density changes as warm air from your chimney is overcome by cold air from outside (read more in this post). Although these airflow problems are generally the result of a chimney’s overall structure or installation style, they can be reduced by making sure that your home is thoroughly insulated and that the chimney is properly sealed.
Annual inspections are the best way to ensure that your chimney is prepared for the season. Be sure to have your chimney inspected at least once a year and contact an expert if you notice something suspicious. The Chim Chimney team serves Hermitage, Williamson County, West Nashville, and beyond — contact us to learn more about how you can protect your chimney this winter.