DIY Chimney Maintenance
Chimney maintenance that you do yourself is as important as the annual cleanings and inspections by certified sweeps. Some of it requires that you get up on your roof, so you need grip-soles on your shoes and a friend to stay below. Some of it requires that you handle hot ash, so you need proper fireplace tools and fire gloves. Anything beyond the following should be left to a professional sweep, both for your safety, the safety of your household and for proper functionality. Always make sure that the sweep you hire is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
Once you have proper shoes and a sturdy ladder and get up on the roof, first look around for potential problems. These can be very small sticks or even pine needles that roll under your feet…always downward. Everyone who has cleared them out of their gutters and lost their footing in the process knows how treacherous these can be.
Those little sticks might as well be banana peels, so really look carefully for them, as well as anything else of similar concern. Once you are sure you can move around your chimney safely, first inspect the cap and remove any debris trapped by the screen. Then look carefully at the crown for any sign of water intrusion. This can be tiny cracks in either the crown or mortar or mold.
If you see any evidence of possible entry, or if you do not see your chimney cap at all, schedule a real inspection as soon as possible. Other DIY chimney maintenance of importance is at the fireplace end of the system but requires equal care. More than an inch of ash under your grate is can be hazardous, so it needs to be cleaned out at that point. An inch is recommended because it will do two things; make a longer lasting fire and protect your firebox from too much heat.
Wearing fire gloves and using a fireplace poker, poke around in the ash for obvious lumps of remaining fuel. Using a shovel, transfer the rest of the ash to a metal pail with a lid and set the larger coals on top. Close the lid, carry it outside, uncover it, add some water, close it back up, and wait until it is completely out to do anything else. Any soot can be washed with soap and water. You may use a vacuum for ash, but only if it is completely cold. Give Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service in Raleigh, NC a call today at 919-747-1859 to learn more.