Most folks tend to think that “fireplace service” means cleaning out the hearth once the ashes have cooled and maybe remembering to open or close the damper. But this type of service is actually a far more involved process that is key to ensuring a long useful life for whole chimney structure while preventing it from becoming a health and safety issue at the same time. Below we’re going to look at a half dozen reasons why shouldn’t skip these important service checks.
A Handful of Reasons (+1) Why Fireplace Service is Important
The impression that the chimney and everything associated with it is pretty much self-sustaining seems to stem at least in part from the fact that it’s built of brick and mortar and other types of stone and that the mechanism is so simple it’s basically foolproof. If only this were the case. Here are 6 reasons why you shouldn’t put off service checks.
- Obstructions - A fire is nothing without a chimney to provide adequate updraft. If you neglect regular service all types of debris can build up in your chimney over time choking off that draft and turning your fire into little more than a smoky disaster. But leaves and twigs are not the only things that can wind up obstructing your chimney in Rapid City, SD or Piedmont, SD. Especially if you don’t use the hob all the time. Birds, squirrels and most especially raccoons love a nice chimney. And once they move in they can be devilishly difficult to evict. Some homeowners try and smoke out the furry freeloaders. But that strategy can have all kinds of unintended consequences from killing the raccoons (which is not only unnecessarily cruel but also insures their bodies form a permanent block), to starting a house fire. Regular service will ensure unwelcome visitors don’t set up house in your chimney in the first place.
- Structural Damage or Other Problems - Yes, chimneys are made of tough stuff but they’re not invulnerable. Over time houses settle and when they do cracks can appear in the brickwork and that doesn’t bode well at all for the future. Cracked brickwork can allow sparks from the fire to enter the walls where they ignite the flammable materials there. Or they can allow poisonous carbon monoxide to infiltrate the walls and seep into other rooms of the house with potentially deadly consequences. Regular checks will identify problem cracks before they grow and timely fireplace repair can save everyone in the house.
- Insurance Prerogatives - If you have a chimney on your home in all likelihood your homeowner’s insurance requires an annual chimney inspection and cleaning. It’s pretty amazing how many people are unaware of this fact until there’s been a fire and the insurance company refuses to pay, citing the neglected annual service checkups stipulated in the policy as the reason. If you aren’t sure of the details of your homeowner’s insurance policy take it out now and go over it. If you see there’s a stipulation requiring annual chimney inspections call the experts at L&M today and get back in compliance with your policy. For your sake, your home’s sake and the sake of everyone who lives and visits the house.
- Greater Efficiency - A clean fire/chimney combination is an efficient one. When everything is in optimal working order and there are no cracks or obstructions in the chimney the hearth burns wood far more efficiently. That means you get more heat out of each piece of wood and, because the fire is burning hotter and cleaner, there’s not as much smoke and carbon monoxide. You also won’t have to burn as much expensive firewood to produce a toasty room and you won’t have to get up as often to tend the fire in order to keep it going.
- Creosote - The word alone is enough to make chimney sweeps stop in their tracks. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad but the fact is creosote is not only a highly flammable byproduct of burning wood, it’s also really difficult to remove if it’s been allowed to build up for years. Creosote is a chemical compound that accumulates in the chimney over time and is actually the leading cause of chimney fires and, by extension, one of the leading causes of house fires. Creosote has been known to ignite when the homeowner starts a fire and burn for extended periods of time after the fire has gone out. If it’s been some time since you’ve had chimney service it’s likely you have creosote buildup in your chimney. Give L&M a ring and have us remove it for you.
- Give the Flu Liner a Break - The flue liner plays an essential role in the life of your chimney. It prevents poisonous gases and heat from penetrating into the walls and wreaking havoc. It also prevents the chimney from getting too hot when the fire has been burning for some time. If your flue liner has been compromised either by creosote buildup, age, settling of the house or damage caused by raccoons or squirrels everyone in the house is in danger of inhaling toxic gases that leak through the compromised flue lining, or by fire caused when flames from burning creosote seep through cracks and splits in the damaged lining. It’s imperative that you have your flue lining inspected on an annual basis (at minimum) and that you have fireplace repair work done if necessary.
Fireplace service is not a joke or a luxury, it’s an absolute necessity if you’re to ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones and the future of the house itself. While the hearth is tough and long lasting it’s not maintenance free and neglecting necessary service or fireplace repair will not lead anywhere good. Talk to the pros at L&M about scheduling service of your Piedmont, SD or Rapid City, SD chimney/fire place. You’ll be glad you did.