What You Should Know About Your Chimney

These Problems May Lead To An Unsafe Chimney Or Expensive Repairs

Rain Caps And Spark Arrestors Rain can damage metal fireboxes and dampers on unprotected chimneys. It

can also erode mortar joints, causing the chimney to leak flue gasses into the home causing the home to become structurally unsound. A chimney with­out a proper spark arrestor may allow airborne embers to ignite shingles, leaves, trees, or grass. That’s why every chimney needs a chimney cap with a spark arrestor for maximum safety and spark protection. A stainless steel or copper model chimney cap gives

lifetime protection from moisture dam­age, keeps out critters, and protects against sparks.

Loose Or Missing Bricks And General Chimney Deterioration Loose bricks and chimney deterioration

can be symptomatic of a major problem. In many cases, minor repairs done early will save huge repair bills later. In all cases, this condition should be checked by a professional immediately to avert the dangers of fire hazard or structural failure.

Does My Chimney Need To Be Cleaned Or Waterproofed?


The National Fire Protection Code 211 requires an annual safety inspection of all chimney systems. Here’s why: In a woodburning system, incomplete com­bustion results in unburned residue which rises in the chimney as part of the smoke. This residue called creosote is deposited on the inside of the chim- , ney walls, presenting a major fire hazard to the home. Gas and oil flues should also be checked on an annual basis for

any soot deposits or debris blockage which could lead to dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning. A chimney profes­sional can inspect and clean the inside of your chimney to eliminate these dangers.


Waterproofing is the best preventive maintenance you can give the porous exterior of your chimney against premature aging and expensive repairs.

How To Avoid Chimney Fires

Creosote Is The Main Cause Of Chimney Fires

Slow smoldering fires and/or the use of unseasoned wood can create “cool” smoke and weak draft. Under these con­ditions the smoke condenses and sticks to the chimney’s interior, forming highly flammable creosote. A buildup of cre­osote is highly combustible and can result in a chimney fire. To minimize creosote:

  • Burn only seasoned woods.
  • Avoid dampering down the flue to
    make your fire burn more slowly.
  • Contact your chimney professional
    to clean your chimney regularly.

Important do’s and dont’s

  • Do check the manufacturer’s operating guidelines for your woodstove or insert.
  • Do use seasoned hardwood.
  • Do use commercial fire starters if you like. They eliminate the need for tinder and reduce the amount of kin­dling required.
  • Don’t use charcoal lighter fluid or other flammable liquids. These are extremely dangerous. (Gel fire starters are okay.)
  • Don’t use coal in a woodstove or fire­place unless there are specific written instructions — it will burn, but not
  • Don’t burn artificial logs in a wood-stove, unless they are specifically designed for woodstove use.
  • Don’t burn treated lumber, trash, or anything other than wood in your wood fireplace or woodstove.