Chimney sweeps give maintenance advice
Keep your chimney in tip-top shape with this advice from highly rated chimney sweeps:
Timing is everything. Your chimney is used the most during cooler months, but so is everyone else's. Schedule cleaning for spring or summer. If repairs are needed, you won't be inconvenienced if your fireplace is out of commission for a few days. "We get overbooked in fall and winter," says Bill Heffernan of Master Chimney Sweepers in Natick, Mass. "It's easier to schedule in spring or summer, and we always offer a discount."
What's that smell? If you notice a smoky or burnt wood smell emanating from the fireplace when the A/C is on, the chimney probably needs a sweep. In hot weather, a chimney can draw air into the house through the damper. "If you smell that, you've got a sooty chimney," says Tom Will of highly rated Top Hat Chimney Sweeps Inc. in Garfield Heights, Ohio.
Burn the good stuff. "Avoid burning pine, any sappy woods or unseasoned wood," Will says. Seasoned wood is best. It should be dried for at least 12 months in an area protected from moisture. Wood that hisses, sizzles or foams when burned is moisture-laden, and builds up soot and potentially flammable creosote more quickly.
Get an annual checkup. "The National Fire Protection Association recommends at least an annual chimney inspection," says Paul Slife of top-rated LifeTime Chimneys LLC in Grafton, Wis. "Some customers can go every two or three years if they use their chimney sparingly."