Fireplaces are romantic and fun to use. At the right times of year, fireplaces can also be functional, providing heat and light in the house. However, fireplaces and chimneys need to be maintained, or they can become unsafe. If you're a Southeast Calgary homeowner with a fireplace, here's what you need to know.
Burn Seasoned Firewood
Seasoned firewood is firewood that's been dried sufficiently. Seasoned firewood has a low moisture content, so it burns easily and produces little smoke. Unseasoned firewood is firewood that has been produced from a recently downed tree. Unseasoned firewood produces a lot of smoke and can take a long time to burn.
The smoke produced by unseasoned firewood can cause creosote to build up in the chimney. Creosote is a sticky, tar-like substance that burns easily. If enough creosote builds up in the chimney, it can become a fire hazard. Homeowners can prevent creosote from building up in their chimney by buying their seasoned firewood from a reputable dealer.
Have Your Fireplace Serviced Once Annually
Fireplaces need to be inspected once annually to ensure they're safe to use. Most fireplaces used during the year also need to be cleaned once annually.
Cleanings often take 20 minutes or less. Even homeowners who haven't used their fireplace in the last year should still have their fireplace inspected at the beginning of the fall, if they're planning to use it. This way, if a problem has developed in the last year (such as the building of a bird nest), it can be remediated before the fireplace is used.
Know the Signs of a Problem
Sometimes, when a fireplace has a problem, the homeowner can tell. Homeowners who have a chimney and fireplace should watch for the following problems:
Moss on Bricks
Moss can cause brick work to deteriorate, so any moss on the bricks of the chimney should be removed. In addition, ivy can also cause bricks and mortar to break down. This should also be removed.
Effervescence is a white crusty deposit on the outside of the chimney. Effervescence indicates that water has penetrated the brick and could be doing damage to the chimney.
Smell in the Fireplace
A smell in the fireplace could be an indication that creosote has built up in the flue. It could also be a sign that a pest has made a home for itself inside the chimney.
Choose the Right Professional
If you're a homeowner with a fireplace, work with a professional to ensure that your chimney is well-maintained. Before choosing a chimney professional, check their references and licensure. This will help ensure that your chimney is in good hands.