Whether you heat your home exclusively with a fireplace or have another system and use the fire for supplemental heating, you do not want to waste wood or pellets because the fireplace is not working to its optimum efficiency. One of the biggest issues that will make a fireplace not work properly is a dirty chimney. Of course, having the chimney cleaned can be a big job and can cause a big mess if it's not done correctly. Here are a few tips for keeping the chimney clean and your fire heating the house.
Keeping Inside the House Clean
When you clean a chimney, soot is bound to be floating all over the place. You need to make sure the fireplace is closed and sealed completely. If it is not a wood-burning stove, but an actual open fireplace, nail or staple some wood or cardboard over the opening before you start working. It is also a good idea to cover all furniture in the room and decorations on the walls with old sheets or pillow cases. This way, when you open the fireplace again, a down draft will not send the soot flying through the room, coating everything.
The Right Tools
Not all fireplace-cleaning tools are the same size or type. You need to have brushes that are the correct diameter to actually sweep out the chimney without becoming stuck. Also, the brushes may be made of different materials that may scratch the interior of the chimney or possibly cause any putty or caulk that is holding two pieces together to become loose and fall out. If you do not have the original documentation that came with the unit, make sure you have the make and model number with you when you go to the hardware store. This will ensure that you buy the tools that will work best for your unit.
Check for Leaks
Once you have finished brushing inside the chimney and have carefully shoveled out any soot that fell into the fireplace, you need to check for leaks. Sometimes, the soot has actually sealed a leak. Start a fire with wood that will smoke a lot. Once the fire is established, cover the top of the chimney with a damp cloth so the smoke has to find a different exit. Watch the pipe inside and outside the house – and on all floors the chimney passes through – for any smoke seeping out. Mark any leaks and purchase the appropriate material to seal them depending on what type of chimney you have.
Any time you notice that it is harder to keep or start a fire, it could be time to clean the chimney. If you are not comfortable getting on the roof and pushing long brushes down the chimney, you may want to consider hiring a professional chimney sweep. He or she probably won't be dancing on your rooftop, but you can be sure your fireplace will work much better after the job is done. Contact a company like Flame On MN to learn more about chimney cleaning.