With autumn around the corner, it is essential to check your flue and make sure your fireplace is as safe as it is inviting before the chilly season sets in. A lot of homeowners ignore fall flue maintenance but without yearly inspection, a furnace system can wear itself out quickly and simply stop working or even worse, with loose bricks or cracks in the chimney lining have deadly carbon monoxide enter the home. For this reason, it is recommended that you install carbon monoxide detectors in every room of your home, but of course, such detectors are no replacement for making sure your flue is working properly.
An intact flue system ensures that combustion products exit your four walls properly. To ensure the system works properly, you should check your flue inside and out to make sure there are no cracks, holes or leaks, especially where the flue meets the furnace. Loose bricks should be replaced immediately and minor holes fixed short-term with foil tape. Larger holes, unfortunately, require replacement of the flue to ensure correct operation.
Furthermore, an inefficient flue may force you to pay higher heating bills each year. To avoid high bills in general, make sure your ceilings and walls are properly insulated and that you have no energy leaks through cracks in doors and windows. Drawing curtains shut at night and closing the firebox of your heater can also prevent heat loss.
Especially after the warm summer months when your flue has been used infrequently, it is time to give it a thorough check for enough air combustion. Efficient burning of your heater only occurs when enough air is supplied, if the flue is blocked you will end up with lots of smoke in the house. An easy way to check flue blockage is by lighting a fire and if your flue smokes excessively, you are not only wasting firewood and heat but cause unnecessary emissions. In this event, check for birds’ nests and critters in your flue or roof cavity as leaves, twigs and branches can block a chimney as well. Most common signs of a chimney problem are smoke in the house or lose bricks on the floor of a fireplace. In this event, you should call a professional immediately as this can be a sign of a major problem.
Cleaning and inspecting flues means more than just sweeping soot and most homeowners neither have the expertise nor the equipment to do so. It is therefore advisable to have your local chimney sweep come once a year to have your flue cleaned and inspected, making the inside a priority for checking creosote residue. Creosote is a black and sticky tar-like by-product of firewood burning and very dangerous, as the substance is highly inflammable and the cause of many chimney fires that can burn down a whole house. Every year Australians lose their homes as a result of continuing to use unsafe systems. A professional chimney sweep can eliminate this safety hazard from your home in a quick and easy way.
To properly maintain your flue, you should always clean the ashes from the fireplace and make sure the damper is always fully open before lighting a fire. If you are not satisfied with the performance of your heater, it may be something simple as poor quality firewood. This is why you should always season your firewood a year in advance or buy it off a reputable retailer to make sure it is thoroughly dry since poor or wet firewood results in slow fires and more creosote build-up collecting in the chimney.