With winter comes a whole list of things to do. You’ve got make sure your furnace is operating at peak performance, first of all. Heating is a major expense in the winter, especially in states like New Jersey. You might need to make modifications to your windows, doorways, or even upgrade your installation to make sure you get that absolute best result.
Then you’ve got vehicles to winterize, wardrobes to upgrade, snow blowers to tune up, and countless other tasks. Oh, and there’s the chimney to think about. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who live in a home with a chimney, it can make winters that much warmer and cozier. But your chimney can also wreak havoc on your heating efficiency if not properly maintained.
The question of whether your chimney is ready for winter or not may be easier to answer if you’ve been living in your home for quite awhile, and you’re well aware of the various maintenance requirements that come into play.
Cleaning is really the main issue homeowners face. As the fireplace is used, the walls of the chimney become layered with soot and dust. This is the natural outcome of a wood fire, but it’s a huge mistake to simply leave it year after year. The results of a poorly-maintained fireplace can be decreased heating efficiency, carbon monoxide issues, house fires, and the deterioration of the chimney itself. All of these problems can be very costly, and in different ways.
You probably also know that a chimney is not simply an empty shaft that extends straight up. There are various structural components involved in the construction of a chimney, and there are also various types of chimney designs out there. Making sure the key components are working as they should is an important step toward efficiency and safety throughout the seasons.
Cleaning and preparing your own chimney for winter is virtually out of the question for the vast majority of homeowners — unless perhaps they’ve worked as a professional chimney cleaner, and already have all the equipment they need. Trying to clean or maintain a chimney by yourself is a dangerous proposition, and in many areas, it’s not even allowed. There’s a good reason why certified, reputable chimney providers are needed to do this type of work — it’s not as easy as it looks!
If you’re not sure whether your chimney is up for a maintenance check or not, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and have this task performed by a licensed professional before you start using your fireplace for the winter season. You might find that your chimney is badly in need of cleaning and maintenance, and that the overall effect on your heating and efficiency (not to mention safety) is extremely positive. You might also find that the situation isn’t bad, but that a cleaning still makes things safer and better. Your professional will also be able to assess whether there are any underlying structural concerns with your chimney, and discuss a reasonable maintenance schedule moving forward.