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Chimney Maintenance Checklist

Oct 19, 2017 6:20:00 PM

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Winter is coming, and if hits means your thoughts are turning to a warm fire in the fireplace and family gathered around, then now is the time to consider giving your chimney and fireplace a little TLC. If this is not addressed, the creosote can ignite and cause a loud, intense and powerful fire. A chimney fire can quickly destroy your home and the cozy picture you have created there, so maintaining and inspecting your chimney and fireplace is a critical safety step.

Each year, the Chimney Safety Institute of America estimates between 21,00 and 24,000 fires occur in homes in the United States because of fireplace or chimney issues. Often this is because of the creosote, a black, tarry substance, that builds up inside the chimney with regular use. If this is not addressed, the creosote can ignite and cause a loud, intense and powerful fire. Proper maintenance can help reduce creosote buildup and the risk of a fire. Here's what you need to know about keeping your chimney well maintained.

Schedule a Cleaning


If you burn wood or other materials in your fireplace or wood stove, you need to have your chimney cleaned professionally at least once a year. If you tend to burn green wood, increase the cleaning to twice a year. For this task, you will want to partner with a professional chimney sweep who has the tools to reach all parts of your chimney.

Check the Cap, Flashing and Crown

If you can access the roof, check the chimney cap, crown and flashing. The chimney cap should fit securely with no obstructions from debris. The crown should not have any cracks. Finally, check to flashing to ensure it is sealed tight.

Inspect the Firebox

The firebox is the part of the chimney where the fire actually burns. It should have no cracks and no rust. If you see these problems, you need to call a pro.

Test the Damper

Sometimes the damper can start to wear out, so make sure it fully opens and closes. If you have resistance when trying to open or close the damper, it will need to be replaced before you use the fireplace for the first time.

Look for Signs of Leaks

Finally, check the chimney for signs of leaks. Common indicators that you have a leak include:

  • White, patchy areas on the bricks
  • Foliage or moss growing from mortar
  • Dust around the mortar
  • Rust
  • Discolored bricks
  • Damp, musty smell
  • Obvious water in the firebox

Any of these signs mean you need to call a professional to have the chimney repaired before using it.


Remember, a chimney fire is a serious risk to your family. In the fall, before you start using the fireplace, go through this checklist to spot any problems, and schedule your professional chimney cleaning and inspection. After doing these steps, you will be ready to enjoy your fire with confidence, knowing it will be safe to do so!

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