Now that we've turned back the clocks and have officially settled into winter, homeowners are using their fireplaces more often. If you own or rent a home with a fireplace, its presence is probably one of the reasons you chose the home you did. There's nothing like a crackling fire to calm the nerves at the end of a stressful day, or welcome guests on a cold winter's evening. But fireplaces are appealing for reasons beyond just aesthetics. They heat they emit into your home can save you substantial amounts of money on your monthly heating bills. But sometimes, our fireplaces prove to be less than reliable. Your fires seem to fizzle quickly, your fireplace doesn't seem to be creating much heat, or both. So what's the problem?
Is it just your firewood, or is it a problem with the fireplace itself? The truth is that only a certified chimney sweeping professional could answer that question definitively. However, there are a number of "tests" you can run yourself to help determine the problem - and possibly solve it, as well, without having to hire a professional to take a closer look at your chimney. If none of these measures prove to be successful, and you're still unsure about the source of your ongoing chimney problem, you'll need to consult a certified chimney sweep (and make sure the company is, indeed, certified before you confirm an appointment).
Among the relatively easy "checks" you can run yourself to determine the source of the problem are:
Although it's not all-inclusive, this list can help you determine the reason for your chimney woes. Every home is different, and individual factors such as architecture, insulation that doesn't leave room for air exiting the chimney to re-enter the home (which causes smoking and slow-burning fireplaces), or a home that's too drafty can create problems for your chimney and your home's ability to absorb heat.
Adhering to an annual schedule with your professional chimney sweeper will help you lessen the effects that many of these anomalies (such as a short or crooked chimney) can have on your chimney. Your chimney sweeper will help you determine if the problems you're experiencing are ones than be counteracted with proper cleaning procedures - or if they're more serious problems that must be rectified immediately. And remember that regardless of whether you're experiencing problems with your chimney, it's of utmost importance that you purchase a carbon monoxide detector.
Your chimney can pose serious carbon monoxide inhalation risks. And if you are having a problem with your fireplace, until you pinpoint the source of your problem, it's of especially great importance that you monitor carbon monoxide levels in your home.