DIY Network

Maintaining a Fireplace and Chimney

Learn proper fireplace and chimney maintenance tips along with a few extra suggestions on proper home maintenance before and during the cold-weather months.

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Maintaining a Chimney

  • Check the chimney flashing. Check the bricks and mortar to make sure it is intact.
  • Remove any plants or moss growing between the bricks.
  • Check the chimney crown and fill any cracks or gaps with cement patch.
  • Remove the chimney gap and check the flue liner for damage or obstructions.
  • Check the fireplace for cracks or damage to the firebox.
  • Look up the flue liner to look for creosote buildup.
  • Remove the ashes with a flat shovel and dispose in a metal bucket. Ashes can be scattered on compost pile or in the garden.
  • Have the fireplace professionally cleaned every year.
  • Check the damper for proper operation.
  • To clean stains in the firebox use chemical cleaner with a metal brush.

Extra Tips:

  • The idea that stuffing fiberglass insulation into cracks will stop air filtration is a common misconception. Fiberglass is a good insulator and makes a great furnace filter, but it doesn't stop air infiltration. It may slow it down some, but caulk or closed cell foam is the best way to stop air filtration.
  • Check in the crawl space to make sure the insulation is intact and that no critters have set up winter camp.
  • It is always a good idea to replenish flashlight batteries. Winter brings ice storms and power outages.
  • Test the smoke alarm and replace the batteries if they have not been changed in a while.
  • Stock up on winter supplies before the first big snow storm arrives — a good snow shovel, ice melt and scrappers.
  • And finally, after a big snow, check around the attic and basement for leaks.

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