If your chimney doesn't have a clean out door, you might consider the benefits of installing one. Chimney clean out doors are not only useful to the chimney sweep, they can be a great help for you, too. You can use a chimney door to maintain your chimney between inspections so you run into fewer problems.
Maintenance Step #1: Check for Chimney Blocks
Chimney clean out doors are located on the rear-side of your chimney at or near ground level. It is most likely on the outside of your home or inside an attached garage. You can easily check for chimney blocks by opening the clean out door and peering straight up inside the chimney during a clear day. If you don't see sunlight, something is blocking your chimney, and a good cleaning is in order. These are the most common things to block chimneys and cause problems:
- Nests: Squirrels and birds often make nests in chimneys in the summer. Before using your chimney in the fall or winter, make sure to remove these animals and their nests!
- Storm Debris: Leaves, sticks, and other debris can clutter a chimney. Make sure to clear this out after each big storm.
- Dead Animals: Clear out any dead animals that have gotten stuck in your chimney so smoke has an outlet.
Maintenance Step #2: Catch Early Signs of Damage
If you open your chimney clean out door and see concrete, brick, or any other pile of debris, chances are your chimney is damaged and is in need of repair. While some chimney damage is minor, other damage could be life-threatening. Have an inspector come out and look for one of these possible problems:
- Cracks: Cracks in the mortar are particularly dangerous. Carbon monoxide can seep back into your home through cracks. It's important to have cracks filled by a professional to seal out harmful toxins.
- Worn Materials: Materials such as brick and concrete are naturally worn away by weather and chimney use. To prevent major damage – such as breaking off and falling down your chimney – get these repaired as soon as you notice that they are weakening.
- Rusting Door: If your chimney clean out door is rusting, it might be time to replace it. Rust growth is a sign that your door might not be sealed properly, meaning that air, exhaust gases, and water are seeping out and causing damage to your chimney, your walls, and your home.
Maintenance Step #3: Self-Cleaning Your Chimney
Lastly, a chimney clean out door is a great tool for self-cleaning between professional inspections. Using your clean out door, you can keep your chimney functioning well throughout the cold season without having to wait for a chimney sweep to schedule you in. Here are some basic steps to cleaning out a chimney on your own:
- Remove Ash: When ash is cool enough, you can remove it by opening your clean out door and shoveling it into a metal bin. Using this back access door is better than cleaning out your fireplace, because it causes less mess inside the home.
- Clean the Flue: You can also see how much debris is up in the flue and clear that away using a chimney sweep – a stiff, round broom designed to loosen the ash that builds up inside the chimney.
Having a chimney clean out door is not only helpful to your professional chimney sweep, but to you as well. You can maintain your chimney year-round and keep an eye out for potential hazards. If you don't have a clean out door, yet, you should look into getting one installed.
For more information, contact a local chimney sweep company or visit http://www.earlytimeshomesolutions.com.