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The Chimney Doctor’s Orders

This week, The Chimney Doctor, Dan Freeman, provides his professional advice on how to care for and manage your fireplace and other heating appliances. Below are his recommendations for things homeowners should and shouldn’t be doing.

MOST IMPORTANT

  • Have your chimney/fireplace inspected and cleaned at least annually by a CSIA Certified Professional
  • If it hasn’t ever been inspected, have a CSIA Certified Inspector come to your home as soon as possible, and before burning. 
  • Find a certified professional through the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s certified locator at CSIA.org and then inspect their websites and reviews to find the best company and fit for your needs

Beyond the DO

  • Burn hardwoods over softwoods
  • Burn dry seasoned wood between 10-15% moisture content, never more than 20% (preferrably seasoned one year or more in advance).
  • Have a dry place to store your wood and stack it properly – you can visit EPA.gov/BurnWise to learn more about proper burn habits
  • Replace older inefficient appliances with newer EPA certified appliances – it Christmas does make a difference.
  • Burn your appliance hot enough based on manufacturer recommendations
  • Invest in a wood moisture meter
  • Invest in a good chimney cap
  • Complete necessary repairs year to year, rather than in large gulps
  • Have your chimney waterproofed, waterproofing today can prevent major work down the road
  • Make sure you have smoke alarms and CO detectors in each room with an appliance or fireplace and within 15′ of any bedrooms
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy

DONT

  • Burn wet wood
  • Burn trash, cardboard, treated lumber, or other man-made products
  • Burn wrapping paper, christmas trees, or other ornaments
  • Regularly over-fire any heating appliance
  • Attempt major chimney repairs yourself
  • Put off major repairs and continue to use your appliance
  • Perform major remodels surrounding a chimney before having it professionally inspected by a CSIA Certified Inspector – there are clearances that should be met and if a remodel is completed before an inspection takes place we often have to inform homeowners that a remodel has now limited their options dramatically.
  • Have a major roof project completed or reroof before having the chimney inspected. There is nothing worse than needing major work on a masonry chimney with a brand new roof underfoot.
  • Install any appliance yourself. In the event of a fire many homeowners insurance companies will not insure your home if it wasn’t professionally installed.
  • Hire an unqualified chimney sweep

Last Friday, Might Man and The Chimney Doctor got together for a live discussion on fireplace maintenance and repair. Check out the video.

If you need any assistance with your fireplace, give The Chimney Doctor a call. Also, don’t forget to get on his list for your annual fireplace inspection. Thanks again to Dan for teaming up with us this week and offering his time to share some of his wisdom and expertise.

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