How to Take Care of a Chimney Blockage
Chimneys can be relatively easy to maintain but they do have their share of troubles. One common issue is blockages. The mouth of the chimney is left open to the elements if not covered by a Chimney cap and crown. This can make it vulnerable to leaves, branches, animals, their nests and even garbage blown about by the wind. Without regular cleaning and inspections, this debris can pile up and cause major problems.
How do you know if a chimney is blocked?
- Unusual smokey odor
- Objects falling into the firebox
- More soot than normal
- White stains inside the flue
Dangers of a blocked chimney
A blocked chimney is more than a nuisance. All of that material could make spectacular kindling if an unsuspecting chimney owner lights a fire without removing the debris first. There are more than 25,000 chimney fires each year.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is also a real danger when blockages prevent harmful gases and toxic fumes from exiting the chimney as they should. When the smoke has nowhere else to go, back puffing occurs. This is when smoke comes back into the home instead of going out of the chimney. As you may have heard carbon monoxide is both odorless and colorless making it almost impossible to detect. By the time you know that carbon monoxide is present it is often too late.
Professionals encourage anyone with a chimney to have carbon monoxide monitors on hand because a blockage can push carbon monoxide back into the home at dangerous levels.
What to do if your chimney is blocked
If you realize that your chimney is blocked, the first thing to do is extinguish any fires and prevent future fires until the issue is resolved. Make sure you have the proper tools including a drop cloth or tarp to protect the hearth and furniture, you will also need wire brushes to not just remove the debris but to also remove creosote from the flue walls. Creosote buildup can also cause blockages and chimney fires so put that on your to-do list. It’s recommended to remove blockages from the bottom up.
This method is good if you are uncomfortable with heights. You simply start cleaning from the bottom and work your way up to the top. You can also hire a professional chimney sweep for a chimney cleaning! If you have a straight chimney with no bends or corners and the chimney cap is off, you can check the cleanliness of your chimney by directing a mirror up the flue – if you can see daylight, you have cleared the blockage. If you do have bends and corners in your chimney, just use a rod to go all the way up the chimney- when it does that with no obstacles then you know you’re clear.
Hire A Chimney Professional
Cleaning a chimney and removing blockages can be a dirty and sometimes dangerous job. If you have any questions at all, be sure to call a professional. Here at Mercer, we know exactly how to clean and maintain your chimney. Our experts can inspect your chimney, remove blockages and make the repairs you need to get your chimney up and running efficiently. Call us at 609-802-5288 and schedule an appointment today!