Winterize Your Chimney for Increased Energy Efficiency
A fireplace can bring friends and families together with its inviting, warm glow. When a fire isn’t burning, your fireplace can be a source of cold drafts if you haven’t winterized your chimney. There are four simple steps you can take to winterize your chimney and increase your home’s energy efficiency.
#1. Schedule a cleaning and inspection.
An annual chimney sweep isn’t just a safety precaution. Clearing out soot and creosote buildup from last year will improve airflow in your chimney, along with reducing the risk of a house fire. Good airflow is essential to fuel the flames with enough oxygen to produce a hot, long-lasting fire.
While a professional chimney sweep clears out soot and creosote, they will also inspect your chimney. If they discover signs of internal damage or water intrusion, they will inform you and let you know the best solution(s). Finding a chimney problem early could save you hundreds of dollars in damages since chimney problems often compound over time. It could also save your life. Lighting up your fireplace can be dangerous if the chimney or flue is broken or damaged. Even minor issues, like a broken damper, can increase your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
#2. Seal small cracks.
If there are small cracks in the chimney, use a fire-resistant sealer to fill them in. This will prevent cold air from creeping in and keep heated air inside.
#3. Check the damper and keep it closed when no fire is burning.
The damper is a vent between the firebox and the chimney flue. Its job is to prevent drafts from coming down the chimney when your fireplace isn’t being used. When a fire is burning, the damper’s job is to let smoke escape outside and allow cool outdoor air to feed the flames. It’s vital to make sure that your damper will open and close tightly at the beginning of winter. The damper should always be closed when your fireplace isn’t being used to prevent cold drafts and keep heated air inside.
If the damper is stuck or it’s been warped, contact a chimney professional to repair or replace it! A damper stuck in the closed position won’t allow smoke to flow out the chimney. A damper stuck open, or so warped that it won’t seal, will allow cold air to flow freely into your home. Your wallet will thank you for winterizing your chimney when you aren’t paying for heat that kept escaping up your chimney.
#4. Consider installing a fireplace insert.
Traditional fireplaces can have an efficiency rate as low as 5 to 10 percent. That’s a lot of heat that’s leaving through your chimney! You can increase your fireplace’s efficiency to up to 70 percent or more by installing a fireplace insert. The insert will give your fireplace a fresh new look and turn it into a high-output heating appliance. The glass doors of the fireplace insert will also act as a second barrier against drafts.
These four steps aren’t the only way to improve your fireplace’s energy efficiency this winter. Stocking up on seasoned hardwood to fuel your fire will also increase your fireplace’s heat output. Hardwoods that have seasoned (i.e., dried out for at least six months) burn hotter and longer than soft or green woods. They also produce less creosote. Remember to use a sealed metal container to dispose of the ashes safely!
Winterizing your fireplace will help you get the most out of it this season and cut down on chilly drafts. If you are looking for ways to reduce your heating bills, consider a fireplace insert! You can turn down your thermostat and comfortably zone-heat your home with the right fireplace insert. You will find a large selection of wood, gas, pellet, and electric fireplace inserts at Burlington Fireplace and Solar. We are here to help with any chimney needs! Our NFI-certified chimney sweeps can clean and inspect your chimney or install a new damper or fireplace insert. If you need a hand winterizing your chimney, give us a call or stop by our showroom in Burlington, WI. We serve customers throughout Southeast Wisconsin.