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Ah, the wood burning fireplace.

There is nothing quite like cozying up next to a wood-burning fire on a cold evening, listening to the crack and pop of the flames, enjoying the warmth.

Yes, wood burning fireplaces are wonderful sources of beauty, comfort and heat. But they also require maintenance to make sure they don’t smoke you out of your home.

In fact, you can’t safely enjoy your fireplace unless you properly maintain it–and the most important place to start is the chimney.

Here’s a look at five of the most common chimney issues that can be prevented with chimney sweeping:

  1. Creosote

When you burn wood, you expect smoke to make its way up and out of your house through the chimney. But there’s something else in all that smoke: creosote.

Creosote is a black or dark-brown tar combined with soot from the wood. As it makes its way up through your chimney, it often affixes itself to the side of the passage. And it’s dangerous.

Creosote is flammable and can cause chimney fires. It can also become so thick that it clogs the chimney, causing dangerous fumes to billow into your home, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

  1. Blockage

In addition to creosote, there are myriad other items that can clog your chimney. Birds’ nests, leaves, debris and even bricks can fall down into your chimney and create blockage. Like creosote, blockage can cause dangerous fumes to make their way back into your home.

  1. Cracks in the flue

Fireplaces are typically built with a chimney lining made of clay tile. This tile is commonly called the flue. While cost-effective, clay tile is not the most durable or long-lasting type of lining (stainless steel is actually a more durable option). Over time, the heat and stress of everyday fireplace use can damage the lining, causing it to crack.

A cracked flue is dangerous because the cracks allow heat from the fire to connect with combustible parts of the home, which can lead to house fires.

One of the things a professional chimney sweep in Bucks County does is inspect your chimney’s flue to make sure it’s not damaged. If it is, you will need to have it repaired before you can safely use your fireplace again.

  1. Smoke damage

Nothing can ruin a room’s ambiance quite like smoke damage. It can leave the bricks around your fireplace looking smudged and smeared. It can stain furniture and leave your room smelling like smoke.

If your chimney isn’t completely clear, you might find small amounts of smoke blowing back into your house. And even the smallest amount of smoke can cause damage that is difficult and expensive to repair.

Having your chimney swept on a regular basis is an effective way to protect against smoke residue and damage it causes.

  1. Problems with the brick work

In a perfect world, chimney masonry would last about 100 years. But we know changes happen. Mortar cracks when temperatures rise and drop. Bricks shift and fall out of place. Moisture seeps in.

All of these brickwork problems put your entire chimney system at risk. Luckily, when you have your chimney swept on a regular basis, you can rest assured it will be properly inspected for brick work problems that could leave your home looking less than stellar and possibly lead to your chimney becoming a fire hazard.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, you should have your chimney cleaned at least once a year. If you want to hire a chimney sweep in Bucks County or learn more about how chimney sweeping can help keep your fireplace burning all winter long, connect with the experts at Estates Chimney Sweep today.