Let’s spend a few minutes this month talking about your fireplace and chimney. It’s a rare one that doesn’t need something done to it…
If your home is more than 10 years old and has a masonry chimney the mortar at the very top is probably worn and needs touching up. At the very least, caulk any hairline cracks you see. While you’re up there, remove any leaves piling up behind the chimney and if the sloped metal flashing there (“cricket”) is beginning to rust, sand it off and spray it with Rustoleum paint.
If there’s no rain cap on top of the flue, put one on to keep water (and birds) from getting into the flue. These can be bought at any building supply store and are EZ to install.
If the chimney is wood or pressboard siding (“Masonite“), it may have some rot needing repair as well.
Open the damper and shine a flashlight up the flue. If the black flaky stuff (creosote) has built up more than ¼” thick, have a chimney sweep clean it out (see Bob’s A-list on the website). If you have gas logs, there should be a small metal clamp on the damper to prevent it from fully closing. This is to keep someone from lighting the logs with a closed damper which would allow fumes and CO into the living space…
Speaking of the damper, be sure to CLOSE it after the wood fire has gone out. An open damper sucks a LOT of air out of the house every time a door is opened !
Some newer homes with gas logs have NO flue which means all the gas fumes come into the home. I recommend a 110v CO detector be installed in these home (and ALL homes for that matter).
One last thought: if your fireplace doesn’t seem to draft very well, crack a window while it’s burning, it may just need a little more air!