Wood burning chimney maintenance

Fireplace and Woodstove Maintenance

Chimney InspectionIf you enjoy the smell of burning wood through out the neighborhood or the sound of crackling flames, there is nothing quite like a wood burning fireplace. Like any other appliance that houses a combustible, it requires maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operating. Most experts say that  Hudson ma chimney repairs should be inspected every year. It is best reserved for a trained professional. Looking up the chimney will not provide a good view of the inside of the flues. For the most part they cannot be seen in this manner. If the flue has caked on creosote, it cannot be inspected until after it has been cleaned. Cleaning your chimney’s flue liners has many benefits but the two main reasons are due to safety. The number one reason to clean your fireplace flue is to avoid chimney fires, plain and simple. What causes a chimney fire is the creosote igniting. People report that a chimney fire sounds like a freight train. This is from the fire drawing air up the flue at a very rapid rate which in turn shoots flames out of the top of the chimney like a jet engine! It is extremely dangerous and the fire department should be called immediately if this happens. A competent chimney sweep can remove the build up of creosote that leads to a chimney fire. After he has performed his cleaning it is time to inspect the flue liner. A clean flue liner almost never catches on fire. Many home inspectors don’t inspect the flue liners. A trained chimney professional or a masonry contractor are the best companies to hire for an inspection.

Unlined Chimneys

Before Flue Liners homes were built with an empty brick chase for the flue. The different appliances attached to the chimney would sometimes share a flue, or if the chimney was large enough, a brick partition would be built to create a separate flue. These old Hudson ma chimneys need the consult of an expert to determine if they can be safely used. Chimneys without a flue liner can be made with either a single brick wall, or a double brick wall. In my opinion a single brick walled chimney is not safe. It would only have 4 inches in the throat area which is way below the code requirement of 8 inches. It would have been built with lime mortar and the creosote would have eaten away at the joints by this point in the chimneys lifespan. A chimney built like this should not be used until a flue liner is installed.

Chimneys with a double wall design, or eight inches, would be approved on an individual basis. I would say a chimney is safe if the brick are not cracked, and the mortar has not eroded out of the joints. Some people would argue that a liner needs to be installed. You certainly can’t go wrong by putting a liner in either. Sometimes chimney companies who also install liners will always say the flue needs a liner, even chimneys with clay flue liners that are in good shape!

Glass Doors

It is a Massachusetts code for all new fireplaces that burn wood to have a glass door installed in the fireplace. It makes a lot of practical sense as it reduces the heat running up the chimney when its not in use. Some people are not aware that when the fire is operating that some glass doors should not be closed. If you have a manufactured fireplace, you will have to check with the manufacturer to find out if the doors are supposed to be open or closed when burning.


Many people in New England and Massachusetts love their woodstoves. I was brought up in a home with a woodstove and it was a tradition every fall to manage the winters amount of wood by bringing it in the cellar and stacking it. Woodstoves manage the heat they produce more efficiently than a fireplace, even a Rumford fireplace. Today we have put our technology to work for us, and have created woodstoves that burn cleanly and efficiently with much less smoke emissions. Like our fireplaces, we must keep our woodstove flue clean as well. It is also advisable to clean it annually.

A woodstove needs a larger hearth to be built on. It needs to have 24 inches in front of its door to a combustible material or floor. Generally a 4 foot hearth is built to accommodate a woodstove setup. If you purchase your stove at a store or online, its paperwork will provide all the numbers to insure proper installation.

What not to burn

Do not burn your trash! Throw it away please.

Green wood or pressure treated wood, don’t burn it, or anything that is painted!

Don’t burn pine, or scrap 2×4’s. This wood will produce massive amounts of creosote, and it will burn faster and at a hotter temperature. If your chimney has not warmed up, yes chimneys need to warm up, it could crack the face brick or the back wall of the chimney.

Only burn seasoned hardwood such as oak.

In summary: Clean and inspect your chimney, fireplace and woodstove annually. Use a screen that prevents sparks from landing on the carpet. Always have a smoke detector that has a carbon monoxide function to it. Burn seasoned hardwood. Enjoy!


One response to “Wood burning chimney maintenance

  1. You really need to contact the dealer who sold it to you or the company who installed it. It could be they didn’t install the metal liner correctly so its not getting proper draw. Set an appointment for someone to come out.

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