Maintaining Your Chimney and Outdoor Vents

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Whether we like it or not, winter is here and that means we need to be prepared for all that it brings with it. You’ve no doubt already got your winter apparel and snow removal gear ready to go for the season, but there is one thing you should be doing to prepare for winter that many may not think about – maintaining your chimney and outdoor vents.

During the frigid winter months lighting a fire can offer you and your family relaxation on even the coldest of days. However, you also need to think how buildup in your home's chimney can expose you to risks from carbon monoxide buildups and fires.

It isn't just fireplaces that require outdoor ventilation. Common appliances like furnaces, water heaters and clothes dryers need a way to discard heat and pollutants. All of these outdoor vents function similarly and need to be maintained regularly to keep your home safe.

Keep these precautions in mind this winter to ensure you’re keeping you and your home safe:

  • Have your chimney inspected at least once a year to ensure it isn't damaged or blocked by a buildup of creosote, an oily residue that's highly combustible.
  • If possible, inspect the upper opening of your chimney to see if it's blocked by debris like leaves or animal nests.
  • Contact a certified specialist if you need to clean, repair or replace your chimney.
  • Ensure outdoor vents are not blocked by snow, leaves or other debris.
  • Make sure that all of your appliances use separate flues or ducts to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.
  • Inspect the metal linings of your chimney and outdoor vents for cracks that could leak dangerous gases and other pollutants.
  • Check your clothes dryer's vent for lint buildups that could present a fire hazard.

From snow to icy roadways and bridges, there are plenty of things to stress out about thanks to Michigan winters, but if you keep these tips in mind – your chimney and outdoor vents won’t be one of them.

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