Saturday, December 20, 2003
Fireplace inserts are heavy, often
weighing more than 400 pounds. Since wood burning
inserts need to be removed when the chimney is being
cleaned and maintained, they can be awkward and heavy
to handle. It is a job best left to a professional
chimney sweep. In some cases, however, you do not have
to remove the insert to clean the chimney. The insert
can stay in place during cleaning if you install a
full relining collar, a stainless steel pipe that
connects to the insert and goes to the top of the
The chimney flue is the pipe that carries the hot
gases and soot up and away from the fireplace. They
come in two basic styles, metal (prefab) and masonry.
There should be metal caps over the flue openings.
These hood-like structures prevent rain and snow from
falling into the flues and protect the chimney from
downdrafts that can force smoke and fumes back into
The flues are also usually equipped with wire mesh
to prevent birds, squirrels and other animals from
nesting in the chimney. The same mesh will prevent
burning ash from reaching the roof or other
combustible materials. This mesh should be cleaned
from time to time.
Many homes are not equipped with caps. They are
inexpensive and can prevent a host of problems.
Your service professional will need to know what
type of roof access you have so he or she can plan on
what safety equipment to bring.