Failure to inspect and clean chimneys is one of the leading factors contributing to home heating fires. Annual inspections are a must for both gas fireplaces and their wood-burning counterparts.
As smoke travels up your chimney, unburned vapors condense inside the flue and form a tar-like substance known as creosote. Creosote is flammable, and left unchecked, a small hot spot in your chimney can smolder and spread undetected long after the fire in your fireplace has been extinguished.
Hiring a certified pro for a yearly inspection and cleaning is well worth the investment. Schedule this important service in the spring to avoid the busy season and reduce fireplace odor, which gets worse in hot, humid weather. A spring inspection will also give you adequate time to complete any needed repairs before firing up again in the fall.
What’s in it for you?
- Property damage prevention
While you should hire a pro for an annual inspection and cleaning, you can do this preliminary inspection yourself:
Outside your home:
- Make sure your chimney cap is present and in good shape. This cap keeps animals, rain, and snow out of your chimney, and also prevents hot embers from landing on your roof. It should be kept free of bird nests and other debris.
- Check for tree limbs near or above the chimney. Make sure there are no branches or leaves within a 15-foot radius of the chimney.
- Inspect brick and mortar for deterioration. Look for cracked, crumbling, or missing pieces, and check the joints between brick and stone for vegetation. Remove any plants or moss growing on or in between bricks to prevent moisture absorption.
- Inspect the chimney flashing (sheet metal that keeps the intersection between the chimney and roof watertight) for signs of wear. The flashing should be secure against the chimney to prevent water damage and attic leaks.
- Check for white staining, known as efflorescence. This calcium-like deposit can be an indicator of a cracked or broken flue liner, or of masonry joints that are no longer repelling water.
- Make sure the chimney is plumb. If your chimney is tilted or leaning, call a pro ASAP.
Inside your home:
- Inspect the brick and mortar in the firebox. Loose, crumbling or missing pieces should be professionally repaired.
- Make sure glass doors seal properly and are in good shape. Check the doors for cracks, latch issues, and an airtight seal. Defective gaskets will need to be replaced.
- Inspect the flue damper. Make sure the flue damper opens, closes, and seals properly. It should move freely, and the metal should be solid without cracks, severe pitting, or rusted-through sections.
- Make sure the flue is free of obstructions. Yep, get down there and look up with a flashlight. Blockages, such as bird or squirrel nests, can cause the flue to malfunction and also force dangerous CO into the home.
- Check for creosote accumulation. Fireplaces should be cleaned when there is ⅛” of creosote buildup inside the chimney. If there is a ¼” or more of buildup, or if you notice any glazing, do not use the fireplace again until it has been cleaned. A chimney fire could occur at any time.
Chimney cracks, worn gaskets, and blockages can expose your family to carbon monoxide poisoning. Regular maintenance of your fireplace and chimney is vital to keeping your family and home safe.
Call us at 844-99-SUPER to schedule a professional inspection.