Reasons Annual Chimney Inspections Should be a Priority

Annual Chimney InspectionThis winter, with its arctic blasts and polar vertexes, has given the enjoyment of a cozy fire a fresh boost.  But something that is not new is the potential threat caused by using a fireplace or wood stove that is not properly maintained.  Every homeowner with a solid-fuel heating source should budget an annual chimney inspection and cleaning.  The possible dangers or expenses of skipping this practice include house fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, and chimney structure deterioration.

House Fires.  When a chimney is not cleaned regularly, there can be a very dangerous buildup of creosote and soot, which are highly flammable.  A hot ember from the fireplace or wood stove can cause the flammable deposits to ignite and start a chimney fire.  Many homeowners have failed to realize the seriousness of a chimney fire; it can be a deadly mistake, to overlook the hazards involved.

Even small fires in a chimney have extremely high temperatures.  It only takes one chimney fire of any size to damage the chimney flue.  When there is any type of deterioration of the chimney lining, the process of pyrolysis begins.  Pyrolysis is a chemical breakdown of combustible objects that are situated too close to a heat source, such as a chimney.  Over time, the combustible materials can suddenly burst into flames, even without direct contact with flames.

Chimney fires can also cause structural damage to the chimney, since they can crack mortar.  The cracked mortar can expose the home to the potential for a fire on the roof.  Chimney fires that spread into the home are extremely hot and tend to spread devastatingly quickly; oftentimes, occupants of a home that ignites due to a chimney fire do not even have time to escape the home safely.

A chimney inspection will lead to the discovery of dangerous creosote buildup as well as any breaches in the chimney flue that can lead to a house fire.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.  A faulty chimney can expose homeowners to carbon monoxide, which is known as the “silent killer” because it is deadly, odorless, tasteless, and colorless.  Carbon monoxide forms as a result of incomplete combustion caused because there is not enough oxygen present to complete the oxidation to carbon dioxide. Older cars and motor vehicles as well as gasoline or wood burning fireplaces and household equipment create carbon monoxide.

Combustion gases accumulate in chimneys when carbon monoxide is blocked from exiting the home.  There are various chimney problems that can lead to a buildup of gas, such as:

  • An obstructed chimney
  • Broken chimney connector pipe
  • Rusted heat exchanger
  • Deterioration of the chimney structure

Professional chimney sweeps are qualified to spot all of the problems associated with carbon monoxide, but the other first line of defense is to install carbon monoxide detectors in the home and change the batteries every six months.

Chimney Crown DeteriorationChimney Structure Deterioration.  A chimney professional will be able to identify evidence of a deteriorating chimney.  While it can be very costly to repair a long-neglected chimney, it is the danger created by deterioration that should be of most concern to homeowners.  Chimney defects can cause exposure to deadly levels of carbon monoxide.

When winter is over and before the next winter rolls around, be sure to get your chimney inspected so that you can keep plenty warm using solid-fuel appliances with assurance of safety.

Chimney Solutions, Inc.
1155 McFarland 400 Drive, Alpharetta GA 30004
Office 770-771-5501

Chimney Sweep / Chimney Repairs / Chimney Liners / Fireplace & Stove Service
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