Why You Shouldn’t Neglect Chimney Maintenance
Like so many appliances and pieces of equipment in a home, chimneys have their own way of letting you know when trouble exists. Common signs that your chimney needs attention include:
- Water dripping into the firebox
- White staining on the exterior masonry
- Crumbling bricks and mortar
- Strong odors coming from the fireplace
- Smoke backing up into the home
- Dampness on interior walls near the fireplace/chimney
These and other signs of damage most often appear when a chimney hasn’t received routine service, i.e., a yearly cleaning and inspection.
Chimneys that don’t get the necessary attention from certified, professional chimney sweeps and technicians can cause a lot of problems, some relatively minor, others catastrophic. Here are six issues that likely will result if chimney maintenance is neglected.
When wood burns, creosote is formed. Creosote is a highly flammable substance that clings to the inside of the chimney liner. The more creosote inside a chimney, the more fuel that’s available should a chimney fire start.
Chimney sweeps certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fireplace Institute have the equipment and experience to remove excess creosote from the flue, significantly increasing the safety of the chimney. Note that virtually every fire-safety agency in the U.S. recommends annual chimney cleaning for homes with wood-burning fireplaces.
Another thing creosote does is erode the materials of chimney liners and the interior bricks and mortar of chimneys. Highly acidic, creosote over time begins to eat away at internal surfaces, leading to compromises in the liner and eventually cracking in the mortar joints. This kind of chimney damage makes the structure seriously unsafe.
Various debris can infiltrate a chimney – especially if you’re using your chimney without a chimney cap.
Everything from leaves and twigs from trees to small-animal nests and the animals themselves who have died inside the flue can create drafting obstructions. This debris also can serve as additional fuel should a chimney fire happen.
When the air draft in chimney flue is hampered by creosote and/or outside debris, it’s harder to get fires started and keep them burning at high levels. The result is excess smoke (which adds more creosote to the flue) and incomplete burns.
Smoke and carbon monoxide in the house
Another problem that’s likely if creosote and debris are allowed to build up in the chimney is the backup of smoke into the home. Nobody wants a smoky room, but a greater concern is carbon monoxide (CO), which is present in the smoke. CO is an invisible, odorless gas that is known to be fatal to humans and animals.
Home insurance issues
Finally, if you have a chimney fire and can’t show evidence that you’ve had regular chimney cleaning, your home insurance carrier may not consider the fire a covered event.
Chimney Solutions of Alpharetta, GA, wants homeowners to stay safe and enjoy their fireplaces to the fullest. That’s why we provide certified chimney sweep, chimney inspection and chimney repair services throughout the Atlanta area. If it’s time to schedule a thorough cleaning and inspection, call us first at (770) 691-6707.