What a Routine Inspection of Your Chimney Might Turn Up
A lot happens within your chimney and fireplace when you operate them during the cold months. Most of this is stuff you can’t see, which means if (and when) a problem arises, you won’t know about it. For this reason, we have professional chimney sweeps that perform not only cleaning but also comprehensive inspection and repair services.
Here are some of the common things chimney sweeps address during routine inspections.
Creosote buildup inside the flue
Burning wood creates a sticky, flammable substance called creosote, which clings like glue to the chimney liner or walls. The majority of chimney fires are caused by creosote, and the majority of house fires are related to fireplaces and other home-heating appliances. During an inspection, a chimney sweep will assess the level of creosote buildup and professionally remove it.
Important note: All fire safety organizations recommend that chimneys be cleaned once a year by a technician certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America or a similar agency. It’s critical that homeowners follow this recommendation.
In order for wood to burn efficiently and completely, air is needed. In the case of fireplaces, this means air moving into the firebox and traveling unimpeded through the fire and up the chimney. When there are obstructions within a chimney, serious problems can result.
What can obstruct a chimney and the air flow through it? Just about anything that can get in it such as leaves, twigs and other debris as well as small-animal nests and the animals themselves. A trained chimney sweep has the equipment to remove these types of obstructions from chimneys. (Solve this problem immediately by having a chimney cap installed!)
Nothing lasts forever, including the bricks and mortar that comprise a chimney. Over time, small cracks begin to appear, and these cracks allow water to infiltrate the structure. Once inside, continual freeze-thaw cycles cause the water to expand and contract, leading to potentially serious damage.
In some cases, industrial-grade sealant can be applied to prevent the entry of water. In other cases, repair work will be necessary. In either case, you’ll want to be aware of the problem as early as possible.
General water damage
It’s not uncommon for chimney sweeps to uncover significant water damage in fireplace/chimney systems that have been operated for many years without professional service. Once water has a path into the system, it can cause deterioration to the home’s building materials surrounding the chimney or fireplace. The goal of a chimney sweep is to address this problem fast and fix it before more damage is done.
A chimney cap sits atop the opening of the chimney and serves to protect the flue from all manner of debris and water. Over time, caps begin to show signs of deterioration and need to be repaired or replaced. A seriously compromised chimney cap is the equivalent of not having one at all.
For a fireplace and chimney to operate correctly and safely, they need to be in top working order. The way to ensure that this is the case is with annual service from a certified chimney sweep. Chimney Solutions of Alpharetta, Ga., provides a full menu of cleaning, inspection, repair and maintenance services. Call us at (770) 771-5501 to schedule an appointment today.