If you’ve never had a chimney inspection, you’ll benefit from getting one as soon as possible. If you’ve had some in the past, it’s ideal to get one every spring for many reasons.
A professional will look closely at the inside and outside, including accessible components of your fireplace or wood stove. They’ll assess the structure and flue, verify everything is installed and connected properly, and look for obstructions or combustible deposits, like creosote.
You can also have the concealed portions of your chimney inspected, if it is deemed this necessary. However, this will involve removing certain components like the chimney crown or interior wall in order to access areas to inspect. In some cases, this will require destroying attached portions of your chimney that will need to be rebuilt, so this type of inspection is generally reserved for situations where chimney repair is already known to be necessary.
Since winter is generally the season when fireplaces and wood stoves are used most, getting a chimney inspection when spring hits gives you enough time to make necessary repairs before the time comes to build fires.
You probably won’t know when your chimney needs to be repaired unless you’re experiencing symptoms of a larger problem, or there’s damage visible from the outside. If that is the case, it’s important to take care of it right away.
However, what looks like minor damage might be just as urgent as major damage. For instance, if you have missing, loose, or broken masonry, you can end up with carbon monoxide leaking into your home. Even a small amount of broken masonry needs immediate attention.
A chimney inspection will give you a solid picture of what’s going on and your inspector will let you know all of your options. For instance, you might need some tuckpointing, a good cleaning, or a new chimney liner.
Having your chimney or flue inspected can also make you aware of any unknown issues with creosote build-up. For example, say you hired someone to sweep and they didn’t do a complete job—you’d never know. However, when a professional inspects your chimney, they’ll notice areas that have been neglected and still need to be cleaned. Thoroughly cleaning out all the creosote is critical because it’s highly flammable and dangerous when it accumulates.
Each time you burn wood in your fireplace or wood stove, your chimney or flue collects creosote deposits. Over time, these deposits build up into thick layers and since creosote is flammable, a hot enough fire can cause it to catch. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a traditional fireplace with brick masonry, or a wood stove with a metal chimney or flue. Creosote will build up on any surface and all chimneys need to be cleaned on a regular basis.
You may have heard that you can get away with not sweeping your chimney by building extremely hot fires that exceed 250 degrees Fahrenheit so creosote doesn’t have a chance to accrue. This is a good theory, but in reality, you can’t see the inside of your chimney, nor can you be sure of the temperature at all times. There’s no way to know if this is working or not, and relying on this technique is dangerous.
However, you can actively reduce creosote build-up by burning only dry, well-seasoned wood. If you buy your firewood from other people, make sure it’s properly seasoned before you burn it and if you get it green, season it yourself.
You can get an instrument to measure the moisture content in your wood, or you can just keep it dry, stack it with good airflow and allow it to season a little longer after you buy the wood.
If you put off cleaning because you think you can easily put out a chimney fire with your extinguisher, think again. You’d have to go grab a ladder, climb on top of the roof, and put the fire out from the top down. For most people, this would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Even if you can physically do it, you may not have a ladder, or you might not feel comfortable standing on the roof. Don’t let yourself feel too secure to the point where you postpone hiring a chimney sweep service.
If your chimney is due for an inspection, contact us for a free quote. Once we perform an inspection for you, we’ll let you know if you need chimney repair, tuckpointing, or just a good fireplace chimney cleaning.
Now is the time to schedule your inspection since spring is right around the corner. Schedule your inspection now so you’ll have several months before the weather gets cold enough to build fires.