It’s well-known that professional chimney inspections are important steps toward keeping your chimney safe and efficient. Annual chimney inspections can save you big money on large repair projects by spotting trouble early and getting it fixed fast. If you’re curious about how inspections work, here are five common things chimney inspectors look for during an inspection.
Over the years, the bricks and mortar that make up your chimney may begin to crack and loosen. Often this is due to water damage, but it also can be the result of normal house-settling, earthquakes, lightning strikes and other events. Inspectors who carry certifications from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) look closely at your chimney’s masonry to detect signs of cracking and deterioration, which will allow water to get into the system and cause widespread damage. After a thorough assessment, the technician will recommend the correct repair work.
Smoke from burning wood condenses inside the chimney flue and creates a substance called creosote.
Creosote can be sticky, flakey, puffy or solid, and in all forms it is highly flammable. Excess creosote buildup in chimney flues is the leading cause of chimney fires in the U.S. each year.
Many chimney inspectors are also certified chimney sweeps with industry-grade tools and equipment to safely remove excess creosote from your chimney. All fire-safety organizations recommend annual chimney sweep services for homes with wood-burning appliances.
Chimney inspectors are always on the lookout for chimney leaks, because if left unattended, a leaky chimney can deteriorate to the point it is no longer safe to use or live around.
Chimney leaks often happen because of damaged masonry. They also can be caused by damaged flashing, a severely cracked chimney crown, a damaged or missing chimney cap and other reasons. Your inspector will detect the source of your chimney leak and tell you what is required to repair it.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous substance that is formed during wood and gas combustion. Chimney inspectors understand the danger of CO and want to ensure that it’s being efficiently carried up and out of the chimney whenever a fire is burning.
Drafting obstructions such as leaves, twigs and other tree debris as well as small-animal nests and dead animals (birds, rodents, squirrels, raccoons and the like) can cause CO to back up in the house and put humans and pets at risk. If there are drafting issues with your chimney, they will be found during a chimney inspection.
Another cause of drafting problems is a chimney or chimney liner that was not properly sized when it was installed or built. Each fireplace, fireplace insert and stove requires a vent system of a certain size, otherwise drafting will be impeded.A professional chimney inspection will tell you if your drafting issues are being caused by an improperly sized flue.
Your inspector can then outline the best way to remedy the problem. Each chimney is unique, and so is every chimney inspection. What we’ve listed here are the most common tasks that certified chimney inspectors perform when evaluating your chimney and fireplace system.
A-1 Chimney Specialist of Winchester, TN, provides certified chimney inspec (931) 967-3595 in Winchester or (256) 285-4895 in the Huntsville, AL, area.