A chimney is the vehicle that carries away toxic and dangerous flue gases out of your fireplace, wood stove, or furnace. It’s what helps your fireplace remain efficient, all while keeping the air inside your home breathable. If not properly maintained – the unthinkable could happen! A properly operating chimney is crucial to the safety of your family and your home.
Masonry chimneys are designed to contain a chimney fire in order to keep it from spreading to the rest of the home, that is– if it is constructed properly with the right clearances. However, once a chimney has been damaged, often with internal damages that are not readily accessible, a second chimney fire is more likely to escape the masonry structure due to gaps created by cracks in mortar and bricks which is why it is so important to have a chimney inspection.
Every year hundreds of houses burn down because of dirty chimneys. At fault in most all chimney fires – accumulated creosote – which is the highly flammable substance that builds up inside your chimney or liner as a byproduct of burning wood. Creosote can accumulate more quickly if you practice poor burning practices or if you have a burning appliance or stove that’s not working well or connected properly. Chimney fires are notorious for being terribly destructive and can quickly engulf a house, especially if the culprit is the highly-flammable creosote buildup inside of a neglected chimney like it most often is. However, not all chimney fires are immediately obvious.
SOME REALLY GOOD REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE YOUR CHIMNEY INSPECTED AND/OR SWEPT
- A chimney that hasn’t been maintained is a fire hazard!!!!. Chimneys that have been neglected too long often have a substance called creosote built up in them. This substance is a byproduct of burning wood which is highly flammable and dangerous.
- Gaps in the liner can allow toxic heated flue gases to escape the confines of the flue to the interior chimney or combustible wood framing which could result in carbon monoxide poisoning and/or a fire.
- A dirty chimney can allow deadly carbon monoxide to penetrate through your unlined or deteriorating chimney and into your living space.
- A leaking chimney can cause major structural damage to your home. Putting off this repair only makes the damage worse and more expensive.
- A dirty chimney can produce a bad smoky odor that permeates your home. The summer heat can intensify that smell which is why it is best to sweep your chimney in the Spring or as soon as your burn season is over.
- A chimney or stove that hasn’t been professionally installed may not be hooked up properly or equipped with the proper flue size which could result in the appliance not operating at peak efficiency or, even more importantly, may not be venting safely!
We recommend that homeowners have their chimney inspected annually by a certified chimney professional as a means of prevention to determine whether or not it needs sweeping, repairing, or if there are any other pressing issues (unlined chimney, cracked flue tiles, etc). If you use your fireplace or plan on doing so, if you’ve just moved into a new home, or if you have never had your chimney inspected then don’t wait any longer. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to have it inspected and/or swept to make sure that it is safe and working well. A chimney inspection is a simple process and can be infinitely more valuable to you in the long run knowing that your chimney is safe and secure.
Maine’s fire safety code utilizes three levels of chimney inspection which were adopted into code by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) that are carried out by certified chimney professionals:
- LEVEL 1 INSPECTION – is the most basic type of chimney inspection, a Level 1 inspection is suggested if you haven’t changed anything about your appliance or the way you use it, and if you’ve been sticking to an annual sweeping schedule. A certified chimney technician will examine the readily-accessible parts of your chimney, inside and out, and will check to make sure your chimney doesn’t have any blockages or combustible deposits and that your chimney and flue are of sound structure and installed and connected correctly.
- LEVEL 2 INSPECTION -is the most common inspection. Level 2 inspections are required when you make any kind of change to your heating appliance – changing your fuel type, having the chimney relined or adding a different type of appliance with a different input rating or efficiency. These are also recommended upon the sale or transfer of a property, after damaging weather or a fire. This inspection comprises everything in a Level 1 inspection in addition to portions of the attics, crawl spaces, and basements. This inspection will also address proper clearances from combustibles in accessible locations.
- LEVEL 3 INSPECTION -involves gaining access (removing parts of the building and/or chimney) to hidden areas in the home that may be obstructed by other building elements. Level 3 inspections generally only take place after a chimney has been damaged or there is evidence of serious hazards resulting from the chimney.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CHIMNEY NEEDS TO BE INSPECTED?
- 1. If you are not sure if it is currently being swept by a chimney sweep who abides the by codes of the
- 2. You are not sure that is is 100% safe to use.
- 3. You can’t remember the last time, if ever, your chimney was inspected.
- 4. There’s creosote build-up on your damper or any other part of your chimney that is at least 1/4″
- 5. You open your damper and soot tumbles down.
- 6. There’s a strong odor coming from your fireplace/chimney.
- 7. You have just moved into a new home (even though a home inspection was performed).
SIGNS THAT YOU MIGHT BE HAVING A CHIMNEY FIRE
- A LOUD CRACKING AND POPPING NOISE CAN BE HEARD
- DENSE SMOKE
- AN INTENSE BURNING SMELL
CLEAN CHIMNEYS DON’T CATCH FIRE!!! FIRES CAUSED BY DIRTY CHIMNEYS ARE FIRES THAT COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED!!!
Don’t wait another day to contact us if you have not had your chimney professionally inspected (even if you only use your hearth every so often). An inspection by one of our certified chimney professionals will give you a thorough understanding of the condition that your chimney is in, assess and review any potential dangers it poses, and recommend services to improve the safety and efficiency of your chimney – not only for the present but for the future as well. Schedule an inspection today. If problems are discovered, Don’s Chimney Care can repair or restore your chimney to safe operating condition with skill and dependability. You can trust our expertise with these important chimney services.