Chimney Repairs: The Best Cure is Prevention
Paying attention to the potential need for chimney repairs can prevent a hazardous house fire, the need for expensive repairs, or both. By identifying problems quickly, much bigger and costlier issues are avoided. An annual chimney inspection by a professional chimney technician is highly recommended by safety experts; but diligently keeping an eye on things as a homeowner is also smart, since the best cure for chimney woes is prevention.
Simple Indoor Inspections
There are several possible problem issues that can easily and frequently be monitored from your living room or whichever room your fireplace is in. Look for the following, since they are indications that repair, replacement, or a rebuild is necessary:
- The firebox is a critical component of the fireplace and chimney system, since it protects combustible parts of your home from extreme temperatures. Watch for loose joints or cracks in the masonry. Refractory cement can be used to seal up small cracks. If damage is too far gone, extending to the masonry, a firebox rebuild may be required.
- The damper should be able to open and close with ease. There should be no evidence of cracks, pitting, or extensive rusting. If any of these conditions exist, the damper should be replaced.
- Like the firebox, it is essential that the flue is free of damage, to prevent a house fire. You may see evidence of a damaged flue, if bits of deteriorating liner fall into the fireplace. Use a high-powered flashlight to inspect the flue to the best of your ability. Check to see that all of the joints of the flue surface are tight and smooth. During certain types of professional chimney inspections, video cameras are used to fully inspect flues. A video inspection is recommended if there has been a chimney fire, if there have been signs of moisture damage, as the venting system gets older, and for various other possible reasons. Even the smallest crack in a flue can lead to a hazardous house fire.
Simple Outdoor Inspections
For homeowners who can safely access the roof and chimney, there are some simple inspections that can be done. The potential for falls from a rooftop exists, and anyone who isn’t comfortable with heights may simply want to leave all outdoor chimney inspections to the professionals. The following are some uncomplicated outdoor chimney inspections that are recommended, since they can help avoid extensive damage:
- One of the most vulnerable components of the chimney is the metal flashing. Check to be sure there is no rust on the flashing. Also, check for evidence that the flashing may not be forming a waterproof seal that will protect the roof from a chimney leak.
- Check the mortar joints of the masonry and the bricks or stones themselves. All loose bricks, mortar joints, and cracks should be repaired, to prevent moisture from entering the system and accelerating the process of deterioration.
- Use a flashlight to check the flue from the chimney top.
- Remove any obstructions at the top of the chimney, such as debris and the nests of birds or squirrels. If you don’t have a chimney top, have one installed, to keep out critters and to prevent water from entering the chimney.
Contact our chimney professionals to schedule your annual chimney inspection and for thorough chimney cleaning.