Keeping your chimney in tip-top shape is of utmost importance if you have a fireplace or stove. Chimneys are meant to vent out the combustion gasses from your home, and if your chimney isn’t working properly, then you put yourself at risk for potential hazards such as house fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Hiring a professional chimney sweep like the Oregon Chimney Guys for annual inspections and chimney repair is important for maintaining a healthy and safe chimney. Here is a chimney inspection checklist for common chimney defects to look out for.
Outside the Chimney:
- Chimney cap and crown defects
The chimney cap may be missing or the wrong type of cap for the flue may be installed. Both can cause downdrafts into the home to occur. A cap is also meant to keep rain and other weather/debris out of your chimney.
- Overgrown or nearby vegetation
Overhanging nearby trees or vine overgrowth are serious fire hazards and potential carbon monoxide poisoning hazards. Sparks from the chimney can ignite any dry vegetation close by resulting in a fire. Vines also cause structural damage to the chimney as they hold moisture against its surface.
- Unsafe chimney height/clearance
A chimney may be too short or not have adequate clearance above the roof. This is likely to cause venting issues, CO poisoning if it’s a gas-fired appliance and can be a serious fire hazard. It is required that a chimney extends at least three feet above your roof’s point of contact, and an additional two feet above the highest point of your roof if it is within ten feet from the chimney.
If a chimney is too tall and does not have the right support or bracing, it risks collapse or movement which can cause cracks and other issues. Correct bracing is particularly important for metal chimneys.
- Chimney exterior defects
Cracks, spalled or loose masonry, and missing mortar can cause venting issues and weaken the structure of the chimney. Repair and maintenance of your masonry chimney is crucial to its safety and functionality.
Inside the Chimney:
- Creosote and heavy soot buildup
Creosote is the byproduct of burning wood, and it sticks to the inner walls of the chimney. If a thick layer of creosote develops inside a fireplace, it becomes a major fire hazard as it is highly combustible.
- Damaged, blocked or unsafe flue
A damaged chimney flue risks leaking dangerous, combustible gasses into the building and presents the possibility of sparks escaping and starting a house fire. Look for cracks and breaks in the masonry, unlined flues, water leaks, and rusted metal flues or cracked clay flue liners.
- Inserts installed without inspection
If a fireplace insert was installed into an existing masonry flue without a professional chimney sweep to inspect it first, this is a safety hazard and could need re-lining.
- Rusted or damaged fireplace components
If any component of the fireplace and chimney is rusted or damaged, it needs to be replaced.
- Missing or makeshift chimney cleanout doors
Chimneys must have metal or precast concrete cleanout doors that are accessible and securely sealed. Missing cleanout doors, or ones that don’t seal securely, risk fire and can also result in draft issues with the flue.
If you happen to notice any of these defects outside or inside your chimney or fireplace, give Oregon Chimney Guys a call, and we will come out and give a professional inspection. If your chimney isn’t up to par, we provide professional and quality chimney repair and replacement work.