Having an annual inspection is not only important for proper chimney functionality, but it is also integral to the safety of your home and family. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends an inspection annually, especially if your fireplace is used regularly. Typically these inspections will be paired with a cleaning or “sweep”. Having the ability to recognize the common signs of a chimney in need of inspection can help you save money and stay on top of repairs.
What to look for: The signs of a struggling chimney.
There are some common signs to look for if you’re one of the many people asking themselves, “Is it time to have my chimney inspected?”. Some of these signs include lowered heating efficiency, smelling a strong odor from the fireplace or chimney, the build-up of a substance called creosote* in the opening of your chimney, and damage to the chimney’s flashing*. If your chimney is displaying any of these qualities, it might be time for an inspection!
*Creosote- a dark flammable tar substance created by the burning of wood that will build up in your chimney over time, creating the potential for a fire and lowered system functionality.
*Flashing- Chimney Flashing is a metal plate that is installed around the area where the chimney meets the roof. The blink ensures that the connection is airtight between the chimney and the roof. These metals last for quite a while but have an expiration date and you should be alert to any visible damage.
Fun Fact– All wood creates varying amounts of creosote! Do some research on the wood available in your area to ensure you are getting the best value.
Why get a chimney inspection?
The reason for inspection and cleaning may be obvious, to ensure your unit is performing as efficiently as possible. What’s less obvious are the seemingly harmless factors that can compound over time to create larger issues. Some examples include the presence of leaves and debris, changes in temperature damaging the lining of your chimney, and possible critter infestation. Inspections allow for proper cleaning schedules and the removal of soot and buildup in the liner of your chimney, smoke chamber, and damper. Remember, a clean chimney is an effective chimney.
How often do I need a chimney inspection?
Normal wear and tear left undiscovered can lead to more extensive and costly repairs later on. For this reason, it is recommended to have your chimney inspected annually. Like everything else, the level of necessary upkeep will vary depending on use. Having the ability to recognize common defects is one way to ensure your fireplace is operating safely. Practicing proper burning techniques and utilizing the best wood in your region are just some of the ways to extend the life of your chimney.
Sure Signs– Some instances that should always be followed with an inspection include changes in system performance, after a long period of non-use, or when buying a new home containing a fireplace or stove unit.
No matter the age or condition of your fireplace, proper inspection and upkeep are critical for the longevity of your chimney. Scheduling annual inspections and staying on top of necessary repairs and cleanings is a sure way to save money on more extensive repairs in the future. Inspections are not only necessary for functionality but also to ensure your unit is operating safely for you and your family to enjoy.
Still have questions? Hire a chimney professional to take a look.