Chimney safety should be a concern for every homeowner. If you do find warning signs of problems please contact us and we can provide you with a professional chimney inspection, before it becomes an expensive or dangerous situation. We are trained to look for conditions that a homeowner could easily miss even with the helpful checklist. The experience we bring to the process of checking the chimney is well worth the visit.
ECS Homeowner's Guide
Chimneys are highly exposed to the elements and if left unprotected, are susceptible to structural deterioration. It is important to address this problem before serious damage occurs. There are approximately 40 million masonry chimneys in North America and the most common problem with these structures is water penetration. Water causes over 1 billion dollars in damage annually
Is there a cap on the chimney? Water from rain and snow entering chimneys gradually damages the inside of a chimney. Joints between liner tiles gradually dissolve and corrosive elements exhaust from furnaces mix with water and slowly weaken the lining. Water pooling at the base damages the chimney structure. Freezing and thawing of water causes expansion damage. A good chimney cap reduces this damage by keeping most of the water out. Caps with a screen mesh also keep animals out.
Look for one or more cleanout doors. Take a look inside the door. Take note of any buildup of soot or debris at the base of the flue. This can give you an idea of what is going on inside your flue. A note about condensation in flues; today’s gas-fired appliances emit a considerable amount of water vapor. If not vented into a properly sized flue, condensation in the chimney can become a serious hazard.
Leaks and Stains
Look for leaks or stains inside the house near the chimney. Peeling wallpaper, stains on the walls, and dampness near the chimney are sure signs of chimney problems. Sometimes these problems are caused by faulty roof flashing around the chimney. But sometimes the source is the inside of the chimney, and this can mean trouble. Missing or damaged flue liners, interior decay, or excessive condensation in the flue could be the culprit.
Gas Appliances and your Flue
If you have a gas-fired appliance connected to your chimney it is critical to have the chimney checked periodically by a certified and licensed chimney professional. Don’t make the assumption that just because there is no smoke, there is no problem with the chimney. Odorless, colorless carbon monoxide fumes from improperly vented gas appliances can be fatal.
It takes a trained eye to determine just what’s going on in a chimney flue. You can check the condition of the appliances and connector pipes. Again, this doesn’t take the place of a professional check, but it will give you some ideas, and questions to ask.