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Don’t Skip an Annual Chimney Inspection

chimney rooftopWhen we aren’t admiring the character that a chimney adds to the exterior of a home, we usually don’t think about it at all. Unless there is an obvious problem, we rarely consider chimney maintenance a necessity. With this mindset, it’s easy to forget about scheduling an annual inspection. What we don’t realize, until it is too late, is that our absentmindedness can have a high cost.

Without understanding the importance of an annual inspection, it is hard to make it a priority, even when you use your quality fireplace regularly. These are the three big reasons why you should have your chimney annually inspected.

1. Avoid Pricey Repairs

Spending money on an annual inspection can save you a lot of money in the long run. Chimneys and fireplaces are susceptible to many types of damage that often aren’t apparent to homeowners until the problem has dramatically progressed. By this time, repairs can be extremely costly. One of the purposes of an annual inspection is to discover these issues early before dramatic measures are necessary.

Cracks in mortar, deteriorating chimney flashing (which is what seals the chimney and roof) and a broken chimney cap call all allow moisture to seep into the chimney masonry. If these problems are not identified and repaired quickly, this moisture can deterioration the structure of your chimney and even significantly damage your walls, ceilings and floors. Discovering cracks in your flue lining—from moisture, extreme temperatures or the general wear and tear of time—can save your life as well as protect your property from a house fire. These are just a handful of the problems that a professional chimney sweep might discover during an annual inspection.

While none of us love receiving bad news, the price of small repairs like replacing a chimney cap or filing in cracks in mortar are insignificant in contrast to rebuilding your entire chimney or replacing ceilings, walls and floors.

2. Reduce the Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Every year, hundreds of people in the U.S. die of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and thousands more require emergency medical attention for it. It has become known as the “silent killer” because it is tasteless, odorless and colorless. The symptoms of CO poisoning are not immediately obvious but it is incredible deadly. In the U.S., it is the number one cause of fatalities from poison. One way to reduce the risk of CO poisoning is by having your chimney annually cleaned and inspected to ensure that no blockage, clogging or damage will put your family in danger.

CO is produced when fuels that contain carbon—wood, coal, charcoal, gasoline, natural gas and kerosene—are burnt. A properly functioning chimney will vent this gas outdoors without causing harm to you or your family. If your chimney is not working properly, this deadly gas can collect in your home.

Breathing in CO damages your body by preventing your blood cells from absorbing oxygen. Eventually, this can cause your vital organs to shutdown and die.  Even low levels of CO can cause significant damage to your body. High levels or long periods of exposure can cause lasting problems as well as death.  Children are especially susceptible to heart and brain damage from CO poisoning.

The best way to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning is to take preventative measures. Along with having your fireplace and chimney (or other burning appliance) annually inspected, you should invest in a carbon monoxide detector for each floor of your home. Our professional chimney sweeps are here to help you reduce the risk of carbon monoxide exposure so that you can safely enjoy a crackling fire during the long months of winter.

3. Prevent a Chimney Fire

Avoid Chimney FiresIn more than 50% of the house fires caused by heating systems, neglecting to have the chimney inspected and cleaned was a leading factor. Every time you burn a fire byproducts of combustion—water vapor, gases, tar fog, wood particles, hydrocarbon, and minerals—are released and move up the chimney. These byproducts condense along the walls creating creosote, a highly combustible substance. Creosote can easily catch on fire from hot embers in smoke or from high temperatures in the flue. If the buildup of creosote is large enough, it can cause a serious chimney fire.

Chimney fires can cause a deadly house fire even if your chimney has a flue liner. Chimney fires can reach up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. This intense heat can collapse metal chimney liners, crack ceramic and clay tile liners, melt mortar and cause damage to the exterior of a chimney all of which leave the rest of your home at risk. Pre-existing damage to a chimney liner is equally dangerous allowing even small chimney fires to ignite your home.

The surest way to prevent a chimney fire is to have your chimney regularly inspected and cleaned.

During your annual cleaning and inspection, a certified professional chimney sweep will thoroughly examine your chimney and liner for damage that might lead to a house fire. He/she will also evaluate the level of creosote build up to determine the best way to remove it and will clean it out for you. If the buildup of creosote is extensive, it may be necessary for him/her to use harsh chemicals or replace the flue liner.

Now that you know one inspection can solve three major problems, remembering to schedule your annual inspection this year should be more of a priority. Our certified professional chimney sweeps would love to put their knowledge and experience to work for you.

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