Dangers of Neglecting Chimney Cleaning, Repair & Maintenance
A clean chimney that’s in tip-top shape will do its job safely and efficiently. If a chimney is neglected and you fail to schedule regular cleaning, repair work and maintenance, a chimney can become a very dangerous part of your home. Keeping your chimney in good working order isn’t difficult. Here are some guidelines.
What Can homeowners do
While you can’t properly clean and repair your chimney, you can keep a lookout for obvious problems that require professional attention. You can spot many common signs of a leaky, damaged or neglected chimney:
- Water in the firebox
- Crumbling bricks
- White staining on exterior masonry
- Offensive odors coming from the fireplace
- Fires that are difficult to start
- Smoke backing up into the house
- Damaged chimney cap, warped roof flashing, cracks in the chimney crown
These and other chimney problems should be addressed by a certified chimney technician.
When fires burn, a flammable substance called creosote forms. Creosote can present as a sticky, flakey or solid substance on the inside of your chimney liner and easily can ignite and start a chimney fire.
Trained chimney sweeps use various scrubbers, rotating brushes, scrapers, solvents and vacuums to remove creosote from chimneys. The best practice is to have your chimney professionally cleaned once a year.
Annual chimney service will address obstructions inside the flue that could be causing smoke and toxins to draft inefficiently. Small-animal nests and tree debris are common obstructions found in chimneys.
A chimney that contains obstructions can send smoke and carbon monoxide back into the home. Smoke is bad, but carbon monoxide, which is invisible and odorless, is known to be fatal to humans and pets. If your chimney doesn’t have a cap, installing one will prevent the majority of obstructions.
Damage to the chimney liner
Whether your chimney liner is tile, metal or a cast-in-place compound, it can begin to suffer damage after many years of use. When a liner splits or cracks, it leaves the chimney masonry and combustible parts of your home adjacent to the chimney vulnerable to serious damage and fire.
Chimney liners should be part of an annual safety inspection. If deterioration is minor, repairs can be initiated. In cases of severe damage, the liner needs to be replaced.
Certified chimney inspections
As discussed above, chimney inspections are designed to keep your chimney safe and working correctly. Often, damage will be present but can’t be spotted by the average homeowner. A trained, licensed chimney inspector knows your chimney inside and out and can see things you might miss. Areas covered by chimney inspections can include:
- Chimney cap
- Chimney crown
- Chimney liner
- Roof flashing
- Interior/exterior chimney masonry
- Throat and top-sealing dampers
- Smoke shelf
- Smoke chamber
Chimneys contain many components that can incur various types of damage for different reasons. By scheduling annual chimney inspections and cleanings and having repair work done as needed, you’ll ensure that your chimney is safe to use and that it works correctly.
Dubuque Fireplace & Patio of Dubuque, Iowa, is ready to help with all your chimney needs from chimney sweep and chimney inspection services to chimney repair and all levels of chimney rebuilding. Call us today at (563) 582-5156. If you live in the Highland, WI, area, contact our sister company, Chimney Specialists at (608) 929-4887.