According to Chimney Safety Institute of America there are an estimated 22,300 reported chimney fires in the United States every year. Hiring a chimney sweep to perform regular maintenance will ensure that your chance of experiencing a chimney fire remains low.
Chimney sweeps are able to not only clean your chimney but also diagnose problems and make repairs. Because many chimney incidents can go unnoticed, these inspections are vital to keeping your chimney running smoothly.
The amount of maintenance that your chimney will require depends on a variety of factors, including how much you use it. As a rule of thumb, The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys, fireplaces, and vents be checked at least once per year. These inspections can seem like an unnecessary cost, but preventing unwanted damage to your chimney can save you from spending large amounts of money further down the road.
Apart from this yearly check-up, it is important to know when it is time to call a professional. Thankfully, there are a couple of visible signs that will alert you to the need of an expert:
A chimney leak is often the first sign of internal damage. Not only can a leak cause permanent damage to your chimney and fireplace but they can also impact your home’s building materials. Leaks can spread to areas like insulation, wall boards, rafters, or the attic.
Some common signs of leaking are:
- Dampness or discoloration on ceiling and walls near the fireplace
- Rust on the damper
- Water in the firebox
- Strong or unpleasant odors coming from the firebox
If you experience a chimney fire, the first thing to do is to call an expert before trying to use the fireplace again. Chimney inspections can determine exactly how much damage was done, where the damage was located, and what it will take to repair it.
The main issue with chimney fires is that some are short lived and extinguish themselves. These fires are harder to detect and can be left unnoticed but can leave lasting damage. The Chimney Safety Institute of America explains that many of these fires remain undetected because they do not receive enough air to become dramatic. However, even these “smaller fires” can cause just as much damage as their more noticeable counterparts.
Some common signs of chimney fires are:
- Dense black smoke coming from the firebox or out of the top of the chimney
- Clicking or ticking noises
- Sound of rumbling coming from around the fireplace
If you see these signs, make sure that you call a chimney sweep immediately, only an expert will be able to tell you when you are able to use your fireplace again.
Smoke is backing up into the house
If your fireplace damper is properly opened and there is still smoke entering the room, there may be an obstruction within the chimney. Chimneys are vulnerable to a variety of debris. Whether the obstruction is the result of a downdraft or debris fallen from a tree, a trained chimney sweep can quickly discover the issue and effectively remove it.
Here are a couple more explanations to why unwanted smoke is entering your home:
- Your damper is faulty. If your damper will not open completely, it could lead to smoke backing into your home as well as carbon monoxide
- Your house is too air-tight. If your house does not have proper air flow, it will be unable to allow for enough air to drives the smoke up the chimney and out of your home
- You may have the wrong size chimney for the fireplace it is connected to. Improperly sized or installed chimneys are bound to experience problems with air flow as well
Only a chimney sweep will be able to discover the true condition of your chimney. Simply having an annual inspection will alert you to any problems that may have been let unnoticed.
The professionals at Watson Brothers Chimney & Vent have specialized equipment and training that allows correct and safely performed inspections and repairs. We pride ourselves on ensuring that you always receive superior quality and a clean chimney. Call us today!