If you plan to fire up your fireplace again this winter, consider having a professional inspect your chimney and flue. These professionals look for cracks in the masonry, water damage, and other signs of wear and tear.
Foul odors coming from the fireplace are another sign of chimney problems. They can indicate a buildup of creosote and soot in the flue. These substances obstruct smoke and gas venting, causing dangerous carbon monoxide to move back into the house.
Excessive Soot or Creosote Buildup
Creosote is a black, tar-like substance in your chimney as wood burns. When it becomes excessive, it can block the flow of smoke into the flue. This can lead to smoke blowing back into the house, which can trigger allergies and aggravate respiratory conditions like asthma. The particulate matter accumulating in dirty chimneys can also worsen chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
Chimney soot is a powdery, oily substance that contains dangerous toxins, chemicals, and debris. It’s easy to remove with regular chim scan Wallkill NY cleaning. But if not removed, it can stick to the chimney walls and lining as creosote residue. In severe cases, a chimney can develop third-degree creosote, which looks like tar or hard glaze buildup on the chimney wall.
Bricks and other masonry materials naturally absorb moisture, which can cause damage over time. A chimney leak is an emergency that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Water damage in your chimney can lead to various problems in and around the home. You may notice warping, discoloration, or stains on walls and ceilings near the fireplace. Moisture can also cause rust spots on metal vent pipes connected to the chimney.
A Level 2 inspection involves getting on the roof and using unique video technology to thoroughly inspect your chimney’s masonry, flue, and other components. This inspection is often needed if you’re selling your home, after a chimney operation malfunction, or if you experience a severe weather event like a hurricane or bad storm.
Cracked Bricks or Mortar Joints
A chimney is susceptible to a variety of damage, including cracks. This is a clear sign that the chimney needs to be repaired by a professional. Watermarks on the walls and ceilings near your chimney are another clear sign that it is time for repair service. Water that penetrates the chimney and reaches wood framing can lead to severe mildew and mold problems.
Chimney masonry requires strong mortar joints to hold bricks, stones, blocks, and cast-in-place concrete together. When the mortar deteriorates, it exposes the masonry to increased moisture and accelerates deterioration.
You can spot mortar deterioration by looking for white stains on the sides of your chimney. This is called efflorescence, and it is caused by dissolved salts that seep into the chimney.
Homeowners usually are only aware that their chimneys have had a fire if they notice smoke filling their living areas. While explosive chimney fires that sound like a train is blowing through your house happen, many are slow-burning and somewhat secretive.
Often, they’re only noticed when a chimney inspection is performed. If you’re seeing puffs of smoke rather than a continuous stream of smoke coming back down your chimney, this is usually a sign that the chimney is experiencing a downdraft problem.
Look also for damage to accessories on your roof near your chimney, such as vents and TV accessories. If melted, discolored, or distorted, it could indicate that the heat from the chimney has been getting close to them.
A foul odor from your chimney indicates a problem with your flue that requires professional attention. If you smell a burning, smoky, or musty smell, it’s likely the result of soot or creosote buildup.
Windy weather often drives leaves, twigs, and other debris into your chimney. If they’re not removed promptly, they’ll begin to decompose and produce a foul odor. A rotting smell, animal droppings, or the presence of birds or other animals also indicate a chimney problem that needs immediate attention.
Dark spots or stains on your chimney liner are signs of damage and require a professional inspection. These problems can lead to chimney leaks and deteriorating brick masonry that puts your home at risk.