Regardless of how frequently they are used, the condition of the fireplace and chimney are often taken for granted or ignored in typical home maintenance schedules and lists. If you own a home with a fireplace, it is necessary to periodically check the chimney, firebox, hearth and surrounding surfaces for problems or damage. Finding a small issue now may prevent a bigger, more costly headache or unsafe condition later.
Use binoculars to make sure there is no debris, bird or animal nest at the top of the chimney or in the cap. No tree limbs or other structures should be above the chimney. Check the mortar and bricks on each side of the chimney from top to bottom for signs of breakage or crumbling. The chimney should not be leaning to any side, and the flashing at the joint between the roof and chimney should be properly placed and sealed.
No Issues Here
Use a flashlight to check for any signs of animal nests or debris on the damper and to make sure it opens and closes and seals as it should. An improperly sealed damper can be a source of heat loss for your home, likely resulting in a big hit on your utility bills. Check the firebox and hearth for signs of moisture, cracked bricks, missing mortar or heat damage. Signs of moisture may indicate a defective chimney cap. Water can leach salt and limestone from the bricks in the hearth, causing them to degrade. Water can also cause rust or corrosion on metal parts in and around the hearth. Damaged mortar and bricks in the firebox are serious and can result in major home damage later. Also, check the interior and exterior walls surrounding the fireplace and chimney for any damage.
Does It Draft Properly?
A fire needs fresh air coming in and a clear path for the smoke to exit to burn properly. Smoke drifting from the fireplace into the room is a definite cause for alarm and can signal a problem with the fireplace vents. It also indicates a need to have the fireplace and chimney professionally cleaned, repaired and inspected as soon as possible. Using an improperly venting fireplace creates the risk of inhaling smoke or carbon monoxide, both of which can be fatal.
When a fireplace or chimney problem is found, you may need a reliable source for fireplace repairs in West Michigan. Such problems are the wrong type of issue to ignore as they can result in bigger home repair or health problems later.
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