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6 Signs You Need a Chimney Inspection

Wood Burning FireplaceEvery fire-safety agency in America recommends annual chimney inspections and cleanings, particularly for homes with wood-burning fireplaces. Perhaps you’ve gone a little (or a lot) longer than a year. Or maybe you’ve recently moved into a new home with a fireplace whose history you don’t know. In either case, once a year is the right time to have your chimney inspected, and so is any time you see the following six signs.

  1. Water on the floor of the firebox. Water is getting into the system, either through a faulty chimney cap or a leak in the chimney’s masonry. When allowed into the chimney structure, water can cause erosion and significant damage over time.
  2. Weird odors coming from the fireplace. Likely you have excess creosote and soot buildup in the flue. These odors are most pronounced when the weather is hot and humid. Remember: creosote is highly flammable and should be cleaned out regularly.
  3. Smoke backing up into the house. Drafting issues often are caused by obstructions in the flue. They can be the result of creosote and soot buildup as well as foreign objects such as leaves, twigs, small-animal nests and the animals themselves who have died inside the chimney. Smoke moving back into the house contains carbon monoxide, a toxin that is invisible, odorless and potentially deadly to humans and animals.
  4. Cracking or crumbling of the chimney’s exterior masonry. Once this kind of damage has begun, it will continue until your chimney becomes seriously compromised. When water gets into cracks, it freezes and expands, breaking apart more masonry. Inside the flue, water can decompose the bricks, creating space for the intense heat of your fires to come into contact with unprotected areas of the home’s internal structure.
  5. Rumbling or clicking sounds coming from the firebox. These noises point to a chimney fire, which should always be acted on immediately. Douse the fire in the firebox and call 911. After the fire is out (it’s common for small chimney fires to go out on their own), the chimney needs a thorough, professional inspection to determine the extent of any damage caused by the fire.
  6. Chimney InspectionChimney discoloration. White, green, black, blue and reddish staining on the exterior of your chimney can point to a variety of problems, some minor, some more than minor. Causes of stains include water evaporation, mold, rust and soot/creosote.

These are six signs that point to an immediate need for a chimney inspection performed by a qualified, certified chimney sweep. Professional technicians have the tools, equipment and hands-on experience to diagnose any trouble happening with a chimney and quickly initiate cleaning, repairs or component replacements.

Our recommendation is to schedule annual inspection service visits for your chimney and fireplace. This will solve or prevent most problems common to these appliances. We also strongly recommend that you call us immediately if you notice any of the six signs listed above that signal the need for a chimney inspection.

Northeastern Chimney of West Hartford, CT, is ready to help with chimney inspection, cleaning and repair work. Schedule an appointment, or get your questions answered at (860) 233-5770.

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