Reasons You Should Always Budget for a Chimney Inspection
Who doesn’t love to save money where they can? Tackling home repair projects by yourself can be a good way to cut down on your expenses and gain new skills. If you are looking for a DIY project, you might be thinking about skipping a professional chimney cleaning and inspection to do it yourself. But cleaning and inspecting a chimney is more challenging than swapping out your HVAC filters and riskier than building your own deck. Unless you have professional equipment and training, it is smarter to budget for a professional chimney inspection.
Helping smoke escape outside isn’t the only job that a chimney system has. It also protects your home from toxic fumes, dangerous temperatures, hot embers and water damage.
A chimney system is more complex than you might think. It is made up of different components—such as the damper, flue liner, chimney crown and chimney cap—that all need to be in good condition and working properly. One warped, broken and deteriorating component could cause problems for the whole system. If you don’t have the right equipment or know what warning signs to look for, you might put yourself and your home at risk. Every year, hundreds of people in the U.S. are injured or killed because of house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning caused by chimney system failures that could have been avoided. Don’t let yourself become a statistic!
Top 4 Reasons to Budget for Professional Chimney Maintenance
1. Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that is produced by burning fuels like wood and natural gas. It is the number one cause of deaths by poisoning in the U.S. Accidental deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning are usually the result of faulty heating systems, like fireplaces and stoves, which are not venting properly. Since CO is odorless, tasteless and colorless, most people don’t know they’ve been exposed until it is too late. That’s why it has been given the nickname “the silent killer.”
Three chimney problems than can lead to CO exposure are a blocked chimney, a cracked flue liner or reverse airflow. Animal nests, lawn debris, creosote buildup, and broken pieces of flue tiles can all clog the chimney and prevent CO from venting outside like it should. Cracks in the flue liner can allow CO to sneak into your home instead of going outside. Reverse airflow is a problem, usually caused by a structural issue, which makes the air pressure in your home drop and pushes CO from the fire into your home instead of up the chimney.
A CSIA-certified chimney sweep has professional equipment to help them notice cracks in the chimney liner and has the experience to recognize if there are problems with your home that might cause a reverse airflow. They also have the right equipment to clean out any animal nests, debris and creosote in the chimney.
2. Reduce the Risk of a House Fire
Creosote is a flammable chemical compound that is created when you burn fuels. Unlike CO, it is not a gas. It is a dark, often tar-like, substance that builds up along the walls in the chimney on the flue lining. High temperatures or a stray spark can easily ignite it.
Having even small amounts of it in your chimney can be dangerous. Removing it is difficult without the right equipment or cleaners since it is tough to scrap off and can collect in places that are difficult to reach.
A professional chimney sweep can also tell if your chimney has already had a fire. Chimney fires are common. Creosote can burn at high temperatures for long periods of time. Sometimes without your knowledge – since these fires can produce little smoke and no noise. You might not know that there was a fire in your chimney until your chimney is inspected. Even silent chimney fires can leave behind serious damage that can make your home at risk of a future house fire.
3. Avoid Expensive Repairs
Water is the biggest enemy of a chimney system. There are many ways that water can get in: bad flashing, a warped or missing chimney cap, cracked masonry or a deteriorating chimney crown. Once water gets in, it can cause many problems from creating a breeding ground for toxic black mold to damaging ceilings and walls to structural damage. Investing in an inspection by a professional who can make sure there are no avenues for water to get into the chimney is the best way to avoid expensive repairs down the road. They may suggest small solutions like waterproofing or a new chimney cap that can extend the life of your chimney and prevent these problems.
4. Lower Your Energy Costs
Calling in a professional chimney sweep to maintain your chimney is a smart way to improve your fireplace’s efficiency and reduce drafts to cut down on your heating and cooling costs.
A lot of heated and cooled air can be lost up the chimney if the damper is broken or warped forcing your HVAC system to work overtime to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Having the damper checked annually is the best way to make sure it stays in good shape.
It’s hard to use your fireplace to zone heat your home if your fireplace doesn’t produce enough heat. If you have trouble getting fires started in your fireplace or notice that your fireplace is emitting a small amount of heat, it usually means that there isn’t enough oxygen coming in from outside to feed the fire. Having the chimney cleaned can solve this problem which will make your fireplace a more effective heating source.
These are just 4 of the top reasons why it is smart to budget for a professional chimney cleaning and inspection every year. To learn more about chimney inspections or set up an appointment, give us a call!