Chimney Repair Can Protect Your Home From Disaster

One of the most overlooked parts of a home is the chimney, and if chimney repair is ignored for too long the results can be devastating.  Homeowners often take for granted the brick construction that draws smoke out of the home during frigid winter evenings.  This is unfortunate, because a poorly maintained chimney can cause a house fire that could fully engulf and destroy your home.  Modern chimneys are designed to prevent this from happening, but these designs are not fool proof.  And, foolishly ignoring the physical condition of your chimney can put the lives of your family at risk.

Chimneys work by taking advantage of the differences between outside and inside air pressure.  The higher pressure inside air pushes particles and smoke up from the fireplace, through the chimney, and out into the lower pressure outside air.  Along the way, damage to the chimneys structure or foreign elements such as leaves and animal nests can block this flow of air and particles.  When this flow is blocked, creosote can build up inside your chimney.  Creosote is a natural by-product of the burning of wood.  It is a combustible substance, igniting at temperatures of over 800 degrees Fahrenheit. In a damaged chimney, this fire can quickly spread to your roofing, overhanging trees, and spread over your entire home. 

The most important step in chimney repair is having your chimney swept regularly.  A certified chimney sweep will cost about $100.  They can also inspect your chimney while they are in your home for an extra $65 for a basic inspection.  If you cant remember the last time your chimney was cleaned or inspected, it is a good idea to spend the extra $200 for an extensive Level 3 inspection to detect any structural problems with you chimney and fireplace.   

Chimney repair experts are licensed and insured. Be sure to check their references as well, as you will be giving them access to your home as well as the ability to make quite a mess before they leave.  An alternative to hiring a professional inspector is to call your local fire department.  As a means of fire prevention, many local fire departments will perform chimney inspections for free.  A thorough will uncover any cracks in the brick or the mortar of the chimney.  It will also be able to tell if the lining had been compromised.  Equally as important is the chimney flashing.  The flashing is where the chimney attaches to the roofing.  Damaged flashing will allow water to enter through the roof, causing damage to the ceiling underneath. 

Should an inspector detect damage to your chimney, you should call a repair expert.  Some chimney repairs can be done yourself.  Damage to mortar on the outside of a chimney is easily fixed, and leaks in the flashing can be mended with a trowel and a caulking gun.

Interior damage or damage to the flue can have dangerous results and should be handled by a professional.  Flue damage that is not repaired correctly can result in a dangerous build-up of the deadly gas carbon monoxide in the home.  A damaged or improperly repaired chimney liner can cause a build-up of creosote which can cause a house fire. 

Having your chimney inspected and cleaned regularly will help you to maintain it in good working condition.  If properly cared for, a chimney should last as long as the house does.  If not maintained, a chimney can become a dangerous fire hazard.  We all like to snuggle before a roaring fire.  Ignoring timely chimney repair can turn that cozy winter evening into a life altering disaster.

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