If you own a home that has a chimney, you’ll want to ensure it stays in good condition for as long as possible. While your chimney doesn’t require extensive care, it does need minimal maintenance from time to time. This starts with a chimney inspection. If you know when to schedule an inspection and what it involves, you’ll be able to take better care of your home’s chimney.
When Do You Need a Chimney Inspection?
There are certain times when you need to have your chimney inspected by a professional contractor. In addition to experiencing problems or suspecting damage, there are also standard times to schedule this type of service. Here are a few examples of the occasions on which you should schedule an inspection.
Purchasing a New Home
If you’re buying a new home, a chimney inspection is one of the many types of inspections you should request. A lender or the insurance provider often requires an inspection, but you can also insist on one prior to completing the closing.
An inspection that’s done to prepare for a home purchase is among the most extensive types since the homebuyer wants to ensure there aren’t underlying problems in the chimney’s structure.
If the masonry contractor discovers an issue with the chimney, the buyer can insist that the seller have the problem repaired. Alternatively, the buyer may negotiate for a lower sale price in exchange for fixing the issue themselves.
It Has Been One Year
You should have a routine chimney inspection done annually as part of your overall home maintenance regimen. The annual inspection is necessary to detect issues that could increase the risks of a fire or carbon monoxide exposure in the home.
During the inspection, the contractor will clear blockages in the flue, repair damage to the chimney, and remove carbon and tar buildup. Since you’re likely to use your home’s fireplace more frequently in the winter, schedule the inspection in early fall.
There Are Visible Signs of Damage
Just as you should keep an eye on your roof, you should visually inspect your chimney from time to time. You can usually see exterior damage from the ground. If you see chipped or missing segments, you should request a professional chimney inspection. There may also be internal damage that needs repairing.
In particular, request an inspection after your community has experienced high winds or severe storms. If there are tree branches extending over your home or a branch has fallen onto your roof, your chimney may have become damaged. An inspection will help you ensure your chimney is still in good condition.
You Have Excessively Used Your Chimney
If you exclusively use your fireplace to heat your home, you should plan on scheduling an extra chimney inspection each year. As you burn wood in your fireplace, the buildup of carbon and tar produces a carcinogen called creosote. The creosote comes from the oil produced through the burning of wood, and that oil can form a thick film on your chimney walls.
In addition to creating a health hazard, excessive creosote accumulation can lead to chimney blockages. If those blockages aren’t cleared, there’s a greater risk of a fire or smoke buildup in the home. A masonry contractor that specializes in chimney care has the tools and equipment needed to clear these compounds from your chimney.
Fires Won’t Stay Lit
Pay attention to how fires burn in your fireplace. If fires smolder or won’t stay lit, there may be a problem in your chimney or in another part of the fireplace. A blocked flue or another issue may be preventing the fire from burning properly. In some cases, you may only need to have the chimney cleaned.
Watch for excessive smoke in the home, as well. Smoke inhalation can lead to respiratory damage, raise cancer risks, and harm your heart health. For these reasons, call for help if you notice that smoke isn’t rising properly through your chimney. If the smoke is being pushed out into your home, there’s probably a blockage in the chimney.
Unusual Odors Come from the Fireplace
Unusual odors emitted from your chimney require service from a chimney care specialist. Typically, foul or strange smells in the fireplace indicate an accumulation of chemical compounds in the chimney. Creosote or other chemicals produced through the process of burning wood can cause strange smells. A change in odors is a sign that your chimney needs professional service.
Why You Need a Contractor to Perform Your Chimney Inspection
While there are some home maintenance tasks that you can do yourself, inspecting your chimney is not one of them. Here are a few reasons you need an inspection performed by a chimney care specialist.
There’s a Safety Factor
Getting a close look at your chimney requires activities that carry a high risk of serious injury. Additionally, you won’t have the proper safety gear to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. A professional contractor will have the equipment and skills to service your chimney safely.
You Won’t Know What to Inspect
While obvious signs of damage are easy to spot, there may be other issues that aren’t so simple to identify. A trained professional will recognize hidden damage, chemical accumulation, and other issues with your chimney’s condition.
Fix Issues Sooner
A contractor with experience in inspecting chimneys can tell you if you will need repairs. A timely inspection can help you avoid larger repair bills down the road because you can have smaller issues fixed before they worsen and prevent you from using your fireplace. The average homeowner won’t be able to spot the need for these minor or hidden repairs.
Trust the Delaware Valley’s Leading Chimney Expert
The chimney care team at McNamara Masonry Chimney Restoration maintains the licenses and certifications that are required to work on homes throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. We will help you with annual inspections, repairs, and new chimney installations. To discuss your chimney’s maintenance with professionals, contact us today!