If you own a home with a chimney and fireplace, it’s important to ensure everything is functioning as safely and as efficiently as possible. This includes doing things like burning only seasoned wood, regularly scooping out ash, and following classic fireplace safety tips (like never leaving a fire unattended).
Yet, one of the most effective ways to guarantee there are no hidden hazards lurking within
your flue, is to have your chimney professionally inspected. Now, this is a common recommendation, but it can leave homeowners asking questions. Like, how often are inspections necessary? And what things might indicate an inspection is warranted?
Fortunately for folks throughout Nashville and its surrounding areas we’re here to help! Keep the following signs in mind that you may need an inspection, then give us a call with any further questions or to schedule an appointment. We’d love to help you out!
1. It’s Been Over a Year
Per the recommendation of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), chimney inspections should be completed every single year. This practice helps ensure the appliance is functioning safely and appropriately before the start of every burning season, and it keeps homeowners safer from potential hazards like chimney or house fires, gas leaks, smoke exposure, and more.
Did your last inspection check out okay? Not spotting any obvious damage? An inspection is still necessary as there could easily be hidden damages or clogs present that might cause issues. And the longer any problems go unresolved the worse they’ll get turning what could be quick, affordable repairs into a big, expensive projects.
And remember – this doesn’t just apply to wood-burning units! Gas appliances are known for their cleaner burns and lack of creosote, but that doesn’t mean they can’t potentially cause harm. There could be damage present or obstructions that might trigger gas leaks or fire hazards. Long story short – no matter what fuel you use, an inspection is always necessary.
2. Damaged Masonry
Although masonry chimneys are built to last decade after decade, they can become damaged over the years from exposure to bad weather or from things like the freeze/thaw process. If you ever notice cracks or gaps in your masonry chimney, you should contact Ashbusters as soon as possible to schedule a chimney inspection.
Why is this important? Damage throughout your masonry can allow water to enter the inside of the chimney which then causes all kinds of decay and deterioration. This gives smoke, carbon monoxide, heat, and flames clear pathways to the rest of your home where they can destroy property and threaten the wellbeing of those inside.
Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps have the skills and experience needed to quickly diagnose the problem, and we are trained in chimney masonry repair techniques, such as tuckpointing and brick replacement, that will restore the structural stability of your chimney.
And once any necessary repairs are made, be sure to invest waterproofing services from our experts to minimize the risk of further damage down the line!
3. Debris on Your Firebox Floor
Have you been noticing any crumbly black soot on the bottom of your firebox floor? This is a sign that excess creosote deposits are present inside of your chimney. Creosote is a brown or black substance that develops naturally during the combustion process and clings to the interior walls of your chimney. It’s a huge fire hazard, known for being the leading cause of chimney fires, and if creosote deposits become large enough, they can start falling into your firebox.
You may also notice pieces of tile, brick, or mortar joints in the debris on your firebox floor, which can be the result of chimney fire damage. These pieces indicate that there are now openings through which smoke and poisonous gases can enter your home. They also leave adjacent structures/woodwork vulnerable to heat and fire exposure. Needless to say, you definitely won’t want to light any fires until an expert can look things over!
But wait… if you’ve had a chimney fire, there’s no way you’d miss it, right? Actually, while most people assume a chimney fire would be a big, dramatic event, the truth is that most go off undetected because they burn slowly. Again – this is why annual inspection are so encouraged!
If you’re concerned about high levels of creosote in your flue or if you think you may have experienced a chimney fire, then it’s time to book an inspection – and fast. Your sweep will have a look, determine the best next steps for moving forward, then set up you right so you’re adequately prepared for your next burning season.
4. Changes On Your Walls & Ceiling
When you’re enjoying a cozy fire on a cold evening, the easy-going ambiance makes it easy to forget that extremely high temperatures are being produced just inside your chimney. Now, when all things are functioning fine and in good shape, there’s no real need to worry. But when certain components, such as the firebox, masonry joints, or liner, are damaged, that heat can transfer to the combustible parts of your home in a surprisingly short amount of time.
That’s why it’s always important to stay aware and alert for signs of excessive heat. For instance, you may also notice that the paint or wallpaper near your fireplace has begun to bubble or peel away from the wall. You should also watch for water stains, as this is indicative of water leaks and damage, which can then leave your home more vulnerable to heat transfer, as well.
In the end, a chimney inspection should be scheduled ASAP to reduce your risk of an accidental house or chimney fire. Our professionals will closely examine the condition of your chimney liner to make sure that no damage is present, and if we do find any cracks, gaps, or other damage, we can tell you more about your repair and relining options.
5. Excess Buildup
Have you spotted buildup near your chimney cap or even when glancing up your chimney from below? Or maybe you’ve noticed problems with draft and airflow whenever you build a fire – like smoke billowing into your living space.
Whether it’s outside debris blowing in on windy days, animals bringing in nesting material, or even the animals, themselves, buildup in your chimney can create some serious fire hazards, and it has an enormous impact on the efficiency of your fireplace, too.
If debris is coming in from the top, it’s likely you need your chimney cap repaired or replaced, and if there’s other factors encouraging creosote buildup, then those should be promptly addressed, too. That said, we won’t know how to tackle the problem until we get a closer look, which is why the first step is always to get that chimney inspection on the books!
6. Lack of Heat
Sometimes no obvious danger (like smoke in your living space or a loud chimney fire) presents itself, but it’s still clear that there’s still a problem. Typically in these cases, the first thing a homeowner will notice is a lack of heat.
You deserve to get the most from your fireplace, so don’t settle for inefficiency in any form. Rather, call us in to look things over so we can get you set up right in no time! It could be that a quick and simple fix is all you need to get back to enjoying your evenings to the fullest.
Not to mention, many of the problems that cause a lack of heat or other types of inefficiency can become dangerous when left unaddressed. Don’t let a manageable issue turn into something bigger. Get us on the job now, so we can tackle it from the get-go!
7. You’re Buying/Selling a Home
If you’re in the market for a new home (or putting yours up for sale), scheduling an inspection is a must. This helps check all the boxes and makes sure you’re totally covered before any final documents are signed. If you’re the seller, it helps ensure you aren’t stuck with any extra haggling or fees at the end of it all, and if you’re the buyer it guarantees you don’t get left with a chimney that’s actually in worse shape than you realized.
But wait – what if you already got your home inspection done? Then, you’re good to go, right? Not so much. Home inspectors do a thorough job covering some areas of the home, but they aren’t required to do a full examination of the chimney, and they aren’t actually trained in chimney knowledge. Hiring a CSIA certified sweep to perform a level 2 inspection is always the way to go.
Level 2 inspections require the use of camera equipment that is snaked up your flue to ensure area is examined, so that nothing is missed and that no hidden issues will pop up
after the sale of the home is complete.
8. It’s Summertime
So, here’s the deal. Like we’ve mentioned time and time again, annual inspections are essential when it comes to properly maintaining your chimney and fireplace. And, turns out, summertime is the best time to get this service done!
Why is this? Well, come fall, we experience what’s known as the fall rush. The weather starts to cool and phone calls start coming like crazy from people who want to ensure their chimney and fireplace are all ready to go for the colder months ahead. Unfortunately for those that put maintenance off, this can make it hard to find a convenient time slot in the near future.
And then there’s the issue of repairs. Let’s say you got your inspection squeezed in only to discover repair services are needed – or maybe a sweeping. This means you’ll have to head back to the calendar and your burning season will be pushed back even further.
You’re always better off getting any services done well before fall, so that you have ample time for any necessary repairs or renovations. Then, once leaves start to fall and that chilly breeze flows through the air, you’ll be all set and ready to light your first fire.
Need to Schedule? Give Us a Call!
Ashbusters is experienced in all three levels of professional chimney inspection services, and we also provide you with a detailed assessment of the condition of your chimney. Throughout our time in the industry, we’ve seen all types of chimney damage that could have been prevented if only found early on during a routine chimney inspection.
We’re proud to have served the Middle Tennessee region for over three decades, and we want to help you keep your chimney and fireplace system working well for many more years to come. If you need chimney care, contact us today to schedule your next chimney inspection. We’re here for all of your professional chimney needs!