Since fireplaces came into fashion, the people who clean the chimneys have been known as chimney sweeps. Many modern professional chimney sweeps perform other important services such as chimney inspection, chimney repair and chimney rebuilding. Let’s look at a few reasons why you might need the services of a trained chimney sweep.
A chimney leak often is the first sign of damage somewhere within the system that could lead to serious deterioration of the chimney masonry or some of its components.
A leaky chimney also can put your home’s building materials at risk. For example, if water is draining down the outside of the chimney and into the house, it can cause damage to insulation, wall boards, rafters, the attic and more.
Common signs of a chimney leak include:
- Dampness or discoloration on the ceiling and walls adjacent to the fireplace
- A rusty damper
- Efflorescence (white staining) on exterior masonry
- Water in the firebox
- Strong, unpleasant odors coming from the firebox
Chimney sweeps can spot the source(s) of the leak and perform any necessary repairs.
If you’ve had a chimney fire, the first action you need to take before using the fireplace again is to call a certified chimney sweep for a thorough inspection. Chimney inspections can determine how much damage the fire caused, where the damage is located and what is required to restore the chimney to safety.
One problem with chimney fires is that some of them are of short duration and extinguish on their own. Even still, damage to the flue liner, the chimney masonry or adjacent areas of the home may have happened.
Here are chimney fire signs to watch and listen for:
- Huge amounts of dense, black smoke coming from the firebox or out the top of the chimney
- Odd clicking or ticking noises
- The sound of rumbling like from a distant train
If any of these signs occur, call 911 and extinguish the fire in the fireplace, if you can do it safely.
Smoke is backing up into the home
Drafting problems can be caused by several things:
- Obstructions in the flue: This can include bird and other small-animal nests as well as leaves, twigs and other tree debris.
- Large creosote buildup in the flue: After a lot of fireplace use, creosote can build up to the point the flue passage is narrowed and smoke drafts inefficiently.
- Faulty damper: If your fireplace damper won’t fully open, you may experience smoke and carbon monoxide backing up into your home.
- House is too air-tight: If your home allows little or no air flow, there won’t be enough air to create a proper draft to lift smoke up into the chimney.
- Wrong-size chimney: For efficient drafting, your chimney flue must be the right size for the fireplace it’s connected to. Improperly built/installed chimneys and chimney liners are almost sure to cause air-flow issues.
There are other possible reasons for sluggish drafting, and your CSIA-certified chimney sweep can find them and recommend ways to solve the problem.
Has it been more than a year since your last chimney sweep visit?
If so, now is the right time to call a local chimney expert and schedule a thorough cleaning to remove flammable creosote from your flue. Annual cleaning and inspection is the best way to keep your chimney safe and efficient.
We’ve covered a few of the jobs that chimney sweeps regularly perform. These trained technicians also can help with any other issues you’re having with your chimney, fireplace or stove.
Fluesbrothers Chimney & Fireplace of Kansas City, KS, is available year-round to make sure your chimney always performs at its best. Call us at (913) 236-7141.
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