Like a washing machine that overflows, many home appliances provide obvious evidence that repair is needed, but chimneys are often inconspicuously dirty or in disrepair. Chimney and fireplace upkeep is a matter of home safety, and it is important to schedule routine chimney inspections and cleaning.
Although the squeaky wheel usually gets the grease, it can be hazardous to use that policy with regard to your chimney. Sometimes the eye of an experienced, certified chimney sweep is required to spot evidence that a chimney or fireplace needs cleaning or repair. The following, however, are signs that you can see for yourself that fireplace or chimney cleaning or repair are needed.
Smells Like a Wood Fire
If you can smell burning wood even when your fireplace has not been used for a while, it is a sign that your chimney has creosote buildup. Creosote is a highly flammable combustion material produced in wood fires, and the tarry substance sticks to the sides of the chimney flue every time there is a fire. Regular cleaning is important because when there is excess creosote, the threat of a dangerous chimney fire increases. When a chimney fire is continually fueled due to layers of creosote, it will usually destroy the chimney liner and cause a home fire.
Your Fireplace Has Debris Other Than Wood
It is normal to see logs in your fireplace, but if you see bits of clay, it is evidence of a problem. Most chimney flues are built with clay tiles because they are durable and inexpensive. When the clay tiles begin to deteriorate and you see evidence of it, do not use your fireplace again until a chimney professional has inspected the chimney and provided any needed repairs to the liner.
Oftentimes, chimney liner replacement is more practical than repairs. This is partly because of the tedious and expensive procedure involved with replacing clay tiles. In large part, it is because tiles will continue to deteriorate. It is quicker, easier, and, in the long run, less expensive to get a new chimney liner. Most chimney sweeps recommend a stainless-steel chimney liner with a lifetime warranty.
Starting Fires is a Struggle
A dirty chimney that becomes obstructed by layers of creosote negatively affects the chimney draft. It is important to have a strong draft so that the toxic combustion gases created by wood fires do not go into the home. Whenever there is a weak draft, fires in a fireplace can be difficult to get started. If you have been wondering why it is such a struggle to get the warm fires burning in your home, it is probably best to schedule a chimney inspection and cleaning as soon as possible.
The Chimney Has White Stains
Chimney leaks and moisture intrusion in a chimney system are notoriously difficult for laypersons to identify in the early stages. One of the more obvious signs that the masonry system has been infiltrated with excess moisture is white staining on the chimney, which is referred to as efflorescence. The staining is a result of salt that evaporates on the brick face. First, water inside the masonry mixes with any soluble salt that may be in the brick material. The water then naturally travels through the masonry to the exterior, leaving evidence of moisture-damaged chimney bricks.
The chimney sweeps at High’s Chimney Service in Gaithersburg, MD, have the training, know-how, and professional certification to identify whether chimneys and fireplaces need cleaning and/or repair. We offer chimney inspections, chimney cleaning, masonry rebuilding, and all other chimney and fireplace services throughout the year. Contact High’s Chimney Service for expert services by calling (301) 519-3500 today.
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