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Chimney Maintenance 101: Routine Inspections, Sweeping & Repairs

Post by : dminCMC


Almost every house in Connecticut has a fireplace that keeps everyone warm during the winter. It may create a cozy and safe space for you to seek comfort during harsh snowy weather, but it comes with a set of risks, including chimney fires. In the US, most residential fires result from chimney fires and cost billions of dollars in repairs.

Chimneys are the critical ventilation systems in fireplaces, allowing smoke, dangerous fumes, and toxins to escape the home. Adequate maintenance of the fireplace and chimney ensures that they are free from any dangerous substances and don’t have gaps to leak fire. A well-maintained chimney requires chimney inspections and sweeping, fireplace rebuilding, and overall repairs. Keep reading to learn more about them.

Chimney Inspections

The constant exposure to heat causes much damage to the chimney interior, affecting the overall performance of the fireplace system. With routine chimney inspections, you can look for the problems affecting the optimal operation and hire appropriate repair services.

Most homeowners think that the casual observation of the fireplace and chimney from the rooftop is enough to inspect the damage. However, there are many hidden issues that only professionals can detect using their specialized tools.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends inspection of chimneys, fireplaces and vents inspected at least once a year. They have defined three levels of inspection:

Level 1

The level 1 inspection is suited for chimneys without any severe weather damage, and it involves a routine checkup of the fireplace and chimney. It doesn’t include any special equipment; chimney inspectors look for creosote and soot buildup, obstructions, or other damage.

Level 2

The level 2 inspection is done using video scanning and other specialized tools. Most homeowners get this inspection after harsh weather or due to clear signs of water damage or efflorescence, foul smell in the fireplace, lower performance, and when they went through fuel or flue changes. The experts carefully assess crawl space, roof, attic, and every element.

Level 3

We recommend this inspection to homeowners with no history of routine inspections, severe structural damage, or after a chimney fire. It is one of the most expensive and labor-intensive inspections that involves tearing down the chimney to find out the problem and rebuild it again with necessary repairs.

A home caught fire from the chimney

Chimney Cleaning

A chimney doesn’t contain the usual dirt and debris; the byproduct of wood-burning and heat gases deposit hazardous materials on the chimney flues, such as creosote, soot, carbon monoxide, etc.

One of the major causes of chimney fires is creosote buildup. It is a highly flammable substance with the potential of catching fire quickly when the temperature inside the chimney rises. Soot and carbon monoxide are released into the air, causing breathing issues and even fatalities for older people. Therefore, experts recommend scheduling routine chimney cleaning from professionals to prevent any incident.

A chimney sweep includes deep cleaning of the fireplace, stove, flue liners, furnace, and other components. Most times, chimney cleaning is also required for effective inspection.

An illustration of professional chimney cleaning

Chimney Repair

After chimney inspection and cleaning, here are the most common chimney repairs you might need for safe and efficient performance:

1. Chimney Repointing

Chimney repointing is one of the most common repairs that homebuyers get to increase the lifespan of masonry and give it an improved look. Masons perform chimney repointing by scraping out the damaged mortar joint between the brickwork and replacing it with a new mortar mixture. This new mixture strengthens the structural integrity and resists environmental damage.

This repair is required when you observe cracks and holes between your chimney or after harsh weather conditions such as snow, storm, and rain.

2. Chimney Rebuilding

Some problems are not fixed with chimney repointing and require rebuilding. Unlike repointing, the masons replace the broken or damaged brick and mortar with new ones. Chimney rebuilding is required when the bricks go beyond repairs, start to fall out (brick spalling), or have bigger holes that can cause structural damage. Replacing bricks will ensure that the fire or lethal gases remain contained inside the chimney.

Another common reason why you may need this service is that you ignored the minimal cracks and holes and didn’t get a professional inspection or cleaning for a long time.

3. Chimney Liners Installation

Not many homeowners realize this, but chimney liners have a major role to play in your safety. These liners are flexible tubes installed in the chimney flue to prevent byproducts and heat from damaging the masonry. If you don’t have them, you’re risking many problems such as chimney fires, carbon monoxide exposure, etc. Those who already have them need routine replacements because they might get damaged over time.

4. Chase Covers Installation

With chase covers, you can keep critters like birds or raccoons, snow, rain, and debris out of the chimney flue, preventing mold growth and other damages. They are strong and durable that can withstand worse weather conditions.

Other repairs include fireplace remodeling, burner replacements, masonry restoration, etc. Chimney repairs can get quite expensive if the damage is severe. However, the best way to save your money is by preventing damage. Here are a few ways to prevent damage.

Preventative Maintenance

1. Waterproofing

Waterproofing is a process where chimney experts add a water repellant seal as a protective layer to the chimney. This layer prevents bricks from absorbing the moisture from the water during rain, storm, or snow.

2. Crown Repair

The chimney crown is the top-most part of a chimney, exposed to the external environment. Due to sun exposure, and other weather conditions, it starts to deteriorate. If you get frequent chimney crown repairs, it can help you avoid major damage to other chimney parts

3. Chimney Damper

A chimney damper is another form of coverage that shuts the flue when you’re not using the chimney. It helps you save energy costs because the chimney flue can send the central air conditioning outside the home. Furthermore, mount chimney dampers also keep the debris out of the fireplace.

A house with a well-maintained chimney

Keep Your Chimney in Perfect Condition with Maintenance Services

We offer a wide range of chimney services in Hartford, CT, to keep your chimney in perfect condition for safe and effective operation. From chimney inspections to extensive fireplace repairs, the experienced masons at Creative Masonry & Chimney ensure high quality in every project. We also offer free estimates to our clients so they can make up their minds and budget. Call us now to get started.