Inspecting And Repairing Your Chimney To Prevent Fires And Further Damage

Over the years, chimneys can sustain damage and need repairs. That is why it is so important to have a yearly inspection of the chimney before you light your first fire of the season. Failure to make repairs to your chimney could result in chimney fires and carbon monoxide leaking into your home. Between professional inspections, you can inspect and make small repairs yourself - Here's how.

Clean the Chimney before Repairs

Before any repairs can be made, you must thoroughly clean the chimney. Use a chimney brush that is the correct size for your chimney. Using a brush that is too large will damage the mortar, but one that is too small will not effectively remove the creosote from the walls in the chimney.

Note: Creosote is the black soot that coats the inside of your chimney. When you burn wood that has not fully dried or lesser quality wood, creosote will form quickly and become a fire hazard, as it is flammable.

If you don't have a chimney brush and are unsure of what size you need, measure the inner perimeter of the chimney. Take that measurement with you to the hardware store and talk with the sales person. He or she will assist you in selecting the best fit for your chimney.

Once you have the brush you need, insert it at the top of the chimney and gently slide it down to the bottom. Repeat the process as many times as necessary to remove the creosote and nests in the chimney.

Insect, Rodent and Bird Nests

As you clean the chimney, you may find that birds, rodents and insects may have made themselves homes in your chimney. Generally, the chimney brush will remove them as you clean it, but there are some instances in which these nests are much too difficult to remove with the brush.

Freeze-Thaw Cracks

Your chimney can sustain small cracks as moisture becomes trapped in the masonry and is then frozen and thawed several times through the winter. As the freeze-thaw cycles repeat, the moisture expands and contracts over and over causing small cracks that could quickly grow in size if left un-repaired.

Missing Bricks and Mortar

The bricks and mortar can sometimes break, chip and fall out of place. If this happens, you will need some professional help making the repairs, as they can be difficult to complete.

Flashing Damage

The flashing (metal trim) around the chimney must be kept in good condition. Although this element does not protect your home from fires, it does prevent water damage to your home. If the flashing appears to be failing, you can either replace it, or cover it with a coating of roof sealant, depending on how serious the damage is.

Unsure of your ability to inspect your own chimney? That's OK. Just contact your local chimney repair company like Excel Chimney & Fireplace Service for assistance.