Summer Chimney Inspection and Repair Guide
It’s summer, but winter is coming and will be here before you know it, so why not use these lazy warm-weather days to make sure your chimney and fireplace are in top condition for the upcoming cool season? While some tasks should be done only by professionals, there are many things you as a homeowner can do to ensure a safe and efficient system.
Here are steps you can start taking right now.
1. Visual inspection of the chimney structure. You’re looking for signs of damage to the structure such as crumbling, loose bricks and small cracks in the mortar. All of these can let water in, and that’s not good. In many cases, minor cracks can be sealed with a special sealant either you or your chimney sweep can apply. You’ll still have to keep an eye on treated cracked areas as the seasons move on.
2. Inspect the flashing. Flashing is the material around the chimney where it drops into the roof. If there’s any warping or tearing, you’ll need to replace the flashing.
3. Examine the chimney cap. Make sure there are no tears in the mesh and that it is fitted securely to the top of the chimney. If the mesh is torn – or if you don’t have a chimney cap – #4 is very important.
4. Determine if the flue is obstructed. With a deteriorated chimney cap or no cap at all, lots of things can get into the chimney and cause blockages. Debris, leaves, twigs, animal nests and little animals themselves all can create drafting problems, which can send smoke and carbon monoxide back into the house and even possibly contribute to a chimney fire. You may need a professional to inspect for obstructions.
5. Damper operation. Make sure the damper above the firebox opens fully and closes tightly. Warping and deterioration should be addressed right away with a new damper installed properly.
6. Firebox condition. First, clean the firebox thoroughly, then inspect for loose bricks/mortar and cracks anywhere within the structure. Also look for stains, which could point to moisture issues.
7. Soot and creosote. Both of these substances are common with wood-burning fireplaces. Creosote is responsible for more house fires than any other single cause. While you can probably reach up into the flue and scrape away some of the buildup, thorough chimney cleaning is a job best left to certified chimney sweeps.
A good reason to perform these inspection tasks in the summer rather than later in the year is because they might turn up the need for repair work that’s more than simple and routine. As we move closer to the cooler weather, chimney sweeps and repair techs tend to get pretty busy, and scheduling a repair job that will have your system ready to go when needed can be a little more difficult.
Guardian Chimney Sweep serves the greater Houston area with professional chimney and fireplace cleaning, top-to-bottom inspections, repair work and installations. Call us at (713) 401-2011 and get a jump on whatever work and cleaning may be necessary.