Fireplaces are an extremely popular home feature. According to a report by the Hearth, Patio, & Barbecue Association, more than half of the homes in the United States have chimneys. Although many homes have a fireplace, most of them are inactive.
Many homeowners mistakenly believe that they do not need to service their chimney if they do not regularly use them. This isn’t the case! Whether you use your fireplace once or 100 times per year, every chimney needs regular sweepings and inspections. This regular maintenance ensure your chimney is free from damage, deterioration, buildup, and other performance problems.
How often should I get a chimney inspection?
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends all chimneys – regardless of fuel source or how often they are used – be inspected at least once per year. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) also advises:
“Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”
Why should I have a chimney sweeping if I don’t use it?
Fireplaces that are not frequently used are in the highest risk category for undetected damage. Because they are not regularly used, homeowners may miss small performance problems that indicate the presence of a bigger chimney issue. A rarely-used fireplace may have less soot and ash to remove, but it still needs professional inspections annually to ensure it is safe to use.
What could be causing my chimney damage?
There are a number of things that can cause chimney damage – even if you do not regularly use your fireplace. The following are three common types of damage that are often seen in infrequently used fireplaces.
- Outdoor Exposure: Damage to the exterior masonry of a chimney can occur regardless of how much you use the fireplace. Both severe weather and normal exposure to the elements can cause wear and tear to the chimney’s bricks and mortar. Without repairs, a small crack can quickly turn into a large chunk of missing masonry.
- Moisture: Water is extremely damaging to both the interior and exterior of a chimney system. Moisture from rain, snow, and even sprinklers can cause damage to the bricks and mortar of the chimney over time. Interior fireplace components are designed to withstand heat, not moisture. It can also rust or get damaged by water from a leaky chimney.
- Nests & Pests: Unused chimneys provide prime real estate for birds, bugs, raccoons, roof rats, and more. In addition to causing damage to the fireplace and chimney, an animal entry can expose you and your family to a variety of bacteria, pests, and parasites.
No matter how often you use your fireplace, it is important to have annual inspections to keep your chimney system – and the rest of your home and family – safe. For more information on annual chimney inspections or to schedule your next appointment, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today!
Spring has finally arrived; with increasingly warm temperatures outside, most homeowners have already stopped using their fireplaces for the season. However, it is important not to neglect your fireplace until the first cold snap of fall. Instead, have chimney repairs addressed now to ensure your fireplace will be ready to use next season.
What causes chimney damage?
The bricks and mortar used in chimney construction are one of the strongest and most durable building materials in the world. This makes them uniquely suited for use in chimney construction; in addition to exposure to the elements, chimneys must be able to withstand the heat and byproducts of combustion created while the fireplace is in use.
Despite their durability, there are a number of ways fireplaces can become damaged.
Common Causes of Chimney Damage
Water can be an extremely damaging force to your chimney system. Exterior masonry can crack, spall, or crumble due to long term water damage, especially when compounded with freezing temperatures in the freeze thaw cycle. Likewise, delicate interior fireplace components such as the damper or refractory bricks of the firebox are easily damaged by even small chimney leaks and water entry.
All homes settle over time; if a fireplace system is not built on a strong foundation, this settling can cause structural damage. Cracks within the firebox, large cracks in the chimney structure, or even tilting chimneys can all be caused by settling.
- Other causes
There is no one cause of chimney damage. Chimney damage can even be caused by reroofing, painting the masonry, climbing plants, or even power washing the bricks and mortar. A chimney inspection by a certified chimney sweep is often the best way to discover chimney damage.
When should I have my chimney repaired?
If your chimney has been damaged in any way, it is important to address potential repairs as soon as possible. Delaying or putting off repairs can cause chimney damage to worsen, even to the point of affecting the safety and structural stability of the chimney.
Because it is an off season for fireplace use, spring is an excellent time to have chimney repairs completed. The following are three reasons to address your chimney repairs now.
- Fireplace use is not affected. Warm outside temperatures in the spring mean the fireplace is rarely used. Having repairs done during the spring and summer keep you from missing out on using your fireplace when you most need it.
- Shorter wait time. Fall is the busiest season for chimney sweeps as homeowners scramble to get their fireplaces repaired and ready to use. By having your chimney repairs addressed now you are more likely to avoid a long wait before your appointment – as well as be able to schedule an appointment time that is convenient for your schedule.
- Fewer delays. Some chimney repairs cannot be done when the weather is too cold; by having repairs done during the spring you can help avoid weather related delays.
If your chimney needs repairs, don’t delay; contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today to have your chimney repairs addressed as soon as possible this spring.