Visually Checking a Chimney

Visual chimney inspectionAs a homeowner, it is important to make sure your chimney is always in good working order for reasons of safety and stability. Not all chimney problems will present themselves as well as did on this chimney. This chimney was falling apart for years before the owner finally called us about it. Don’t wait until the bottom falls out! There are a number of things which you can check yourself, but there is no substitute for having a professional contractor come in and inspect your chimney.

Begin with a visual inspection, you can check out the exterior of your chimney and look for obvious signs of damage such as loose bricks or gaps where bricks have fallen out, damaged bricks, missing mortar or other signs that the chimney has problems.  Check the angle of the chimney as well to ensure it isn’t leaning. This is a sure indication of a structural issue. A common place a chimney has issues is directly behind the fireplace, look for cracking here. The top of the chimney often takes the brunt of Mother Nature and is subject to deterioration. Ensure the lead flashing is tight against the chimney and has not come loose and has no holes in it. If you can find a pair of binoculars they are very handy at giving your chimney a look over! For manufactured chimneys built of metal, you can look for sections which are strained, corroded, or loose. It is advisable to have a proper carbon monoxide detector as well.

Another sign you might need a Massachusetts chimney contractor may be the presence of stains or leaks near the chimney inside your house on the walls or ceiling.  If your wallpaper, paint or plaster is stained or peeling or if you find dampness near your chimney or fireplace, this could be the result of damage to the exterior brick and mortar, damaged crown, flue liner or another problem with your chimney.  Call in a professional if you notice these signs.

While you won’t be able to get a good look at the inside of your chimney on your own, you can still examine the very base of the flue and the chimney’s cleanout doors.  Look as far up the flue as you can with a flashlight.  A mirror can help you get a better look if you can’t look up directly.  What are you looking for?  Buildup at the base of the flue or on the walls both might indicate a problem. Black gooey looking tar like substance called creosote is of major concern.  Cracks or other imperfections inside the chimney are signs of a problem as well.  If you see any of these there is no way to know the extent of the issue for sure without consulting with a professional.

You can also have a look at whatever type of device you have connected to your chimney flue(s).  On fireplaces look for damage to the bricks and ensure that the damper opens and closes without sticking.  Look for buildup in the smoke chamber as well.  On a woodstove, examine the stove itself for damage and also the pipe which connects the device to the chimney.  Check for leaks in the pipe by looking for debris in the surrounding area.  See if your gasket is working well.  On a furnace, look for exterior damage, but don’t check the interior yourself.  That is a delicate job for a professional.

Having your chimney routinely cleaned can help prevent problems from occurring, and also may alert you to any damage which might be forming.  This is a good tip for keeping your chimney in great shape! If you are aware of a major issue with your chimney contact a Massachusetts Masonry Contractor immediately.

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