If you own a home with a chimney, you may be wondering if your insurance covers damage. The answer is a bit complicated: it depends. Every insurance company and policy is different. Sometimes, insurance will cover unexpected damage to your chimney. But, if the damage is caused by a lack of proper maintenance, most insurance companies will leave repair costs up to the homeowner. Read on to learn more about what is and isn’t covered with an insurance policy. Remember, it is always best to refer your homeowner’s insurance policy.

What IS Covered?

There are a few cases in which insurance will cover the cost of chimney repairs. The most common reasons are lightning strikes and chimney fires.

The top of the chimney is typically the highest point of a home. Because of the height, this is a hotspot for lightning strikes. Additionally, chimneys are often equipped with metal chimney caps. Chimney caps are important, but sometimes the metal draws lighting. Don’t worry too much, though. Repair costs due to lightning damage are often covered in insurance policies. 

Chimney fires are usually covered. What is a chimney fire? Sometimes, fire can break out inside the chimney. Chimney fires cause damage to the flue and can harm the chimney and even other parts of the home. For example, the flue or lining can become cracked. These seemingly minor issues can cause major problems in your home. Thankfully, this is one of the most common issues that policies cover.

What’s NOT Covered?

Failing to keep up with your chimney could cost you. Although your homeowner’s insurance will likely cover the above cases, insurance tends not to get involved with normal wear and tear issues. Most policies do not cover the maintenance and upkeep of your chimney. However, it is a good idea to keep up with the maintenance of your chimney system. It is important to keep chimneys well maintained in order to detect and address any potential problems.

The National Fire Prevention Association states that chimneys should be inspected and swept once a year. Not only does an annual inspection ensure that your chimney is working properly, it can also identify potential hazards that could lead to damage to your chimney. If they are caught early enough, minor damages can be quickly and easily repaired, preventing worse problems down the line. However, if you neglect your chimney, you may end up with some damage that insurance refuses to cover.

Making a Claim

Sometimes, insurance companies will give you a little wiggle room with what they can cover. Here are some tips to consider when making your insurance claim:

  • Your approval chances are higher with a lower claim history.
  • If you have been with your insurance company for a few years, they are more likely to approve your claim.
  • Insurance companies are unlikely to approve any claims without proof of damage.

Keep in mind, it can be very hard to prove that unexpected damage occurred. The best plan is to take pictures and be honest with your insurance company.

Insurance policies can be intimidating and full of jargon. However, it is important to review and understand what exactly your insurance company will cover. If unexpected damage occurs to your chimney, don’t hesitate to call your insurance agent to confirm what your policy covers. To schedule your annual chimney sweep and inspection or a chimney repair, call your local chimney sweeps at Sootmaster.

chimney cap

Caps, Covers, & Damper Repairs

Living in the south, mainly along the Gulf Coast, then you know there are lost of rain storms. Actually, we get more rain than anywhere else in the country, including Seattle. The ranking of the most amount of rainfall goes as follows: Mobile, Pensacola, and Seattle in 41st.

This region has such a big deal about rain when it comes to chimneys and fireplaces. As the Chimney Safety Institute of America explains, “water, not fire, causes most chimney damage.”

“Whether masonry or factory-built,” says the CSIA, “prolonged water exposure can result in cracks or gaps in chimneys where creosote can collect and increase the risk of fire or where noxious gases can escape into your home and expose your family to carbon monoxide.”

Fireplaces, Chimneys and Leaks

In basic terms the problem with fireplace and chimney leakage is that water combines with the creosote that remains from fires to form an acidic mixture. Over time that mixture can eat out the silica in the mortar joints.
Once the joints are no longer secure, moisture — remember all that Gulf Coast rain — can get into the house through the chimney. For example, if water comes in through the chimney and is released under the shingles it can lead to the need for a roof replacement.

Also, without proper sealing, heat from fires can travel into areas which should not be exposed to heat, dry out wood, and in some cases actually cause the wood to catch on fire.

In fact, according to a staff report by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are about 22,000 fires a year which are associated with fireplaces, chimneys and chimney connectors. Such fires can cause substantial damage and in some cases may lead to fatalities.

Also, without caps it does happen that birds and animals get into fireplaces. Sometimes nests are built and in some cases animals unable to get out die inside chimneys and fireplaces. Noises and odors can result from such problems.

Caps, Covers and Dampers

You can protect your household with caps, covers and dampers. Caps with spark arresters are devices that go over the flue. They keep out both moisture and animals, plus they help prevent sparks from leaving the chimney. Covers are at the top of the chimney, go around the flue, and protect against moisture. Dampers are inside the chimney itself. They can help create a proper draft to achieve the best fire, plus when closed they prevent animals from getting into the house.

Cap, Cover and Damper Services

We can install, repair and maintain caps, covers and dampers. We inspect such devices as part of our basic chimney sweep services. We have many devices in stock and can recommend the equipment which is right for your fireplace and chimney, whether it is masonry or metal, new or historic.

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