The byproduct of enjoying your fireplace is creosote buildup. Creosote is one of the major causes of chimney fires along with soot. Buildup of these materials can restrict the airflow of the chimney and cause damage. A chimney inspection allows the tech to ensure that everything looks good. During this process, our technicians will give you a report of how everything looks and any recommendations as to what needs to be repaired. The inspections consist of both an exterior and interior of the chimney and fireplace.

Exterior Inspection

  1. We will check the height of the chimney to make sure that it is the minimum proper distance from roof penetration. This is necessary for proper draft.
  2. The chimney cap or spark arrestor will be inspected if one is present. Chimney caps are vital to keeping out the elements and small animals that would otherwise enter your chimney.
  3. We check the crown for cracks and to make sure it’s shedding water correctly.
  4. The brickwork and mortar are inspected for cracks and damages. Cracks in the mortar are a common cause of water leaks.
  5. We will inspect the flashing that seals the chimney to the roof.
  6. The flue liner is checked for cracks, stability, and support.
  7. Your chimney will be checked for moisture resistance.

Interior Inspections

In addition to inspecting the exterior of the chimney, we also do a thorough inspection of the exterior.

  1. The smoke chamber and smoke shelf is first on our list of things to check inside the fireplace. Prefab fireplaces may or may not have a smoke chamber. 
  2. Next is the damper. In a chimney flue, a damper seals the flue to keep the weather and animals out and warm or cool air in. Usually, this is done in the summer, but also sometimes in the winter between uses. In some cases, the damper may also be partly closed to help control the rate of combustion. The damper is accessible only by reaching up into the fireplace by hand or with a wood poker, or sometimes by a lever or knob that sticks down or out. The technician will check to see if your damper is working properly.
  3. We also inspect the firebox and grate, checking for rust or any popped rivets in the firebox and to make sure the grate is in serviceable condition.
  4. If your fireplace has a spark screen, or glass doors, we check to make sure they are properly installed and functioning as they should.
  5. Refractories – these are the floor, back, and sides of your fireplace. The materials for refractories include; masonry units, ceramics, and metal plates.

Should I inspect my own chimney?

If you are asking yourself whether a DIY inspection is a good idea or not, then you are in the right place. The short answer is you could inspect your own chimney, but the more important question to ask yourself is: Should I inspect my own chimney?

While some chimney maintenance is possible for the DIYer, a complete chimney inspection and cleaning should be performed at least once a year by a chimney technician.

There are many safety concerns you need to consider before DIYing your chimney inspection. 

  1. Protect your home with floor covering tarps.
  2. Use proper equipment.
  3. Document the chimney’s condition.
  4. You can be exposed to hazardous materials like soot, creosote and harmful fumes.
  5. It can be extremely dangerous climbing on a roof without the appropriate fall protection, ladders and equipment.

Though you can inspect your own chimney, it is best to leave to the professionals. Our technicians are experts and have years of experience in this field.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Chimney Repairs?

While all homeowners insurance varies, it should cover chimney repairs if a covered peril caused the damage. Your chimney is considered part of your home’s structure, so its coverage mirrors your dwelling’s coverage. It does not cover maintenance or other uncovered perils. It is best to call your insurance company to know what they will cover based on your insurance plan. 

Do Cleaning Logs Really Work?

Many homeowners wonder if the chimney sweep logs or creosote sweeping logs really work to clean out fireplace flues and get rid of creosote residue so that the fireplaces are safe to use. The short answer is no, they don’t work. At least not well enough to completely clean out the flue the way it should be cleaned. The best way to get a thorough clean is to contact your local chimney technicians 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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