With summer a distant memory, fall has officially taken over. The winds have a new chill to them, and they have started stripping the colorful leaves from trees. People are digging up warm jackets before they head outside, and hot apple cider has become a drink of choice to stave off the chill. Homeowners are starting to think about heating their homes throughout the upcoming cold seasons, and many of them turn to their trusty fireplaces to provide warmth for the house. Along with having a functioning fireplace comes the responsibilities of keeping the unit safe and working properly. This can be done through annual chimney inspections, which can even help lower your homeowner’s insurance rates.
A chimney inspection serves several purposes, but the main idea behind them is to uncover any damage or issues that need to be repaired. One issue inspectors often uncover is water damage. Water can leak through the top of the chimney and cause damage to the damper and flue. If the flue rusts or cracks due to water damage, the rest of the chimney and house becomes exposed to water damage and even fire damage because of the high heat the flue is designed to contain. Water can also damage the masonry on this type of chimney, which can lead to structural problems like cracks or even collapse.
Another issue inspectors look for is missing or damaged chimney caps and crowns. The purpose of these units is to keep animals, debris and water from entering the chimney. Fixing caps and crowns is relatively easy and inexpensive and can save thousands in repairs, yet many homeowners would never know they are missing or damaged without having an annual inspection.
Inspectors also examine the installation of the fireplace in accordance with the flue. The National Fire Protection Association has specific standards for fireplace installation to ensure the safest burning and the lowest levels of emissions entering the home. The inspector can tell you if your fireplace meets these codes, which may help reduce your insurance costs.
The NFPA has also designed three levels of inspections. Level 1 is the basic inspection you would have done each year, as long as you do not suspect any specific issues. Here, the inspector examines every readily accessible area of the chimney and fireplace. Level 2 is more invasive, and the inspector also examines the chimney in hidden spaces, like the attic, crawlspace, or basement. Level 3 is the most involved, usually utilizing a camera to inspect the interior of the chimney, and this is usually reserved for units with known damage, such as a chimney fire.
If you plan to use your fireplace this season, be sure to schedule an inspection before you light the first fire. Contact Mountain Man Fireplace and Chimney in Evergreen, Colorado for a professional consultation.