You Should Always Budget for a Chimney Inspection
Owning a home can be expensive! Experts estimate that Americans spend $1 per square foot per month on average for home maintenance alone. In other words, if your home is 2,400 square feet, you may pay $2,400 in a year to keep up your home. Many of us try to cut down on our costs through DIY home maintenance. However, chimney maintenance is one area where you shouldn’t cut corners. Missing a professional annual chimney inspection and cleaning could threaten your life or home.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a committee of experts tasked with reducing injuries, deaths, and property damage in the U.S. caused by fires. They recommend a chimney cleaning and inspection at least once a year for all households with a wood, gas, or pellet fireplace. Yearly chimney inspections and cleanings have proven to be one of the most effective methods to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and house fires. In addition, annual chimney inspections reduce the risk of structural damage.
Let’s dig into these three years to budget for a chimney inspection and cleaning every year.
Avoid a House Fire
Uncleaned chimneys contribute to 55% of house fires caused by fireplaces, chimneys, or chimney connections, according to data provided by the NFPA. In most cases, an annual chimney cleaning could have prevented those house fires by removing creosote or obstructions.
Creosote—a combustion byproduct produced by burning fuel that builds up in flues—is a leading cause of chimney fires. Even a small amount of creosote can ignite and burn for long periods at extremely high temperatures. It can take just 30 seconds for a fire to spread from your chimney to the rest of your home.
Removing creosote isn’t easy. It requires professional experience, equipment, and, often, commercial-grade cleaners. Many DIY creosote removal techniques are ineffective. Burning an artificial log that claims to remove creosote can increase the risk of a chimney fire. These logs tend to burn at extremely high temperatures. The heat from the fire can ignite creosote buildup inside the chimney.
Hiring a trained and licensed chimney sweep to perform a cleaning and inspection is worth the investment to protect your home. Along with creosote, we will remove other obstructions that could be a fire hazard, such as animal nests and lawn debris.
Avert Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The leading cause of poisoning in the U.S. is carbon monoxide (CO). CO is an odorless, tasteless, colorless toxic gas that’s produced by burning fuel. When your fireplace is venting correctly, you don’t have to worry about it. It vents out the chimney without doing harm. Unfortunately, several chimney problems can increase your risk of CO poisoning.
Minimal exposure to CO can cause headaches, confusion, fatigue, and nausea. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can cause brain damage, heart damage, and death. Children and elderly adults are most at risk of death from carbon monoxide poisoning. You can protect them and yourself by scheduling an annual chimney inspection.
During a chimney inspection, a certified technician will look for problems that might cause CO poisoning. The leading chimney issues that cause CO exposure are:
- A chimney obstructed by animal nests, dead leaves, twigs, and other debris.
- A corroded heat exchanger.
- Broken chimney connection pipe.
- Deteriorated chimney lining or masonry.
To protect you and your loved ones from CO poisoning, you should also have a functional CO detector by your fireplace and on each level of your house. Be sure to change the batteries and test them once a year to ensure you don’t breathe in this harmful gas.
Prevent Costly Chimney Repairs
Chimney damage from extreme weather, improper construction, or wear ‘n tear is common. High winds can rip off chimney flashing or damage the chimney cap. Moisture intrusion can break the flue liner, warp the damper, or deteriorate bricks and mortar. Most of these chimney problems can be resolved with a relatively inexpensive repair if caught early.
Any one of these chimney problems could become a big expense if it isn’t repaired quickly. Chimney issues tend to compound over time. For example, broken chimney flashing allows rain, sleet, and snow to fall down the gap between your chimney and home interior. If the flashing isn’t repaired promptly, wooden beams around the chimney can rot from moisture. Nearby walls, ceilings, and floors can also be impacted by water damage. Instead of one repair, you’ll have to pay for multiple repairs.
Homeowners rarely catch these types of chimney problems. Instead, they are detected by the trained eye of a certified chimney technician during an inspection. You can prevent the headache of expensive chimney repairs by scheduling a yearly chimney inspection.
Budgeting for an annual chimney inspection and cleaning is a wise investment. Scheduling this two-for-one service could save your life or your home. House fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, and expensive chimney repairs aren’t worth the risk. If you’re looking for chimney service in Southeast Wisconsin, call the service department at Burlington Fireplace and Solar! Our team of trained and certified chimney technicians is known for outstanding service.