How To Inspect Your Chimney For Necessary Repairs
It's a good idea to give your chimney a close look each fall before fireplace season begins. This way you can catch any problems and have them repaired before you want to light a fire to take off the chill. Failure to keep a chimney in good working order can lead to chimney fires, which could put your entire home in peril. The following are a few things to look for before firing it up for the first time each season.
Start With the Mortar
Checking the mortar joints between the bricks is one of the simpler tasks. You basically want to make sure the mortar is in good condition and isn't crumbling. You may need to climb up a ladder to check the mortar towards the top of the chimney. The good news is that most mortar damage can be fixed. A chimney repair company will repoint the bricks, which means they remove the old, crumbling mortar and replace it with new mortar.
Check the Liner
Most newer chimneys have steel liners, which are resistant to most types of damage. If you have a steel liner, you will mainly be checking the inside of the chimney to make sure there isn't heavy creosote build up or animal nests. If you have an older tile liner, you will need to examine it more closely. A professional inspection is best, but if you can't have one done at least look up the chimney with a flashlight. If you find missing tiles or broken mortar between tiles, you will need to have it repaired before you use the fireplace.
Inspect the Cap
The metal chimney or flue cap sits on top the chimney. It has mesh sides, which allow smoke to escape but prevent large embers from landing on your roof. This cap also keeps birds and other animals out of the chimney. It sometimes gets damage or knocked astray by wind or animals. The only way to inspect it properly is to go to the top of the chimney on a ladder. Replace it if it is damaged.
Look Over the Flashing
While you are up on the ladder, take a few minutes to check the metal flashing that seals the joint between your chimney and the roof. If this is bent or damaged, it will also need to be replaced. The best option is to call in a chimney repair and inspection service annually. They can help you catch these problems early so that your chimney never needs a major repair.