Review Our Business
Schedule an appointment TODAY!

Old Smokey's Fireplace & Chimney's Blog

A Masonry Inspection Can Reveal – And Save

Computer geeks talk about “what you see is what you get.” They even have an acronym for it: WYSIWYG. Old Smokey’s Fireplace & Chimney can tell you when it comes to your chimney masonry, WYSIWYG “ain’t necessarily so,” as the Porgy and Bess song goes. Oftentimes, “what you DON’T see is what you get” regarding the health of your chimney. That’s why an annual inspection is critical. As with any health problem, early detection can serve as a preventive measure and save you money and headaches in the long run.

What hidden dangers can possibly lurk in my masonry?

masonry chimney - Fort Wayne IN - Old Smokey's Fireplace and Chimney

Your chimney masonry may be deteriorating in ways only a professional can see. For example, mortar erosion and breakdown from moisture intrusion is often subtle, especially in the early stages. Perhaps your chimney flashing is failing, or bricks are cracking, or joints need repair. The untrained eye may not detect these incipient problems. And if even if the homeowner could discern a problem, he or she faces safety challenges related to access. Chimney inspection is not a Saturday afternoon DIY project! Just as a doctor may order periodic diagnostic tests, Old Smokey’s suggests annual masonry inspections of your chimney system.

What is involved in a masonry inspection?

In practical terms, we look for symptoms and their causes. We want to examine your masonry for signs of damage from plant growth, such as vines, or damage from fire or moisture. Old Smokey’s professionals want to assess whether masonry deterioration is resulting from poor structural design or construction, inferior building materials, weather conditions, animals’ nesting, seismic disturbance, lack of proper maintenance — or the inevitable ravages of time.

Old Smokey’s performs a range of masonry inspections. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) defines three levels of chimney inspection. The minimum, recommended for those who keep up their chimney maintenance, checks accessible interior and exterior portions and looks for cracks or obstructions. The next level looks for hidden hazards, using video scanning. The most advanced inspection uses special equipment and tools to find root causes of hidden problems. At this level of inspection, certain chimney components, such as a crown, may have to be removed. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) spells out the fine points of these three levels of inspection.

After the inspection, then what?

After discovering the source of your symptoms, Old Smokey’s will make recommendations suited to your conditions and respectful of your budget constraints. Perhaps it’s a small matter, easily corrected, such as mortar joints, or new flashing. If needed repair is more substantial, we will walk you through it and carefully present the best practices and options.

Why call Old Smokey’s?

We’ve been doing this for more than 30 years. We take pride in our reputation, and we enjoy giving our customers the peace of mind that comes from good service and added health and safety. Our loyal customers are our best advertisement. As for professional quality, the peerless Old Smokey’s technicians who perform your masonry inspection are certified specialists. Call Old Smokey’s now at 800-876-6539. Good maintenance is always in season.

I Had a Chimney Fire – Now What?

I had a Chimney Fire - Fort Wayne IN - Old Smokey's Fireplace and ChimneyEvery year, fire departments receive a large number of chimney fire related calls. Some are minor, but some are major catastrophes that can result in the tragic and unnecessary loss of life and/or property. With home heating costs rising tremendously in recent years, more and more homeowners have turned to alternative methods of heating that are less expensive and more efficient to operate than central heating units, like that from fireplaces, inserts, and stoves. The potential for chimney fires has risen as a result of this more than usual reliance.

IN THE EVENT OF A CHIMNEY FIRE

Get everyone out of the house and to a safe distance from the home as quickly as possible. Call the fire department immediately (preferably from a cell phone from outside of the home). Once you’ve had a documented chimney fire, do not use the heating appliance again until you’ve had a thorough inspection and cleaning done. Any chimney fire damage and subsequent repair is typically covered by your homeowners insurance policy; give them a call as soon as you can!

SO WHAT CAUSED THE CHIMNEY TO CATCH FIRE?

Your stove and/or fireplace were designed to safely contain a fire. Your chimney is designed to expel the byproducts of combustion. As these substances go up your chimney, creosote is formed via condensation caused by the relatively cooler flue air. Creosote is highly combustible. If enough of it builds up in your chimney, it’s only a matter of time before you could have a destructive chimney fire. You can lessen you chances by having an annual inspection and chimney sweeping. Unfortunately, however, not all homeowners place a large emphasis on having this critical maintenance carried out. As creosote burns, it can expand tremendously and can partially or completely block your chimney, which in turn can fill your home with heat and deadly smoke.

CHIMNEY FIRES DAMAGE CHIMNEYS

If you have a prefab chimney, a chimney fire can cause buckling or warping at the inner liner joints. If this occurs, the chimney should no longer be used until it has been replaced in its entirety. Masonry chimneys can have very high temperatures (upwards of 2000°F) during a chimney fire. These extreme temperatures can cause the mortar to fail, chimney liners to collapse and cause damage to the outer masonry materials. If tiles crack and/or masonry is displaced, this creates a pathway for the fire to easily spread to the wood structures in your home. Because of the high temperatures, enough heat can even conduct through a perfectly good chimney and ignite your home during a chimney fire.

Following a chimney fire, barring that the fire as been contained, the next steps would be to have it inspected by a chimney professional. Preferably one that is CSIA Certified and will give your chimney a thorough look and inspection to determine and asses any damage and repairs to get your chimney and fireplace working again safely.

The chimney service professionals at Old Smokey’s Fireplace & Chimney want you to have a safe and happy heating season each and every year. Hopefully this information will be useful as you prepare your home for next heating season. If you have any questions about any of the information provided within this blog or if you’d like to schedule any fireplace, chimney and/or dryer vent services, please don’t hesitate to contact us; we’d love to hear from you! We look forward to helping you keep your family and your home protected and warm for the long haul!

Recent Posts

Find Posts About