Fireplaces and chimneys are great to have during the cold winter months, but they require a little bit of upkeep every year to keep you warm. Aside from the obvious wear and tear from all the smoke, snow and ice buildup can also damage your chimney rendering it ineffective and potentially dangerous. As water seeps into the mortar and goes through a freezing and thawing cycle, the mortar expands and can leave cracks. These problems get worse if not addressed right away, which is why February is an ideal time have your chimney inspected. If any repairs need to be made, you’ll soon have warm weather to work in and you’ll be prepared for anything the next winter brings.
Chimney inspection is serious and hard business, so unless you thoroughly understand how they are constructed and what problems to watch out for, it’s a job best left to professionals. Below is a checklist of things people look for when inspecting a chimney.
- Check for cracks, which can leak dangerous gasses, by performing a smoke test
- Probe the outside mortar joints to make sure water isn’t seeping into the flue
- Evaluate the inside mortar joints. If the inside is eroded, the chimney may need to be relined by a professional.
- Check where the chimney meets the roof for open caulking or deteriorating flashing
- Check the attic for stains or leaks in the rafters and ceiling
- Check to make sure the cricket is in proper condition
- Close up any open joint with a strong sealant
- Examine the cap for weathering and heat cracking
- Evaluate the flue liner’s condition and replace it if necessary
- Replace any missing or worn cotter pins
- Ensure the damper is working properly
- Check the anchoring mortar and base plate for any cracks
- Empty the ash pit
- Clear creosote and soot buildup from the flue
- Examine the stovepipe thimbles
- Remove soot and debris from the smoke shelf