Dangers of Using Your Fireplace Without an Inspection
The warmth of a home fire on a cold day is a pleasure that cannot be denied, but it should at least be delayed until there has been a chimney inspection. Very real dangers are associated with using a fireplace without first making sure that the chimney is inspected by a qualified chimney sweep. How important are chimney inspections? They are important enough that all of the leading fire safety organizations recommend them. Below, learn the basics of what a chimney inspection involves and some of the dangers of using your fireplace when it has not been inspected.
What is Involved in a Chimney Inspection?
During a chimney inspection, chimney sweeps make a thorough check of the accessible components of the fireplace and chimney system. Trained chimney technicians can recognize when dangers exist and repairs are needed. Not every good reason to schedule a chimney inspection involves immediate danger, however. For instance, homeowners learn about chimney damage in the early stages. This is often a financial benefit. Homeowners can save a substantial amount of money by avoiding expensive repairs.
The Danger of CO Fumes
If a chimney flue is damaged, deadly carbon monoxide (CO) fumes can enter the home. Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer. It is invisible, odorless, tasteless, and does not cause immediate symptoms. Exposure to too much carbon monoxide is deadly.
Recognizing that there is damage to a flue liner often demands the use of a specialized video camera. Level 2 chimney inspections include video footage of the chimney flue from top to bottom. Homeowners often learn about flue damage as a direct result of scheduling a chimney inspection.
The Threat of Chimney Fires
During chimney inspections, chimney sweeps perform a full visual inspection of the fireplace and chimney. Homeowners do not typically apply this type of scrutiny to their chimney because it involves climbing onto the roof, a dangerous endeavor. While inspecting your chimney, the chimney sweep will look for creosote buildup and any other type of chimney obstruction. Chimney cleaning will typically be recommended if the layers of creosote measure 1/8 inch or more. Creosote is common in chimneys of a wood-burning fireplace, but it is highly flammable and can easily be the cause of a chimney fire.
Any type of obstruction in a chimney flue is dangerous, but homeowners often don’t realize there is a problem without the help of a chimney sweep. If leaves, twigs, branches, or birds’ nests are inside the flue, the chimney sweep will undoubtedly recommend not using the fireplace until the chimney obstructions have been removed.
Each year, chimney blockage causes chimney fires that spread into the home. A chimney inspection is a great preventative measure, and no one should use their fireplace until an inspection has been done.
Homeowners usually want to avoid unnecessary maintenance costs, and that is not achieved by ignoring the need for annual chimney inspections. Masonry is highly vulnerable to moisture damage. Once water works its way into masonry, the freezing and thawing cycles of winter destroy the bricks. A chimney can begin leaning and could collapse if chimney masonry repairs are not made.