As the temperature drops and snow is in the forecast, many of us hunker down for a long cold winter and that means starting a fire in our chimneys and enjoying the crackle, the warmth and glow of a fire on a chilly afternoon or evening.

But just like we have our cars inspected, we should also have our chimneys inspected annually. No matter how often you use your fireplace or whether it is gas or wood, having a professional chimney inspector check your fireplace can help prevent a fire caused by these common factors.

Your Flue

The inside liner of your chimney is known as the flue. This is designed to carry heat, toxic fumes and smoke out of your house. Over time the flue can crack and deteriorate from heat and even water if it is not properly covered with a flue cap. A cracked or deteriorated flue lining is highly dangerous, since it could allow too much heat into vulnerable areas and cause a house fire.

The Damper

It is important to test to make sure that your damper opens and closes before you start that first crackling fire of the season. If it is not operating properly, it could stop smoke from rising up the flue or allow debris to fall into the fireplace.

Masonry Cracks

Masonry chimneys (brick, masonry block, concrete block, cinder block, concrete or stone) can deteriorate and crack over time due to years of heating and varying weather temperatures. An inspection can ensure that your chimney is strong and structurally sound.

Creosote and Animal Nests

Over time creosote accumulates and can lead to a chimney fire. Additionally, animals may use your chimney as a nest and should be removed before your first fire.

Small cracks in the masonry and improperly installed flue caps can allow water to enter the chimney and accelerate the deterioration of the structure or break down the crown wash (the top cement on your chimney).

Still not convinced?

Did you know that there are over 25,000 chimney fires each year in the US that are responsible for over 125 million dollars in property damage, as well as loss of life?

What can you do to prevent chimney fires?

The CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) recommends having a Level I inspection yearly and a Level II inspection on a regular basis. A Level I chimney inspection is a visual inspection that looks for obvious safety hazards. A Level II inspection is more in-depth and uses a specialized camera designed to attach to a chimney sweeping rod that sends video and pictures of the interior of the chimney. This allows the chimney inspector to review the photos looking for creosote buildup, debris, animals or any structural damage that could potentially cause a fire.

Hiring a professional inspect your chimney will give you peace of mind and allow you to enjoy those chilly winter evenings with family and friends in front of the fire.

Did you know that according to Realtor.com a fireplace is the number 1 feature most often mentioned in a home listing description? 

And for good reason; more than 60% of home buyers say that are looking for a fireplace when purchasing a home. Fireplaces can boost a home’s value by as much as $15,000.

The Thompson Team has over 16 years of real estate experience in the Westford area.