How to Determine the Condition of an Old Chimney before You Purchase

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Old architecture may be found in nearly every city in the United States, and most definitely here along Philadelphia’s Main Line. Some older homes still hold that old charm that makes them so amazing. Many of them have at least one chimney, and some have multiple chimneys. A chimney inspection arranged through your realtor will cover many important areas of the chimney and show us whether it is in working condition or if it is in need of repair. Here are a few things you can look for to determine the condition of your old chimney.

Cracks: Look at the exterior of the chimney from the ground. If you see any cracks or visible issues that may compromise the structural integrity of the chimney, don’t hesitate to contact us for a more thorough inspection. The chimney should be standing straight and not leaning too much in either direction. A small amount of leaning is generally more of an appearance issue than a structural one.

From the Rooftop: Check the flashing for signs of damage. The flashing is generally made of metal and completely attached to the rooftop and chimney in a manner that makes it waterproof. Any signs of damage indicate possible leaks and need attention.

The Fireplace: The hearth should not have any cracks or visible damage. There should be no loose or crumbling bricks or masonry. The firebox should be in good condition and free of major cracks or damage.

The Liner: Most older chimneys were not lined. Any chimney that will be in use must be lined with a properly functioning flue. Don’t let this be a deterrent from purchasing an older home with chimneys without a flue; it’s actually a relatively easy repair. There are a few different ways to line an existing chimney, and we specialize in all types of chimney and flue repair.

Obstructions: Look up or down the chimney to see if you can see all the way through. You may need a strong flashlight to see the interior of the chimney from top to bottom. If you cannot look directly through the chimney, there may be a blockage that needs to be taken care of before you decide whether you want to purchase the home.

Unusual Items: Chimneys that have not been in use for quite some time may have been used to secure electrical lines or cables. Make note of any unusual items that may have been stored or attached while the chimney was not in order.

Patches or Repairs: Look for poorly repaired patches that may need some extra attention. These will likely need to be removed and properly repaired before you use the fireplace or chimney.

Cleanout Door: Many older chimneys don’t have cleanout doors. If a door is present, it should seal tightly when closed and show no signs of damage. Clean out all soot, leaves, twigs, and nesting materials to check for damages within the door.

Chimney inspection, cleaning, and repair are our specialties at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service. We work with homeowners and potential homeowners who own or plan to purchase a home with an old chimney along Philadelphia’s Main Line. Call us any time to schedule an inspection or cleaning on your own chimney or to have us inspect a chimney in a home you would like to purchase.

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