Do you have your chimney inspected once per year? Your insurance provider may require it, but some homeowners are under the mistaken assumption that if it isn’t broken, don’t bother with fixing it. Unfortunately, those homeowners are inadvertently putting their home and their family at risk for fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. A once-yearly chimney inspection is highly recommended and protects your family and home from a dangerous situation.

Cracked Flue

Homes built prior to 1980 may not have a liner in place unless the chimney has been serviced regularly to maintain safety standards. Older homes require a lot of maintenance, and the chimney is no exception. Every chimney must have a flue running the length of it. The flue must be cleaned and inspected each year to make sure cracks do not form. Cracks in the flue can cause serious problems within the walls of the chimney.

Structural Problems

Masonry takes a beating from the elements. Brick, stone, or block chimneys are held together by mortar, which deteriorates over time due to elemental damage. Regular maintenance and sealing of the exterior of the chimney will go a long way in protecting the mortar from damage, but it still needs to be repaired from time to time.

Creosote Buildup

Creosote is a highly combustible substance that is created by burning wood over time. As wood burns, the gases and small particles escape through the chimney. As the smoke rises, it cools and creates condensation. The condensation sticks to the sides of the inside of the flue. Small unburned particles of wood are attracted to the moisture each time you build a fire, creating creosote, a very sticky and highly combustible substance.


Many things may block your chimney, including:

  • Small animals seeking refuge or a home during summer months.
  • Leaves, sticks, and other debris.
  • Cracked masonry.

You may shine a flashlight up the chimney to view the extent of a blockage, but this method is not always reliable. A chimney sweep will find the precise cause of the blockage, and determine the best way to remove it without harming any wildlife or damaging your chimney or flue.

Chimney Caps and Crowns

The chimney crown and cap are the first line of defense against debris and wildlife. Damages to either part of the structure can lead to all kinds of potential issues. Small animals may climb into the chimney and create a blockage, or a high number of leaves or other debris may be allowed to enter into the chimney. Properly working chimney crowns and caps are an absolute necessity, and damages may not be apparent to the untrained eye.

Schedule a Yearly Appointment

I recommend at least one yearly appointment to inspect and clean your chimney. I prefer to visit twice per year if you use your chimney year-round. Call me any time to discuss problems you may have with your chimney or fireplace, or to schedule an appointment 610-626-2439.