It is the time of year when Overland Park, KS, families are enjoying the warmth of the glowing flames from their gas or wood-burning fireplace. However, many homeowners may not realize that creosote, small animals, debris, and undetected masonry & brick damage may be reducing the efficiency and safety of the chimney, which can be unknowingly putting them at risk. These five benefits of annual chimney inspections illustrate why they are so critical for homeowners throughout the Greater Kansas City region.
Early Detection of Masonry Damage
While masonry chimneys are durable structures that can last for decades, their porous materials are susceptible to damage due to weather and environmental conditions. Since brick or stone chimneys typically deteriorate slowly, it is often difficult for homeowners to spot early signs of masonry damage until more severe problems like spalling brick, a rusted damper, or worn flashing cause noticeable damage. Also, masonry damage reduces the efficiency of your fireplace and increases the risk of fire and exposure to harmful contaminants like carbon monoxide. Ignoring it can also lead to a partial or complete structural collapse. With annual chimney inspections and routine maintenance, you can minimize repairs and prolong the lifespan of your chimney, fireplace, and other attached heating appliances.
Spot Obstructions Before It Becomes a Health Hazard
For your fireplace and chimney to operate safely, emissions from the burning of wood or gas fuels must be able to exit the flue at the top of the stack. However, leaves, small animals, creosote, and debris can block the duct, restricting the venting of harmful fumes. As the blockage becomes more severe, it becomes more dangerous. It can eventually cause a sudden backdraft that pushes smoke, dust, hot embers, and toxic carbon monoxide fumes out of the fireplace into your living room. In addition to having a messy cleanup, the burning embers can burn your skin. Also, the smoke and fumes can irritate your throat and lungs, making breathing more difficult and even causing respiratory issues in some individuals.
Minimizes Fire Risk from Creosote Build-Up
A Certified Chimney Professional® checks for creosote build-up in the chimney and fireplace during an annual chimney inspection. Creosote is a naturally produced byproduct of burning wood that builds up inside the chimney every time you light the fireplace. Without regular chimney sweeping, creosote hardens into a dark, crusty, and highly flammable material that is very difficult to remove without professional assistance. Creosote build-up in the chimney is the number one cause of chimney and house fires. Just recently, a Kansas City, MO family was awoken in the middle of the night in sub-freezing conditions when a fire started in the chimney. Fortunately, family members and pets evacuated safely, and the KCFD quickly brought the fire under control, preventing more structural damage to the home.
Checks the Condition of Your Flue Liner
The flue liner, which is typically clay tile, metal, or concrete, is designed to protect the masonry from the intense heat of the gas or wood-burning fireplace so it doesn’t spread to combustible building materials like the attic, roof, or framing. However, when the flue liner is not inspected annually, deterioration from normal wear and tear, water leaks, gas residue, and undetected chimney fires can reduce its effectiveness, which increases the risk of fire and exposure to harmful contaminants in your home.
Ensures Attached Heating Appliances Are Safe to Operate
An annual chimney inspection is a quick, efficient, and affordable way to ensure your chimney, vents, and attached heating appliances like your fireplace, heating stove, or furnace are safe to operate. The National Fireplace Protection Association (NFPA), the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), and fire safety experts recommend annual chimney inspections.
Chimney Inspections in Kansas City
The Certified Chimney Professionals at Fluesbrothers provide all three levels of chimney inspections in communities throughout the KCK/KCMO area. Call 913-236-7141 or contact us online to schedule your annual chimney inspection today!