Checking a Chimney

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Author – Todd Woofenden

Checking a chimney should be a concern for every homeowner because it pertains to the safety of your home and family. Each year, lives and property are lost due to improper care and maintenance of chimneys. You can check some parts of the chimney yourself. We will review those below. But other parts need to be checked by a professional.

This is why you should have your chimney checked at least once each year by a chimney professional, and cleaned if necessary. In some cases, your chimney professional will advise more frequent visits.

Since fire safety is involved, let’s talk first about the services of a chimney professional; then we will cover things you can do yourself

Checking a Chimney Checklist

 
  • Is the chimney structurally sound?
  • Was it constructed properly?
  • Is it lined?
  • Is the lining in satisfactory condition?
  • Are the appliances properly installed?
  • Does it require cleaning?
  • What other maintenance is required?
  • Is there a chimney cap on the chimney?
~ Todd Woofenden

How to know if your chimney is working? First, learn a little more about a chimney.

A chimney, simply put, is a vertical tube designed to draw combustion products (smoke and gasses) from an appliance like a wood stove or fireplace to the atmosphere outside the house. Here are the basic parts:

Flues

 

Inside a chimney you’ll find one or more vertical passageways called flues. Ideally, each appliance connected to the chimney (such as each fireplace, each furnace, each wood stove) has its own, separate flue. More than one flue might be contained in one masonry chimney. So if you have a furnace and a fireplace connected to the same chimney, there should be at least two vertical passageways up the inside of the chimney.

Metal factory-built chimneys, of course, contain only one passageway for venting combustion products, the inside of the pipe.

Flue liners

 

In a modern masonry chimney, the inner wall of the flue is lined with some type of material for safety, ease of cleaning, and improved performance. Among the most common types of liners are:

Read more about the Anatomy of a Chimney.

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