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What Chimney Sweeps Look for During a Chimney Inspection

The term “chimney sweep” is technically given to a professional chimney cleaner. Many chimney sweeps have been trained in other chimney-related tasks including chimney inspections.

When inspecting your chimney, the chimney sweep is looking for anything that indicates damage or malfunction in your system. Here are five of the most important areas a chimney inspection focuses on.

chimney Inspection Merrimack, NHChimney stack

The chimney stack is the part of the chimney above the roofline and is always examined closely during a basic Level 1 chimney inspection. (Other, more-involved inspections are performed if damage to the chimney breast below the roofline is suspected.) In evaluating the bricks and mortar that make up your chimney, the inspector checks for cracks in the surface, damaged bricks, crumbling mortar, and the overall structural integrity of the chimney.

Venting & clearance

Chimney sweeps make sure the flue is correctly sized to properly draft smoke from the fireplace. Smoke backing up into the home – a common reason people schedule chimney inspections – often is caused by an improperly sized flue or one that is obstructed (see below). The chimney sweep also checks the condition of the fireplace/firebox to make sure that smoke and combustion gases are shielded from contact with nearby building materials of the home. A compromised firebox can lead to damage to the home or a fire.

Chimney and fireplace components

Basic inspections include looking at the chimney crown, chimney cap, flashing, fireplace damper, and other components to ensure they’re in good shape and working correctly. Every component in a chimney system is there for a reason; often the reason is to protect the structure from water damage. When component issues are uncovered, repairs can be made or the component(s) replaced.

Chimney Sweep in Amherst, NHCreosote in the flue

Wood smoke condenses inside the flue and forms a substance called creosote. Creosote is highly flammable and is responsible for most chimney fires each year in the United States. Chimney sweeps have the right tools and training to safely remove creosote and reduce the likelihood of a chimney or house fire. Most fire-safety agencies recommend annual chimney/vent cleaning for homes using wood-burning appliances.

Debris in the flue

Chimneys operated without a good-quality chimney cap are subject to infiltration by all manner of debris including leaves, twigs, small-animal nests, and dead small animals. This debris creates a drafting obstruction. Chimney sweeps check for these obstructions because they can cause smoke and deadly carbon monoxide to back up into the home and put the health of people and pets at risk. Similar tools are used to remove both creosote and other obstructions.

Schedule a chimney inspection and cleaning

If you haven’t had your chimney cleaned or inspected in more than a year, Black Moose Chimney & Stove of Antrim, NH, is standing by to help. We provide CSIA-certified chimney inspections, chimney sweeping, chimney repairs, and chimney rebuilding services year-round.

Call (603) 525-7905 to talk with an expert about your chimney.