Having a fireplace is an asset for homeowners, especially if they live in cold climate regions. However, it entails additional responsibilities, like chimney maintenance.
The Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) in New York recommends an annual chimney inspection to ensure its structural soundness and safe operation.
When homeowners decide on getting their chimney inspected, they can choose from three chimney inspection levels, depending on what they need.
These levels of inspections are indicated in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes and standards:
A basic inspection examines easily accessible portions of the chimney’s interior and exterior. This level is recommended for annual maintenance checks and helps in locating visible signs of defects. Moreover, homeowners can opt for this inspection if there are no changes made to the chimney. It is the minimum requirement in yearly chimney inspections.
Level 2 chimney inspections are more in-depth and examine more details than what Level 1 covers. This level is recommended when changes are made to the system, or if the structure has sustained damage from weather elements, earthquakes, or fire. It is also advisable before homeowners sell their property.
This chimney inspection level includes the same procedures of Level 1 and implements more processes, including examining chimney parts that can be accessed through attics, basements, and crawl spaces.
This level of inspection is performed when severe chimney damage, that might entail danger, is suspected. It includes all the checks and examinations of Level 1 and Level 2 inspections but may require removing chimney parts or building structures to better access and assess its condition.
A poorly maintained chimney can cause problems to homeowners and their neighbors. Below are some reasons for the importance of conducting regular chimney inspections:
According to the New York DHSES, chimneys are one of the primary locations of structural fires in the state. Chimney fires often result from creosote accumulation, which is a highly flammable combustion by-product that settles on the chimney liner walls after cooling.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America identifies creosote buildup as the leading cause of chimney fires in the country. Moreover, this substance can also cause serious health problems if left unchecked.
Chimney safety is a paramount issue among residents. Hence, it is imperative for homeowners to have their chimneys inspected and serviced regularly.
A thorough inspection can determine the level of creosote accumulation in the structure and inform homeowners if they need to clean their chimneys right away.
Removal of Obstructions
Leaves, sticks, nests, and animals are among the things that can obstruct chimneys and become potential risks. These blockages often find their way into chimneys that are not properly covered or installed with a cap.
Chimney obstructions can hamper the flow of by-products from the fireplace and result in smoke and vapors entering the home, leading to health problems. They can become fire hazards if not identified and removed immediately.
Moreover, animals can die inside the structure, and their carcass can leave a foul odor and cause potential health risks.
If homeowners hear suspicious noises from the chimney or if they observe changes in their fireplace’s performance, they should have it inspected right away to locate obstructions that need to be removed and implement repairs if necessary.
Identify Defects Early to Ensure Safe and Proper Operation
Chimneys often sustain damage from debris, harsh weather elements, natural disasters, and human-made causes. Delays in addressing these issues entail safety risks and costly repairs.
Hairline cracks are minor structural issues but must be taken care of to prevent further damage. On the other hand, larger gaps require immediate fixing as they can result in a chimney fire or cause the structure to collapse.Toxic gases can also enter these openings and lead to potential health problems.
In addition, water leaks provide moist environments that promote moss and algae growth, which can deteriorate the structure.
Chimney parts must be inspected regularly to ensure they are in good condition and to help protect the home from hazards.
Many Homeowner Insurance Policies Require Regular Structural Inspections
Many insurance companies require annual professional home inspections and cleaning for liability purposes.
Chimneys are often prone to fire hazards and other structural damage. Most homeowner policies mandate chimney inspections as a prerequisite for compensating residents for the expenses.
Insurance providers can deny homeowners’ claims if they cannot prove that they meet the stipulated requirements. Failure to comply with these conditions means that homeowners must shoulder the repairs purely out of pocket.
Chimney Inspections are Essential When Buying or Selling a Home
Fireplaces can add more value to a property and even increase its worth bythousands of dollars. However, a poorly maintained chimney can become a liability and negatively impact sales.
Chimney inspections can ensure the structural integrity of the chimney and fireplace. If residents plan to sell their home, they must have the structure thoroughly inspected to avoid problems.
Likewise, before purchasing a property with a fireplace, the homebuyers must ensure its structural soundness. They can ask the previous homeowners about the home’s history to have an idea about its condition.
A thoroughly inspected chimney ensures a smooth sale and saves homebuyers from unnecessary costly expenditures.
Yearly chimney inspections are a crucial part of regular home maintenance.
While residents can identify unusual activities in their chimneys and notice visible signs of damage, a thorough and careful examination can locate problems that need immediate attention.
Professional chimney inspectors inform homeowners of physical defects, creosote accumulation, and presence of obstructions, among other concerns. They can also help determine the present condition of the structure and advise residents on the course of action needed.
Chimney inspections are preventative measures that can save homeowners from expensive structural fixes. Moreover, following an annual maintenance routine also is an essential requirement for homeowner’s insurance.
These maintenance checks mean a safer and more efficient chimney.
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