Most people don’t think about their chimneys and fireplaces. Often they never even look at the outside of their chimney, or even the inside of their fireplace.
We have even had people tell us that they burn wood in their fireplace all winter, but have never had their chimney cleaned in 25 years. Creosote (soot) is highly flammable and if the buildup is enough, a house fire may result. You may think the fire in your fireplace is out, but meanwhile, a fire is going inside your chimney which may spread into your house beams.
If your chimney is over 20 years old and you have never had it inspected and you live in an area where there have been earthquakes, then it is possible that you may have hazardous cracks in your chimney flue, which could cause a house fire if you are burning wood or gas fires. We have found that the fireplaces in over 40% of older homes (especially 40 years and older) have some sort of hazardous condition. Often these problems can be easily corrected, but we have also seen people wait and by the time they contacted us, it was beyond our ability to repair.
If you can see cracking on the outside of your chimney, or inside your fireplace, it is important that you stop using your fireplace and get it inspected, preferably with a video camera.
Don’t let your chimney end up looking like the attached picture – we can’t fix it and your home value will decline.
If you see any issues, you can send us pictures and we will review them for free – firstname.lastname@example.org.