It’s that time of the year again. April has been sunnier and windier than in past years. Houston got its fair share of rain receiving the most rain on the Texas Gulf Coast at 3.3” of rain in April. While most homeowners are worried about their lawns and not so much on their roofs or chimneys, it’s probably the best time of the year to get a chimney cleaning before the rainy season in May, June, September, October and November. When we get those heavy rains, the creosote buildup from using your fireplace over the winter could end up in your living room! Not the kind of mess that you want to be cleaning up. A basic chimney cleaning twice a year, depending on how much you use your chimney, will keep that from happening. A professional chimney cleaner will not only remove creosote buildup but perform a Level 1 inspection.
In a Level 1 inspection, the chimney technician should examine the chimney exterior, interior and the accessible portions of the appliance and the chimney connection. He or she should be checking the basic soundness of the chimney structure and flue etc… as well as determining if the chimney is free of obstruction and combustible deposits.
A Level 2 inspection is more detailed and is required when any changes are made to the system (fuel type, changes to the shape, the material, relining the flue or replacing/adding a different heating appliance) If a property is being sold or transferred to another party or if there it has been damaged malfunction or an event that caused damage to the chimney) If your home has had a building or chimney fire, chimney fires, an earthquake, then you’ll have to have a Level 2 inspection to make sure that it’s operational.
A Level 2 inspection includes a visual inspection using video equipment. It isn’t necessary to remove or demolish portions of the chimney or building structure. That would occur in a Level 3 Inspection which includes all the areas and items checked in a Level 1 and a Level 2 inspection but may require the removal of certain components of the building or chimney; only when necessary to gain access to areas that are the subject of the inspection. A Level 3 inspection is necessary when there is cause to believe that more serious hazards exist and the whole chimney system has to be inspected.
How do you know what level of inspection that you’ll need for your chimney? The best course of action is to let an experienced chimney professional make the call but here are some signs that your chimney needs to be inspected:
- Chimney Spalling: If you notice the flaking off of a brick or the masonry brick chipped or missing caused by water penetration and can impact the overall chimney structure.
- Efflorescence: Is the powdery white residue that accumulates on chimney bricks that could lead to brick and mortar deterioration.
- Freeze/thaw damage: When the temperature drops and then rises freeze/thaw chimney damage can occur. If you notice cracking and chipping mortar joints, your chimney is beginning to deteriorate.
- Flashing failure: Flashing or the pieces of sheet metal found at the base of chimney keep the rain out. If you notice rust, loose flashing joints or holes water will be able to penetrate your home.
- Water pooling: If water is pooling in mortar joints, it will eventually make its way into the chimney and then into your home.
- Damaged chimney cap failure: A cracked mortar chimney cap or rusted metal chimney cap that might have holes are entryways for rain water.
Not taking of chimney damage can lead to bigger, more complex issues (and more expensive to repair). If you notice some of these early warning signs, call Professional Chimney Cleaners and schedule your free estimate. We’ll show you exactly any problems that exist and walk you through our process to fix them as soon as possible.