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Does Your Chimney Need Repairs? What to Look for in the Winter

With temperatures dipping lower and lower, many Maryland homeowners are lighting up their fireplaces for the first time this season. Hopefully, you’ve already inspected your home this fall and scheduled a chimney cleaning if needed – it’s general guidance to have your chimney inspected by a professional once a year. So, before you set up this cozy scene, take a look for yourself and make sure your chimney is in good working order from the inside out.

How to Inspect Your Chimney from the Inside

 The easiest place to start your chimney inspection is from the indoors at your fireplace. So, grab a flashlight, and let’s get started!

  1. Look for any cracks or loose joints in the masonry around the firebox. If you spot any, a chimney expert can likely fix them relatively easily. But if you don’t remediate the problem, smoke and heat can damage the brick or other house elements surrounding the fireplace.
  2. Ensure the damper opens and closes easily (usually, there is a lever next to or inside the firebox). You shouldn’t see any rust or cracks, and if you do, it’s time to replace the damper.
  3. Using a flashlight, look up at the flue. Check for any cracks in the flue liner and make sure all of the joints are tight. These elements ensure that heat and sparks stay contained, so if they are not in good condition, it’s time to replace the liner.

How to Inspect Your Chimney from the Outside

You should also inspect your chimney closely from the outside, but that does mean getting on a ladder. If you have a steep roof, or are uncomfortable with heights, call a chimney specialist for this inspection.

  1. Make sure there is no debris like fallen leaves or animal activity covering the top of the chimney. Birds and insects tend to nest on chimneys during the summer months when the fireplace is not in use.
  2. Look at your flashing and make sure it is still creating a tight seal around your chimney. The chimney is one of the most common places for a roof to leak, so if your flashing is rusted or the caulking is cracked, it’s time to replace the flashing.
  3. Inspect the brick and mortar joints. Similar to the interior of your fireplace, the joints should be tight and sealed.
  4. Shine your flashlight into the interior again, but this time from the top of the chimney. Look for the same issues; flue liner defects, creosote buildup, and any loose joints.

Savvy homeowners know that crumbling bricks and mortar aren’t just an eyesore. They can indicate dangerous conditions in your chimney. Professional chimney repair by a mason will keep your fireplace in good working order and can even help you avoid the tragedy of a house fire.

If you notice any of the signs above, schedule a consultation with Brothers. Our repair experts have experience checking every point of your chimney, and our master masons can do everything from tuck-pointing to a full brick chimney repair.