Most people know you need to get creosote removed from your chimney on an annual basis to prevent chimney fires. You may also know that there is a certain amount of debris that will fall down your chimney and get lodged over time that is also removed when an annual chimney cleaning takes place. These two things are the basis of what every homeowner should know; but there is more.
One thing that continually bites people for lack of knowledge is the fact that every chimney should have a detailed inspection annually for hairline cracks in the mortar and lining that can lead to degradation. These small things, left unchecked over time, can lead to expensive repairs before being able to safely use your fireplaces. One of the biggest segments of the population that are affected by this is those who have a home that was built before the late 1970’s. Most of these homes do not have chimney liners. That means the damage in being done directly to the inside of the chimney stack. If there are cracks there and smoke is allowed into the attic areas of your home there can be some real air quality issues as well as structural damage that needs to be addressed.
Another item that many people overlook is covering their chimneys with a chimney cap to keep debris from falling into it and keep birds from nesting. If those birds are migratory they are federally protected by law and you just have to wait until they leave in the fall to clean their nests out.
If you notice rain or water coming down your chimney or even down the wall or ceiling close to your chimney there is a very good chance the leak is from a chimney issue and not a roofing issue. People spend a lot of frustrating time and money trying to correct a leak by patching the roof when they should be spending their time and money on the leaky chimney.
If you find yourself described in the above it may be time to call a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep out to do a thorough inspection. You will be glad you did.