It can be quite frustrating for a homeowner to rely on recommendations from others to keep their chimney operating safely and efficiently. How do you know when the technician has the customer’s best interest at heart, and when they have been trained to “sell” you services you don’t really need?
There are two answers to this question. First, always use a chimney company that is certified by the National Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). These CSIA members are required to sign an ethics oath and are monitored for ethical treatment of their customers. Regular testing and continuing education are required to keep the certification once you have obtained it. Second, educate yourself on the many parts of a chimney before you have a technician out so you have a basic understanding of what they recommend to you.
The Anatomy of Your Fireplace
Every chimney has a Flue. This is the vertical shoot that allows the smoke and debris to exit the home. Every chimney has a flue, and it is important to clean it thoroughly at least once a year. Important to the efficient operation of the chimney is the chimney cap. This cover at the top of the chimney keeps the weather and animals out of the flue. There are many varieties of chimney caps designed to make your chimney both efficient and attractive.
The chimney damper seals the flue when the fireplace is not being used. The damper should be inspected annually, particularly in older chimneys. Since the damper is usually made of metal plates, older dampers may rust and not open or close as they should over time. Newer construction will always feature a chimney liner, but older fireplaces may not have one. In a metal fireplace, the inner wall serves as the liner. In a brick fireplace, the liner helps to protect the mortar joints and brick by covering the interior walls and extending about two inches above the crown. Installing a new liner can significantly improve the efficiency of your fireplace, and protect the chimney for a long time.
The final parts of the chimney are the chimney crown and the flashing. The crown is right at the chimney’s opening and slopes away from the opening to let water drain away. Wear and tear over time can deteriorate the crown and allow water to seep into the chimney, causing major damage over time. The flashing lies at the point where the chimney rises above the roof, and is designed to keep water out of the chimney and protect the flue and roof.
Annual inspections by a certified chimney sweep will keep your fireplace operating properly, and protect your home from potentially devastating fires. Give Chim Chimney a call today and schedule a visit from one of our qualified technicians.