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Chimney Maintenance Checklist for Homeowners

Have you thought about having your chimney repaired lately? A lot of homeowners tend to overlook this area of the home, either because they think it was recently serviced or because they don’t realize what the maintenance requirements are. Some people just don’t realize how expensive it can be to replace a chimney, or have to do major repairs to get it back in working order. With regular maintenance (chimney sweepings and inspections), these problems can be avoided. But it’s understandable that homeowners already have a long list of things to do, and this one tends to get overlooked as the seasons pass by.

There are basically two types of chimney maintenance ­– the kind you do yourself, and the kind that requires a professional. Keeping a clean fireplace is probably the most important DIY form of maintenance, as it means that less ash and shoot will accumulate on the chimney walls higher up. An unkempt fireplace will also be bad for the air quality in the room. Aside from keeping the fireplace clean, it’s critical to keep the damper closed in order to prevent heat loss during the winter, or cooling loss during the Summer. Granted, people are generally not worried about heat escaping during the summer – but cool air can just as easily escape through the chimney if the fireplace damper is not closed.

Keeping an eye on the general condition of your chimney, at least the areas of it you can easily see, is also a good idea. For example, you might notice that some of the masonry work on the upper exterior of your chimney is in bad shape, crumbling, warped, and so forth. This means it’s time to call a professional.

A better approach, however, is to schedule an annual chimney inspection with a trusted local professional. This is a good habit to be in, whether or not you notice anything unusual about your chimney. A routine inspection will include all parts of the chimney, including the interior. Only the proper equipment and experience can make these inspections safe, and homeowners should never try to inspect the interior of their own chimney without training and equipment.

The other major point is that professional chimney inspectors have seen all manner of chimneys, in various stages of disrepair. They know what to look for, and how to decide if something needs to be addressed or not. Even if the average homeowner could safely gain access to all areas of their chimney, they probably wouldn’t come away with a clear assessment. This is the simple result of years of experience – and again, training.

If your annual chimney inspection reveals a problem that needs to be addressed, you should be able to count on your chimney specialist giving you straight information. You should be able to count on a clear assessment with detailed repair options and associated costs. If there’s any doubt as to whether your chimney repair specialist is treating you fairly, it’s a good idea to call in another specialist and get a second opinion. Once you find a reputable company, you should be able to schedule your annual maintenance checks and not have to worry about it!