6 Different Types of Chimneys Used for Homes and Other Structures

If tenants notice issues, such as smoke billowing into the home or a crackling sound that might indicate a chimney fire, they will want to notify the landlord immediately. Ultimately, it is the property owner’s responsibility to ensure that appliances—including fireplaces—are in good working order. If your fireplace usage is minimal to average, the National Fire Protection Association recommends having the chimney swept annually. If you use your fireplace often or burn treated or green wood, it’s advised to have the chimney cleaned more frequently to avoid creosote buildup. A weak fire indicates the need for a chimney cleaning—and the sooner, the better because inadequate wood burning can lead to heavier creosote deposits. Alternatively, if the fires don’t burn as efficiently as before, it could indicate an obstruction in the chimney. As a fully licensed and insured company based in Silver Spring, MD, we have been exceeding the chimney repair and maintenance needs of our customers for over 30 years.

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We serve both residential and commercial customers, and we do everything from chimney sweeping to chimney relining and chimney rebuilding. Chimney sweeps may see 40 to 50 chimney fires a year, and more than half of the chimneys they service require extra cleaning because the homeowners wait too long before calling. In extreme cases, the hardened layer of buildup requires cleaning with special tools or chemicals.

You must avoid burning large quantities of wood or making large fires that can damage the firebox. Natural vent and ventless gas fireplaces are the easiest to clean because they don’t attach to a chimney or vent. According to most building codes, these natural gas fireplaces must be installed outdoors. Homeowners’ insurance will only cover chimney repair if it’s the result of an unexpected event. If your chimney experiences damage from a tornado, lightning strike, or another weather-related incident, insurance should cover it. With that in mind, it’s unlikely that damage from high winds will be covered. Insurance also won’t cover routine inspections or general repairs.

Determine the height of your flue so you know what lengths of brush rod you’ll need for the project. If you are extremely comfortable with heights and experienced with scaling your home’s roof, it’s possible to clean your own chimney. Stay safe by practicing good ladder safety and by having an assistant monitor you when you are on the roof. Flames blast out of the top of the chimney and back down into the firebox.

However, having a wood-burning fireplace requires serious maintenance. A poorly maintained chimney can lead to a sooty, smelly home interior and a terrifying incident known as a chimney fire. It may be tempting to attempt to remove a chimney as a DIY job to help keep the chimney stack removal cost low, but this isn’t recommended.

Inspecting the chimney requires climbing on and working on your roof for multiple hours. You also may need to crawl into tight spaces to reach areas of the chimney that need inspection. You also must be able to understand how seemingly minor chimney damage could lead to significant performance issues or leaked gasses that put your family in danger. Homeowners often go this route because the cost of removing a chimney, especially a structurally important chimney, can be expensive. If you’re on the fence about repairing vs. replacing, talk with a trusted chimney repair contractor near you; they’ll be able to tell you if the chimney is salvageable.

Regular chimney sweeping is an essential part of chimney maintenance that should not be overlooked. By removing built-up creosote, debris, and blockages, chimney sweeping ensures the safety, efficiency, and longevity of your chimney system. It is recommended to sweep your chimney at least once a year to remove any buildup of soot and creosote, which can pose a fire hazard. If you use your fireplace or wood stove frequently, consider sweeping it more often. Remember, these factors are general guidelines, and it’s always best to consult with a professional chimney sweep to determine the ideal sweeping frequency for your specific circumstances. They will assess your chimney’s condition and provide expert advice on maintenance intervals. Oftentimes, a leaning or tilted chimney stack indicates an issue with the foundation.

What Happens During a Chimney Fire

Creosote clings to the interior of the chimney as you use the fireplace. Because creosote is highly flammable, you need to be able to spot it during the inspection, so you can clean the chimney and prevent dangerous fires. The level of inspection is the primary factor in determining how much a chimney inspection costs. A Level 3 inspection requires far more work and time than a Level 1 inspection, resulting in a higher cost. Replacing older chimneys or fireplaces, like wood-burning stoves, with something more eco-friendly can actually increase the value of your home.