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Fill'r Up! How To Not Clog Your Chimney And Prevent Damage

Fill'r up!  How to not clog your chimney and prevent damage.

Seems easy, right?  Common sense?  Of course everyone does it?

You would be shocked at how often I see chimneys that look like this.

The spider webs are a clear give away that this flue damper has been open like this for a long time.

How do I know?

Spiders only build webs near moving air.

They don't think like you and me.  They have been given instincts. 

Their instinct is to build a web in order to eat.

If there is moving air, food will fly by.  When food flies by it gets trapped in the web.  You know the rest.

What's happened here?

You can see rust, evidence of water, organic debris and clay chunks in the opening of the damper.

The damper is not even seated properly in its shelf.  It cannot open, I tried.

This chimney is clogged and unusable.

But it is also damaged.  Those chunks of clay aren't there by accident.  The flue liner is spalling, or flaking, or chipping, or whatever you want to call it.

WATER IS THE KILLER OF CHIMNEYS.

You can take that to the bank.  This chimney is having a very hard time.  It needs a complete investigation and after that perhaps some work.  It needs professional attention.

This house is surrounded by trees. 

Leaves and debris can get into chimneys, and will!

Animals can get into chimneys, and will! 

Water can get into chimneys, and will!

All of that damages chimneys and makes them unsafe to use.  The photo above shows evidence of a damaged chimney, unsafe to use.

How can you prevent this?

With a simple flue cap!  You can get a black galvanized cap like the one pictured.  Or a stainless steel cap.  Or a copper cap.  Or even a spring-loaded cap.  It doesn't matter.

But get a cap!  A covered, screened, vented, anchored cap.  The cap pictured anchors with four screws that bite into the ceramic flue liner.  The screws hold tight, don't do damage, and hopefully wind won't pull the cap off.  It allows for a good draft.

My recommendation:  look at your chimney, inside and out.  Check the damper operation and the condition of the interior flue, insofar as you can see it.  Look outside to make sure the flue is covered.  And if it isn't have a cap installed!  It is a one and done proposition, for not a lot of money.  Repairing a chimney after the damage has happened is a lot of money.  Take your pick!

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 14 commentsJay Markanich • October 30 2015 12:32AM

Comments

 Good Friday morning Jay. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen chimneys full of bird or squirrel nests.  I always recommend installing a chimney cap.

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) almost 3 years ago

It makes a nice home Michael!  Would PETA complain about our chimney cap admonition?

Probably.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 3 years ago

Good morning Jay! Many people want a fireplace and have no clue about maintenance. Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) almost 3 years ago

Like everything, Wayne, chimney maintenance is necessary.  Annual inspections are not a bad idea.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 3 years ago

My chimney looks just like this! I've not used my fireplace for probably 20 years because it was built before fireboxes, and the damper is rusted out. So there is no way to damper the fire. And I can still remember when I did try it a few times, the smoke would come back in the house unless we kept the glass doors closed all the time. 

I need to have a cap put over the entire chimney to fix the cracked concrete, as well as have a damper installed. UGH...another home project to be done.

 

Posted by Thom Abbott, Midtown Atlanta GA Condos For Sale (MyMidtownMojo.com |770.713.1505 | Intown Atlanta GA Condo Living) almost 3 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Our fireplace and chimney was cleaned and given a clean bill of health last week

although it did need a new fan for the heatilator.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) almost 3 years ago

You might have the flue investigated, Thom, to make sure it is safe.

Raymond - my fan has needed replacement before too.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 3 years ago

I had one that didn't have a rain cap on the other day, I looked around to the other houses in the neighborhood.... none of them had them! I've got work to do here...

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 3 years ago

Like lending, this is a job for a professional.   My mother-in-law had to have her chimney reworked because it did not have a cap and all the things Jay Markanich listed were inside the chimney.   After a professional repair, it looks, functions and stays safe to this day.

Posted by DEANNA EARLY - ( NMLS #268590 ), Virginia Mortgage Loan Originator (American National Bank and Trust) almost 3 years ago

Fred - as you know, Billy Jays  asks that all those who buy his very fine products invite the neighbors over to see it!  So, it's time to get someone to put on a chimney cap and broadcast it from the roof tops!

Deanna - the fix that is done can be good or bad.  Great that she got a good repair!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 3 years ago

Jay- I remember getting an actual chimney sweep for our first fireplace.  You don't want to take any chances with chimneys. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) almost 3 years ago

Was it Dick Van Dyke, Kathy?

Is he still in business?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 3 years ago

Jay, we go through 1-2 cords of wood a year during the winter months.  So every summer, when sweeps are less busy, I have the chimney cleaned and readied for the coming winter.  I always like to get things done BEFORE they become an issue.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) almost 3 years ago

THAT is exactly what I recommend to my clients Stephen.  Often you can find discount coupons for summer work like that!

You schmatt you.  Very schmatt.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 3 years ago

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