WHY AN UNUSED CHIMNEY STILL NEEDS TO BE INSPECTED
All across Indiana and the United States, there are many homes that have a fireplace installed in them. According to studies, nearly half of homes in the US have chimneys. However, not every homeowner chooses to use their fireplace for a number of reasons; lack of access to firewood, do not want to increase their gas bill, it’s not cold enough to use the fireplace, etc.
This leaves the question that many ask themselves: Is it still important to maintain the chimney or have a chimney inspection even if the fireplace or wood stove is not used?
Should I Have My Chimney Cleaned and Inspected If I Don’t Use It?
Many homeowners are under the assumption that if they don’t use their fireplace or wood burning stove that having a chimney inspection or to have their chimney cleaned isn’t a big deal. Unfortunately, that assumption is far from the truth.
Your unused chimney or gas fireplace is still subject to the damaging effects of wind, rain, ice and temperature extremes. A yearly chimney inspection will notify you of any cracks in the mortar or bricks, which could allow water to enter your flue system and compromise the structural integrity of your home.
Damage To Your Chimney
Chimney damage can occur for a number of different reasons. Severe weather like high winds, ice buildup, or even lightning strikes can damage your chimney. Whether your chimney is brick or stone, the mortar can crack and erode over time. Also, with constant ice and moisture buildup can cause spalling bricks.
Often you will find chimneys that have vinyl or wood siding that can fail over time with high winds, cracking and other types of damage.
Chimney damage can lead to further damage to your home such as water damage or parts of the chimney collapsing or breaking off.
Having a routine chimney inspection can help protect your home from a chimney that is damaged.
Moisture Damage To Your Chimney
In areas that experience cold weather or rainy seasons, moisture damage to your chimney can occur over time. As previously stated, ice forming on your chimney (whether brick, stone, vinyl or wood) can compromise the structure of your chimney with each season. Many unused or even used fireplaces or wood stoves are also not properly lined which can leave the structure exposed to possible moisture damage that can seep into cracks. In many cases, when you see water damage to your home around the chimney area, moisture damage to the chimney could be one of your issues.
Having your chimney inspected annually, even if you’re not using your fireplace or wood stove can help to prevent moisture damage down the road.
Birds, Squirrels, Bats and other Pests
It is not uncommon to discover to discover little critters in an unused chimney. Even when a chimney is not being used, it is still often a warm and dry place for animals to build their home. Everything from birds, squirrels, bats, mice, and even raccoons taking refuge in your chimney can cause damage.
What’s worse is that if you have little animals calling your chimney home if you ever decide to use your chimney the risk of chimney fires or carbon monoxide poisoning can occur. Without a chimney inspection, they can block the airflow of your chimney or bring objects into the chimney that could also ignite.
One way to protect your chimney from animals getting into your chimney and building a home is to install a chimney cap designed to keep the critters from accessing your chimney. However, there are cases when a chimney cap has failed or has become damage which would allow animals to get into the chimney. Having your chimney inspected can detect if your chimney cap needs replaced.
All in all, whether you use your chimney or do not use your chimney, it is a good idea to have a professional chimney sweep like Baun’s Chimney Sweeping inspect your chimney. If you don’t use your chimney, you’re probably safe from creosote, however, you may not be safe from various forms of chimney damage. An inspection will detect possible issues with your chimney and recommend any repairs or precautions you will need to take to maintain your unused chimney.