Home  Questions  | Qualifications   Home Inspector Tips  Pre-Inspection Agreement Services   |  Facebook Literature

Fireplace and Chimney Safety Concerns - Quality Home Inspections of East Tennessee


There are certain things you should look for in order to ensure a safer fireplace and chimney.

Make sure you have a chimney cap. A chimney cap can help prevent water from getting down into your fireplace, which could in turn cause moisture to get into your attic. Chimney caps can stop downdrafts from entering your home which could cause smoke to build up into your house. It can also stop cold blasts of air from getting in your home.  When caps have mesh netting they have the added benefit of keeping out pests such as birds that could build nests in the tops of your chimney. This would obviously clog your chimney and create a smoke hazard. Wire mesh also serves as as spark deflector which is very important in dry areas. Check chimney caps for leaves and debris. Pay attention during snow storms as ice and snow can clog up mesh netting.

Watch out for Creosote which is a buildup caused by wood smoke and is not only deposited on the flue lining, but it can also clog the mesh. Creosote is black or brown in appearance. It can be crusty and flaky, tar-like, drippy and sticky, or shiny and hardened. Creosote is highly combustible. If enough were to buildup in your chimney it could cause a chimney fire.  A chimney fire can actually melt mortar, crack tiles, destroy liners, and outside masonry. All this leads to flames being able to reach wood in your home, which means your entire house could catch on fire.  Restricted air supply, unseasoned wood, and cooler than normal chimney temperatures can speed up the buildup of creosote on chimney flue walls.

When chimneys are very wide along the slope of a roof, a cricket is advised. A cricket will push away water from sitting on the side of the chimney which will make it less likely to get into your home, thus preventing moisture problems.

You want to check to make sure there aren't any tree limbs that are above the chimney or too close to your chimney.

Bricks and mortar should be in good shape and not crumbling.

Never burn plastics or garbage in fireplace. You will release toxic fumes into your living area.

It's important to have gaps and cracks in the hearth, firebox, or chimney repaired. These could cause a fire.

Make sure you have smoke detectors installed.

Obviously, you want to keep flammable objects a safe distance from your fireplace.

It's recommended that you have a professional chimney sweep clean your chimney regularly. The National Fire Protection Association says, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”

For a list of what is included in a Quality Homes inspection.

East Tennessee Quality Home Inspections
Quality Home Inspections serves the East Tennessee area of Roane, Loudon, Knox, Anderson, and Cumberland counties which includes the areas of Knoxville, Oliver Springs, Oak Ridge, Kingston, Harriman, Rockwood, Midtown, Lenoir City, and Crossville, Tennessee. The goal of Quality Home Inspections is to help make the home buying decision a little less complex by providing a professional visual inspection and report of various systems and areas of the home.

Email me with any questions you might have at the address below.