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Is There Something Wrong With Your Fireplace?

As winter, cold, and snow approach, it’s natural to want to cuddle up by the fire.

While you’re warming up, did you know that the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there are 22,000+ residential chimney and fireplace fires annually in the US?

When is the last time you really looked at your fireplace?  Really examined your fireplace?  Do know what to look for?  If not, never fear! We are here to keep you informed on these issues so you can discuss common fireplace issues with your clients!

Here are five common issues that we find with fireplaces.

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Backdrafting
Smoking is hazardous to your health.

Smoke stains above the fireplace represent a serious safety hazard.  Smoke stains indicate a drafting problem, which permits combustion gases to enter the living area.

When you find smoke stains above the fireplace, you need to hire a fireplace expert who has experience to help identify the source of the stains and, even better, to make repairs to prevent the drafting.

I Slept Like a Log Last Night…

…and woke up in the fireplace. Bada bing.

The remains of Mr. Creosote.

See the image to the right? There’s a reason this fireplace has no logs.  The amount of creosote build-up in the firebox, damper, and smoke shelf is very hazardous and a fire should not be lit.  Why?  Because creosote itself is combustible.

Creosote forms because of incomplete combustion, lack of open ventilation, and/or from burning wrong types of firewood (e.g., pine instead of hardwood).  If your fireplace has creosote build-up, hire an expert to clean the fireplace and to conduct a detailed inspection of the flue and chimney.

Are There Cracks in Your Façade?
Mind the gaps.

Does your fireplace look like this? Though it may not look like much,  cracks and deteriorated mortar joints in the firebox pose a big problem.

Cracks and deteriorated mortar joints are dangerous fire hazards.

Hire an expert to repair the cracks and refill the mortar joints. (Sense a theme developing here?)

A Cure for the Common Flue
See that crack?

Even if your firebox is safe and clean, there may be issues further up the structure.

Unless you can walk into your fireplace, our inspectors always get on their hands and knees and shine a light up into the chimney.  And sometimes, we find issues with the flue.

If you discover a flue liner with gaps or cracks or deterioration, it’s a fire hazard.  Hire an expert for an evaluation and to make repairs, as required.

The Essence of Efflorescence
Efflorescence AKA White Crystalline Deposits

We hate to use 25 cent words when nickel words work just as well.  Except that in this case, there are no good substitutes for “efflorescence.”  “White crystalline deposits” just doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

White deposits on the interior of the fireplace aren’t safety hazards and don’t represent an immediate threat.  However, they’re not just ugly stains.  Efflorescence indicates that there is moisture penetration which eventually will cause your fireplace to deteriorate.

If you notice efflorescence, you need to find the source of the water or moisture penetration.  Hire an expert to help mitigate the source of the stains.

*Our fireplace inspections are visual in nature, so please contact a chimney specialist for further evaluation.