Chimney repairs are often the last thing on a home owners mind. Most major chimney repairs originate from a small easily repairable source. Often times it starts as just a few cracks in the crown, or a missing cap. A prefab chimney can easily be destroyed by a leaking chase cover, or a siding leak. Chimney repairs, like most other repairs, cost significantly less when handled early at the source before secondary damages occur. Don't wait until its too late.
The primary goal of a chimney sweep is to remove the dangerous flammable deposits from the chimney system. By sweeping the chimney the creosote and most soot is removed. A chimney fire occurs when combustion takes place in the flue or the connectors to the flue. This only occurs when the chimney has flammable creosote build up that can ignite inside of the venting system. It is important to distinguish the difference between a chimney fire and secondary damage from a chimney fire.
The secondary purpose of the chimney sweep is to reveal potential hazards within the chimney system. This is the potential for a chimney fire to spread to other parts of the dwelling. Or, possibly more importantly, for a fire to start outside of the chimney system due to age, deterioration, or improper construction. Too many cases of loss are attributed to a small crack or gap within the chimney system that could have been prevented with proper maintenance.
One case that stands out in my memory. The client just bought the house. They fired the wood stove up for the first time and had a fire occur in the stair case that backed up against the back side of the chimney. The fire started in the smoke chamber. The intense heat from the fire passed through a fracture in the smoke chamber wall to a Nail Head! The nail head heated and pyrolysis of the wood occurred around the nail shank until combustion occurred! The fireplace and chimney was located in the middle of the house. The final inspection found that the chimney fire occurred due to flammable deposits on the smoke shelf. The chimney fire was preventable by a chimney sweep, and the fracture would easily have been identified. Had the fracture been repaired from a previous sweep a chimney fire would have likely been contained within the flue as intended. A nail head in the wall behind the chimney consumed half the house because of a lack of maintenance.
The CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep credential is the most important credential in the chimney industry. There are many companies who boast their own exam and "certification" practices, but do not have a national presence as the industry standard. Many having "university" or "school of" titles are only self proclaimed. They have no evidence of accreditation to prove such titles are applicable. The Chimney Safety Institute of America has built a reputable, nationally recognized qualification that has improved the industry on every level.
Chimney flashing leaks can cause a tremendous amount of damage. Inside the walls, in the attic space, and even the flooring materials. Typically, the chimney will not be the first suspect when investigating a leak. Especially from a roofing contractors standpoint. However, the chimney is arguably the largest potential source for several reasons. Possibly the most important being that it is significantly larger than most skylights in length and width. Increasing the linear footage of potential flashing failures. The flashings protect roof penetrations such as skylights, attic vents, plumbing vents, and chimney structures. The flashings are installed between the penetrating object(vent, skylight, or chimney) and the roofing material(shingles, tar, or rubber). The more flashing needed the more potential there is for leaking. Premier Chimney and Roofing in Virginia Beach has a vast amount of experience in repairing chimney flashings across the state with great success. Hire a qualified licensed professional that has a detailed working knowledge of chimney flashing repairs.
Matthew Santiago, owner of Premier Chimney and Roofing, is a licensed chimney professional in Virginia Beach. He is a Certified Chimney Sweep and a FIRE Certified Inspector. He holds an A.S. in Information Technology, and a B.S. in Business Management.