Newer wood-burning fireplaces are generally factory built “zero-clearance” units. These are metal boxes lined with refractory panels. The fireplace is vented by an insulated metal chimney assembled in sections. Things we look for in these installations include cracked panels, warped metal boxes, damaged or missing dampers, build up in the chimney and a damaged or missing chimney cap.
Older fireplaces and chimneys usually have masonry fireboxes lined with fire brick vented with brick or concrete block chimneys lined with clay or pumice flue liners. Inspections are critical for these types of chimneys. Some older homes have fireplaces located internally and some have them installed on an exterior wall. Because these masonry structures are incredible heavy, they must sit on a solid foundation.
Masonry chimneys are susceptible to earthquakes and settling. A chimney inspection may find that the firebox is cracked, there are cracks, gaps or voids in the chimney liner or the chimney has structural deficiencies. Dampers may have failed, corroded or be missing. In many cases there has never been a cap protecting the chimney from water and snow infiltration.
Bottom line: inspections are a wise investment for fireplaces and chimneys. At a minimum, we will sweep the chimney to remove combustible deposits. We also ensure that you are made aware of any defects or potential issues we uncover. Lastly, we will provide quotes for repair to bring the fireplace and/or the chimney into working condition.