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In a moment of planning, you may ask yourself “is my home insurance still valid if I don’t have proof that my chimney is properly maintained?” The answer is, that if something happens involving your chimney or fireplace, no. It’s likely not.
Many insurance policies specify that your chimney and fireplace are only insured when properly maintained. They may not ask you for proof of proper maintenance until you file a claim, but they will want it then. Your
chimney is a vulnerable spot in your home’s defense against the elements. Even when covered by a chimney cap, the typical brick chimney presents a large vertical opening to the rain and snow. The mortar of chimney crowns can crack, and lightning can damage the bricks.
Fire statistics show that each year on average over 30 thousand houses have chimney fires. Chimney fires can not only destroy homes but also endanger the occupiers of the dwelling.
Homeowner’s insurance can cover damage to your property caused by sudden and unforeseen events such as fires, flash floods, lightning strikes, and wind damage. In the case of a chimney, an insurance company will closely scrutinize the facts and evidence in the claim. Your policy might exclude damage caused by poor maintenance or normal wear and tear on your house.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Have a camera-assisted inspection. This creates documentation of the condition your chimney is in, and allows you to know without a doubt whether your chimney is in safe condition for wood burning. The images will reveal whether you need repair, and what repair options are right for you if so. That way, when you do have a fire you can do so knowing your chimney is fully functional.
Not only is sweeping and inspecting your chimney a good idea in general, your home insurance policy may require it. So if you haven’t already, you’ll want to check with them for exact expectations they have regarding sweeping or inspecting your chimney.
YOUR INSURANCE CLAIM
Insurance companies differ in their approach to fires that may be caused by a lack of chimney cleaning. There are two dangers to not having a clean chimney: the fire itself and how the insurance company with handle it. Whether your policy is clear or ambiguous, you’ll fare better if you have documentation of annual chimney cleaning.
If a fire occurs you may be required by the terms of your policy to produce a cleaning certificate. However, whether or not required, without it the insurance company could refuse to pay out. If they believe a fire was caused by your failure to have regular chimney cleaning and inspections, your insurance claim won’t be paid.
Whatever the terms of your policy (and the difficulty of proving negligence), the greatest risk may, of course, be to your own personal safety. Also if a fire causes injury or death to third parties, you could well face civil or even criminal proceedings.
You need your chimney flue and ventilation pipes cleaned at least once a year. Having annual chimney sweep service will ensure you’re fulfilling your insurance obligations. Make sure to read your policy carefully. Most policies will require professional chimney sweeping annually. If you need to make a claim, having a recent chimney sweeping certificate shows that you actively maintain your home.
DO ALL CHIMNEY SWEEPS PROVIDE CERTIFICATES FOR THEIR WORK?
All qualified chimney sweeps provide written documentation of their work. You may receive a digital or paper receipt. This is for the homeowner’s peace of mind and to fulfill insurance conditions.
In Conclusion, contact the Irish Sweep to discuss chimney and fire safety. You’ll benefit from using a quality professional chimney sweep.
In the spirit of the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s mission to advance public awareness while educating and certifying industry professionals, National Chimney Safety Week was created to specify a week
of outreach and education to the public about chimney and venting safety. Celebrate by scheduling your chimney inspection and cleaning today!
What many homeowners don’t know is that chimney fires can happen without anyone’s awareness. When you become aware that a chimney fire has been eating your home from inside the walls, it may not be the first time. This is part of why prevention is so important!
SOME SIGNS THAT THERE HAS ALREADY BEEN A CHIMNEY FIRE:
♦ ‘Puffy’ creosote, that’s cloud shaped and expanded beyond its normal form
♦ Creosote build up with rainbow colored streaks
♦ Any metal components that show warping (discoloring and distortion): the damper, metal smoke chamber, connector pipe or metal chimney, rain cap
♦ Flue tiles with large chunks missing, or that have cracks or evidence of collapse
♦ Flakes and pieces of creosote on the roof or ground nearby
♦ Burn marks on roofing material damaged by hot creosote
♦ Cracks in exterior masonry
♦ Evidence of smoke escaping through mortar joints of masonry or tile liners
If your home has already had a chimney fire, there is a reason it’s happened, and you’re in danger of it happening again until the cause is identified and addressed. Causes of chimney fires all have to do with structural safety and blockages or build-up in the chimney. The only way to be sure your fireplace is safe to use is to have regular chimney cleaning services.
HOW CAN CHIMNEY CLEANING SERVICES PREVENT THESE FIRES?
There are two main tasks chimney cleaning services can do for you: a chimney inspection and sweeping/cleaning your chimney. If you have concerns about fire safety, it’s best to do both. While inspection is important to identify evidence of previous fires and risk for future fires, it’s the cleaning that removes fuel for fires: creosote and debris.
Always be sure that you have working smoke alarms in appropriate places throughout your home, and that their batteries are fresh. With a little diligence and annual chimney cleaning services, you can minimize your risk for chimney fires.
When you think about home improvements, your chimney may not be something you think about. However, like many other things in you home, it can break down and need replacement. But how do you know when you should replace your chimney since it’s usually not something on your repair list? Well, it all depends on the condition of your chimney.
Chimneys are very sturdy, but they still need some TLC every now and then to functional properly. And if your chimney is in really bad shape, it might be time for a chimney replacement. To see if your chimney needs fixing or replacement, it’s recommended that you do an annual check, usually in a
season that you won’t be using your fireplace. You’ll also want to check it out after any severe weather like hail storms or hurricanes.
We’ve rounded up a few obvious signs to check for yourself, right after you schedule a professional chimney inspection.
1. A DAMAGED CHIMNEY CROWN
The crown of your chimney is a vital piece of masonry as it protects the chimney from anything that might fall into it (expect for directly above the flue). It keeps out water and weather damage and takes a beating. If it’s injured, the damage can spread down the chimney, resulting in a complete rebuild. It can also degrade and crack due to age, which can be a disaster for the chimney.
2. WHITE SALTS ON BRICKS
White bricks can mean water damage inside the bricks, which pulls out the natural salts and minerals to the surface of the bricks. The white staining can wash off easily, but if comes back, you’ll definitely need to call a professional to come in and help.
3. SPALLING OR SHALING
Spalling is the result of water entering brick, concrete, or natural stone. It forces the surface to peel, pop out, or flake off. Spalling can eventually cause crumbling and destruction of a structure. If you have spalling bricks, it means your chimney is damaged and will need to be rebuilt. You’ll want to call a professional ASAP.
Shaling is also caused by water, but describes what happens to affected tiles. If you notice that tiles or pieces of tiles fall into your fireplace, this is shaling. You’ll definitely need a chimney replacement if you see this!
4. NO CHIMNEY CAP
The chimney cap is like a little hat worn by the flue, to keep debris and water out. Some chimneys don’t have a cap and the ones that do can lose them from time to time. If your chimney doesn’t have one, it’s because it’s most likely sustained some damage at one point. The cap acts as the first line of defense and you’ll want to call a professional for an inspection before any damage gets worse, needing a full chimney replacement.