Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Have You Had Your Chimney Inspected?

  Home Inspectors do level 1 (visual) fireplace and chimney inspections only.  Winter is here.  If you have a fireplace make sure the chimney and flue are in good working order.  You can check yourself or call in a chimney professional to diagnose the chimney and fireplace for any problem (level 2) before it gets big, expensive and potentially dangerous.

  Visually assess the chimney from the outside.  Is it leaning?  Are there any chipped bricks or masonry joints?  Do you see any cracks or holes?  If your chimney is factory-built metal, look for any corrosion, stains or loose sections.  If your chimney is exposed to your attic, make sure to check there as well.  Look for any signs indicating repairs are necessary.
Chimney cap
  A good cap can reduce damage caused to a chimney by water and wildlife.  Rain and snow can enter an uncapped chimney, and subsequently freeze and thaw, causing expansion damage.  Small wildlife can nest in chimneys, creating clogs and potentially introducing fleas, ticks, worms and other disease-causing pests to your home.  A chimney cap with screen mesh will keep animals out while shielding your roof from embers and sparks.
Leaks& stains
  Inside the house, check the area around your chimney for any stains or dampness.  These could be caused by faulty flashing around the chimney at the roof line, or by a damaged flue liner.  If you see signs of water around your chimney, call a chimney professional right away.
  Open the clean-out door from the base of the flue, located either in your basement or outside the house.  Using a small mirror and flashlight to see up the flue, look for buildup of soot and also any cracks, holes or separations.  If in doubt, give your chimney professional a call for a good checkup and cleaning.
  Check the brickwork in your fireplace for wear.  Check the damper as well, it should open and close easily.  Look into the smoke chamber above the damper to check for buildup of soot.  Again, call your chimney professional for service if you see any of these telltale signs. 

  Chimney safety should be a high priority for every homeowner.  With regular maintenance, your fireplace and chimney can give you years of wonderful service.  A chimney professional can spot things that even a diligent homeowner could miss.  Call on a pro to do regular cleanings and safety checks as part of your home-maintenance routine.  Then throw another log on the fire, sit back and enjoy.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Winter Is Here Again

Everyone puts off those last minute maintenance chores until the weather turns cold.  So we felt bringing back this previous blog entry, a list of items that will make the transition into winter mode that much easier.



Furnace Inspection;  Having your furnace inspected and is operating at peak efficiency is a wise investment.  Typical cost for a technician to inspect and clean your furnace is around $80 to $100.00.  This is a small price to pay to avoid a costly repair on the coldest day of the year when your furnace won’t start.  Change your furnace filter every 30 days or so, if you have animals who shed hair a more frequent replacement might be required.

Check or have your chimney checked for any cracks, missing brick or mortar or loose rain cap.  The freezing thawing action of water penetrating small cracks can do a lot of damage over the winter season.  If you have a wood burning fireplace you should consider having it cleaned prior to use and have the flue tiles inspected for any cracks or deficiencies.

If you have ceiling fans now is a good time to clean the dust and lint off the blades and reverse direction of motor.  Forcing the warm air down will make your living area feel much more cozy.


Windows & Doors

Caulking Windows;  Clean your windows and doors inside and out.   This is a great time to check your seals and exterior caulking.  Ensuring your seams on brick and concrete window sills are not open can save you a lot of money on needless repairs later on.   Water can enter your exposed seams cracking mortar and eventually damaging the brick below.  This “spalling” as it is known, happens when clay style brick absorbs moisture, which then freezes and blows off part of the brick surface.

Check all your door closures to ensure they all operate smoothly.  Screen doors should have glass panels lowered or installed on older models.  Basement windows screens in window wells are susceptible to damage from rodents and other small animals.  Screens should be removed and stored for the winter.  Replace any damaged door seals or sweeps to prevent drafts from entering home during the cold months.  Operate your garage doors and lightly grease track for smoother and quieter operation.


Roofs & Gutters

Flashing Not Sealed on Roof; Inspect your roofs shingles for any damaged or missing tabs.  Pay close attention to any flashings on walls or chimneys to ensure that they are completely sealed.  Caulk any suspect areas to be doubly sure of preventing any roof leaks.   Clean out any debris in gutters and ensure your downspouts and extensions are in good condition.  If you have an older home using heating cables for eaves or downspouts, now is a good time to ensure that they are in good working order.   Put away your rain barrels and ensure your splash pads and extensions are directing water away from your home.



Draining Exterior; Tap Drain all your exterior water lines to prevent freezing.  I personally always leave the exterior tap open and have never had a freeze up problem.  If you have hose reels installed, now is a good time to store them after draining out the water.  On older homes with crawlspaces now is a good time to close ventilation vents and cover with insulation in preparation for winter.  Any in ground sprinkler lines should have already been blown out by your sprinkler maintenance company, if not call them immediately.

Wrapping your hot water tank and hot water lines with insulation can save you money all year long.  Check your sump pump by either lifting float or pouring water into unit to ensure it is in operating condition.


Drafts & Air Leaks

Energy experts estimate about 30% of the heat in your home is lost to leaks and drafts.  Adding foam seals to exterior wall outlets can stop and lot of heat loss.  Check any penetrations on the exterior wall of your house and seal any gaps with caulking, this stops both cold air and moisture from entering your home.  Check you interior for leaks and missing insulation at penetrations.  Most contractors will not replace your vapor barrier or insulation when they install electrical or heating vents.  Replacing insulation and re-sealing vapor barrier can save a lot of heat loss over the course of a winter.