The two most common types of chimneys are masonry chimneys and factory chimneys. Masonry chimneys are usually constructed of brick, concrete block, or stone. Factory chimneys, as the name suggests, are built in a factory and then assembled and installed at the job site.
The basic components of a chimney are the aluminum or stainless steel chimney flue, flue liner, cap, and cleanout door. The vertical pipes you can see from the outside are the flues. Inside of each flue are the flue liners, which are designed for safety, easy cleaning, and performance. The cap covers the last flue and keeps rainwater, animals, and debris from entering the system. Finally the cleanout door, which is located at the base of each flue, allows access so that any accumulated soot and debris can be removed.
At least once each year you should have your chimney checked and cleaned if necessary, by a chimney professional. If you heat with wood, or if special circumstances of your chimney system warrant it, you should have the chimney checked more frequently. Long, slow burns or the use of green or wet wood can create deposits very quickly, especially in older, less efficient stoves. These deposits if left unchecked can lead to chimney fires. Chimney fires can reach temperatures in excess of 2000 degrees and can either burn your house down, cause costly damage to the flue liners, or create hidden fire damage.
Another potential danger found specifically in masonry chimneys is the fall hazard from deteriorated brick or stone. Homeowners should visually inspect their chimneys to look for any obvious defects, and have questions ready when they meet with their contractor. Something as simple as a chimney flashing repair, a brick chimney repair, or the early diagnosis of a chimney leak can save thousands of dollars in the future.
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