Whether it is a fireplace or furnace, little attention is paid to our heating appliances until the weather turns colder. And until problems arise, little thought is given to the exhaust systems that serve these appliances.

Lesser known uses

When we think of a chimney, we think of a fireplace. While a fireplace most likely has a chimney, your home’s primary heating system also could use a chimney to carry heat, smoke and other dangerous gasses out of your home. Whether it is a furnace, boiler or even a water heater, it may rely on a chimney or vent for proper exhaust. Just because you do not use your fireplace, it does not mean your home is not making use of your chimney for your furnace or boiler.

Serious dangers

“While some chimney fires are loud and very visible, many often go unnoticed while causing long-term damage to your home and increasing risk.”

Problems that can impact your chimney include but are not limited to: physical deterioration, acidic deposits, animal invasion, weathering, rust and the accumulation of bird nests and debris. Dirty, damaged or blocked chimneys and flues — the chimney passageway conveying gasses to the outside — can lead to a chimney fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. When these threats are finally realized, it may be too late to prevent property damage, injury or worse.

While our knowledge of carbon monoxide has risen in recent years, chimney fires pose a similar risk. While some chimney fires are loud and very visible, many often go unnoticed while causing long-term damage to your home and increasing risk.

That is why the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fire Protection Association recommends an annual inspection of your chimney. Make sure that your chimney sweep has learned how to do the job right — is a competent, qualified and certified service professional who will keep you and your family safe.