February 2000 Edition

Chimney Inspection?

Our chimney has never been cleaned. What steps should we take to insure our fireplace and chimney are in good condition and are safe to use?
Often neglected, chimneys are a vital part of a home's structure and mechanical functioning. Chimney defects can result in fires, collapses and even carbon monoxide poisoning. So take the time to inspect your chimney for signs of common problems.
Safe Structure
First, inspect your chimney from the outside of the home to see if it leans or appears to be separating from the building. Older chimneys will sometimes lean toward the south or west because the mortar dries out more on that side. Chimneys that are separating from the house can be especially dangerous. Sometimes, the steel plates that are used to hold the chimney to the house will rust away and leave the chimney vulnerable to a collapse. If your chimney leans, it should be checked by a professional.
Use binoculars to look for loose bricks or cracks, especially near the top. Freezing weather can cause bricks to "spall" or loosen up. Any deteriorated sections should be replaced. Check that the metal flashing between the roof and chimney is tight. Loose flashing can cause leaks that will show up inside the house.
If your chimney is lapped siding, check to see if the siding is in good condition and if it needs painting.
Clean Flues
The metal flue or clay liner around which most chimneys are built must be clean. The surest way to check this is from the top of the chimney. That job, however, is best left to a professional. All flues should have spark arrestors or flue caps to prevent sparks from leaving the flue and falling onto the roofing shingles.
Homeowners can check for clean fireplace flues by opening the damper just above the firebox.
For chimneys that serve the home's heating system, inspection can be done by temporarily removing the metal vent pipe which feeds into the chimney from the furnace and then checking inside for obstructions. Also, look for vegetation at the top of the chimney. Ivy, for example, can grow across the top of the chimney and obstruct the flow of exhaust gases out the chimney. Look for soot stains at the front of a fireplace or discolored metal at the front of the furnace. This may mean the chimney is blocked, resulting in a very dangerous condition that can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. If you see such stains, have the chimney cleaned immediately.
In general, all chimneys should be professionally cleaned and inspected approximately once a year. When hiring a chimney sweep however, be cautious if the contractor recommends an expensive repair. They may be trying to make extra money at your expense. As with any home repair or maintenance contractor, homeowners are wise to get a second opinion from an unbiased expert, like a professional home inspector, before any repairs have been started.

Source: Thomas Kraeutler,

HomeCheck of New Jersey, Inc., Oakhurst, N.J.


What Is The ENERGY STAR Program?

Where are looking for a new home that is energy efficient. What is the ENERGY STAR Homes Program?


ENERGY STAR Homes is an exciting program for builders and product manufacturers to increase their profits and customer satisfaction while contributing to a cleaner environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are working together to promote ENERGY STAR Homes as a smart consumer decision for products, building upgrades, and homes that save money while preventing pollution.

The ENERGY STAR Homes Program relies on builders and building industry professionals to achieve its energy-efficiency goals. As Partners in the Program, builders agree to construct new homes that use at least 30 percent less energy for home heating, cooling, and water heating than homes based on the national Model Energy Code (MEC). Once a home's performance is verified by an independent third-party expert, the home can bear the ENERGY STAR label. As ENERGY STAR Homes Allies, building industry organizations influence builders by recruiting them into the program, verifying their ENERGY STAR Home construction, and offering them ENERGY STAR marketing tools and co-promotional advertising opportunities.

Additionally, the program gives consumers the opportunity, whether buying affordable or luxury homes, to feel good about helping the environment, while living in more comfortable homes that will cost them less to own from the first day they move in. Their ENERGY STAR Homes cost less because monthly energy savings typically exceed the small increments in monthly mortgage costs to pay for the extra energy features.

Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency


If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 1003 Star Court, Norcross, Georgia 30093. You can E-Mail your questions to us at rodharrison@christianbuildinginspectors.com.

Quote Of The Month

"Marriage was made in Heaven

and so were thunder & Lightening"

- C. Blaine

A Tip Of The Hat To:

Soya Choi

Re/Max Executives, Inc.

2260 North Druid Hills Road

Atlanta, Georgia 30329

**** Thank You****

Warranty Recall Chek