Following the Aug. 24, 2014 earthquake in Napa, California, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) reminds homeowners on the West Coast that the integrity of your chimney may have been affected. An inspection of your chimney by a qualified professional is in order to ensure your post-earthquake home heating safety.
Your first concern should be the general condition of the exterior of the chimney and a concern that the chimney may also be so badly damaged or misaligned as to threaten people or property if it falls. If this is the case, immediately contact a chimney service professional and ask that the dangerous section is removed.
If you believe that the exterior of your chimney is basically sound, the immediate risk is lessened.
However, prior to using your fireplace, woodstove or furnace for the first time, the Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends a Level II chimney inspection to ensure that your chimney’s interior has not suffered damage from the earthquake which would allow the escape of heat, products of combustion, or hazardous gas, into your living space.
In a typical Level II inspection, a video camera inserted into the chimney flue (between the stove/fireplace) on a lighted rod is indicated. In California homes where that flue is shorter (10 feet, for example) it is possible to do a visual inspection without a camera if you have a clear line of sight.
(What is a Level II inspection? See www.csia.org/homeowner-resources/chimney_inspections.aspx)
Chimney issues are not uncommon as a result of an earthquake. The Association of Bay Area Governments states that the 1994 Northridge, California earthquake damaged 60,000 masonry chimneys beyond repair.
“All systems with flues in your residence that provide venting, including the chimney and furnace as well as the clothes dryer exhaust, should be inspected before re-use,” said Ashley Eldridge, director of education for CSIA.
More: A visual roundup of chimney damage from CSIA’s Storify account.
More: Broken chimneys a common earthquake casualty from KTVU-TV.
Chimney inspections and preventative chimney maintenance is best left to a qualified chimney professional, like a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep. Find a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep and learn more about caring for your chimney and home heating system online at www.CSIA.org.
CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps have earned the chimney and venting industry’s most respected credential by passing an intensive examination based on fire codes, clearances and standards for the construction and maintenance of chimney and venting systems. They are also well versed in the characteristics of fuels available for home heating such as wood, gas and oil. This knowledge allows them to expertly diagnose and solve chimney and venting problems.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to chimney and venting system safety. CSIA is committed to the elimination of residential chimney fires, carbon monoxide intrusion and other chimney-related hazards that result in the loss of lives and property. To achieve these goals, CSIA devotes its resources to educating the public, chimney and venting professionals and other fire prevention specialists about the prevention and correction of chimney and venting system hazards.
We express our condolences to those impacted by today’s earthquake.