Photo: NASA via Getty Images

The full impact of Hurricane Sandy is still being measured as the storm continues to churn along the U.S. East Coast.

A lot of the damage caused by the storm’s coastal surge, flooding rains and extreme winds is clear to see with images broadcast on television and online seemingly every minute.

However, for those who have not experienced catastrophic damage to their properties, it is important to be aware of less obvious dangers, like cracks in a chimney wall or the slight shifting of the chimney structure due to extended wind and rain exposure.

It is important for homeowners to consider the tips listed below before using home heating systems or fireplaces in the hours and days after Sandy’s landfall because potential damage to chimneys could cause your living space to be exposed to dangerous gases.

This information is doubly important with this storm, because the hurricane comes so late in the season. In Sandy’s wake overnight temperatures in the storm zone will dip to near freezing, meaning people may seek out the warmth provided by fireplace, or furnace should the power not be out.


Recognize Fireplaces and Furnaces as Major Appliances: the refrigerator, a microwave, your washer and dryer, all come to mind when thinking about household appliances. Your home’s furnace and fireplace and the chimneys that vent them, because they are less visible or less often used, may not come to mind when listing off your home appliances. Still, there are fewer appliances more crucial to your in-home safety than properly working heating systems and their chimneys. Often, your chimney and venting systems are the only barriers between you and the toxic gases that result from the combustion used to heat your home.

Replace Damaged Appliances: if your refrigerator spent a half day under flood waters, its unlikely that you’d immediately plug it right up to start cooling your food. In the same way, home heating appliances need to be inspected and potentially replaced after being exposed to the elements, depending on the level of water or wind damage they suffer.

Find a Certified Professional for Your Job: when scheduling an inspection of your home’s furnace, chimney and fireplaces, it is important that you hire a Chimney Safety Institute of America Certified Chimney Sweep. In the wake of disasters like a hurricane fly-by-night scam artists can move into a region, taking advantage of storm victims by pretending to offer contracted services for high price. When you seek out the chimney sweep to conduct an inspection of your heating appliances, confirm he or she is certified and ask to see the credential when he or she arrives on site.