Safety Alert: Do not check a flue that is currently being used, such as one serving a wood stove lit or a furnace on. Make sure that the appliance is turned off. Wear gloves to protect your hands. Open the cleanout doors slowly! You may see a lot of soot in the flue’s base.
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Check the base of your chimney. If you see chimneys that have been built up to the outside of the house, look in the cellar. You may find one or more cleanouts. Look inside the door. You can see the flue at the bottom of the door using a small mirror or a flashlight.
You might not be able to see the entire flue because some flues are curved. Be aware of any soot buildup on the flue walls and at the base. The flue itself is not always clean. The appliance is the most active place. The chimney may still require cleaning.
When you’re looking up the flue try to find any cracks or holes. If you find something not right, don’t panic. A trained eye is required to see what’s happening in the chimney flue.
Lastly, you can inspect the condition of the connector pipes and appliances. This is not a substitute for a professional inspection, but it can give you some suggestions and questions.
When looking up at chimneys, wear protective clothing that includes eye and ear protection.
Inspect the brickwork for damage and wear. The damper should be checked. The damper should be able to open and close without difficulty, without any binding. Above the damper, look up at the smoke chamber.
Is the smoke chamber clean or is it sooty? Have your chimney checked if there’s any soot or haven’t cleaned it in a while.
The stovepipe connecting to the chimney should be inspected for damage. Replace it if it’s rusted, soft or has holes. Are there any signs of soot, creosote or leakage around the stove or stovepipe? This could indicate a problem with the stove’s operation or an incorrect installation.
Both the inside and outside of the stove should be inspected for any cracks, bulges or warping. Stove doors are usually fitted with a rope-shaped gasket at the edges to ensure a tight seal. Is the gasket in good condition?
Pipes can be very hot. Be careful!
A furnace technician is responsible for checking the furnace’s internal components. However, you can inspect the connector pipe for damage.
You should look for leaks, soft spots or rust. You should be careful not to touch any wires or connector pipes.
You should immediately notify your chimney professional if you notice any problems with connector pipes or appliances.
Here’s how to check flues
Place a small mirror at the base of your flue and hold the flashlight so that it points at the mirror from the same angle you are looking. You will then be able to see the spot the flashlight illuminates. To see different parts of flue, you can move the mirror. The principle is similar to the coal miner’s hat that has a light attached. The light shines wherever you are looking. Although it takes some time to get used to, it is very effective.