This week we cleaned and inspected the chimney system of an older home from 1945. Beautiful home! The owner of the home wasn’t sure they wanted a Level 2 service (which includes a scan of the flue with a video camera). The general question was “since the system is so old and has been in place so long, there’s probably nothing to see”. We always recommend a Level 2 service because… well, you just never know.
And wow! We found some very exciting things! And by exciting, I mean… very dangerous problems! As our chimney tech was scanning the flue with his video camera, he discovered the dark area you see in the image below. I’ll explain…
What you’re seeing here is an entire section of the clay flue liner that is MISSING. You see the orange clay liner, then you see a definitive line where it transitions to a dark grey or black area for the rest of the way that you can see in the photo. That dark grey/black area has NO flue liner at all. Completely gone. Further along int he chimney we found where the clay liner started again. So the upper and lower sections of liner seemed fine. But basically, there was several feet of missing clay liner in the middle of this chimney, a very dangerous situation.
How could this happen? It could have been installed that way back in 1945 by some lazy craftsman. But we don’t think so. Our best guess is that there was a chimney fire at some point in the life of this chimney system. That fire was so hot and/or it caused such a thermal shock that this section of clay liner simply disintegrated. And this chimney has been a hazard waiting to wreak havoc ever since! This system cannot be used until that repair is made. Thus the benefits of always choosing a Level 2 Inspection and Cleaning service… because you just never know the problems that could be lurking. In a Level 1 service (which does not include use of the video camera scan), we would have never seen this issue.