YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As the winter months roll around, many people may be ready to switch on their fireplaces to keep warm, but there are some important things that should be done beforehand.

Chimneys and fireplaces should be inspected every year. There are many reasons for this, some of which may not be obvious to the average homeowner.

“The National Fire Code requires an annual inspection of all chimneys, and that’s not just fireplaces. Fireplaces have a lot of minimum requirements, but also your heating appliances will vent through the chimney structure, and all those requirements are just as important, if not more important than the fireplace requirements,” said Corey Flowers, owner of Ohio Chimney Co. 

If you choose not to get an inspection before using your fireplace, it can lead to dangerous and costly outcomes. 

“We’re talking about fire and carbon monoxide are the two things that we’re wanting to make sure are being contained properly in the home. And if you’re bringing fire into your home and you’re not sure your system meets all the requirements, you’re taking a heavy risk,” Flowers said.

Flowers said using a fireplace or chimney that doesn’t meet minimum standards can lead to a structure fire or damage to the inner workings of your fireplace. He broke down some of the things that get checked when doing an inspection.

“Everything from the thickness of the walls of the chimney, to all the dimensions, that the dimensions line up, from the size of the fireplace to the size of the liner system, to the height of the chimney,” he said.

First, they check the exterior of the chimney to see how the structure is holding up outside. Then, they move to the interior, checking multiple things in and around the fireplace. 

“Part of chimneys that people aren’t aware of are clearances and how close things like combustible material are to the fireplace. So, we’re measuring for many different minimum requirements. The hearth extension, the opening of the fireplace,” Flowers said

Flowers said this is also something to keep in mind when considering remodeling your fireplace. You have to be careful what material you use and where you place it.    

In order to fully inspect the inside of the fireplace and chimney, some parts have to be removed to make sure they are functioning correctly and to be able to have a clear view.

In addition to this, the inspector must also check your furnace and hot water tank in the basement.  

“As part of doing the inspection sweep for fireplaces, it’s just as important, if not more important, to come and check out the heating appliances and how they’re tied in with the chimney,” Flowers said. 

This is extremely important, as your heating appliances are used all year long and draft through the chimney.

Even the face of the fireplace must meet certain standards in order to be used safely.

Flowers’ company also uses a drone in order to see better angles of the top exterior of the chimney. This allows them to save time and it is safer than having to climb on top of the roof. 

Flowers says one of the things that makes his family business unique is that they also have masons who can do masonry work. They also install gas and wood-burning fireplaces, liners, wood burners and more.

To find out more about what goes into inspections and the minimum requirements, you can call Ohio Chimney Co. at 330-392-0555 or visit Ohiochimney.com.