By Marge Padgitt

Homeowners should be aware that chimneys should be inspected before continued use after any severe storm. FEMA addressed this issue after Hurricane Sandy.

Before any repairs are completed to the home, the chimney should be inspected by a professional chimney sweep. This includes all masonry chimneys serving fireplaces, masonry heaters, or wood or gas appliances, as well as manufactured metal chimneys. Hidden damages can allow heat, smoke, and Carbon Monoxide to leak inside the home, which can be a serious issue and cause future house fire, health issues, or even death.  Masonry chimneys are more vulnerable to damages than most people think.

JLtop damage

Chimney damaged during an ice storm in Kansas City. Photo: HearthMasters, Inc.

For this reason, the Midwest Chimney Safety Council recommends that any home impacted by a severe storm such as tornado, micro-burst, or hurricane schedule a chimney inspection with a professional CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep, even if it appears that their structure is still sound.

In completing a Level 2 chimney inspection, a certified chimney sweep will check the exterior of the chimney, the interior flue, smoke chamber, damper, fireplace and surround for gaps, cracks, or breaks that could allow escape of toxic gasses and heat.  Many of these damages are not visible to the naked eye without the use of a special camera system. The chimney sweep will then recommend repair options if needed, or in the case of masonry damage refer the work to a qualified mason if the sweep does not do masonry work.

The Midwest Chimney Safety Council lists Midwest area professional chimney sweeps on their website at, and the Chimney Safety Institute of America has a list of U.S. and Canadian Certified Chimney Sweeps at