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Do You Know the Life History of Your Chimney?

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Clues to the life history of your chimney will be found in the age of your house, assuming it has its original chimney. Popularized in 18th Century in America, chimneys built in the mid-1700s rose well above the roof as a precaution. An unusually tall brick chimney towering over the back of the house might come from this period. Another clue would be the fact that the chimney is on the exterior of the home, built on the outside of an outer wall.

History of Your Chimney - South Georgia - Homestead Chimney Service

Deep fireplaces and sloped flues, designed to reach outside the house, marked this period. In the early 1800s, chimneys were brought inside the walls of American homes. With shallower, reflective fireplaces, came chimneys built on the inside of exterior walls, a style that persisted until the 1940s. Then, in the 50s, fireplaces again deepened and chimneys once again took their place on the outside wall of the house.

Pre-fabricated chimney systems arrived with pre-fabricated houses and metal chimneys became standard on homes built in the 70s and 80s. Typically hidden with siding or a brick facade,  these chimneys too were placed on the outside walls of the house. Built up an exterior wall like before, chimneys from this era terminate much closer to the roof-line than the earlier models.

Now that you know something about its birth, you can learn a lot about your chimney’s life by looking at its filled cracks and patched holes. Assuming it is fit and functioning well at this point, whatever difficulties your chimney has faced have been overcome. The mortar patches and caulked flashing, the newer firebrick and well sealed crown, all tell you that your chimney had the usual frailties but was well loved.

That shiny new stainless chimney cap can tell a story of its own; was it replaced because of wind, rust or just age? In addition, the chase cover may conceal the truth about your chimney, one-time home to both a bird and a ferret? If you live in the Southern United States, especially in Georgia, do not be surprised to learn that migrating chimney swifts once called your chimney home. As long as a chimney fire hasn’t been part of the past, your chimney’s life history is sure to be a long and storied one.

If you’d like to know more about what your home’s chimney has been through over the years, ask the chimney sweep the next time you get it inspected and swept. Who knows what you might discover?