Recent storms in the greater Kansas City area caused several chimney to be hit by lightning. While the exterior damage is usually very noticeable with blown out sections of brick, and bricks scattered on the ground, interior damage is not readily visible without the proper equipment.
The Midwest Chimney Safety Council recommends that any chimney hit by lighting have a Level II inspection completed by a Certified Chimney Sweep. The chimney sweep will use an internal closed circuit camera inspection system in order to view the interior smoke chamber and flue liner. Any cracks, blown out sections of tile or mortar, or gaps will be evident during this type of inspection.
Since the interior of the chimney is a very critical part of the structure it is imperative that it is in good condition. Any gaps may allow heat, smoke, and toxic Carbon Monoxide gasses to enter the living space of the home. This can be a fire and health hazard.
Masons are not trained to professionally inspect or evaluate the interior of chimneys and fireplaces. This is why a professional should be consulted before any work is completed.
A recent lightning strike claim in Kansas City resulted in additional findings of severe interior damages after an insurance adjuster called professional chimney sweep Gene Padgitt of HearthMasters, Inc. to do an inspection. The mason hired to do the work was addressing only the exterior damage, not the interior work that was necessary. The homeowner had a false sense of security that the job was being done correctly. Padgitt found multiple broken flue tiles and blown out mortar joints in the interior as well as additional exterior damages that were overlooked by a mason.
Most professional chimney sweeps are able to complete the inspection, and do the relining and repair work necessary. More homeowner tips and a list of professional sweeps is at www.mcsc-net.org.