Whether you use your fireplace as extra ambiance for a special occasion or use it every day as a heat source, there are going to be times when it needs to be cleaned or repaired. It is a good idea to inspect the firebox, chimney, and flue between fires to make sure everything is intact and there is no hidden damage. Of course, when you are using it for heat in the winter, this can be difficult, but there are ways to tell when there is a problem, you just need to know what to look for. Here are some signs telling you that you need to contact someone for chimney services.
When obvious smoke is getting into the house there is a problem. It could be that the chimney needs to be cleaned, the flue is stuck closed, or the seal on the firebox is damaged. It doesn't matter what the problem is, you need to get it taken care of as soon as possible. Smoke inside the house is dangerous. Not only will the smoke damage your walls and furniture, but it is also very unhealthy to breathe. If you can notice the smoke, there are a lot more wisps of toxic fumes in the house that can make people ill or even kill them.
A fireplace is a great addition to any home. However, it can also be the cause of a fire or serious health problems. Anytime you notice anything off about it, contact a professional to come inspect things. Even if the only thing you notice is that it is harder to start a fire or the wood seems to be burning more quickly than usual, it's a good idea to call a professional. Do not wait until there is an actual fire in the chimney or rust has destroyed some of the pipes. It is much better, easier, and cheaper to get the work done before the issue turns into a major problem.
There should not be any rust on the chimney, the flue, or the firebox. If there is, the system is not intact because water should not be able to get inside. If water can get inside, smoke can get out. Do not think of rust as a cosmetic issue: it means there is something wrong somewhere inside.
Take a good look at your chimney. Look from your downtairs and upstairs windows and also walk around the house. If you notice any missing bricks, contact a chimney service that performs masonry work too. While they are there, they should also check the mortar on the rest of the chimney and take care of any problems there too.
For more information on professional chimney services, consult a resource in your area.