Well, we’re past the time change where everyone and their brother tells you to check the batteries in your smoke detector, your carbon monoxide detector, and even the National Weather Service gets into the act telling you to check the batteries in your weather alert radio. Well, not to be outdone, we are going to tell you to check something too.

Aside from the time change we are also moving into the winter weather scheme. Yes, you should check your furnace to be sure it provides the heat you need and if you have a wood stove you should be sure to stock up on fuel. And when the leaves are finished falling and you make that one last trip to clean the gutters, you should check the chimney before you get off the ladder.

Before you go up, check to see that your chimney is standing as straight as it always did. A leaning chimney is not a good sign and must be attended to; of course that’s a worst case scenario. Next, check to see if there are any bricks that look loose or out of place. If there are, note the location and call a chimney professional.

Lastly, look at the base of your chimney where it meets the roof. There should be some sheet metal at this point and it is called flashing. Flashing wraps around the base of your chimney and acts as a moisture barrier by deflecting water away from the chimney. Water-stained ceilings near the location of your chimney tend to make the case for a flashing problem, but nothing beats getting near the roof and taking a peek.

If your flashing has breaks in the seams, is bent or is missing entirely, call a chimney professional. A roofer may come up there and tell you a little tar will fix your problem, but it won’t, it hides the problem. If your flashing needs repair or replacement, get it done quickly. The damage that can be caused by a flashing problem can only get worse and will cost you more in the long run.