Brick and stone chimneys are certainly attractive and add value to your home, but they aren’t maintenance-free. You need to visually check your chimney and also have a professional check it from time to time. Water, weather, and freezing conditions eventually take a toll, even on stone and brick.

From the ground, you can do a quick check. Binoculars will help. The tile flues at the top of the chimney should have no cracks or broken areas. The cap of the chimney just above the brick or stone and below the flue tile must be solid, with no cracks. Any damage to a cap must be checked by a professional. A cracked cap can allow water into the structure and seriously damage the chimney.

The brick, stone, and mortar should look solid, with no movement, leaning, gaps, holes or white stains. Any visible damage needs to be checked.

Finally, if the chimney is used for a wood-burning fireplace, you should have it cleaned and checked every year or two. Once you’ve burned about 100 wood fires, the chimney needs an inspection.

You can see a lot from the ground, so take a good look. If you notice any problems or changes, call in a pro.