Chimney and Smoke Alarm Safety

Check Chimneys and Smoke Alarms Now

Is your chimney safe? How do you know?

If your chimney was damaged in the August 2011 earthquake, you need to know whether it is safe or not before using your stove or fireplace this fall and winter.

Broken or cracked chimneys can let heat, smoke and toxic gasses such as carbon monoxide into your home, and your home could even catch fire. Some damage is obvious, and some is hidden:

  • Check to see if bricks have fallen or the chimney is leaning.
  • Look for shiny areas on your metal chimney pipe. This means the chimney moved during the earthquake.
  • Look for cracks at joints where the chimney connects to the firebox, at the roofline and in the attic.
  • Check for debris that may have fallen into the fireplace.
  • Use a screwdriver to check the mortar between the bricks or stones. If it crumbles when you pick at it, the chimney may be a hazard.
  • When in doubt, consult a licensed engineer or contractor. For the name of an inspector, call your insurance or mortgage company.

Carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors save lives. If it is possible that you have chimney damage, make sure you install these and inspect them regularly.

  • Consider purchasing combination smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Install them in sleeping areas and on every level of your home.
  • Install them away from air vents.
  • Interconnected smoke alarms are best because if one sounds, they all sound.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly. Change alkaline batteries at least once a year. Use a date you already know as a reminder, such as your birthday or when you change your clocks.
  • Prepare and practice a fire escape route with everyone in your home, including children.

For Additional Information:

Visit the OEM preparedness Web page, FEMA,, the U.S. Fire Administration or the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

Register for emergency alerts from the Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN).

The Office of Emergency Management would like to give you and your colleagues the tools to prepare for an emergency. If you, your homeowners or civic association, or your business, are in need of a presentation about emergency preparedness or other emergency-related topics, contact Marcelo Ferreira at 571-350-1013, TTY 711.




Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

ADA Accessibility | Website Accessibility
Awards | FOIA | Mobile | Using this Site | Web Disclaimer & Privacy Policy | Get Adobe Reader
Official site of the County of Fairfax, Virginia, © Copyright 2015

Website Feedback Website Feedback    Globe with various flags representing Web site language translations   Language Translations

Return to Graphic Version