Now that things are warming up a little, it’s time to take a look around your house. There are probably quite a few maintenance chores you put off during the winter. One area that you should pay special attention to is your chimney and fireplace. Your chimney probably worked hard throughout the winter, so you should check that it didn’t sustain any damage.
Why Have Your Chimney Inspected?
The good news is that your chimney is probably in an okay condition. If you were still using your fireplace all throughout the cold months without any problems, chances are your chimney isn’t badly damaged.
For starters, a chimney inspection includes a chimney cleaning. If you’ve been regularly using your fireplace, there’s a good chance that your chimney is full of soot and other buildup. Apart from that, having your chimney cleaned will help the professional chimney sweep to clearly see what’s going on. If there are any cracks that formed in your chimney due to overheating, for instance, you can have them fixed before they have any time to spread further.
Even if your chimney is still in tiptop shape, it needs to be cleaned regularly to keep your fireplace safe. A dirty chimney will leak more smoke and harmful gases into your home than one that’s been properly cleaned. So if you found that you had a problem with smoke leaking into your house this winter, it’s definitely time to have your chimney swept.
When to Clean Your Chimney?
You can call a professional to sweep your chimney any time of year. There isn’t a specific time of year when you can’t have your chimney swept.
That said, when exactly you have your chimney inspected might depend on a couple of things. If you have your chimney inspected once a year, then obviously you’ll always have it inspected more or less at the same time each year. If you don’t regularly clean your chimney, the best time to call a professional is any time before using it again.
If you normally clean your chimney yourself, you should still have it inspected from time to time just to make sure it’s in good shape. Don’t assume your chimney is safe to use just because you cleaned it. Unless you aren’t a professional chimney sweep, there’s a good chance you might have left some dirt. And even if you got all the dirt, you might not know how to spot and fix cracks.
Who Can Inspect Your Chimney?
As mentioned before, it’s always best to have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a qualified chimney professional. But how will you know who to trust?
Your safety depends on finding a chimney sweep that knows what they’re doing. In the same way you wouldn’t have your car services by just any mechanic, or you wouldn’t have anyone tamper with your home’s electric connections, you shouldn’t trust anyone with your chimney.
Before allowing someone to work on your chimney, ask about what certifications they have when it comes to the work they do. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) offers a certification program for chimney sweeps. Ideally your chimney sweep should be certified with the CSIA, or a similar organization.
While the work chimney sweeps do is vitally important to your health and safety, there’s no standard requirement someone must fulfill to work as a chimney sweep. This means that anyone could sell themselves as a chimney sweep, even if they know nothing more about chimneys than you do!
That’s why the CSIA and similar organizations have set out to standardize the industry. These organizations recognize the importance of having a well-maintained chimney when it comes to fire safety.
Keep in mind that the best chimney sweeps won’t necessarily be cheap. But don’t be fooled into hiring someone who isn’t a professional just because they’re cheaper. Often times, the cheapest sweeps won’t even clean your chimney. Unfortunately there are many chimney sweep scams out there, where a sweep will require you to pay for an inspection upfront only to disappear without a trace.
So when choosing a chimney sweep, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Make sure that the professional you’re hiring has a real business. A business address, professional work uniforms and an online presence all indicate that you’re working with a real company.
- As mentioned, ask about any special qualifications or experience in the field before hiring someone.
- If you’re new in an area and you have any friends with chimneys, ask them who they use for chimney sweeps. It could save you a lot of headache.
- Be careful about anyone who requires you to pay a large amount of money upfront, even if they haven’t so much as looked at your chimney.
- Don’t hire someone if you feel uneasy about them. If everything looks right and your gut says no, trust your instincts. Your safety isn’t something you should risk for anyone.
- If you’ve been using the same professional for many years and you’re satisfied, avoid using someone else in the future only to chase a bargain.
What should be clear, is that taking good care of your chimney is as important for practicing good fire safety as being safe while using your fireplace is.
Are you located in Knoxville? If so, feel free to call us! Here at Chimney Sweeps West are ready to help. With multiple standard levels of inspection, our professional team will help ensure your chimney is ready to go through another winter safely.