Tag: Chimney Inspection

How to Maintain a Fireplace and Chimney

There are lots of things you can do for your chimney to keep it in top working order in between inspections. This article covers the basic ways to care for your chimney on a day to day basis.
For simple cleaning, start by removing the ashes from the fireplace. During the cold season, make sure that the ashes don’t build up to a depth greater than about 2″. After the cold season, remove all of the ashes from the fireplace.
Click here to read the full article on how to care for your chimney.

How Much Does a Chimney Sweep Cost?

Are you considering hiring a chimney sweep but aren’t sure if you need to? You don’t really want to spend the money if it isn’t necessary right? This article from HomeAdvisor goes over the reasons you should have your chimney cleaned or inspected.
Having a wood fire burning in your fireplace all winter long can save you on your electric bills, not to mention the nice homey feel it can give your house. However when smoke goes up a chimney, it leaves behind ash and carbon residue. These residues need to be cleaned out periodically, or they can result in chimney fires, carbon monoxide leaks, and lack of airflow through the chimney to the outside. You may wonder what the cost is to have a chimney sweep clean out your chimney, and a number of factors influence the price for cleaning it.
Get all the information here.

Is Your Chimney Safe to Use?

Is Your Chimney Safe to Use?

Things are getting chilly fast! By now, it won’t be long before you’ll use your fireplace almost every day to warm your home. Few things are as pleasant as spending cold winter nights cozily close to a fireplace while sipping hot chocolate. But without proper care and maintenance, your fireplace can become a dangerous place to be. As you’re getting ready to use your fireplace on a regular basis, you should take a moment to consider its safety. For a fireplace to be safe, smoke and harmful gases should be effectively channeled out through your chimney.

Chimney Problems

If there’s any smoke entering your house from your fireplace, that’s an obvious red flag that something is terribly wrong with your chimney. In such cases, you should put out the fire immediately. Under no circumstances should you light a fire a fireplace that leaks smoke into your home. Your fireplace will only be safe to use after your chimney has been inspected and repaired. Ideally, your chimney should never leak smoke into your home. Chimney problems should be spotted and repaired earlier than that. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to spot chimney problems. Chimney problems can be much less obvious. The problem is that even less obvious chimney problems can be fatal. Common chimney problems include:
  • Dirt buildup: Soot and debris will build up in your chimney when you use it. It’s unavoidable – plates get dirty when you eat from them and floors get dirty when you walk on them. In the same way your chimney will get dirty when you use it regularly.
  • Blockages: Even worse than having a dirty chimney, is having a blocked chimney. Bird nests, debris and soot buildup can eventually build up and block your chimney entirely.
  • Damage: Cracks, missing bricks or any other damage to your chimney should be fixed before you use it.
  • Length: Your chimney should pass safety regulations regarding length. Typically, it should be at least 2 feet long from where it exits the roof. A qualified chimney sweep will be able to tell you if your chimney should be longer in order to comply with safety regulations in your area.
There are, however, many other things that need to be inspected before you use your chimney. A reliable, qualified chimney sweep service will be able to do a thorough inspection of anything that needs to be fixed. It’s recommended that you have your chimney inspected either annually or once every other year. It’s best to have your chimney inspected and fixed before winter so you’ll know it’s safe once you use it.

Using Your Fireplace: Safety Precautions

While you probably shouldn’t try to inspect, clean and fix your own chimney, you will be the one using your fireplace. There are a few things you should do that will make your fireplace safer to use.

Use Woods That Burn Well

When it comes to your fireplace, not all woods are equally suitable for burning. One of the first things you should check for is that the wood you burn is completely dry. Never burn fresh wood in your fireplace as they cause more smoke while burning and leave more ashes than seasoned, dry woods. It’s also good to use woods from certain trees for burning in your fireplace. Stick to oak, maple, birch, beech, hickory and ash to keep your fire burning at a consistent pace. The hardness of these woods allow them to burn slowly at an optimal temperature. This prevents flames from flaring up and causing your chimney to overheat. When your fires are too hot, the excessive heat can lead to cracks and other chimney damage. By choosing a good firewood, you’ll also have less ashes and soot buildup in your fireplace and chimney.

Lighting A Fire

Avoid using flammable liquids, like gas to start fires. Rather make use of crumpled newspapers and softer woods like pine to start your fires. However, some people recommend avoiding newspapers with colored ink. Instead, you could use natural things like tree bark, twigs, brown bags, dry corn cobs and pine cones. Once your tinder is caught fire, you can add one or two pieces of a softer wood. The softness helps it catch fire more easily than harder woods, like birch. When your fire is burning properly, you can stack hard firewoods that burn more slowly on top.

Your Fireplace

You should preferably clean your fireplace about once or twice a week. When you clean out ashes from your fireplace, use a shovel to place them in a metal container. Remember that these ashes will remain hot long after the fire has died, so be careful. Once all the ashes have been cleared you should store the container in a place away from flammable things, like wooden floors, carpets and curtains. If it’s practical for you to do so, you could even leave to container with ashes outside. The tools you use at your fireplace should be of a high quality. Before buying fireplace tools like brushes, shovels and pokers, always check the handles. Handles have to be sturdy and durable. You A tool that breaks while you’re using it could be very dangerous. Hopefully you’ll spend lots of time snuggling up at your fireplace to stay warm and cozy this winter. But don’t forget to be safe. Have your chimney inspected regularly and always be cautious when you make a fire. Never forget that, even though fire can be relaxing and comfortable, it can also be deadly.

Why You Need A Chimney Care Pro

Your chimney performs a few very important tasks to help keep your fireplace safe. Apart from channeling smoke so that it leaves your house, it also prevents carbon monoxide from accumulating in your home when you make a fire and prevents fires from spreading.

Your chimney isn’t just a hole in the roof above your fireplace that allows smoke to escape, it’s a necessary safety measurement. There’s much more to a chimney than meets the eye. More specifically, the inside of a chimney is what helps it to function properly.

Have you ever seen the inside your chimney? Do you what a safe chimney should look like inside? Would you be able to see if something wasn’t right?

Maybe you do know what the inside of your chimney looks like, and maybe you’re confident in your ability to identify and fix any problems you could potentially come across. But it would be wise to reconsider that confidence, because chimney care involves more than simply sweeping out some blackish, dirty-looking stuff and then calling it a day.

Why You Shouldn’t Inspect Your Own Chimney

Sweeping a chimney seems easy enough. Technically it should be as easy as cleaning anything else in life. If you’ve ever washed your own driveway pavement or the walls of your house, cleaning out a chimney shouldn’t be much more difficult that they, should it?

Well actually, sweeping a chimney is a rather tricky thing to do. It’s definitely more complicated than cleaning your driveway.

For starters, you’re actually going to have to get on the roof of your house. Without implementing the necessary safety precautions, that in itself could lead to absolute disaster. You might think that getting on your roof without a harness to prevent death or serious injury in case of a fall isn’t very important. Like many people, you probably think it’s okay as long as you don’t do it too often.

Truth is, the risk you’re taking is still pretty big. Once you’re on the roof, you’ll also have to be performing tasks you don’t do regularly. Especially if you’ve never cleaned your own chimney, you’re running a high risk of either falling, or not doing a proper job of cleaning out all the debris. In both cases, your negligence could prove to be fatal. And even if you are planning to use a safety harness, improper use could lead you to end up gaining almost no safety benefit from it.

But when it comes to the actual chimney inspection, things get even trickier. Small cracks on the inside of your chimney could lead to big problems. The same applies for loose bricks or damaged mortar.

A qualified chimney sweep will know exactly what to look for during a chimney inspection. Among obvious issues, such as checking for bird nests or animals like snakes or squirrels that could be taking shelter in your chimney, a professional chimney sweep will also be able to tell whether or not your chimney complies with safety requirements regarding size and structure.

Why Not Just Get A Handyman?

Like many other people, you might realize the risks involved in cleaning out your own chimney, so instead of hiring a chimney sweep, you decided to get a handyman.

Clearly, you respect the fact that you aren’t able to perform dangerous tasks and that you need to hire a professional, which is already a step in the right direction. By hiring a handyman, you’re reducing the risk of injury from a serious fall. But you aren’t paying someone not to get hurt, are you? You want your chimney to be properly inspected and cleaned.

And while the average handyman will be able to do a much better job of sweeping your chimney than you can do yourself, it’s still not as good as getting a real chimney sweep to do the job. It’s a bit like getting a dental assistant to do the work of a dentist. Yes, you’re working with a qualified professional, but that doesn’t mean the professional you’re working with is right for the job.

Chimney sweeps usually complete courses by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) or other organizations that help them to specialize in their field. A good chimney sweep isn’t just a handyman who decided he likes sweeping chimneys, but a professional who knows that doing a proper job can be a matter of life or death.

That said, you should always ask before hiring a company or individual to inspect your chimney, because not all chimney sweeps have any special training for the job. The chimney sweep industry is largely unregulated, with only a few recognized associations providing qualifications for companies and individuals. Fact is, many chimney sweeps really are only handymen who decided to sweep chimneys, and while they might be just fine at doing their job and what they’re doing is in no way illegal (although it could be, in some cases), it’s always better to get someone who knows their stuff when it comes to chimneys.

Normally, it’s recommended that you have your chimney inspected once a year. If you just moved into a new house, having the chimney inspected before using it also is advised. Other than that, you should have your chimney inspected if too much smoke is entering your house from the fireplace, if you notice any strange smells, or if you notice anything else that could potentially be a problem.

If you’re in search of a professional company to help you with chimney inspections, then feel free to contact Chimney Sweeps West. We’re a BBB accredited business and we specialize in performing thorough chimney inspections.

NFPA Chimney Inspection Guidelines

Chimney Inspections

Professional chimney inspections give you a look into the health and total situation of your home’s chimney system that might be in any many cases unattainable. Snaking closed-circuit cameras alongside the sides of the chimney flue allows us to supply a sincere and detailed analysis, along with visuals. Regardless of whether you have used your chimney currently, or even for those who plan to make use of it sooner or later, annual chimney inspections are an absolute must. In January 2000, the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) outlined three totally different levels of chimney inspections and adopted these ranges into its code NFPA 211, the Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances. When you are shopping for a brand new house, the NFPA requires a Level 2 inspection of the fireplace and chimney. A Level 2 inspection contains the simple Level 1 inspection, which is a visual test of your chimney to look for blockages, creosote and soot buildup, and any other harm. What makes a Level 2 inspection extra detailed than a Level 1 is the usage of particular instruments, together with a video scanner, and an examination of your roof, attic, and crawl space.

Level 2 & 3 Chimney Inspections

Professional Chimney Cleaners

NFPA 211 is the usual code upon which certified chimney sweeps base their services and CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps are examined to those three ranges of inspection. Always ask for the extent of inspection that you believe can be most applicable in your chimney and venting system. Each degree of inspection covers particular items dependent on the person, equipment, and venting system. Level three – A Level 3 inspection is carried out when a hidden hazard is suspected that can not be uncovered without accessing concealed areas of the chimney assembly and flue. This inspection will include all the pieces from the Level 1 and a couple of inspections, plus an analysis of the chimney building and the concealed portions of the chimney and flue. Level 3 inspections are usually mandatory when assessing damage that has occurred to the chimney or to the constructing structure. Level 2 – If you’ve bought a new home heating appliance, made a change to any existing equipment that’s vented by way of your chimney, or for those who suspect that there’s injury to your chimney, a Level 2 inspection must be carried out. A Level 2 inspection consists of all the things in a Level 1 inspection plus an evaluation of any accessible parts of attics, crawl areas and basements. Your technician will even do an inside chimney video inspection of your chimney during a Level 2 inspection.

What Costs Less – A Chimney Inspection Or A House Fire?

What Costs Less – A Chimney Inspection Or A House Fire?

It’s easy for a home owner to feel tempted into using a chimney winter after winter without ever having it inspected. Home owners might argue that the idea of getting a chimney inspected is hype that’s been created for the sake of making an extra buck, but that really isn’t true.

Chimney sweeps have been working to clean out chimneys since the Industrial Revolution. Back then they often worked in poor conditions and tended to fall ill as a result of the work they performed. Nowadays chimney sweeps have to necessary equipment to avoid the potential health risks associated with their profession, but it should be noted that the same health risks chimney sweeps faced long ago are among the problems you can face if your chimney is poorly maintained.

Why Inspect My Chimney?


As mentioned before, soot buildup in your chimney can cause illness, but perhaps more seriously, a chimney that isn’t functioning properly can release more carbon monoxide into your home than is safe. Carbon monoxide is a odorless gas which is a silent killer that has literally caused people to die in their sleep.

But there’s another reason you should have your chimney inspected on a regular basis. A chimney left without maintenance for too long greatly increases the risk of a chimney related fire in your home. Bird nests and other rubble can catch fire in your chimney, resulting in a fire that can cause a great amount of damage to your house. In the worst cases, chimney fires can burn down an entire house, even claiming lives. While many people might feel that a chimney inspection is too expensive, the cost of a chimney inspection is little compared to the safety of you and your family.

But what if a fire doesn’t claim any lives? How does the cost of having your chimney cleaned compare to house fire?

The Average Cost For Chimney Sweeping

Depending on the company you’ve asked and the kind of chimney inspection you’re getting, the cost of having your chimney inspected could vary. Prices for a basic chimney inspection start at anywhere from $100 to $250.

If there’s additional work that needs to be done, this price could go up quite a bit, even to as much as $500 for everything. While that might sound like a lot to pay for having your chimney inspected, the additional costs are usually for other things such as repairs. If you’ve been quoted a for a larger amount than you would’ve expected, you don’t have to just accept it without asking questions. If the company you’re working with deal professionally, your chimney sweep will be able to tell you exactly what the additional costs are for.

How Much Do House Fires Cost?

It’s much harder to know what a house fire would cost, but the average cost of a house fire tends to be about $4000. Which means that even if the average cost of a chimney inspection was $400, you’d be able to get your chimney inspected ten times before it would cost you the same amount as a house fire, but because the cost of an average chimney inspection will probably be closer to $200 rather than $400, you’ll be able to have your chimney inspected twenty times before it adds up to the cost of a house fire.

These numbers are only estimates, and the truth is that a more severe house fire can cost much more than even fifty chimney inspections. In cases where a house is burnt to the ground and nothing but rubble remains, you can expect to pay much more than $4000. In such cases you’d have to pay for the site to be cleaned after which you’d have to have a new house built and replace all your possessions. There’s no way of knowing what that would cost for certain, as it will vary from one individual to another, but there’s no doubt that it would be very expensive.

Even in a small house fire, you’ll have a lot of cleaning up to do. Furniture will need to be deodorized to remove the smell of smoke. If damaged to any plumbing lines occurred, you’ll also have to have wet areas dried. On top of all those things, you’ll need a proper cleanup to be done to remove any soot the fire left behind. Only once you those tasks have been performed will you be able to turn your attention to repairing the area damaged in a fire.

Repairing fire damage doesn’t only hurt your wallet, it’s also time consuming and in many cases there’s stress and some trauma related ti this. When comparing the effort associated with fire damage repair to the ease of maintaining your chimney properly, the cost of an annual chimney inspection is definitely a worthwhile investment.

On top of all those things, one of the best benefits of having your chimney inspected is that it will give you peace of mind to know that your chimney is safe for use when winter arrives.