Hiring a Chimney Sweep for an Inspection
One of the most overlooked components of a home is one of the most significant: the chimney. Many homeowners mistakenly believe that since they only use the fireplace a few times per year that the chimney doesn’t need an annual inspection. This is simply not true. The primary function of a chimney is to expel toxic fumes and contaminants that are naturally produced by liquid and fossil fuel combustion. And the brunt force of fire, rain, wind, snow, and ice can accelerate deterioration compromising its structural integrity that can put your home and family at risk for fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. We have put together this guide to help homeowners better understand how to hire for a chimney inspection and what to expect during an inspection.
Why You Need an Annual Chimney Inspection
Even if you don’t use your chimney at all, safety experts recommend that you have an annual inspection by a certified chimney sweep. A yearly inspection can uncover any safety hazards or structural issues that need repair. A relatively small amount of creosote, 1/8”, is all it takes to spark a fire. Keep in mind that the chimney is connected to your home and attached to the roof line. If unchecked, minor deficiencies can become significant problems that can cause considerable damage to your home, especially if the chimney begins to lean or even collapse. Cracks and damaged bricks and mortar are other potential hazards. They allow moisture to get inside which not only accelerates deterioration, it exposes the interior of your home to deadly carbon monoxide fumes. Not to mention birds and other small animals and pests that may have built nests inside the flue obstructing the flow of harmful gases causing it to circulate back into your home.
How to Hire a Chimney Sweep
Use the following three steps as a guide for hiring a qualified chimney sweep:
1. The person who cleans your chimney should be a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® – The Chimney Safety Institute of America is a national credentialing organization and is your assurance that the person you are hiring will adequately inspect the chimney following established national standards.
2. The company you hire should have a valid business license and carry liability insurance – Hiring an unlicensed or uninsured business could result in homeowners being liable for any damages or injuries caused by these workers.
3. Check online reviews – Are the majority of customers satisfied with their performance?
Levels of Chimney Inspection
There are three levels of a chimney inspection. Here is when they apply and what to expect during an inspection:
Level 1: This is the basic annual inspection that will apply for most homeowners as long as there have not been any modifications to the chimney or its components since the previous inspection. Its purpose is to inspect the readily accessible parts of the chimney structure visually. These parts include the joints, flue, crown, and walls. The Chimney Sweep also checks for obstructions and levels of combustible deposits.
Level 2: This level of evaluation is more thorough and is required when one of the following occurs: a) There have been significant changes to the system such as relining the flue, changing the fuel type, and other modifications. a) There was a severe natural event in your areas such as an earthquake, fire, or storm. c) It is required as a condition of sale of the home. This inspection includes everything in a level 1, plus the inspector will use video scanning equipment to check the soundness of the structure and will also examine the attic, basement and crawl spaces to ensure there is adequate clearance between the chimney and any combustible materials.
Level 3: When a potential problem in a non-accessible portion of the chimney is suspected during a level 1 or level 2 inspection, a level 3 inspection is necessary. It is an extensive inspection and may require the removal of a portion of the structure and/or its components to gain access to these areas.
Ensuring that your chimney is in working order is essential to avoid problems. It’s vital to learn and understand the above information about inspections to maintain structural integrity, ensure a well-functioning system, and prevent fire hazards from creosote buildup. Remember: A certified chimney sweep should always conduct the inspection.
Take the first step to protect your home and family. Call Chimney Saver Solutions to schedule your annual chimney inspection with a Certified CSIA Chimney Sweep®. Our professionals will ensure your chimney is safe for use and will continue to perform for years to come.