Chimney Maintenance FAQs

How often should I get my chimneys cleaned?

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommend an annual inspection with sweeping and repair if needed.

Can't I clean my chimney myself?

It is possible, and anyone can service a chimney. However, Certified Technicians undergo intensive training outlined by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). They must pass a test given by the CSIA every 3 years in order to maintain their certification. This training and certification assures you that our inspection and sweep service is thorough and professional. CSIA Certified Technicians are able to recognize safety hazards not noticeable to the untrained eye. All of our sweeps are conducted by CSIA Certified Technicians.

Why should I have a certified sweep clean my chimney?

Certified technicians undergo intensive training outlined by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). They must pass a test given by the CSIA every 3 years in order to maintain their certification. This training and certification assures you that our inspection and sweep service is thorough and professional. CSIA Certified Technicians are able to recognize safety hazards not noticeable to the untrained eye. All of our sweeps are conducted by CSIA Certified Technicians.

The Three Levels of Chimney Inspection

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)'s 211 (Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents and Solid Fuel Burning Appliances) is the standard upon which CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps base their services. This standard now classifies chimney and venting system inspections into three levels – Level I, Level II or Level III. Each level of inspection has a specific scope of work and specific criteria.

Click here to learn more about the three levels of chimney inspections.

Don't Forget Your Clothes Dryer Vent

The Chimney Safety Institute of America cautions the public that there's a growing fire and carbon monoxide poisoning danger that could result in unnecessary deaths, injuries or property damage caused by the obstruction or improper venting of clothes dryer exhaust ducts.

To combat dryer fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, the CSIA recommends that homeowners have clothes dryer exhaust ducts professionally inspected annually — and maintained as necessary.

Dryer Locations: CSIA points out that clothes dryers have historically either been located in basements or on the main floor of a house and generally within a short distance from an outside wall. Because of these logistics, the danger of lint plugging the exhaust duct has been minimal.

But in today's complex and technologically sophisticated homes, many clothes dryers could be located in the inner core of the house in bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and even in hall closets. These new locations mean dryers need to be vented longer distances and sometimes even with sharp turns and bends to accommodate the structure of the home. These complicated systems make exhaust ducts harder to reach and also create more places where lint can collect and pile up. Because lint is incredibly flammable it poses a fire risk.

Natural Gas : The availability of natural gas clothes dryers is another reason why dryer exhaust duct maintenance is necessary. If a gas clothes dryer is not properly vented, it can cause carbon monoxide to be forced back into the home and that can be deadly.

Obstructions: In addition to lint obstructions or improper venting, bird's nests or rodents and bug infestations can also plug up a vent causing potential fire hazards and carbon monoxide poisonings. In winter months snowdrifts and ice build-up can be another obstruction that often goes unnoticed. Symptoms of a clogged clothes dryer exhaust duct include incomplete drying of clothes at normal temperatures and very hot dryer temperatures.

Recommendations: Regular inspection of this often overlooked area of the home is important. When we inspect a clothes dryer exhaust duct, we check to make sure there are no obstructions and that the installation is correct. We also verify that the correct type of vent is in use. For example, homes with plastic exhaust ducts can be upgraded to metal exhaust ducts.

For more information, see The Chimney Safety Institute of America.

I have water stains on some of my ceilings. Could that be related to my chimney?

Yes. It could mean a problem with your chimney flashing, pointing, crown, liner, etc. has developed. Call for an inspection to diagnose the problem.

Why do I need a chimney cap?

A chimney cap is a preventative maintenance measure to protect against water entry, backdrafts, and pest entry into the chimney. An uncapped chimney:

Says "come on in, make yourself at home!" to nesting birds and animals. Pests can, not only cause physical harm to humans (especially when surprised by you!), but they can also cause significant damage to your home. Their nests can block the flue, which can contribute to dangerous back-puffing, carbon monoxide poisoning, and chimney fires. No one wants their family exposed to that. Along with these dangers, animals nested in chimneys are noisy and can carry diseases so be sure to keep animals and birds outside where they belong!

Allows rain and snow to enter your chimney, which leads to moisture damage and expensive repairs.

Of any of the elements, water causes the greatest damage to your chimney. It soaks into porous bricks, eats away at the mortar, accelerates the deterioration of your chimney liner, and damages the mortar crown on the top of your chimney. A chimney cap does a great job of protecting your chimney from water damage. For maximum chimney protection we recommend a multi-flue cap. That's because a multi-flue cap covers the entire chimney, not just one flue.

Creates a fire hazard as burning embers and sparks escape through the open chimney and land on your roof or in your yard.

The outside of my chimney looks fine, so everything is OK, right?

You can tell a lot about a book by its cover. However, until you actually look inside you will not know everything about the story contained on the pages inside. In much the same way, the outside of a chimney can tell you a lot about the status of your flues, but it may not tell you the whole story. A trained look within can reveal things that can often go unnoticed by homeowners and untrained technicians. Have you had your chimney inspected by a CSIA Certified Technician lately?

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