Q: Why do I need to have my chimney “professionally” inspected and swept?

A: When you burn any solid fuel (such as wood), particulates called creosote are created. Creosote will condensate on the walls of the chimney liner, called a flue, and may contribute to the start of a chimney fire, which could spread into the home via a cracked or otherwise defective liner.

By scheduling regular inspections, you’ll help ensure that creosote does not accumulate in your chimney to levels that could lead to a chimney fire.

Q: How often should I have my chimney swept and inspected?

A:  The (NFPA) National Fire Protection Association 211 Standards state that, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Sweeping, maintenance, and repairs shall be performed if necessary.”

The  Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) also recommends regular inspections and sweeping if needed, and states that it’s time to sweep your chimney when creosote buildup has reached ¼” or when glazed creosote is present.

Schedule an annual inspection and you will never have to wonder if it’s time to have your chimney swept!

Q: When I bought my home, the Home Inspector did an inspection of my chimney! Didn’t they?

A: Did they? Truth is, most Home Inspectors are not trained, prepared or equipped to properly look at a chimney system. In fact, a home inspection only requires that certain parts of a fireplace be looked at, not the chimney! 

1) The damper (does it function correctly or not)

2) The firebox (it’s condition) and the hearth extension, if it is readily accessible!  That’s it! They are certainly not going to risk life and limb (or time) by climbing to the top of any chimney structure to check on its condition! 

This next part is actually in every Inspector’s Handbook!

They are not “required” to “inspect the installation OR any modifications that have been made to a fireplace, stove or a chimney.  If they are not required to inspect something, they certainly are not going to do it out of the kindness of their hearts! They are not going to inspect the interior chimney “liner” (called a  flue). You need specialized video “scanning” equipment to do this (and time).

Usually, the “lack” of an inspection for the chimney is reflected in their report (usually it is on page 99 of the 100 pages) and is in the form of a “blanket statement”, normally  worded, “unable to evaluate the fireplace (or stove) system. We recommend that a qualified chimney professional inspect this appliance prior to putting it into operation” (or something to that effect). This type of “blanket statement” not only covers the Home Inspectors hind end, but puts TOTAL  and COMPLETE responsibility for any defects or issues with the system entirely on the future owner. 

They truly drop the ball on not informing the prospective homeowner that the more “professional” inspection should be completed PRIOR to signing on the bottom line! 

Q: What is causing my fireplace to smoke? What can I do about it?

A: If your fireplace is smoking, check for these things:

  1. Creosote buildup, animals and nesting materials, or other flue blockages. The best way to handle these things is to have your chimney professionally swept and inspected.

  2. A closed (or partially closed) damper. Make sure your damper is open all the way! You would be surprised at how many service calls we have been on that the homeowner (or renter) did not know how to operate the damper!

  3. A flue that is too undersized for the appliance (fireplace or stove). This happens way more than you can imagine!

  4. Chimney height. If your chimney is not the tallest thing around, you may need to have your chimney extended or a “draft inducing electric fan” installed.

Q: Why does my fireplace smell so bad? What can I do about it?

A: Most chimney odor issues are a result of creosote mixing with rainwater. 99% of the time the solution is to have your chimney swept. Have your chimney inspected for rainwater leaks and to have a chimney cap professionally installed.

Q: What should I do if I have a chimney fire?

A: If you even suspect that you are having a chimney fire, call the fire department, gather all family members, evacuate your home and prey!

Do not use the appliance (fireplace/stove, etc.) until it has been professionally inspected and cleared for service.

We hope knowing more about these things will give you the confidence you need in using your fireplace or stove. We hope you have a enjoyable and safe burning season! If we can answer any questions that you may have, please do not hesitate to contact us. Remember:

“Your Ash Is Mine!”

Yes, our tagline is hilarious, but we are very serious about what we do!

Seaside Sweep, Inc. is Wilmington’s only CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) Certified Chimney Sweep Company!

Since 1980

Member of the (NCSG) National Chimney Sweep Guild

Call or E-mail Seaside Sweep, Inc. today!  910-805-7481

For all your Fireplace or Chimney related problems