Hiring a Chimney Sweep – What to Expect
The best and safest chimneys, fireplaces and stoves are ones that receive regular maintenance and upkeep. This means annual cleaning services, timely inspections and repair work as it becomes necessary. It’s your job to schedule these tasks, and it’s your chimney services professional’s job to see that they’re done correctly.
Hiring a chimney sweep
Fireplaces, stoves and chimneys are fairly simple to operate, but working on them is not a job for an amateur – or even a motivated novice. Only a credentialed professional should ever be allowed to clean or repair these appliances, and only a technician with verifiable training and experience should be hired to perform inspections.
When considering hiring a chimney sweep, there are three primary questions you want to ask.
- Will you provide references? A reputable chimney technician (or his or her company) will be happy to put you in touch with others who they’ve worked for.
- Do you have business liability insurance? This is a must, because it’s the only way to ensure that you’re protected in the event of an accident during a service call.
- Do you carry industry certifications? There are several certifications that workers in the fireplace/chimney industry can hold. Among the most common and most important is that of CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep, given by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. This designation can only be received after a very high level of training and hands-on skill is demonstrated.
What happens during a chimney inspection?
Chimney inspections are classified by three categories.
Level 1 chimney inspection
These inspections are commonly performed when just a basic assessment is required, i.e., no event has happened to cause known damage, you’re not connecting a new fireplace to the chimney and you’ve been living in your home (as opposed to moving into a new home) and using your chimney regularly.
A level 1 inspection covers accessible portions of the interior and exterior of your chimney and checks for basic soundness of the chimney structure, the connected appliance and all components.
Level 2 chimney inspection
Level 2 inspections are performed when you make changes to your system such as installing a new model of heating appliance or converting to a different fuel type. In this case, your inspector wants to make sure that your new unit is properly installed and that the size of your existing flue is appropriate for the unit. Level 2 inspections also are required when a home is sold as well as when the system is believed to be in some way damaged.
During a level 2 inspection, your tech will do a visual inspection and also use video technology to examine inaccessible areas of the flue, looking for damage to internal surfaces, mortar joints and the flue liner.
Level 3 chimney inspection
If a lower-level inspection indicates a dangerous operating condition, a level 3 inspection with specialized tools and equipment is scheduled. Level 3 inspections often involve the removal or destruction of permanent parts of the chimney in order to repair, replace or rebuild areas that are unsafe. Think of it as performing surgery on your chimney.
Your inspector will go over the entire system including an adjacent attic, crawl space or basement, looking for signs of structural unsoundness. As noted, level 3 inspections are performed only when significant damage is known or strongly suspected.
If it’s time to have your chimney, fireplace or stove professionally cleaned, repaired or inspected, Chimney Solutions of Alpharetta, GA, is standing by. Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps and inspectors are here to keep your home-heating appliance system safe and operating at peak performance. Call (770) 771-5501 today.