Why Do I Need My Chimney Inspected?

When you burn wood, regardless of how seasoned, or how hard or soft it is, does not get hot enough to fully burn all the chemicals inside.  This means that there are remnants left behind.  These remnants are known as creosote or soot.  Not only are they lining the flue, creating restrictions in the passageway effecting draft and performance but they are also highly flammable and a future fire can lead to disastrous consequences.

A chimney inspection is just like going to the doctor for a checkup.  We ask how it's been performing, what you've been feeding it, how often you use it and for how long.  We confirm you are happy with your system and that if any thing needs to be addressed we'll do so.  Once we have our preliminary questions we begin the inspection.  Because your chimney, whether it be masonry or factory built, is concealed, we need specialized equipment to inspect and diagnose.  We need proper training to be able to determine what it is we are looking at and how to remedy any issues that we find.  Lastly we need the know how to actually bring those repairs to fruition and leave you with a safe and fully functioning system.

How Often Should My System Be Swept/Inspected?

According to the NFPA 211 (which serves as the code book for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances) all systems shall be inspected annually.  Based on the results of the inspection, the cleaning of the system is dependent on the findings.  For wood burning appliances, and with proper burn habits a cleaning may not be needed every season but best practice is to at least have it inspected by a professional.

What Are Proper Burning Techniques?

Ever hear the saying "There is more than one way to skin a cat?" The same can be said for this too but the basics remain the same.  It all starts with wood.  Wood, wood, WOOD.  Wood should be split and stacked 6-12 months prior to being burned and stored off the ground with a minimum covering on three sides as to allow it to dry and be protected from the elements.  It is recommended to get a moisture meter and have a reading of 15%-20% prior to burning.  This will ensure the wood gives off the least amount of creosote and other byproducts while maximizing its heat output.  

Wood types are important too.  Harder woods may need more time to season but will produce a much higher BTU output than softer woods.  It's always a good idea to mix types of wood as it will keep the fire burning at a more consistent temperature.  Burning too much soft woods will result in more frequent reloading and burning too much hard woods can result in over-firing or damaging the fireplace, stove and/or components.

When it comes to building your fire, here is where the debates begin.  Some like a teepee style like a campfire and some like a log cabin.  Some use a top down burn method where others "stick with what they know". 

Can You Just Sweep My Chimney?

Short answer, no.  We would be doing you a disservice to just run a brush, give you a wave and say "see you next year."  That is not the direction the industry is going and any reputable chimney company in the area will tell you the same.  For all the DIYers out there, you can get chimney kits at any hardware store and do it yourself but you also assume all the liability if anything bad were to occur.

Does My Gas System Need To Be Swept/Serviced Too?

Absolutely! Gas systems have a lot going on inside and need to be kept up with to ensure they too are burning efficiently and safely.  Depending on if the gas system is a direct vent, vent free or set of gas logs determines the type of service but again, you have a fire in your living room and we all want to keep it there.  The scary buzzword for gas systems is carbon monoxide.  A key part of the inspection is to make sure the system is burning cleanly and exhausting all the carbon monoxide as intended.