Chimney Sweep

Why Inspect Your Chimney?

The NFPA recommends an annual evaluation of all chimneys, fireplaces and vents

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a non-profit organization that produces the publication NFPA 211. This publication sets the standard for chimneys, fireplaces, vents and solid fuel-burning appliances. The findings of NFPA provide the basis for building and fire safety codes across the country. Full Service Chimney bases its chimney inspections on these safety codes and backs its findings with remedies/repairs accepted by the NFPA.

The Purpose of a Chimney Inspection is to:

  • Assure chimney integrity for all fuels: oil, gas, wood or coal.
  • Check for injuries and voids that may allow exhaust into the home. These conditions often can only be discovered by inspection.
  • Catch problems before they cause expensive trouble.
  • Provide peace of mind.
  • Note flammable creosote which builds up on the walls of the chimney with use and recommend appropriate cleaning method.
  • Alert you to evidence of water penetration. Rainwater penetration damage is a major cause of chimney deterioration.

Preventive maintenance is always more cost-effective than making repairs that could have been avoided. Annual inspections are critical for regularly used chimneys. Even if used occasionally, a chimney system should be routinely inspected and cleaned, if necessary. The importance of regular chimney maintenance is emphasized by the NFPA. This nonprofit organization, dedicated solely to fire prevention, states:

Chimneys, fireplaces and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.

How Are Chimneys Inspected?

We primarily uses Chim-Scan video inspection equipment to inspect fireplace flues. A monitor is set up in the living area next to the fireplace and a camera system is sent up the chimney’s flue to check for gaps, cracks, voids or other abnormalities. On the monitor you can see the interior of the chimney flue as the camera goes up the chimney.

Some of the items noted on our written reports, which are substantiated by our Chim-Scan video inspection equipment, include:

  • Nests, limbs and other blockages
  • Debris accumulated on smoke shelf
  • Deterioration of smoke shelf or damper
  • Broken or missing tile liners
  • Loose or missing mortar joints
  • Improper construction
  • Cracks, even hairline cracks, in flue liners
  • Hidden breechings
  • Creosote build-up
  • Blow-outs caused by chimney fires

Additionally, a visual inspection of the firebox and exterior chimney are provided. Both safety and maintenance items are noted on our written report and repair costs are outlined accordingly.

For masonry chimneys, we also look for loose or missing bricks, chipped bricks (spalling), cracks, holes, a leaning chimney or eroded mortar joints. We check the condition of the fireplace for wear and tear or breakage. The damper should open and close easily. The smoke chamber should be free of gaps and debris on the smoke shelf.

Chimney Odor Problems?

  • Water could be getting into your flue.  Wet creosote is much more pungent than dry creosote.  Much like a wet ashtray is much smellier than a dry one.
  • When not in use, make sure damper is shut after ash in fireplace is cold.
  • Get a chimney cap to prevent rainwater and snow from entering the flue as moisture increases odor.
  • Burning poor quality wood can cause odor.
  • A strong odor that is not a smoky odor may be the result of a dead animal in your flue.

What’s Involved in a Complete Home Chimney Sweep Service?

Level I

General scope of service provided:

  • Visually inspect the Basic condition of the chimney and flue with mirrors.
  • Visually inspect for combustible deposits or blockage in flue with mirrors.

Required access:

  • Areas to be checked are the accessible areas of the appliance and connector without removal of unit.
  • Readily accessible areas of the chimney interior and exterior.
  • Accessible portions of the appliance and chimney connector without removal.

The occasion in which this service is required:

  • Annually, during routine chimney sweeping
  • At manufacturer’s recommendation per cord burned.
  • Upon replacement of connected appliance with a similar unit.

Indications

  • When verification of serviceability for use under present conditions is needed.

Level II

 General scope of service provided:

  • Level I inspection and:
  • Inspection of all accessible portions of the chimney structure and all enclosed flues, including size and suitability of flues with Chim-scan.
  • A confirmation of all proper clearances to combustibles in Accessible areas are being met in accordance with NFPA211 guidelines.

Required access:

  • All accessible areas, interior and exterior, including parts of the chimney passing thru crawl spaces and attics
  • Shall include video scan or other means of flue interior visual inspection.

The occasions in which this service is required:

  • When adding / removing an appliance; replacing an appliance with a different type of fuel.
  • After an event likely to cause damage & before relining.
  • Upon real estate sale or transfer.

 Indications:

  • Verification of chimney serviceability for continued service under changing conditions.
  • When a Level I inspection is inadequate.

Level III

 General scope of service provided:

  • A Level II Inspection and:
  • Concealed areas of the chimney structure and enclosed flues. This will usually include demolition of the existing fireplace i.e., sheetrock removal, tile or finish material removal.
  • Clearances from combustibles in unexposed or hidden areas.

Required Access:

  • Designated parts of the chimney structure and the building, including concealed areas.
  • Removal of parts of the chimney or building as needed to gain access to specific concealed areas.

 The occasions in which this service is required:

  • As needed to examine damage to the chimney or building.
  • When a lower level inspection results in a detected or suspected hazard that can’t be checked without access to concealed areas.

 Indications:

  • When knowledge of the condition of the chimney is critical to the renewed or continued use of the chimney.

Required only for areas of concern that can’t be properly evaluated by lower level inspections.