Whether you burn wood fuel or gas, correctly maintaining your chimney and fireplace or heating stove is the key to reducing the risk of fire and exposure to harmful contaminants, including carbon monoxide exhaust. So, what does a chimney sweep do? While cleaning the chimney is an essential job of a chimney sweep, they also perform other critical tasks, including chimney inspections, chimney repairs, and providing fire prevention tips.
One of the essential services that a chimney sweep provides is a chimney inspection. Many homeowners are familiar with a level 1 inspection, a comprehensive visual examination of the chimney structure, internal components, and accessible areas of the heating appliance. The review will reveal the condition of the chimney, the existence of any flue obstructions, and if chimney cleaning or repairs are necessary for the safe operation of attached heating appliances.
There are also two additional levels of inspection. A level 2 inspection is indicated when there has been a modification to the heating appliance since the previous inspection, like switching from wood-burning to gas fuel or a chimney fire, for example. A level 2 inspection is also required when installing or removing an appliance or when selling or transferring the property. It includes everything in a level 1 inspection, plus a video scan of the flue liner.
When an inspection reveals a potential issue in an inaccessible area of the chimney or heating appliance, a level 3 inspection is required. During a level 3 inspection, the CSIA-Certified technician removes specific components to enter any inaccessible areas to locate the source of a potential problem, such as a water leak, fire damage, or other issues. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), along with fire safety experts, strongly advise homeowners with liquid or fossil fuel heating appliances to have an annual chimney inspection.
Chimney cleaning is the signature service that most often comes to mind when homeowners think about a chimney sweep. Many chimney sweeps are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) or work under a CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep®. The chimney sweep will bring the necessary professional tools, supplies, and equipment to clean the chimney thoroughly, so it does not become a fire hazard. One of the most critical tasks is creosote removal. The longer that creosote remains in the chimney, the more flammable and difficult it is to remove. The chimney sweep will also remove any soot, ashes, and corrosive residue from the combustion gases to prevent damage to the flue liner and interior components and masonry. The chimney sweep maintains a safe work area and will clean the work area upon completion.
Typically, a chimney sweep will notice a defect that needs attention during a chimney inspection or cleaning. In other cases, the homeowner report may report something unusual like a water leak. The chimney sweep recommends repairs when necessary, performs the repair, and installs new components. Replacing a warped damper, flashing repair, flue liner tile repairs, repairing cracks in the chimney crown, and installing a new chimney cap, are some of the common repairs that a chimney sweep performs.
A chimney sweep is a fire prevention professional. That’s why annual inspections, cleanings, and making timely repairs are so essential to maintaining a safe fireplace or heating stove. They will also provide guidance on safely starting a fire, types of wood to burn, improving heating efficiency, safely extinguishing a fire in the fireplace, and other fire safety tips.