How to Determine if Chimney Work is Necessary
FAIRFIELD, Iowa – As with a vehicle, chimneys require regular maintenance for safety and proper function. Therefore, choosing a skilled and reliable chimney sweep to perform this task is imperative. These professionals can improve the safety of a home as well as inform residents about both minor and urgent repair needs. This expert advice is especially useful considering chimney problems can often pose undetected safety concerns.
"Chimney sweeps are trained experts that perform a valuable service to help protect residents and property," noted Sooty Bob. "Their advice should be taken seriously. But it should also be challenged so that the end result is a positive experience."
Chimney service remains an important consideration for all fireplace owners. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 23,000 residential fires in 2012 were related to solid fuel appliances and equipment, chimneys or chimney connectors. These fires led to 130 deaths and over $184.4 million in property losses.
However, like other home repairs, some chimney services are recommended to improve performance but are not essential for the safety of the home or chimney. In order to feel confident about choosing a reliable sweep as well as moving ahead with any prescribed chimney repairs, Sooty Bob advises residents to:
- Ask for References. Find a chimney sweep through references. Ask friends and neighbors.
- Check Credentials. Verify the credibility of the sweep through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) [www.csia.org] or the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) [www.ncsg.org]. All offer resources on sweeps in areas throughout North America. Check for local business credibility through the local Chamber of Commerce or the Better Business Bureau.
- Verify Recommendations. If a sweep recommends service, ask him for a way to verify that the service is necessary. Many sweeps offer a video scan of a chimney for a nominal charge, which can be money well spent. Or, have them describe the problem with a detailed report.
- Determine Level of Urgency. Ask the sweep to indicate the level of urgency associated with the repair. Look for technical feedback about any safety risks, long-term repercussions or health hazards.
- Be Smart. Investigate possible repairs via the Internet. CSIA and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA} [www.nfpa.org], as well as the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) [www.hpba.org] offer great tips to help educate fireplace owners. The CSIA also offers brochures that explain various chimney services, such as: chimney lining, care and maintenance of a fireplace, carbon monoxide hazards and much more.
- Double Check. Before discounting a diagnosis, consider a second opinion.
"Chimney service should not be looked upon as a trivial," added Sooty Bob. "This is about saving lives and making sure that people enjoy a fire without interruption or catastrophe."
Chimney sweeping is a technical industry. Sweeps can go to school at the CSIA Technology Center in Indianapolis and learn professional inspection techniques according to the standards set by the NFPA. HomeSaver also works to educate chimney sweeps and consumers about safety issues and repairs associated with chimneys.
Additionally, HomeSaver offers an online resource for consumers seeking chimney service professionals. The service provides information on sweeps that sell HomeSaver products, as well as indicates if they are a member of CSIA or NCSG.
For more information about HomeSaver chimney liners, or to locate a chimney sweep, visit www.homesaver.com or call 1-866-HOMESAVER (866-466-3728).