FAQs Frequently Asked Questions

Chimney Related Questions

How often should my chimney be inspected and cleaned?

Your chimney should be cleaned and inspected at least once a year. If you make use of the fireplace frequently during the winter months, chimneys require thorough inspection and cleaning. This ensures safety and protects the health of the occupiers by removing toxic odors from the house. If not done, dirty chimneys are known to cause house fires. The complete cleaning process takes approximately thirty minutes.

What is Creosote? How is it Hazardous?

Creosote is the residue left behind in your chimney after burning the fire logs. After frequent use, creosote can form a thick coating inside the chimney firebrick. If left unattended, this accumulated coating is extremely flammable and potentially dangerous, making regular cleaning an important task. Being an indoor air pollutant, many are sensitive to creosote.

It is important to burn only clean and well seasoned wood instead of green wood to prevent accumulation of creosote. Avoid burning cardboard or wrapping paper in the fireplace as the sparks may ignite the creosote lining. At all costs, avoid burning treated or painted wood, plywood, particleboard and plastic as highly toxic chemical fumes are released into the air, endangering the health of your family.

Why Clean and Inspect Chimney Systems?

Preventative maintenance is always more cost effective than repairs that could have been avoided.  Annual inspections are critical for chimneys used regularly, but even if used occasionally, a chimney system (the appliance, any necessary connecting pipe and the chimney itself) should be routinely inspected and cleaned if necessary.

 
Inspections & Cleanings:

  • Determine chimney integrity for all types of fuel
  • Catch problems early - before they cause expensive trouble
  • Show changes over time - like seeing a dentist regularly
  • Reassure peace of mind
  • Save money, hassles, and potential lawsuits if the property is for sale or rent
  • Are very neat - we guarantee no mess
  • Are affordable - a 21-Point Safety Inspection runs only $49.95 and the technician will perform a cleaning only if it is determined during inspection that your chimney needs one.  The Safety Inspection covers everything from the bottom of the fireplace to the very top of the chimney.
Help! An animal is in the chimney. What should I do?

It is important to check for any animals like owls, pigeons, raccoon and woodpeckers that may have occupied your chimney. The best time to check for them is at the beginning of the winter before you light the first fire. Creosote accumulation near animal nests can cause even greater danger with increased chances of house fires and damage. It is a good idea to install rain caps to keep animals from making a home in your chimney.

When Should a Chimney Liner be Installed?

Chimney liners made from stainless steel are installed in masonry chimneys as they correct any damage caused by the chimney fire and subsequent deterioration. At A&T Chimney Sweeps, we offer chimney inspection services and install proper lining before the wood-burning appliance is put into place.

Masonry chimneys should have an inner lining of clay tiles, stainless steel or firebrick. We also advice that old and unlined chimneys should be upgraded with UL listed liners made of stainless steel.

How Do I Choose a Good Chimney Cleaning Company?

The short answer is...no. The level of experience, integrity and professionalism can vary from Chimney Cleaning company to Chimney Cleaning company just like in any other industry. The key to knowing that you are selecting a reputable chimney sweep is to do a little bit of homework.

Read Customer Reviews - Your peers will often give you a lot of insight into what to expect from a chimney cleaning or chimney repair company. You can read some the reviews our client have left here -> Chimney Sweep Reviews. You can see more reviews on Angie's List or Google+.

Ask if they are trained on the National Fire Prevention Association's Inspection Standard (NFPA 211, 2010) - Good chimney cleaning and chimney repair companies will follow this national standard, and be willing to offer you a certified inspection.

Go With Your Gut - If the customer service is less that what you expect, or something just doesn't feel right when the chimney cleaning technician arrives at your house - play it safe and call someone else.

Safety and Health Related Questions

What is Creosote? How is it Hazardous?

Creosote is the residue left behind in your chimney after burning the fire logs. After frequent use, creosote can form a thick coating inside the chimney firebrick. If left unattended, this accumulated coating is extremely flammable and potentially dangerous, making regular cleaning an important task. Being an indoor air pollutant, many are sensitive to creosote.

It is important to burn only clean and well seasoned wood instead of green wood to prevent accumulation of creosote. Avoid burning cardboard or wrapping paper in the fireplace as the sparks may ignite the creosote lining. At all costs, avoid burning treated or painted wood, plywood, particleboard and plastic as highly toxic chemical fumes are released into the air, endangering the health of your family.

Help! An animal is in the chimney. What should I do?

It is important to check for any animals like owls, pigeons, raccoon and woodpeckers that may have occupied your chimney. The best time to check for them is at the beginning of the winter before you light the first fire. Creosote accumulation near animal nests can cause even greater danger with increased chances of house fires and damage. It is a good idea to install rain caps to keep animals from making a home in your chimney.

How Do I Choose a Good Chimney Cleaning Company?

The short answer is...no. The level of experience, integrity and professionalism can vary from Chimney Cleaning company to Chimney Cleaning company just like in any other industry. The key to knowing that you are selecting a reputable chimney sweep is to do a little bit of homework.

Read Customer Reviews - Your peers will often give you a lot of insight into what to expect from a chimney cleaning or chimney repair company. You can read some the reviews our client have left here -> Chimney Sweep Reviews. You can see more reviews on Angie's List or Google+.

Ask if they are trained on the National Fire Prevention Association's Inspection Standard (NFPA 211, 2010) - Good chimney cleaning and chimney repair companies will follow this national standard, and be willing to offer you a certified inspection.

Go With Your Gut - If the customer service is less that what you expect, or something just doesn't feel right when the chimney cleaning technician arrives at your house - play it safe and call someone else.

Inspection Code Questions

What is NFPA 211?

NFPA 211 is the abbreviation for the National Fire Prevention Association's Standard for chimney and fireplace systems.

The scope of work performed in the inspection or evaluation of a fireplace, stove or other venting system had previously been left to the discretion of the chimney service technician. On January 13, 2010, the National Fire Protection Association adopted these levels of inspection into code NFPA 211 (Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents and Solid Fuel Burning Appliances) that remove much of that "discretion". Inspections are now clearly defined as Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3.

NFPA 211 is the standard upon which certified chimney sweeps base their services and CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps are tested to these three levels of inspection. Always ask for the level of inspection that you believe will be most appropriate for your chimney and venting system. Each level of inspection covers specific items depending on the individual appliance and venting system.

What is a Level 2 Chimney Inspection?

According to the national Fire Protection Association, a Level 2 Chimney Inspection is:

Level 2 inspection is required when any changes are made to the system. Changes can include a change in the fuel type, changes to the shape of, or material in, the flue (i.e. relining), or the replacement or addition of an appliance of a dissimilar type, input rating or efficiency. Additionally, a Level 2 inspection is required upon the sale or transfer of a property or after an operation malfunction or external event that is likely to have caused damage to the chimney. Building fires, chimney fires, seismic events as well as weather events are all indicators that this level of inspection is warranted. A Level 2 inspection is a more in-depth inspection than a Level 1 inspection.– When a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection suggests a hidden hazard and the evaluation cannot be performed without special tools to access concealed areas of the chimney or flue, a Level 3 inspection is recommended. A Level 3 inspection addresses the proper construction and the condition of concealed portions of the chimney structure and the flue. Removal or destruction, as necessary, of permanently attached portions of the chimney or building structure will be required for the completion of a Level 3 inspection. A Level 2 inspection includes everything in a Level 1 inspection, plus the accessible portions of the chimney exterior and interior including attics, crawl spaces and basements. It will address proper clearances from combustibles in accessible locations.

There are no specialty tools (i.e. demolition equipment) required to open doors, panels or coverings in performing a Level 2 inspection. A Level 2 inspection shall also include a visual inspection by video scanning or other means in order to examine the internal surfaces and joints of all flue liners incorporated within the chimney. No removal or destruction of permanently attached portions of the chimney or building structure or finish shall be required by a Level 2 inspection. (NFPA 211,  2010)

What is a Level 1 Chimney Inspection?

According to the national Fire Protection Association, a Level 1 Chimney Inspection is:

If your appliance or your venting system has not changed and you plan to use your system as you have in the past, then a Level 1 inspection is a minimum requirement. A Level 1 inspection is recommended for a chimney under continued service, under the same conditions, and with the continued use of the same appliance. In a Level 1 inspection, your chimney service technician should examine the readily accessible** portions of the chimney exterior, interior and accessible* portions of the appliance and the chimney connection. Your technician will be looking for the basic soundness of the chimney structure and flue as well as the basic appliance installation and connections. The technician will also verify the chimney is free of obstruction and combustible deposits.  (NFPA 211, 2010)

What is a Level 3 Chimney Inspection?

According to the national Fire Protection Association, a Level 3 Chimney Inspection is:

A Level 3 inspection includes all the areas and items checked in a Level 1 and a Level 2 inspection, as well as the removal of certain components of the building or chimney where necessary. Removal of components (i.e., chimney crown, interior chimney wall) shall be required only when necessary to gain access to areas that are the subject of the inspection. When serious hazards are suspected, a Level 3 inspection may well be required to determine the condition of the chimney system. (NFPA 211, 2010)

 
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