The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is volunteered by the board of directors who run a non-profit organization to deliver training, education, and certification of a chimney and industry-linked professionals. In addition, they also spread awareness regarding the dangers of chimney fires and solutions to maintain chimney and venting systems.
Certain questions crop up in our minds when it comes to a chimney sweep. Here, we have laid answers to some random and common questions that can help you better understand the solutions associated with a chimney sweep.
Q. At what intervals are chimney sweeps required?
As per the National Fire Protection Association Standard 211, all fireplaces, chimneys, and vents are required to be inspected at least once a year and require cleaning with proper maintenance and repair as needed. Even when the chimney is not used much, it leaves room for animals and birds to build nests in the vent that may, in turn, become a reason for fire break out. In factories, the deposits are much more acidic and it shortens the life of the fireplace, hence they need frequent cleaning of deposits and factory byproducts.
Q. Why does fireplace stink during summers?
The major reason for a stinking fireplace during summer is because of the deposit of creosote (a natural byproduct of woodburning), that smells worse due to high humidity and when the air conditioner is switched on. In these cases, additional care is required along with a good sweeping.
Using commercial chimney deodorants and kitty litter set or baking soda in the fireplace is necessary. A relevant cause for bad odor is the air pressure being drawing down the chimney. As prevention, a top-mounted damper or tight-sealing works like magic.
Q. Does a gas burnt chimney require inspection?
There is absolutely no room for a second thought when it comes to cleaning and inspection of a gas-operated chimney, even though gas is clean-burning fuel. The furnaces may get blocked by debris or birds’ nest and may not vent out expected flues. Thus, it is advised to get the areas of gas and carbon monoxide checked often.
Q. What is meant by level 3 creosote?
If the chimney sweeping is not done at regular intervals, the kind of creosote that deposits inside the chimney is referred to as a “level 3 creosote”, which is much thicker than the usual deposit of creosote. The smoke chamber may also become stepped instead of being smooth, increasing the danger of fire spread-out.
In this kind of situation, acid cleaning or chemical treatment is applied to clear the chimney and reduce the creosote. For chemical treatment, an industry-grade chemical is used in the form of a powder and applied by the chimney sweeps that will help change the glaze of the deposited creosote to a removable form, which is done by a professional with the help of a brush. Acid treatments are comparatively hard to apply and have to be worked upon a few days post-application. Both the treatments are the great ways to deal with gummy creosote with the help of slight heat, just as much as we would find in a small fireplace. However, crusty or fractured creosote can be removed through rotary cleaning.
Q. Can a chimney liner be seen from the bottom of a fireplace with a flashlight? How to understand whether the services paid for were worthwhile?
Direct observation of a flue is not possible as flues are offsets up to 30 degrees. To get a clear view and analyze the condition of the flue, a video scan is mandatory. The main fact does not lie with the height of the chimney flue but the difference between observation through a video inspection and a visual inspection.
If the chimney sweep is done by inspecting the flash, mortar and all the other functions of the chimney, and then cleaned from the top of the roof, consider it to be done perfectly. On the other side, if the professional has swiped the chimney from the bottom, only by brushing away the bricks of the fireplace, it’s an incomplete service. A complete chimney sweeping would include both the chimney flue and the smoke chamber. The correct way of providing the service is to first provide an inspection and then a complete sweeping procedure.
It is recommended to appoint a qualified chimney professional to do the chimney sweep to keep the health of the chimney in a good state. Both CSIA and the National Fire Protection Association suggest annual inspections of chimneys and fireplaces and CSIA recommends cleaning chimneys using a mechanical brush in combination with a thorough examination of the system along with a video scanned inspection.