Do I Need to Have My Chimney Serviced?
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in one year, 5,500 fires were attributed to chimneys. As a result of these fires, at least 130 people died, 230 people were injured and total property loss was set at more than $184.4 million. In the same time frame, there were a minimum of 119 deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning and at least 4,700 reported injuries, though most estimates are much higher.
The root cause of most of these losses is that most U.S. homeowners are unaware that chimneys are an integral part of a home-heating system, and require regular evaluation and maintenance. The fact that faults, damage, and problems are rarely visible to the casual observer complicates the situation. The threat of chimney fires or CO² poisoning can be greatly reduced, or eliminated, by regular inspection and maintenance.
What Causes Creosote or "Soot"?
Creosote or "soot" is caused by simply burning materials, such as wood, in your fireplace. There is no way to prevent buildup of creosote. Creosote is unburned fuel that gathers in the form of black powder, flakes, or baked-on glaze, depending on the degree of buildup.
This is the main cause of chimney fires. When there is excess buildup of creosote in the chimney and temperatures rise, the soot is ignited and an actual fire is started inside your chimney, showering your roof with sparks. Read what other damages may occur when creosote is not removed on a timely basis.
What Is Involved In Chimney Cleaning?
When Ledegar chimney sweep professionals arrive at your home, protection and safety measures are put in place inside and outside of your home. We will start by tarping off the area around your fireplace or wood stove with canvas drop cloths before bringing in a high power HEPA vacuum to eliminate the hazardous dust. Outside of your home, we will set up a fall safety system on the roof so that we may safely complete the job. All of our men are OSHA certified, and we carry a 5 million dollar liability policy to eliminate any risk on the home owners part.
We then do a primary inspection of the fireplace. We sweep the flue and inspect it for any damage to the flue sections, connectors, or cap. After we complete the flue inspection, we move to the interior of the home to clean the chimneys throat, smoke shelve, damper assembly, catalytic converter (if applicable) and firebox. After cleaning all components of the interior of the fireplace we will inspect if for any damage to ensure your safety.
Besides cleaning and inspecting the fireplace we also troubleshoot fireplaces for draft issues, cold starting issues, smoke backup issues, etc. We will make sure that the clearances on the fireplace and chimney are safe, complete a draft calculation to ensure that the fireplace has the correct flue and cap, and complete a thorough examination of the footing, hearth thickness, throat clearance, and flue length. We will notify you if there are any issues and give you a thorough report on our findings if there are major issues and options for repairing the issues if found.
How do I Prepare for Chimney Cleaning?
Have about 8 feet of the area in front of your chimney cleared.
Make sure your pets are secured in a safe place; the technician will have to go in and out of your house. Make sure to clear the area at the base of the chimney where the chamber is located so our technicians have access to clean it.
For more answers to your questions, visit Chimney Safety Institute of America's website.