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Maintenance Services Provided By Olde English Chimney Sweeps, Inc.

Chimney Cleaning

The primary job of a chimney service professional is to aid in the prevention of fires related to fireplaces, wood stoves, gas, oil and coal heating systems and the chimneys that serve them. Chimney sweeps install, clean and maintain these systems, evaluate their performance, prescribe changes to improve their performance, and educate the consumer about their safe and efficient operation.

In doing their primary job of inspecting and sweeping chimneys, chimney professionals also function as on-the-job fire prevention specialists. They are constantly on the lookout for unsafe conditions that can cause home fires or threaten residents with dangerous or unhealthy indoor air quality.


How often should I have my chimney cleaned?
This a tougher question than it sounds. The quick simple answer is: The National Fire Protection Association standard 211 says, "Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary." This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem. It takes into account the fact that even if you don't use your chimney much, animals may build nests in the flue or there may be other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that open masonry fireplaces should be cleaned at 1/4" of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system. Factory-built fireplaces should be cleaned when any appreciable buildup occurs. This is considered to be enough fuel buildup to cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading to the home.

How to Choose a Chimney Sweep
The chimney service trade is not regulated, nor are chimney sweeps licensed in most states. Further, opening a chimney service business requires a relatively small capital investment. Thus, virtually anyone - without education, training , experience or even a working knowledge of proper tools or equipment can become a chimney sweep. As a result, many ill-equipped, ill-prepared individuals are free to offer their "services" to homeowners.

More frequently, these individuals will take advantage of learning opportunities and become competent, qualified chimney sweeps. In other cases, they will continue along the same path they started on, offering incompetent service and, in some cases providing trusting homeowners with a false sense of well-being. For this very reason, a number of states are currently considering license requirements for chimney sweeps. As precursors to state licensing, some municipalities currently license chimney sweeps and in most of those, the criteria for licensing is the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep credential.

The CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep credential is the hallmark of excellence among chimney service professionals and among homeowners and related industry professionals who understand the quality and value it represents. Homeowners should be aware that there is only one legitimate national certification program for the chimney service industry and that is the CSIA program. Those who have earned the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep credential have demonstrated their commitment to their industry, to fire prevention, and to the clientele they serve. CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps pass an extensive examination on national codes and standards and agree to the CSIA Code of Ethics.

Video Scanning
A video scan is where we use a camera system which is lowered into the chimney (or pushed up from the bottom). The camera allows us to inspect the chimney from a range of just a few inches instead of just looking from the top or bottom. The camera image is viewed on a TV monitor by the inspector.  Video inspections may be recommended if the customer or sweep suspect certain problems. Video inspections are often recommended after a chimney fire or some other form of damage to a chimney, and are a routine part of a Level II or Level III inspection.

 You should be aware that even the most thorough inspection will not reveal all problems. Some areas of a chimney simply are not assessable due to construction of the house. Be sure to discuss any specific concerns with your sweep. The recommended inspection technique will often be based on your comments and concerns. This works similar to a visit to your doctor. Your doctor probably doesn't do an EKG and take a full set of X-rays during every visit. However, if you tell the doctor you have chest pains he will perform the tests related to that problem.
Explanation of Inspections

The inspections of chimneys is an important service offered by Olde English Chimney Sweeps, Inc. Chimney inspections come in many forms and you should be aware that not all inspections are alike. At Olde English Chimney Sweeps, Inc., we follow the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommended inspection procedures.

NFPA divides the inspection procedure into three categories, or levels.  The circumstances which give rise to the inspection determine what level of inspection is to be conducted.  A Level I inspection is the most basic level of inspection while Level II and Level III inspections are progressively more detailed and comprehensive.  A Level I inspection is completed during each chimney cleaning, or sweeping.

Level I Inspection
A Level I inspection is the recommended level when an evaluation of the chimney system for continued service is needed and the conditions of use are not changing.  This could include:


Routine or annual evaluations of the venting system


An appliance connected to the system is being replaced with a similar appliance


During chimney cleaning or sweeping

A Level I inspection is limited to readily accessible portions of the venting system, and accessible portions of the connected appliance(s) and the chimney connection.  The inspector will check the readily accessible portions of the chimney, its enclosing structure, and the flue. A Level I inspection includes verification that the flue is not blocked or significantly restricted.

Level II Inspection
A Level II inspection is more detailed and thorough than a Level I inspection and is the recommended inspection when conditions of use for the appliance or venting system are changing, or when a Level I inspection reveals the need for a more detailed inspection. Several instances where a Level II inspection is specifically recommended include:


Replacement of an appliance with one of dissimilar type, input rating or efficiency


Prior to a flue relining


Upon sale or transfer of the property


After an event likely to have caused damage to the chimney, such as a chimney fire or other sudden occurrence event

A Level II inspection includes all of the requirements of a Level I inspection as well as the following:


Inspection of accessible areas of attics, basements, and crawlspaces


Accessible areas of the chimney exterior and interior


Accessible portions of the appliance and chimney connection


Video scanning, or other thorough inspection, of the flue interior


Evaluation of the flue lining to determine that its material and sizing is appropriate for the appliances being served


Proper clearance to combustibles in the accessible areas listed above


Proper construction and condition of the chimney system in the accessible areas listed above

While the Level II inspection is a rather thorough inspection and requires access to many areas of the building, it does not require removal of permanent parts of the building, such as siding, chase covers or wall coverings.

Level III Inspection
A Level III inspection is the most detailed of all of the inspection types and includes inspection of concealed areas of the building.  However, examination of concealed areas will be limited to areas reasonably suspected of containing hazards that cannot be evaluated otherwise.  

A Level III inspection includes all areas covered in a Level I and Level II inspection, and inspection of concealed areas to investigate known or suspected problems.  In as much as certain portions of a Level III inspection require destructive action to the building, the inspector will discuss these areas with the building owner prior to the inspection.

Frequency of Inspection
NFPA recommends that all chimneys, fireplaces and vents be inspected annually.  In addition to this requirement, there are other times when chimney and venting systems should be inspected, such as:

  1. After any unusual, or sudden occurrence event, such as a chimney fire, lightning strike, or earthquake

  2. Prior to purchasing a home with an existing chimney

  3. Whenever changes are made to a chimney or vent system, including replacement of connected appliances

  4. Prior to major system repairs

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