Homeowners with fireplace systems enjoy the warmth and ambiance that their heating appliances are able to provide, but often overlook necessary annual maintenance. Some homeowners assume that all chimney sweep companies are equally qualified to perform chimney and fireplace cleaning or repairs. Even worse, others believe that the duties of a chimney sweep are so simple that they can easily be done themselves without hiring a professional.
While looking for the least expensive company or attempting a DIY project are great ways to save money, cutting corners on fireplace maintenance is not where it should be done. Rather, homeowners should trust their chimneys and fireplace systems to certified professionals who have spent years learning about and implementing the latest safety and professional standards in the industry.
Benefits of a certified chimney sweep
Chimney sweeps certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America, or CSIA, have had to undergo dozens of hours of rigorous training and testing in order to earn this coveted certification. With fewer than 1,400 CSIA certified chimney sweeps in the country, those holding this title are among the most talented, professional, and knowledgeable in the industry.
By hiring a CSIA certified chimney sweep, you are ensuring that the technician working on your chimney is up to date on the latest safety standards and practices. In addition, certified sweeps have a broad knowledge base of the construction and dynamics of different chimneys and fireplaces and are well-informed on local building codes, clearances, and standards. They are also able to complete the proper installation and maintenance for various heating appliances and are current with the latest EPA requirements for fireplaces and stoves.
Choosing the right company
If you live in an area where there are multiple chimney sweep companies, choosing who to trust your fireplace to can be a difficult process. Luckily, the CSIA has provided a list of questions homeowners can use when interviewing potential chimney sweeps or companies.
- How long has your company been in business?
- Does your company have current references?
- Do you have unresolved complaints filed with a consumer protection agency or Better Business Bureau?
- Does the company or sweep carry business insurance to protect against accidents?
- Can you ensure that a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep will work on my home?
Reputable companies with certified chimney sweeps, like New Buck Chimney Services will be able to easily answer any questions you may have regarding the care and upkeep of your fireplace and chimney system.
What a certified chimney sweep does
For most homeowners who regularly use and maintain their fireplaces, a Level I cleaning and inspection is all that is needed each year. “A chimney inspection is like an annual dental check-up,” says Ashley Eldridge, Director of Education for the CSIA. “It’s preventative maintenance that helps minimize potential hazards.”
During a Level I inspection, your certified chimney sweep will evaluate the accessible interior and exterior portions of the chimney and fireplace for signs of damage. They will also check to make sure there is no debris in the chimney structure or flue, as well as inspect the basic installation and connections. Finally, a certified sweep will remove any creosote buildup or deposits within the fireplace or chimney.