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CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR
BACKDRAFTING HEATING EQUIPMENT
CARBON MONOXIDE - CO
CHIMNEY COMPONENT DEFINITIONS
CHIMNEY FIRE ACTION / PREVENTION
COMBUSTION GASES & PARTICLE HAZARDS
COMBUSTION PRODUCTS & IAQ
FLAME COLOR, BLUE vs YELLOW COMBUSTION
HEATING SYSTEM INSPECTION
HOME HEATING SAFETY
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
SAFETY RECALLS CHIMNEYS VENTS HEATERS
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING EXTERIORS
WOOD, COAL STOVES & FIREPLACES
WOOD STOVE SAFETY
This article describes the basic requirement for periodic inspection and professional cleaning of chimneys. We answer: How often should you clean the chimney? and Who should you use to clean or repair a chimney to be sure that the result is a safe, properly working flue and vent system? We include referral links to professional chimney sweep and chimney sweep certification organizations.
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These articles on chimneys and chimney safety provide detailed suggestions describing how to perform a thorough visual inspection of chimneys for safety and other defects. Chimney inspection methods and chimney repair methods are also discussed. Also see Chimney Cleaning Fraud Warning
Cleaning wood-burning appliance chimneys by arbitrary rule of thumb such as "once every 50 fires in the fireplace" is better than never cleaning your chimney, but in fact what actually determines the need for cleaning is how clean or dirty the chimney flue is.
Our photo shows a Duluth MN team of chimney sweeps preparing to inspect a chimney interior using a camera and lighting.
Cleaning chimneys based on actual usage: If your building includes a wood burning fireplace or woodstove, especially if you burn a lot of fires, but in particular, if you are burning fires using green wood, or slow cool fires, or worst, slow cool small fires with green wood, you can clog up the chimney with creosote which, later when it catches on fire, can burn the whole house down.
Even a chimney that has not been used for a wood burning appliance can become blocked by rodents or insects such as our hornets nest shown at above left.
And a chimney inspection may reveal that the flue has been damaged not by creosote blockage but by spalling and water (above right).
Oil & Gas fired heating appliance chimneys also need to be inspected and cleaned.
Part of normal oil fired appliance heating service includes disassembly and cleaning of the flue vent connector. Ask your heating service tech to check the chimney itself and order a cleaning if needed.
Gas fired heating appliance chimneys should be inspected regularly: a blocked gas fired appliance chimney creates a serious risk of improper gas appliance operation which in turn is likely to produce dangerous, potentially fatal carbon monoxide.
Once you've done this thorough job, future cleanings can be scheduled based on how many fires you've had, more often if your 're burning green wood, and before use at all if you see clogging in the chimney or thick creosote therein on your own inspection.
Also don't forget to inspect the flue before lighting the first fire of the season- since an animal or insects could have obstructed the flue over the summer. If you have a properly screened cap on your chimney top you'll keep out the animals but not the insects.
Be sure that Your Chimney Company is Qualified
Watch out: At UNLINED FLUE INSPECTIONS we describe a scary story that happened when we identified an unsafe chimney and advised our client to have a chimney expert inspect and repair the condition. She called a chimney company listed in her local telephone book. But the "expert" was so poorly informed about chimney safety that his "repairs" came close to killing the occupants of the house.
Watch out: also for a common chimney repair fraud that takes your money but does nothing to make your chimney safe. See CHIMNEY REPAIR FRAUD WARNING for details.
Be sure that your chimney expert really is one. And if you are in the slightest doubt, in addition to contacting the associations listed below, you should ask your local fire inspector or building inspector for help.
Where to locate a certified chimney installation, repair, or cleaning professional:
What's the difference between the Chimney Safety Institute of America, CSIA, and the National Chimney Sweeps Guild, NCSG?
According to Robert Husted, owner of Dave's Chimney Service in Port Orchard WA:
Chimney Cleaning Costs
I have a fireplace which is blocked from the chimney (top). Could you give me a general idea of how much it will cost to re-open it please? - G.B. 11/6/2013
Sorry, but I don't know. Costs for chimney cleaning typically range widely between $100 and $1300. And I am skeptical about the low-end of that range.
The variables that affect the cost of chimney cleaning include at least these:
Watch out: if it's too good to be true, it's in fact not true. The chimney cleaning industry suffers from scammers in some areas. See CHIMNEY CLEANING FRAUD for details.
More information is in the links just below
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