• Why Should I Hire A Chimney Sweep?

    Why Should I Hire A Chimney Sweep?

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    Almost everyone who has a chimney has either attempted or thought about cleaning their chimney themselves. It seems so easy in principal but taking this job on without the proper education and tools is like performing your own appendectomy with a plastic butter knife, no pain meds, no antiseptic and no degree.

    Do you know where to look for possible chimney trouble spots? What are the symptoms that could point to fire hazards? Do you have the proper tools and equipment to take on this task? Even if you had the right tools, you could be missing very important warning signs.

    All of our Sweeps at Lindemann Chimney Service have been trained and certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America. Even many of our office personnel have been through this training. The CSIA is the recognized training center for Chimney Professionals in the United States. This program is so comprehensive that other countries are considering the implementation of their “Certified Sweep” program.

    Most people think that since a chimney is made of masonry, it will never burn. While the brick itself doesn’t burn, it transfers heat and the charred framing that abuts the chimney could cause a structural fire. Knowing where to look for structural problems, clearance problems and other fire hazards is an important part of our.

    Anyone who has burned wood long enough knows that creosote in the flue means they’ve used it and it probably needs cleaning. We can inspect the flue to determine whether the soot is a result of normal burning or a potentially deadly form of glazed “Third Degree” creosote. This soot is very hard to remove and can cause a high-temperature chimney fire which can be sustained for long periods of time. Fires like this can ignite combustible materials next to the chimney, resulting in a deadly house fire. Since chimneys are usually constructed with 4” of brick, plus a 5/8″ flue tile, they are not designed to contain a fire. Masonry fireplaces, that are designed to contain a woodburning fire, have a wall thickness from 10″ to 12″ or more depending on the firebox lining.

    Often, the only thing standing after any type of house fire is the chimney and the foundation.

    Even if you clean your chimney and are comfortable with the results, can you visually see potential problems? Doctors commonly use a scope to pinpoint suspicious problems. For instance, there are times when X-Rays just aren’t enough and the Doctor needs to visually see the tissue to determine the problem. We use high-tech video equipment to scan the inside of your chimney. This allows us to detect and diagnose cracks, other damage and problems so corrections can be made.

    Ever try to read those little tiny lines at the Optometrist? OK, for those of you with excellent eyesight, try to read those lines 30 feet away in a dark room holding a 60-watt light bulb. That’s what inspecting a chimney without a camera is like. Cracks, improper construction, damaged pipe, all of these potential fire hazards can be averted with a proper video scan. If you need to show an insurance adjustor or spouse at a later time we can record the scan for you.

    Damage such as the cracked tile, at left, or missing mortar, at right, can’t be seen with the naked eye. This was taken during a video inspection.

    Then there’s the equipment. Having a proper vacuum is necessary to maintaining a clean house. Use the wrong vac, or no vac, and that fine creosote dust will find its way into every nook and cranny of your home. Chimney sweep vacuums are commercially designed to move a vast amount of air. They have large motors and a finely detailed HEPA filter to catch the smallest of debris.

    Along with the soot, there are other potentially deadly carcinogens (cancer causing compound) and diseases a chimney sweep can be exposed to. A few are roundworm larvae, airborne debris from bird dung that can lead to deadly histoplasmosis and bacteria’s. This is why Chimney Professionals use respirators and wear special gloves, suits and goggles to protect themselves.

    Your chimney is probably the most active system in your home. As a result, it has the potential to cause the most deadly problems. It’s also exposed to the most severe elements and deteriorates such as creosote, acids, freeze/thaw, and potentially deadly air-borne diseases. Hire an educated professional with the proper tools to video scan and clean your chimney. It’s money well worth the investment in your health and your family’s safety.

    Posted by Karen Stickels Lamansky, Author of Design Ideas for Fireplaces published by Creative Homeowner Press

     

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