Is It Time To Hire A Chimney Professional?
By Robert A. Fleer
Spring cleaning time is here. We had a mild winter, and now is the time to clean your chimney. You may feel you did not use your fireplace or wood stove much, but it is still important to do your annual service. With all the rain and mild weather, we had wet or damp wood, which along with not burning hot fires causes greater buildup of creosote. Creosote is a naturally occurring tar, a byproduct from burning wood. This tar is so highly flammable that the National Fire Protection Agency has determined that as little as one-eighth of an inch of buildup suggests that the chimney system should be swept.
Who is a chimney professional? A chimney professional is a chimney sweep who carries the title Certified Sweep; he is also a graduate of CSIA, the Chimney Safety Institute of America. This schooling consists of detailed study of building codes, National Fire Protection Agency NFPA 211 standards for the industry and Successful Sweeping, a manual which covers sweeping procedures, inspection criteria and safety.
Professional sweeps are also members of NCSG, the National Chimney Sweep Guild. Most professional chimney sweeps do repairs, install chimney caps and conduct real estate inspections. To comply with code and Maryland state law, only a certified chimney sweep can do real estate inspections. If doing repairs, law requires a MHIC or Maryland Home Improvement License.
Without the proper license, a contractor cannot even write an estimate for repairs or install a chimney cap. Proper licensing ensures the homeowner that his contractor has passed his testing and other requirements as outlined by law, and MHIC protects the homeowner when work performed is substandard.
With the spring rains and humid weather, odors can enter the home through the chimney, but sweeping can reduce these obnoxious odors. Spring rains can wreak havoc on the chimney system, as water getting into the masonry and behind the chimney can damage drywall, paint, wood and wallpaper. If left unchecked, moisture in walls could cause wood rot or an infestation of mold.
The constant barrage of water over the years affects the brick and mortar in the chimney. Bricks faces fall off, mortar breaks down, the top of the chimney weathers away and the chimney needs attention before the damage becomes more severe. Even though water problems are sometimes hard to resolve, your chimney professional is trained to discover the causes and effects of leaks and is knowledgeable in solving leak issues.
Another rite of passage in the spring is nesting animals. Common chimney animals include raccoons, squirrels and birds. These animals can bring diseases, fleas, bacteria and bad odors into the home and present the possibility of a blocked flue. Blocked furnace flues are a major problem, and can cause death by trapping carbon monoxide inside the home.
Remember always hire a professional.
This message is brought to you by Robert A. Fleer, owner of Complete Chimneys Inc. To contact him, call 410-544-7600.