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Considerations When Using a Whole House Fan

Depending on where you live, a whole house fan can be an economical and green way to cool your home in the summer. However, when you use these fans, several considerations must be taken to best benefit from their usage. Best for those who live in cooler climates with low humidity, whole house fans use less electricity to run than a central air conditioning system, cutting your cooling costs significantly. However, special venting must be arranged as these fans have a very strong suction ability. At Weststar Chimney Sweeps, we have been hired to clean up sooty messes in homes with whole house fans because the owners did not realize steps they should have followed before turning their fans on in their homes. We would like to share some whole house fan usage considerations suggested by Whole House Fan, a website dedicated to informing the public about this alternative to air conditioning.

Whole House Fan - San Diego CA - Weststar Chimney

Image by Piercetheorganist under the Creative Commons license.

Be sure to close your fireplace damper before turning on your whole house fan.

Weststar Chimney Sweeps is very familiar with this rule as the sooty messes we were hired to clean up where results of homeowners neglecting to close their fireplace dampers. Since the suction of a whole house fan is so strong, it can draw outside air in through any available opening, including a chimney. When the air gets sucked in through the chimney, it brings in soot and ashes from your flue. This influx of chimney air can also pose a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning because exhaust is brought into your home. If you have a fireplace and a whole house fan, be sure you have a fireplace damper with an air-tight seal that will close out any outside air while the whole house fan is in use.

You must seal and insulate your whole house fan during the winter.

If your whole house fan is not insulated or sealed, cold air from the attic will be able to leak into your home’s living space. Similarly, warm air from your living area can escape, which will negate the money you save on cooling your home because you will have such expensive heating bills. Fortunately, there are models of whole house fans with motorized insulated doors that automatically open when you turn the fan on and close when you turn off the fan.

People who suffer from allergies should not use whole house fans.

Since whole house fans bring outdoor air inside your home, anyone with pollen allergies, asthma, or other respiratory conditions should not use a whole house fan to cool their homes, especially if they live in an area with heavy pollen and/or pollution.

People who live in areas with high humidity also should reconsider using a whole house fan.

A whole house fan would bring the humidity into your home, which makes the temperature rise and the air sticky and uncomfortable. Living in a hot and humid area makes central air conditioning a necessity, not an option.

Have questions about using a whole house fan? Contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps to ask us anything about this topic.

By Mike O'Mara on October 31st, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , | Leave a Comment

Why It Is Important to Hire a CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep

Look for the CSIA seal when evaluating a chimney company for hire

Look for the CSIA seal when evaluating a chimney company for hire

Hiring a chimney sweep who has been certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) to perform your annual chimney cleaning and inspecting ensures you have a highly trained and qualified technician doing the job. A CSIA-certified chimney sweep can be entrusted to be certain your chimney is properly cleaned, safe to use, and in excellent working condition. Our chimney sweeps at Weststar Chimney Sweeps have been through the CSIA certification process, which gives them further training, skills, and knowledge in this industry. Our customers often ask us what this certification means, and we would like to answer this by telling you more about the importance of this professional commitment.

What is the CSIA?

A non-profit, educational organization, the CSIA is dedicated to preventing and eliminating of chimney fires, carbon monoxide leaks, and other chimney-related dangers that can result in injuries or death. To achieve this goal, a vast collection of resources is provided to educate the public, chimney and venting system professionals, and fire prevention specialists about the proper maintenance of fireplace, chimney, and venting systems. The CSIA offers the only national certification program in the chimney and venting system industry.

What are the responsibilities and commitments of a CSIA-certified chimney sweep?

When a chimney sweep completes the training for CSIA certification, he or she must uphold specific obligations, which include:

● Practicing CSIA-recommended chimney and venting safety techniques
● Improving skills, extending a knowledge base, and learning new techniques to stay updated on safety standards for the chimney and venting of fireplaces
● Knowing all applicable local building codes concerning chimneys and fully complying with these codes
● Following closely all manufacturers’ installation instructions for chimney and venting products
● Dealing honestly with customers, refraining from unfair and deceptive practices, and informing customers about essential chimney and venting safety procedures
● Behaving professionally and respectfully when performing chimney and venting duties.

What is the process of CSIA certification?

To become certified by the CSIA, one must do the following:

● Attend a one-day intensive review session in person or a one-week review session online
● Pass a one-hour exam based on the 2011 edition of the CSIA publication Successful Chimney Sweeping and the 2013 edition of NFPA 211: Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances from the National Fire Prevention Association
● Pass an open-book 90-minute exam using his/her copy of 2006 International Residential Code, published by the International Code Council
● Agree to pay the Annual Certification Fee
● Sign the CSIA Code of Ethics

What topics are covered in the certification process?

To receive CSIA certification, one must prove proficiency in the following areas:

● Technical aspects of chimney dynamics and construction
● Skilled performances of the best and current techniques in the industry
● Wood-burning physics and the formation of creosote residue, which is one of the leading causes of chimney fires
● Familiarity of and compliance with all applicable codes, regulations, clearances, and standards
● Care and installation of a variety of types of solid fuel appliances
● Requirements by the US Environmental Protection Agency

To hire one of our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, contact Weststar Chimney Sweeos today to schedule an appointment for your annual chimney sweeping

By Mike O'Mara on October 16th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment