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Why You Need an Annual Chimney Inspection

Why You Need an Annual Chimney Inspection

Annual Chimney Inspection Image - San Diego CA - Weststar Chimney SweepsFall is quickly approaching, bringing crisp weather along with it. For many, this means a period of more frequent fireplace use is ahead. If you are hoping to utilize your fireplace more throughout the upcoming months, then it is time to schedule your annual inspection and cleaning.

Regular fireplace and chimney maintenance is vital in ensuring that your home and family stays safe year round. Check out a few reasons why scheduling that yearly inspection is so important.

Preventing Fire

The more dirt, debris, creosote, and other build-up that occurs within a chimney, the greater your chances are of experiencing a chimney fire. Creosote is known for being highly flammable and twigs, leaves, and other nesting materials brought in by animals will easily ignite when given the opportunity.

A fire will not only damage your masonry and other various parts of your chimney, but can affect the overall structural soundness of your home, as well. On top of this, you put your entire home and family at further risk of harm when the chances of fire are heightened. Reduce this threat by hiring a professional to thoroughly clean every nook and cranny, while using the proper materials.

Ensuring Efficiency

If there are any blockages or damaged parts within a chimney, the entire system will function less efficiently. Without the ability to properly ventilate, a fireplace will spit any smoke and other fumes back into your home and your fireplace will remain unsuitable for use.

To build and maintain productive fires, have your entire fireplace checked out before you put it to work. An expert will clear out any excess debris, remove blockages, and make certain that everything is in proper working condition before any fires are lit. This will ensure that your home will be heated as efficiently as possible, thus reducing energy bills and heightening the overall atmosphere of your home.

Avoiding Harmful Toxins

If blockages are present, then smoke and other toxins are given nowhere to escape. This means friends and family will inhale the harmful gases produced by the fireplace. Carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to damaged health and hospital visits, so eliminate this risk by having your fireplace inspected before any fires are built.

To help ensure that no harmful gases are escaping your home, ask your chimney sweep about installing carbon monoxide detectors throughout it. This will add an extra level of protection for your family and you can rest easy knowing they are all out of harm’s way.

When it comes down to it, all of these things revolve around protecting your home and ensuring your family members stay in good health. At Weststar Chimney Sweeps, we have all of the tools and expertise necessary for adequately preparing your chimney for the changing of seasons we soon will face. Allow yourself the peace of mind you deserve by scheduling a cleaning and inspection today!

Start the Year Off with a Certified Chimney Inspection

Start the Year Off with a Certified Chimney Inspection

In order for your fireplace and chimney to work efficiently and safely, you must take care of a few routine maintenance tasks. Included in these tasks is a chimney inspection performed by a certified chimney professional. Scheduling this service at the start of the year allows you to enjoy your fireplace without worrying about potential problems all year long. Weststar Chimney Sweeps is proud to offer chimney inspection services, and you can trust our chimney technicians to do the best job possible. All of our technicians have been trained and certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) to properly inspect chimneys. We would like to tell you why it is so important to have your chimney professionally inspected once a year.Certified Chimney Inspection - San Diego CA - Weststar Chimney Sweeps

Reduce the Risk of Chimney Fires

One of the things Weststar Chimney Sweeps looks for when inspecting chimneys is the amount of creosote deposits that have accumulated on the inner walls of your chimney. A large amount of creosote can be very dangerous as it is an extremely flammable compound. The CSIA has named creosote as the leading cause of chimney fires because it can easily ignite if the internal temperature of your chimney gets hot enough. Once we know how much creosote is inside your chimney, we can then make the best preparations for removing it by sweeping your chimney.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps will also check to see if anything like leaves, bricks, or other debris is blocking the flue of your chimney. When your flue is blocked by debris, it can cause the toxic gas carbon monoxide to be forced back into your home. Without a carbon monoxide detector alarm, you could be breathing in carbon monoxide without even knowing it since it is odorless and tasteless. If we do find a blockage, we will remove the debris to make your chimney vent properly and safely.

Prolong the Life of Your Chimney

During our inspection, we will be looking for damage that could cause your chimney to be unsafe to use. Our CSIA-certified sweeps will closely examine the condition of the bricks and mortar of your chimney, as well as its components, including the liner and damper. If we find any type of damage, we will document it and give you photographs of the damage, along with a written inspection report. We can also make recommendations for repairing any damage we find.

Start off the new year by making sure your chimney is in its best condition. Contact us at Weststar Chimney Sweeps to schedule an appointment for our certified chimney inspection services.

Selling Your Home? Get a Level 2 Chimney Inspection

Selling Your Home? Get a Level 2 Chimney Inspection

Selling Your Home? Get a Level 2 Chimney Inspection - San Diego CA - Weststar ChimneyOur staff at Weststar Chimney Sweeps has told you about the importance of having your chimney professionally inspected once a year to ensure your fireplace and chimney system functions properly and safely. Most likely, your annual chimney inspection will be a Level 1 inspection, which is the most basic level of the three levels of chimney inspections. However, when you are selling your home, you should request a Level 2 inspection when making your appointment. You will be able to provide prospective buyers more detailed information about the fireplace and chimney system, which can assure these buyers that everything is working correctly. Our chimney sweeps have all been certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and were trained on the three different levels of inspections that were established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in its code NFPA 211, the Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel Burning Appliances. We can help you prepare to sell your home by providing you with the highest level of professional chimney inspection needed.

What are the differences between a Level 1 and a Level 2 chimney inspection?

When the CSIA-certified chimney technicians from Weststar Chimney Sweeps arrive at your home to perform a basic Level 1 chimney inspection, they will check out every accessible part of your chimney system, including the firebox, the flue, the chimney cap, and the chimney crown. Our chimney sweeps will be looking for problems, such as cracks and gaps, blockages, creosote accumulations, and rusted parts, that could cause your fireplace and chimney system to be unsafe or inefficient. All of this is included in a Level 2 sales transaction chimney inspection, along with an inspection of the chimney in the attic, basement, and crawl space. Proper clearances from combustible materials will also be addressed by our chimney sweeps in a Level 2 chimney inspection.

When would I need a Level 3 chimney inspection?

If our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps discover a potential hazard that needs a closer examination, we will then recommend a Level 3 chimney inspection. In this level, our sweeps will take a more in-depth look at the less accessible areas of your chimney, and this may require the removal of doors, drywall, and even parts of the chimney itself and the use of specialized tools and equipment. While it may seem destructive to have a Level 3 chimney inspection, remember that safety is the top priority. No one wants to buy a home with an unsafe fireplace and chimney system, so in order to solve safety issues and hazards, a Level 3 chimney inspection may be needed. If you’ve ever had a chimney fire before, a level 3 chimney inspection will also be required to pinpoint the exact cause of the fire.

If you are considering selling your home, call our Weststar Chimney Sweeps office at 619-338-8116 to schedule an appointment for a Level 2 chimney inspection.

Your Spring Cleaning Should Include Your Chimney

Schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection as part of your spring cleaning!

Schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection as part of your spring cleaning!

March is upon us, which means spring is finally here. For homeowners, the arrival of spring means it is time to get started on annual spring cleaning chores. If you have a fireplace or wood stove in your house, that means your chimney should also be included. Weststar Chimney Sweeps is ready to help you with your chimney cleaning chores, and we would like to tell you more about our chimney sweeping process.

Why should I have my chimney cleaned and inspected in the spring?

It makes sense to have your annual sweeping done in the spring because most people schedule their annual chimney inspections in the fall, so you will not have a problem getting the appointment you want. Also, the sooner you have your chimney looked at after the heating season, the better. If there are problems that need repairing, you need to get them repaired quickly so no more costly structural damage occurs. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends homeowners have their chimneys inspected annually, so why not get into the habit of scheduling this appointment in the spring?

What should I expect from a chimney sweeping and inspection from Weststar Chimney Sweeps?

When you schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection with Weststar Chimney Sweeps, one of our licensed and certified technicians will come to your home and begin the inspection and cleaning process. Using modern technology, we use video cameras to allow us to closely examine the interior of your chimney and decide which type of cleaning technique we will need to do, based on the type of creosote build-up in your chimney and what kind of chimney you have. We use a few different chimney sweeping techniques, which include:

Standard Sweeping

Using the typical rotating brushes on long handles, along with a high-powered vacuum with a HEPA filter to keep debris and soot from getting in your home, this technique is effective for getting rid of average creosote deposits; however, if you have any major creosote build-up, as in 3rd stage, you will need a heavier-duty sweeping.

Mechanical Cleaning

In order to remove hard or glazed creosote deposits, high-speed rotating wire brushes, plastic cables, or specials chains are used to do the sweeping.

Chemical Cleaning

Sometimes mechanical cleaning is not enough, and chemicals may have to be used along with the high-speed rotating power tools to get rid of big deposits of glazed creosote.

What happens after the chimney inspection and sweeping is completed?

Once we do your sweeping and inspection, we will assess our findings and determine whether or not you need any repairs done to your chimney. Other than creosote build-up, the most common damage to chimneys seen after winter is water damage from leaks. If left unrepaired, this can lead to further, more costly structural damage. Weststar Chimney Sweeps can handle all of your chimney repair needs, if repair is necessary.

Do not forget your chimney when you are spring cleaning. Contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps to make an appointment for your annual chimney sweep and inspection.

How Earthquakes Affect Chimneys

California is known for having earthquakes that can damage your chimney

California is known for having earthquakes that can damage your chimney

As residents of California, we are familiar with dealing with earthquakes and the property damage they can cause. Did you know the most common earthquake property damage is chimney collapse? Not only is this true in our state, but also in other areas that suffer earthquakes in this country. The number of chimneys lost every year to earthquake damage is staggering. One reason for this great structural loss is chimneys are often ignored when preparing for earthquakes and the damage they can cause. Weststar Chimney Sweeps would like to tell you more about the effect of earthquakes on chimneys.

How do earthquakes cause a chimney to collapse?

It goes without saying that earthquakes cause the ground to shake resulting in buildings enduring forces to which they are not normally subjected toward. These forces lead to a deterioration of the brickwork and can cause a chimney to collapse. Even minor seismic events can cause this to happen to your chimney, so it’s important to have your chimney routinely checked – especially in seismic hotbeds.

What is the best prevention against chimney collapse during seismic activity?

The chimneys that are most commonly damaged are un-reinforced chimneys, according to InspectAPedia, an online encyclopedia of building and environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, and repair topics.

What are the dangers of a chimney collapse?

No one can predict which way a chimney will collapse. If a chimney were to collapse on the house, it could be deadly. People have even become trapped inside by a collapsed chimney. Even if the chimney does not fall onto the house, it could fall on a neighbor’s home or on someone outside.

What can I do to prepare my un-reinforced chimney for an earthquake?

You can have your chimney braced, but this does not guarantee it will not collapse. You can also remove the masonry and use a metal flue that is surrounded by a wooden box. This box can be covered with brick veneer above the roof line.

What is the best thing I can do to be sure my chimney is sturdy enough to withstand seismic activity?

The best way to ensure your chimney is safe from earthquake damage is to have it inspected every year by Weststar Chimney Sweeps. We have experience in knowing where earthquake damage can occur and exactly what to look for to be certain your chimney is safe during seismic activity.

Have any questions about how earthquakes can affect chimneys? Contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps to find out whatever you need to know.

The Three Levels of Chimney Inspections

Three Levels of Chimney Inspection - San Diego CA - Weststar Chimney SweepsTo become Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps, our chimney technicians at Weststar Chimney Sweeps must pass an examination on the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) standard code 211, the standard for chimneys, fireplaces, vents, and solid fuel burning appliances. In this code, the NFPA developed three different levels of chimney inspections that all chimney sweep certified by the CSIA must strictly follow. Since the CSIA recommends an annual chimney sweeping and inspection, the organization also strongly suggests you should ask for the appropriate level of inspection for your chimney and venting system. To inform you of what each level involves to help you know which level to request, we would like to share with you an explanation of what happens during each chimney inspection level.

LEVEL 1

The simplest of the three levels of chimney inspection, ask for a Level 1 if your appliance or venting system have not changed and you are planning on using it as you normally have in the past. In this level of inspection, Weststar Chimney Sweeps will inspect all readily accessible parts of your chimney’s exterior and interior and all accessible parts of your chimney’s connection to the appliance. Checking for the soundness of structure and proper installation, our chimney inspectors will also verify your chimney is free from blockages and combustible creosote deposits.

LEVEL 2

Required when any change is made to your system, a Level 2 inspection examines changes in fuel type, changes to the size and shape of your flue, and changes to the heating appliance, such as when you have a fireplace insert installed. You must also request a Level 2 if you are selling or transferring your home and after building fires, chimney fires, earthquakes and tremors, and any weather-related event. Including everything performed in a Level 1 inspection, a Level 2 also examines the accessible parts to your chimney’s exterior and interior, including attics, crawl spaces, and basements. This level of inspection also addresses clearance from combustibles.

LEVEL 3 

If a Level 1 or 2 inspection reveals a hidden hazard that cannot be evaluated without special tools to access concealed areas of your chimney or flue, Weststar Chimney Sweeps will recommend a Level 3 inspection, which is the most detailed of the three levels of inspection. When necessary, certain parts of the chimney must be removed for the evaluation to be complete. Parts that may be removed include the chimney crown or an interior wall of the chimney. This is only required when access is needed to areas that are subject to the inspection. Also, during a Level 1 or 2 inspection, if our chimney inspectors feel a serious hazard is present within your chimney or venting system, a Level 3 inspection may be required to examine the entire chimney or venting system.

Have questions about the three levels of chimney inspection? Contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps to find out more about each level.