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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.

Why Annual Chimney Sweepings are so Important

The National Fire Protection Association’s standard for chimneys and fireplaces calls for homeowners to have their system inspected and swept each year in order to keep the system as safe as possible. At Weststar Chimney Sweeps, we can make maintenance a breeze, and keep your system in top working order.

The National Fire Protection Association’s standard for chimneys and fireplaces calls for homeowners to have their system inspected and swept each year in order to keep the system as safe as possible. At Weststar Chimney Sweeps, we can make maintenance a breeze, and keep your system in top working order.

When you have a fireplace in your home, the most essential maintenance step you can do is hire a professional chimney sweeping company, such as Weststar Chimney Sweeps, to perform an annual cleaning of your chimney. This task ranks high in importance, as annual chimney sweepings prolong the life of your chimney as well as ensure the safety of your fireplace and chimney. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) has published The Homeowner’s Guide to Chimneys, Fireplaces, and Woodstoves to provide helpful information for understanding how these heating systems work and how to properly maintain them. We would like to share some facts from this guidebook with you to help you understand why annual chimney sweepings are so important.

Removal of Chimney Deposits

According to the CSIA, there are three types of deposits that build up on chimney walls:

  • Soot — Primarily composed of carbon particles and possibly ash remnants, soot can be highly flammable, depending on the concentration of soot and ash. Since ash is not combustible, a higher ash content in soot reduces its flammability.
  • Creosote — Naturally formed during the condensation process, creosote is a highly flammable residue of the by-products of incomplete combustion. Varying in its appearance, creosote can be black or brown, hard and shiny, sticky and tar-like, or crusty and flaky. No matter what it looks like, creosote deposits are hazardous as they are one of the main causes of chimney fires.
  • Glaze — The most difficult deposit to remove, this shiny, tarry substance creates a large amount of fuel to burn and poses a serious danger of a destructive chimney fire.

Removing these deposits is the major reason for annual chimney sweepings. Preventing chimney fires, eliminating chimney odors, ensuring proper venting to the outdoors, removing blockages that could cause toxic gases like carbon monoxide to enter the home, and stopping deterioration to chimney walls from the acids in these deposits are all accomplished during a professional chimney cleaning by removing buildups of soot, creosote, and glaze.

Discovering Essential Repairs

Another important reason to have your chimney swept once a year: CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, including our staff at Weststar Chimney Sweeps, will look at the exterior of your chimney for loose bricks and mortar and other signs of water penetration damage, examine the condition of your flue liner to check for cracks and deterioration, and monitor the venting system of your chimney to ensure the toxic by-products of combustion are exiting through the chimney. When we find any needed repair work, we can fix it for you. We specialize in crown repair, resurfacing, repairing, or replacing damaged flue liners, water leak repair and prevention, and customized repair or replacement of flashing where your chimney meets the roof.

While an annual chimney cleaning generally is sufficient to keep your fireplace and chimney safely maintained, more frequent chimney sweepings should be scheduled under certain conditions. The number of cleanings needed depends on the amount of time your fireplace is used, the installation of your fireplace, the type of fuel used for your fires, and your burning habits. Our chimney sweeps can tell you if your chimney needs to be cleaned more often than once a year.

If you have not scheduled your annual chimney sweeping yet, contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps today to schedule an appointment. Keeping your family safe from the dangers posed by a dirty chimney is one of the most important tasks on your home maintenance checklist.

Removing Birds and Bees from Your Chimney

Essential to the safety of your chimney, bird and bee hive removal services can protect your family from the risks of having a chimney fire. Birds like to hibernate in chimneys, as they see them as a warm and safe place to call home during the colder months. When those birds part from a chimney, they leave all the nesting behind, which can cause a chimney blockage or fire. Bees commonly build hives on chimney walls, and the wax combs of a bee hive can be fire hazards as well. The trained technicians at Weststar Chimney Sweeps provide experienced bird and bee hive removal from chimneys and believe you should understand what this service entails.

If you have bees or birds living in your chimney, call Weststar Chimney Sweeps! We can safely remove their hives or nests, and prevent them from returning in the future.

If you have bees or birds living in your chimney, call Weststar Chimney Sweeps! We can safely remove their hives or nests, and prevent them from returning in the future.

BIRDS

The Dangers of Birds’ Nests

When birds build a nest in a chimney, they tend to choose the top of the chimney as the location. Not only does this pose a problem as a fire hazard, but the nest can also block the chimney’s flue. According to the Chimney Institute of America (CSIA), a chimney blockage can cause the dangerous gas, carbon monoxide, to enter your home and possibly lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Multiple nests can be inside a chimney and can cause major chimney blockage. Another risk of having birds in your chimney is the spread of histoplasmosis, a disease carried by birds that causes blindness in humans.

The Legalities of Removing Nesting Birds

Certain species of birds cannot be removed from a chimney while they are roosting inside because they are protected by federal law, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Chimney swifts, the most common type of protected bird, always nested in hollow trees in the past, but since many of these old trees have been cut down over the years, chimney swifts began building their nests inside chimneys. You should never trust a chimney sweep company that offers to remove nesting chimney swifts. Anyone who knowingly destroys these birds or their nests containing eggs or baby birds can be fined and penalized. You will have to wait until all chimney swifts leave before their nests can be removed.

A Solution to Prevent Birds from Nesting in Your Chimney

To keep birds out of your chimney, a chimney cap with wire meshing or a top-sealing damper needs to be installed properly on top of your chimney. Preventing birds from entering your chimney means you will not have to worry about the hazards birds and their nests can create.

BEES

The Problem with Honeycomb

Some people think they can smoke bees out of a chimney by lighting a fire; however, this can pose a problem. Not only are the wax combs a fire hazard, but when the fire heats up the hive, honey begins to melt down chimney walls. The smell of the honey can attract even more bees to invade your chimney.

The Answer to Stopping a Bee Invasion

Just as with birds, a properly-installed chimney cap or top-sealing damper works to keep bees from entering your chimney. At Weststar Chimney Sweeps, we will remove any bee hives from your chimney as well as customize a cap or damper on the top of your chimney to prevent more bees from building hives on your chimney walls.

Experiencing an invasion of your chimney by birds or bees? Contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps today to schedule an appointment for our CSIA-certified technicians to take care of this problem for you.

The Birds and the Bees: A Chimney’s Perspective

Who would’ve imagined they’d ever read about the birds and the bees in relation to their chimney. The fact of the matter is, these are just two more reasons homeowners must be forever vigilant where chimney maintenance in concerned. Otherwise your chimney could become inundated with bird nests and beehives in no time at all. Your chimney is a very inviting place for birds and bees; your job is to find a way to make it a little less appealing and/or available to them.

If you have bees or birds living in your chimney, call Weststar Chimney Sweeps! We can safely remove their hives or nests, and prevent them from returning in the future.

If you have bees or birds living in your chimney, call Weststar Chimney Sweeps! We can safely remove their hives or nests, and prevent them from returning in the future.

Birds in your chimney?

Migratory birds don’t sound like much of an issue to a lot of homeowners; the problem only comes to light when those homeowners decide that they no longer welcome these feathered guests. It’s not quite as simple as just rolling up the welcome mat and telling them to find somewhere else to nest during their stay.

Chimney swifts are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits the removal of any migrating bird without a federal permit. In addition to the prohibited removal, these birds always return to the same nesting spots year after year; loosely translated, if you had a nest in your chimney last year, you can expect the same bird family to return this year.

If you decide you no longer want them making themselves at home in your home, preventative measures must be taken soon after the birds make their southerly return flight. The good news is that it is very simple to bird-proof your chimney. This is the purpose of a chimney cap. The key is to have it installed while the birds are living down south, as it is illegal for a chimney sweep to remove the nest, eggs or any migratory birds that have made themselves at home in your chimney.

Bees in your chimney?

Before moving into your chimney, bees will send out scouting parties (approximately ranging in size from 10-100 bees) in search of a new home. Your chimney can be extremely inviting for them. To get rid of bees before they’ve move in, you can simply light a fire.

If the hive in the chimney is established, the last thing you want to do is light a fire. Upon doing so, the bees will simply gather at the top of the chimney for as long as the fire is burning. It is also possible that the heat from the fire will melt honey down the sides of your chimney causing a more permanent honey smell that’ll continue attracting bees for many years to come.

What is the problem with a few birds or bees in your chimney? Those bird nests and beehives can really put your family in danger. They pose real health and fire hazards that need to be addressed. If you are dealing with birds and bees in your chimney, we encourage you to have the CSIA-certified professionals at Weststar Chimney Sweeps conduct a chimney inspection. You can be sure we will keep your chimney, your family and your home safe. Give us a call today!

Kiss Your Masonry Stain Problems Goodbye!

What is the one thing that’s been an annoyance to chimney owners everywhere? Masonry stains. Throughout time, numerous homeowners have complained and scratched their heads over the hassle and irritation that these unwanted stains bring.

At Weststar, we care about and respect each of our customers, and are dedicated to ensuring that their chimneys and dryer vents are well-maintained and functioning properly. Whether you need masonry repair or annual maintenance, we’re here to help.

At Weststar, we care about and respect each of our customers, and are dedicated to ensuring that their chimneys and dryer vents are well-maintained and functioning properly. Whether you need masonry repair or annual maintenance, we’re here to help.

Here at Weststar Chimney Sweeps, we do our best to cater to your chimney needs. So, here are a few things that you should know about chimney stains.

Not all stains are created equally.

The stain on your chimney is characterized by the source of the stain. Once you are able to identify which type of stain you have, it will be easier on you or the chimney professional that you hire to find a solution.
The following are some of the most common stain complaints:

  • Smoke – It only makes sense that majority of the chimney owners complain about having smoke stains and are earnestly looking for ways to remove them. Since smoke is a natural byproduct of burning and the chimney is an area where the burning process occurs frequently, there presence of smoke is inevitable. Smoke stains, therefore, are going to occur.
  • Mildew – This is the white substance (a fungus, to be more specific) that usually grows on the surface of wet or warm conditions.
  • Efflorescence – This is that white, powdery and, often times, fluffy stuff (or so it appears) that accumulates around your chimney masonry.
  • Rust – We all know what rust looks like, right? And you may say that rust only appears in metal materials. But actually, rust thrives on both metal and nonmetal surfaces, therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised if you find a little rust in your chimney masonry every now and then.
  • Paint – It may range from small whisks to huge splatters. Paint stains are usually brought about by artistic or domestic accidents. It may happen to households with or without children and is one of the most common chimney masonry stains.

How can you remove these stains?

As each stain is classified differently based on its cause, there are also various methods and chemicals used to remove each type of stain. Boral.com has a short summary of ways to remove various stains. But to some people, handling chemicals is something with which they’re not really comfortable. Another option, therefore, is to contact a professional to help you out.

Gone are the days when you had to worry about your chimney masonry stains. The answer to all your stain problems is just a phone call or email away. So what are you waiting for?