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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.

By Mike O'Mara on February 6th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

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.

By Mike O'Mara on November 25th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment