Our Company Blog
Our 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.
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.
One of your best defenses against water penetration and animal invasions of your chimney, a chimney cap sits on top of your chimney’s opening. With several different types of chimney caps available, how do you know which cap is the right fit for the flue of your chimney? At Weststar Chimney Sweeps, we are experienced with fitting all types of chimney caps, even customized caps, and we know the importance of proper installation. We would like to tell you a bit about the different kinds of chimney caps and what you should know about selecting the right kind for your chimney to prevent damaging water leaks.
The main thing to consider when deciding which chimney cap is right for your chimney is the shape of your flue. Chimney caps come in different shapes to fit each type of flue. These shapes include:
Whether you have a clay, masonry, or metal flue, you can find a round chimney cap that can either attach the the outside of the flue or slip inside the flue. Round chimney caps are made from an assortment of materials including copper, stainless steel, and galvanized steel. Some round flue liners require chimney caps that must be inserted inside the chimney flue, such as round flexible flue liners and round solid pack flue liners.
SQUARE AND RECTANGULAR FLUES
The most commonly shaped flue, square and rectangular chimney caps can be attached to the flue, or, if you have a chimney crown, there are chimney caps in these sizes that can attach to the crown. Made from the same metals as the round chimney caps, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends you choose a chimney cap constructed from a sturdy, durable, and rust- and corrosion-resistant material to ensure a long-lasting cap. For chimney caps that attach to a chimney crown, you will need to choose from top mounted chimney caps.
Unless you have a custom-shaped oval chimney cap made for you by our technicians at Weststar Chimney Sweeps, you will need to look at rectangular shaped chimney caps that will cover the exterior of your flue.. When you look inside this type of cap, you can see how the corner tabs or interior ledges will accommodate oval flues.
There are other considerations other than preventing water leaks to think about when choosing a chimney cap. These include:
MESH SPARK ARRESTOR
To prevent animals from entering your chimney to take up a new residence and to keep sparks from flying out of your chimney and possibly starting a fire, your chimney cap should be equipped with wire mesh sides. Be sure the mesh openings are between ¾ to ½ inches in size to keep animals out, to contain large pieces of hot debris and ashes, and to allow toxic gases to escape.
COMBINATION OF A CHIMNEY CAP AND DAMPER
You can now find top sealing chimney caps that do double duty as a protective cap and as a damper. Perfect for new home constructions and for older chimneys in need of numerous repairs, the damper is located on the cap. When it is sealed closed, the air loss from your home is reduced by 90%. When the damper is opened, the wire mesh on the chimney cap protects your chimney from invading animals and prevents stray sparks from exiting.
Want to know more about the different types of chimney caps? Contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps today to talk to our expert staff about your many options.
To 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.
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.
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.
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.
Don’t wait another day — schedule your own chimney sweeping today!
With temperatures dropping every day, winter will be here before we know it. Weststar Chimney Sweeps knows you want to start enjoying a warm fire in your fireplace as soon as you can, but we recommend your chimney be professionally swept and inspected by one of our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps before you light that first fire. According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), at least 12,000 Americans die every year in a house fire. One of the best ways to avoid having a devastating fire at your home is to have your chimney cleaned before the winter season.begins. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), the NFPA, and other fire prevention and safety organizations recommend you have your chimney professionally swept and inspected at least once a year. Scheduling this annual sweeping and inspection in the late summer and early fall ensures your fireplace will be safe to use in the winter. We would like to tell you why it is so essential to have your chimney cleaned before you begin using it regularly in the colder months. We would also like to share some fire safety tips from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Have Your Chimney Professionally Cleaned Before Winter
Safety is the main reason you should have your chimney swept and inspected before you light your first fire of the winter season. One of the biggest causes of chimney fires is large accumulations of creosote within your chimney. Developed naturally during the condensation process when the byproducts of combustion exit your chimney, creosote is highly flammable. If you neglect scheduling a professional chimney sweeping and inspection and large amounts of creosote remain inside your chimney, a home fire can be in your near future. Weststar Chimney Sweeps will be sure all creosote will be removed when we clean your chimney. We will also inspect your entire chimney to make sure there are no essential repairs. For example, a cracked chimney liner can lead to dangerous carbon monoxide leaking into your home, which can cause illness and possible death.
Other Safety Precautions for Winter
● Place some sort of shield, such as glass fireplace doors or a mesh screen, around your fireplace to keep sparks from jumping out and igniting a fire in your home.
● Make sure no flammable items are in the area around your fireplace just in case ash, sparks, or smoke exits your fireplace into your home.
● Use dry, seasoned firewood to build your fires. This type of wood cuts down on the amount of creosote produced when burning wood. Burning wet wood actually increases and speeds up the development of creosote deposits.
● Store your firewood off the ground to keep it dry and to prevent insects from living in the wood and entering your home when you bring it inside to burn. Few insects can survive if the wood is dry.
The fall is the busiest time of year for Weststar Chimney Sweeps. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our chimney sweeps now so that you do not have to wait for weeks to have your pre-winter chimney cleaning and inspection.