Our Company Blog

Prepare Your Chimney for Winter Now to Beat the Fall Rush

Don't wait another day -- schedule your own chimney sweeping today!

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.

By Mike O'Mara on September 30th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Levels of Chimney Inspection

If you’re new to chimney ownership, it might surprise you when you learn not only that you need to be scheduling a professional chimney inspection each and every year, but that there are several different types of chimney inspections too.

It is vital to have your chimney inspected thoroughly at least once a year. Let our experts perform one of the three levels of inspection that is needed for your chimney.

It is vital to have your chimney inspected thoroughly at least once a year. Let our experts perform one of the three levels of inspection that is needed for your chimney.

Those different inspections are outlined as three different levels — 1, 2 and 3 — and Weststar Chimney Sweeps technicians are always happy to give you a rundown of when and why different inspections make sense for your system and your home. In the meantime, though, here are some basics to make those levels a little more clear:

Where Did These Levels Of Inspection Come From?

For a long time, the quality or thoroughness of your chimney inspection was largely left up to the individual professional doing the inspecting. While diligent, detailed chimney sweeps (like Weststar’s) have always been around, you generally just didn’t know what you’d get — a detailed peek into the state of your system, a quick glance with a flashlight and a mirror, or anything in between.

In January of 2000, the National Fire Protection Association outlined three different levels of inspection within NFPA 211, the standard by which our work — and the work of other CSIA-certified chimney technicians — is guided. This ensures that you receive a specific level of care, based on your chimney’s circumstances and needs, and that you know what to expect.

So What Should I Expect?

The Level of inspection that Weststar Chimney Sweeps technicians will recommend will be based on your specific system’s needs.

Level 1

If your system hasn’t changed — if you’re burning the same fuel in the same appliance with the same flue liner, etc. — you’ll do well with a Level 1 inspection, the least intricate (but still highly detailed) inspection. We’ll examine all of the readily accessible parts of your chimney, from the firebox up through the flue, interior to exterior, looking for structural soundness, performance issues (like obstructions or excess creosote) and damage (like flue liner cracks that could lead to a leak). After our inspection, we’ll share our detailed findings with you, and make any necessary recommendations.

Level 2

A more detailed Level 2 inspection makes the most sense in a couple of specific circumstances: when something in your system has changed, or if the property is changing hands. So if you’ve changed from wood to gas, added a new fireplace or insert, relined your flue or made other similar changes since your last inspection, Level 2 is appropriate. If you’re buying a home with a fireplace, a Level 2 inspection allows you to get the full picture of what’s about to become your responsibility — and potentially, your problem.

Level 2 inspections include that same thorough, top to bottom, in and out examination as Level 1, but we’ll also check your chimney in attics, basements and crawl spaces, look for proper clearance from combustible building materials and scan the flue using a specialized video camera that lets us get the closest look possible, and show our findings to you.

Level 3

A Level 3 inspection is really only recommended when a potential hazard is found and a closer look is needed — and that closer look can include removing building materials (like doors or drywall) that block off certain concealed areas. With these inspections, we’re leaving no stone unturned so we can be sure we’re aware of any dangerous or damaging problems that need to be addressed.

We’re always happy to talk chimneys — including inspections and other regular maintenance — with our valued clients. If you have questions, or would like to schedule your annual inspection, give Weststar Chimney Sweeps a call!