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.
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.
Look for the CSIA seal when evaluating a chimney company for hire
Hiring a chimney sweep who has been certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) to perform your annual chimney cleaning and inspecting ensures you have a highly trained and qualified technician doing the job. A CSIA-certified chimney sweep can be entrusted to be certain your chimney is properly cleaned, safe to use, and in excellent working condition. Our chimney sweeps at Weststar Chimney Sweeps have been through the CSIA certification process, which gives them further training, skills, and knowledge in this industry. Our customers often ask us what this certification means, and we would like to answer this by telling you more about the importance of this professional commitment.
What is the CSIA?
A non-profit, educational organization, the CSIA is dedicated to preventing and eliminating of chimney fires, carbon monoxide leaks, and other chimney-related dangers that can result in injuries or death. To achieve this goal, a vast collection of resources is provided to educate the public, chimney and venting system professionals, and fire prevention specialists about the proper maintenance of fireplace, chimney, and venting systems. The CSIA offers the only national certification program in the chimney and venting system industry.
What are the responsibilities and commitments of a CSIA-certified chimney sweep?
When a chimney sweep completes the training for CSIA certification, he or she must uphold specific obligations, which include:
● Practicing CSIA-recommended chimney and venting safety techniques
● Improving skills, extending a knowledge base, and learning new techniques to stay updated on safety standards for the chimney and venting of fireplaces
● Knowing all applicable local building codes concerning chimneys and fully complying with these codes
● Following closely all manufacturers’ installation instructions for chimney and venting products
● Dealing honestly with customers, refraining from unfair and deceptive practices, and informing customers about essential chimney and venting safety procedures
● Behaving professionally and respectfully when performing chimney and venting duties.
What is the process of CSIA certification?
To become certified by the CSIA, one must do the following:
● Attend a one-day intensive review session in person or a one-week review session online
● Pass a one-hour exam based on the 2011 edition of the CSIA publication Successful Chimney Sweeping and the 2013 edition of NFPA 211: Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances from the National Fire Prevention Association
● Pass an open-book 90-minute exam using his/her copy of 2006 International Residential Code, published by the International Code Council
● Agree to pay the Annual Certification Fee
● Sign the CSIA Code of Ethics
What topics are covered in the certification process?
To receive CSIA certification, one must prove proficiency in the following areas:
● Technical aspects of chimney dynamics and construction
● Skilled performances of the best and current techniques in the industry
● Wood-burning physics and the formation of creosote residue, which is one of the leading causes of chimney fires
● Familiarity of and compliance with all applicable codes, regulations, clearances, and standards
● Care and installation of a variety of types of solid fuel appliances
● Requirements by the US Environmental Protection Agency
To hire one of our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, contact Weststar Chimney Sweeos today to schedule an appointment for your annual chimney sweeping
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!