What to Look for when Hiring a Chimney Sweep

December 18, 2016

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Visions of warm fires and hot chocolates dance in the heads of homeowners once winter chill sets in, but maintaining your fireplace as a source of comfort requires a bit of effort. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that as many as 26,000 fires each year are due to fireplaces and chimneys. Those fires are responsible for more than $120 million in property loss and 10 deaths each year. Many of these potentially fatal and damaging fires could have been averted by chimney repair in Alpharetta or wherever chimneys are found and fireplaces are used.

When you burn wood in your fireplace, smoke travels up the chimney, where much of it is released into the cold night air. However, as the smoke makes its way through your chimney, it is cooled by condensation. The condensation creates smoke particles that bond together to form a gummy sheath, known as creosote, on the chimney interior.

Creosote is highly flammable, which means a single spark can ignite a devastating fire within minutes. There are two immediate things you can do to radically reduce the likelihood of this occurring. First, don’t burn anything other than seasoned wood in your chimney. Green or unseasoned wood is the primary cause of creosote buildup in chimneys, and things like wrapping paper and tissue are much more likely to create sparks than wood. Experts also recommend small, hot fires rather than large, slow fires. They also suggest not allowing wood embers to smolder for a long time. And second, regularly hire a chimney sweep in Alpharetta to clean your chimney and make repairs when necessary. Those repairs may be something like adding chimney caps in Atlanta or adding a chimney liner. A chimney sweep in Atlanta can also estimate the chimney liner installation cost in Marietta during an annual visit to clean your fireplace.

Look for Memberships and Certifications

The chimney sweep industry is unregulated, which means homeowners must use precautions as they set about finding someone to maintain their chimneys. Anyone can legally start a chimney sweep business, with or without necessary training. As you begin your search for a chimney professional, however, there are certain memberships and certifications that will tell you whether the chimney sweep is trained. Look for membership in the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) and the National Fire Institute (NFI). These organizations train and teach every facet of the industry. Chimney sweeps may also earn certifications from the Chimney Sweep Institute of America and NFI certifications. Individuals who are certified by these groups are trained in the proper repair, cleaning, and maintenance of fireplaces.

Check for an Insurance Policy

Ensuring that any contractor who comes into your home to perform any kind maintenance is insured is just savvy homeownership. An insured chimney sweep protects you from having to pay for any damages that occur to your chimney while the technician is working and even any potential injuries that may occur to the chimney sweep. It’s unlikely that a chimney sweep will be injured or damage your home during service, but if the unthinkable occurs, the chimney sweep company’s insurance policy provides an extra level of protection to the homeowner.

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