Every year homes across Washingon DC and its Maryland suburbs are bought and sold. Regardless of whether the home is in Washington DC, Silver Spring, Annapolis, Columbia, MD or any other part of the Maryland suburbs, every home with a chimney must have a level 2 inspection prior to the sale being finalized. We previously discussed how 3 things to look for in a chimney repair company. There are additional things to be asked when it comes to chimney inspections. In this soot-free blog, we discuss some of the questions that you should ask any chimney repair company before hiring them for chimney inspections.
1. Are you licensed?
Hiring a licensed chimney repair company to perform your chimney inspection is important. Licensed chimney repair technicians are better equipped to access chimney problems. There are many unlicensed chimney sweep companies in Maryland offering inspections. Failure to hire a licensed chimney company could result in the homeowner being liable for problems that are missed by the poorly trained inspector. Such errors could result in fires that could result in property damage, injury, and death. Don’t take chances. Only hire licensed chimney repair companies to provide your chimney inspection.
2. Do you use video imaging during your inspections?
Taking video images of chimneys during inspections is the standard in the industry. Unfortunately, some companies cut corners and fail to use video. The best chimney Inspection companies take video recordings of their inspections and provide you with a detailed report. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) which is the standard bearer for the chimney industry recommends that video is used during level 2 inspections. Level 2 inspections are a required part of selling any homes with chimneys.
3. How soon after the inspection will I get my inspection report?
The best companies send reports within 48 hours. However, some companies can take a week or longer to send the report to you. Long delays in receiving the report delay home sales and can cost home sellers the interest of a potential buyer. Quality reports in a timely manner help you move on with your home sale.
4. Is Your Company Insured?
Insurance is important in case the company should damage your home, chimney, or property. Picture this scenario: A homeowner gets a level 2 chimney inspection and provides the report as part of the sale of the home. A few months after the home is sold the house catches fire due to a preexisting problem with the chimney that the inspector missed. At this point, lawyers get involved. Their goal is to sue whoever has the most money. Typically, the costs would be handled by the chimney inspection company’s insurer. What if the company does not have insurance? Who do the lawyers go after? The most likely person is the original homeowner that failed to hire a reputable company to perform the inspection.
5. Is your staff CSIA certified?
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is a cornerstone of home safety for chimney services, repair, and education. Not all companies hold a CSIA certification, nor do all workers. Some companies and employees learn on-the-job and hope for the best. The value of CSIA certification is that you will have the confidence that your chimney inspector meets or exceeds the industry standards. You can have the peace of mind of knowing that you have an accurate chimney inspection that will not expose you to liability.
Anything that involves your chimney should be taken seriously. Things missed during an inspection could result in fires. Asking the right questions is an important part of selecting a chimney repair company to inspect your chimney. Of course, we recommend our company.
Want to learn more about chimney inspections and sweeps? Read this article.
If your chimney needs maintenance or repair, it is in your best interest to find a reputable company to repair your chimney or install a fireplace. Unfortunately, in many cases, this is far easier said than done. Homeowners in Ellicott City, MD and Washington DC can find it a real challenge. Some chimney repair companies provide services that are not up-to-par in terms of quality of service. In the case of fireplace installation, they may offer products that are not designed to meet the requirements of your home. It is important to find a chimney repair or fireplace company that provides quality service. Here are a few things you should look for when hiring a chimney repair company.
Focus on your needs vs Getting the lowest price
Another thing to consider when hiring a chimney repair company is whether they emphasize the needs of your home or a low price. Obviously, you don’t want to pay a fortune to have a company repair the chimney of your home. Therefore, chances are you aren’t hiring the chimney repair company that charges the highest prices for its services. However, you should be equally against hiring the chimney repair company that offers the prices that are seem too good to be true.
If the prices are ridiculously low, chances are the chimney repair company cut a lot of corners to be able to offer such low prices. For example, they may reuse existing parts that should actually be replaced to get their prices lower. They will replace the part that is leaking. However, they will not address the rusted out part right next to it that will be malfunctioning any day now. As a result, new problems arise in short order resulting in another service call. They may also hire workers with inadequate training or expertise and equip these workers with equipment and products of low quality. This can compromise the safety of the home because the job is simply not done well. If you hire a chimney repair company that offers incredibly cheap services, prepare to have the chimney repair job done twice because you may need to hire another company to fix the mistakes of the first.
When looking for a chimney repair company to hire, one of the things you should consider is whether a company offers personalized services to their customers. Personalized service refers to the involvement of upper management in every project. You do not want to hire a chimney repair company that will send their employees to your home or business without performing any upper management control or quality checks. Unfortunately, many companies that repair chimneys or install fireplaces are like this in that they blindly send workers without the involvement of upper management.
Licenses and Certifications
Believe it or not, but the chimney sweep industry is unregulated in many states. However, to ensure that you hire a chimney repair company that offers quality services, there are licenses and certifications from organizations that are nationally recognized that you can check for.
You also want to check whether a company has memberships with nationally recognized organizations. This demonstrates that the chimney company is aware of industry standards. For example, National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) and National Fireplace Institute (NFI) provide their members with tips when it comes to professionalism and expertise in the chimney repair and fireplace installation industry. A membership with these organizations signifies that a chimney sweep company is interested in improving the services that it offers whenever possible.
As you can see, there are many things you should look for before you hire a company to repair your chimney or install your fireplace. As long as you consider whether a company offers personalized services, focuses on quality over price, and has licenses and certifications from nationally recognized organizations, you can be confident that you will get a good chimney repair service in exchange for your money. If you need chimney sweep, chimney repair or fireplace installation in Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Anne Arundel County or Baltimore, then you should consider calling us. We are committed to exceeding your expectations of quality service.
We received a call to fix a leaky chimney in Potomac, Maryland. The customer informed us that they hired another company for chimney repairs but their chimney still leaks. As a result, he thought it was a roofing issue. A roofer came out to evaluate the situation and assured the customer that it was the chimney. The customer was pretty upset with the other company. The customer started looking for a chimney repair company in Montgomery County that had a reputation for qualtiy work. They decided to call us, All Pro Chimney Service. After performing a chimney inspection we discovered that the only thing the other company did right was a chimney sweep. There were still serious problems with the chimney cover and chimney cap.
(*The chase cover is the big rectangular piece on top.)
Here we have a picture of the chimney. The chase cover has been replaced with a stainless steel chase cover and the cap replaced as well with an aftermarket cap.
If you look closely you can see the neighbors chase cover is rusted and will need to have theirs replaced as well. A rusted chase cover will not only cause leaks but also leave unsightly rust stains on the chimney.
So with the chase cover having been replaced what else could the problem be? Well there are two issues’ here that were causing this chimney to leak.
First, the cap that was installed is not the correct cap for this fireplace/chimney. This fireplace uses a double wall ventilated chimney. This cap that was installed is designed for solid packed chimney which means that the cap does not have the air space build in to it to allow the chimney to ventilate properly and could cause it to overheat. The other issue with the cap is that it doesn’t completely cover the pipe so when it rains really hard and on windy days the rain can get in.
The second issue is that the storm collar is too small for the collar of the chase cover and is allowing rain to come right in. This storm collar looks to be the original one and was reused. The problem is that when they measured the chase cover they made the collar of the opening bigger than what was there initially so they should have replaced the storm collar with one that has a larger span to insure that water cannot leak in.
Here is a picture of the new cap and storm collar. This cap was made by the manufacturer for this fireplace/chimney system. It has the air space underneath the lid of the cap to allow chimney to ventilate properly. We installed a new stainless steel storm collar that completely covers the collar of the chase cover.
After picture- The chimney repair in Potomac, MD is now complete. We installed 2 of these at this house.
The sad part of this story is that this customer had to pay twice to get their chimney repaired. It is always better to hire a dependable professional chimney repair company the first time. All Pro Chimney Service is the best choice for chimney repair.
Tips and advice:
Things to ask the tech when gathering quotes for repairs:
1- Are they licensed?
2- Are they certified?
3- What materials or parts are they proposing to use? If parts are going to be replaced will it be the same part or an aftermarket part. If aftermarket, ask why and will it affect the listing of unit being repaired.
4- Ask for warranties on the products and services being provided.
5- Ask for before and after pictures.
There is nothing quite as cozy and comfortable to snuggle up to on a cold winter’s night as a roaring fire in the fireplace. There is also nothing more disastrous than lighting that fire only to realize (too late) that your chimney is not in good working order. Getting a chimney sweep is the best way to prevent this problem. As a result many smart home owners in Silver Spring and all over the state of Maryland hire chimney repair companies for annual chimney sweeps.
That leads to an important question. What exactly is a chimney sweep?
The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 (NFPA 211) recommends that chimneys, fireplaces, and vents should be inspected at least once a year so that the chimneys, fireplaces, and vents are sound, free from deposits, and that all clearances are met. That is one of the many reasons homeowners should get a chimney sweep every year. With such an important job at hand, it is vital that chimney sweeps only be performed by a certified expert that knows exactly what to look for and how to sweep that chimney in the safest, easiest and most efficient way possible. Hiring a professional chimney sweep is the best way to ensure that your fireplace and chimney are in tip-top shape and ready for the season ahead.
What a Chimney Sweep Does
A professional chimney sweep does more than simply clean out the flue. Although an important part of the job, a licensed / certified chimney expert will also inspect the chimney structure and fireplace to ensure that both are structurally sound and free of obstructions and combustible deposits. This may include dangerous creosote deposits as well as soot and dust. A good inspection also ensures that your fireplace and chimney meets all local fire and building codes.
The flue will also be checked for damage during the annual inspection. Once the initial inspection is completed, the chimney sweep will clean the chimney and flue of all dust, soot and creosote found.
How to clean a chimney
The primary purpose of a chimney sweep is to identify potential problems and remove dust, soot, ash from the chimney. A chimney sweep can work from either inside (going in through the base of the fireplace), or from the top of the chimney. In some cases the sweep may utilize both entrances. Either way is acceptable and usually depends on the size and condition of the chimney, access availability, and weather conditions.
When cleaning the chimney, expect your sweep to follow these basic steps:
- Setting drop clothes in the area to lay equipment on and catch any dust or soot that may escape during the cleaning process
- Setting a vacuum to the contain the dust and soot in the fireplace
- Inserting a fitted brush inside the interior flue with flexible rod system to the brush to allow the sweep to make its way through the entire system
- Cleaning the interior of the flue and chimney, getting rid of all hazardous build-up
- Giving you a complete inspection report for your records
- Completing any small repairs to the system which may have been found during the initial inspection
- Scheduling your next inspection
Getting your chimney is an important part of maintaining your chinmey and fireplace. We recommend our chimney sweep company. We provide chimney sweep service in Silver Spring and most counties in the Washington DC and Greater Baltimore Metropolitan Areas.
Chimney fires cause over 14,000 fires every year in the U.S. and nearly $35 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. What’s even more startling is that most of these chimney fires burn and extinguish themselves and initially are unnoticed by homeowners. Damage produced by an undetected chimney fire is only discovered later when the homeowner has a chimney sweep company come to their home and provide a chimney sweep and inspection service. The NFPA recommends that chimneys be swept every year. It is important to hire a professional company that knows how to sweep a chimney. Homes in Silver Spring, MD need chimney sweeps in the same manner that every other home requires.
Here are some reasons why homes need a chimney sweep every year
1. Creosote buildup in the chimney
Creosote buildup is responsible for the majority of chimney fires. Smoke emitted by burning fossil fuel or wood rises into your chimney where it cools and produces volatiles, carbon, and water condensation. Unless removed, this condensation quickly converts into an oily, black residue chimney sweeps call creosote.
Creosote develops in three stages: 1) crunchy or porous soot; 2) a sticky, tar-like substance; 3) a hard glaze that is real creosote. Be aware that creosote remains highly combustible in any stage and can almost instantly produce a dangerous, volcanic-like chimney fire.
Conditions that promote creosote buildup include:
- Flues too large for unlined inserts (wood-burning appliance)
- Restricted or reduced air supply
- Burning rain-saturated or unseasoned wood
- A surface flue temperature that is cooler than normal
2. Animals nest can clog the chimney flue
Even if you only use your chimney occasionally, Birds, bats, squirrels and raccoons may clog the flue their nests. In fact, chimneys with the least amount of use of the most common targets of animals seeking a place to build nests.
3. Chemicals alone won’t do the job
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) does not recommend relying on chemicals to clean your chimney. Commercial chimney cleaning products claim to remove creosote from chimneys via fire-supported catalytic action. However, the CSIA states that these chemicals should not be used to replace a thorough cleaning and inspection performed by a professional chimney sweeper.
4. Unseen mortar and/or flue tiles problems
Broken or cracked flue tiles, deteriorated mortar and missing bricks may be inconspicuous to homeowners. Chimney sweepers are trained to detect the smallest hairline cracks and other minor damage that, when exposed to fiery heat, could cause a fast-moving fire.
5. Industry standards require an annual chimney sweep
The National Fire Protection Association’s standard recommends that chimneys be inspected every year. This requirement is detailed in NFPA standard 211.
Tips for Preventing Chimney Fires
Only burn seasoned wood. The ideal moisture content of seasoned wood should be between 15%-20%. The best way to find out the moisture content is by using a moisture meter.
Use only dry kindling or clean newspaper when starting a fire. Never use kerosene, gasoline, wrapping paper, cardboard boxes and especially, your Christmas tree!
Finally, the Chimney Safety Institute of America strongly urges homeowners to have their fireplaces, vents and chimneys inspected at least one a year by an experienced chimney sweeper for “correct clearances, freedom from deposits and soundness“.
For more information about fireplace safety, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
Chimney safety can be a matter of life and death. Don’t wait until you have a problem to have your chimney cleaned. Contact a local company and have your chimney cleaned every year.
If you need a chimney sweep in Silver Spring, MD, Montgomery County, Prince Goerges County, Baltimore or other Maryland jurisdictions around Washington DC please contact All Pro Chimney Service 301-750-3149.