The Irish Sweep is still accepting calls to answer questions and schedule any service needs. However, no on-site visits are currently being conducted pursuant to the government's stay in place order. Please feel free to contact us at 510.521.4088 to get answers to your questions or schedule a future appointment.
I plan on sharing some day-to-day experiences with you because I live in an awesome world, I get to be in nature all day, I meet some very interesting people and have some amazing adventures.
But first there is some information that I want to present so that this information can be found on the world wide “interweb” as we call it at my house.
Let’s start with the most frequently asked questions.
People ask me all the time,
“How often should I have my chimney and fireplace professionally cleaned?”
The rule of thumb is once every 75 fires or every cord of wood.
“How much is a cord of wood?”
It is a stack of wood 4 feet high X 8 feet long X 4 feet deep.
“Do I need my chimney cleaned if I am using a manufactured log instead of real wood?”
Yes, anything you burn will leave debris in your fireplace and on the walls of your chimney. All of that debris is a flammable substance known as creosote.
“What is creosote?”
Inside chimneys and stovepipes deposits originating as condensed wood smoke having three stages: 1st stage is soft soot 2nd stage is lumpy and crisp 3rd state is like roofing tar and is smooth as glass
“What is a damper?”
A damper is a moveable blade located in the throat of the fireplace that is designed to impede airflow in the chimney. During the colder months of the year, it is important to keep the damper closed when the fireplace is not in use because the damper will keep the exterior cold air from sinking down the chimney and entering your home and prevent your expensive PG&E heated air in your home. If you live with air condition, the same is true when using that option to cool your home.
In a moment of planning, you may ask yourself “is my home insurance still valid if I don’t have proof that my chimney is properly maintained?” The answer is, that if something happens involving your chimney or fireplace, no. It’s likely not.
Many insurance policies specify that your chimney and fireplace are only insured when properly maintained. They may not ask you for proof of proper maintenance until you file a claim, but they will want it then. Your
chimney is a vulnerable spot in your home’s defense against the elements. Even when covered by a chimney cap, the typical brick chimney presents a large vertical opening to the rain and snow. The mortar of chimney crowns can crack, and lightning can damage the bricks.
Fire statistics show that each year on average over 30 thousand houses have chimney fires. Chimney fires can not only destroy homes but also endanger the occupiers of the dwelling.
Homeowner’s insurance can cover damage to your property caused by sudden and unforeseen events such as fires, flash floods, lightning strikes, and wind damage. In the case of a chimney, an insurance company will closely scrutinize the facts and evidence in the claim. Your policy might exclude damage caused by poor maintenance or normal wear and tear on your house.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Have a camera-assisted inspection. This creates documentation of the condition your chimney is in, and allows you to know without a doubt whether your chimney is in safe condition for wood burning. The images will reveal whether you need repair, and what repair options are right for you if so. That way, when you do have a fire you can do so knowing your chimney is fully functional.
Not only is sweeping and inspecting your chimney a good idea in general, your home insurance policy may require it. So if you haven’t already, you’ll want to check with them for exact expectations they have regarding sweeping or inspecting your chimney.
YOUR INSURANCE CLAIM
Insurance companies differ in their approach to fires that may be caused by a lack of chimney cleaning. There are two dangers to not having a clean chimney: the fire itself and how the insurance company with handle it. Whether your policy is clear or ambiguous, you’ll fare better if you have documentation of annual chimney cleaning.
If a fire occurs you may be required by the terms of your policy to produce a cleaning certificate. However, whether or not required, without it the insurance company could refuse to pay out. If they believe a fire was caused by your failure to have regular chimney cleaning and inspections, your insurance claim won’t be paid.
Whatever the terms of your policy (and the difficulty of proving negligence), the greatest risk may, of course, be to your own personal safety. Also if a fire causes injury or death to third parties, you could well face civil or even criminal proceedings.
You need your chimney flue and ventilation pipes cleaned at least once a year. Having annual chimney sweep service will ensure you’re fulfilling your insurance obligations. Make sure to read your policy carefully. Most policies will require professional chimney sweeping annually. If you need to make a claim, having a recent chimney sweeping certificate shows that you actively maintain your home.
DO ALL CHIMNEY SWEEPS PROVIDE CERTIFICATES FOR THEIR WORK?
All qualified chimney sweeps provide written documentation of their work. You may receive a digital or paper receipt. This is for the homeowner’s peace of mind and to fulfill insurance conditions.
In Conclusion, contact the Irish Sweep to discuss chimney and fire safety. You’ll benefit from using a quality professional chimney sweep.