Preventing Chimney Fires

Call the chimney cleaning company, because the Holiday season is almost here. For some, nothing says the Holidays more than sipping a hot cup of cocoa beside a crackling fire in the fireplace. Feeling the warmth and enjoying the glow of the embers as they waft up the chimney. Before we get too comfortable though, here are a few things to watch out for which might save lives.

You May Not Notice a Chimney Fire

Did you know that most chimney fires go undetected?

Sometimes, chimney fires won’t have enough fuel or air to cause a noticeable fire. Even though there is no sign of visible combustion, these slow-burning fires reach high temperatures and can cause enormous damage to the chimney structure.

8 Main Signs that a professional chimney sweep will look for when providing chimney cleaning services and inspection

  1. A distorted or discolored rain cap
  2. Roof damage near the chimney
  3. Discoloration from smoke escaping through masonry joints or tile liners
  4. A buildup of a creosote residue: black or brown, highly combustible residue, especially if it has a puffy or “honey-comb” appearance 
  5. Evidence of heat damage
  6. Cracked or compromised brickwork
  7. Missing cement/mortar between brickwork
  8. Cracked, collapsed, or missing flue tiles

Best Practice

A damaged chimney poses a danger to the home and those who live there. Regularly scheduled chimney cleaning services and inspections are the best and most proactive way to keep the chimney safe and reduce problems. 

How to Prevent Chimney Fires

It’s tempting sometimes to add items to the fire especially if they give off pretty colors or cause a pop! Resist the temptation to throw anything and everything flammable into the fireplace. To prevent toxic gases and fumes in the air, buildup of flammable creosote on the chimney walls, and other combustible elements from forming, only use what is safe to burn. 

6 Common Items NOT to Burn 

  1. Cardboard – especially with printed ink, may release toxic fumes when burned. 
  2. Unseasoned wood – also known as wet wood. Unseasoned wood contains a high percentage of water and can create thick, excessive smoke when burned. 
  3. Christmas trees – as tempting as it might be, not only are Christmas trees unseasoned wood, if preservatives have been added to the water to prevent needle drop, this preservative is now being burned into the environment. 
  4. Paper – can easily go airborne once it catches fire. Stray embers are a leading cause of fires. Colored paper including wrapping paper is especially dangerous as it releases carcinogens and chemical fumes.  
  5. Painted or treated wood – when burned, painted or treated wood releases toxic chemicals into the air as well as sometimes smelling bad. 
  6. Material products– sometimes thought of as an easy way to light a fire, materials such as clothing release dangerous carcinogens and chemical fumes because of dyes and fire retardant substances. 

To enjoy a fire, burn seasoned wood, keep the damper open, and opt for an annual chimney cleaning and inspection. The cozy warmth of a fireplace in wintertime can help get us into the holiday spirit.

Schedule a Chimney Cleaning 

Our services at The Irish Sweep can help safely maintain and enjoy a wood-burning fireplace and chimney for years to come. 

To schedule an appointment with a professional, call us at (510)521-4088, or use this simple contact form by clicking here.

3 Things to Do Before Chimney Inspection and Repair

One of the best things about the cold season is gathering around the fire with friends and family to enjoy a cup of tea or some hot chocolate. But without proper chimney inspection and repair, you risk the safety and security of your household due to a fire. Did you know that several things can damage your chimney? For example, the age of the building, wildlife, or extreme weather are just some of the reasons a chimney may need repairs.

The ideal time for chimney cleaning and repairs is just before autumn. But once you’ve booked your appointment, you may be wondering what to do before the experts arrive? With that in mind, here are 3 steps to take to prepare for your chimney inspection.

1) Clear Off Your Mantel

If your mantel is crowded with knickknacks, photo frames, or any other home decor, make sure you remove all of it before the chimney technicians arrive. Why is this important? It prevents anything valuable from being accidentally broken, and it also helps your technicians to get the job done faster because nothing is in their way. Also, put aside anything around the hearth while you’re at it.

2) Cover Nearby Furnishings

The chimney technicians who do this job should cover the area surrounding your fireplace in order to protect it from soot. The process of cleaning a chimney is much more meticulous than it used to be. The whole process is done with the help of a modern industrial vacuum that does not raise dust. Although, if you have delicate items near your fireplace, we strongly recommend that you cover them with sheets or plastic to protect them.

3) Write Down Your Questions

Before the pros arrive, write down any questions you may have. You can ask them during your appointment to gather all the information you need about taking care of your fireplace and chimney. This way, you won’t have to call the company later to ask any forgotten questions.

Schedule Today

Autumn is here, and winter is on its way. If you’re ready to schedule chimney inspection and repair services, give us a call at The Irish Sweep at (510) 521-4088, or fill out a quick contact form by clicking here.

Certifications to Look for in a Chimney Company

If it’s time for a chimney and fireplace inspection for your home, you may be wondering what kind of chimney cleaning certification a company should have. Since this home maintenance is so critical to your safety, make sure you take some extra time to ask questions. Keep reading to learn more about the right credentials for the job.

National Chimney Sweep Guild

The first thing to check for is a company’s membership to NCSG or the National Chimney Sweep Guild. This is because, on a national level, NCSG is the only existing recognized trade association for chimney professionals. It exists to promote professionalism and accountability among chimney service companies, and chimney cleaning certification.

Membership in the NCSG is also an assurance that employees have individual memberships in CSIA, the Chimney Safety Institute of America. CSIA is the regulating body that provides certification for a chimney sweeper to become a trusted professional. Technicians are elevated from novice to pro as they become a Certified Chimney Professional™

A CCP is a chimney professional who completed the training program to learn methods that adhere to the proper industry codes and standards. This verifies they have a professional understanding of the knowledge needed to handle the job properly.

Tests

There are two exams for chimney cleaning certification. They cover safety measures, policy, and other important procedures. The first is an exam based on a coursebook entitled: “Successful Chimney Sweeping ” and “National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) 211 fire codes.” The second set of questions is based on the International Residential Codes (IRC).

Validity

A CCP certification is valid for a year. While renewal is accepted with a small upfront fee, recertification is required every two years. This is necessary to update the skills and methods applied in the field.

Sub-Branches of the Chimney Professional Certification

• Certified Chimney Reliners

A CCR has completed training on methods that adhere to the updated codes and standards of professional chimney relining. They also have a commitment to a code of conduct for chimney professionals that pledges honor and integrity on the job.

• Certified Master Chimney Technician

A CMCT is a chimney professional that has achieved a total of six years of certification and a minimum of ten years of experience on the job. Having also studied what is current in the chimney sweeping business, they are considered seasoned experts at what they do. They are also committed to the code of conduct.

Reliable Chimney Services

Working with a professional you can trust makes all the difference, especially when you hire someone for an in-home service. For a company you can count on, contatc us at The Irish Sweep. Our office is available at (510) 521-4088.