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Get Ready to Light that Fireplace

Yep – that time of year when leaves are falling, nights are cooler, and you can’t wait to cozy up by the fireplace. Did you just purchase a home with this being the first season to use it? If your new home has a gas or woodburning fireplace, you want to take precautions before lighting those logs. Did you know Heating Equipment is the second leading cause of house fires in the U.S. according to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)?

ASHI vs CSIA & NCSG/CCP

ASHI Certified Inspectors inspect the visible & accessible areas of the fireplace. Just like many portions of the home, Inspectors are looking at the readily accessible components. You often hear: Inspectors are like the General Practitioner. Sometimes they refer you to a Specialist.

The ASHI Certified fireplace inspection includes a general inspection of the following items:

Firebox * Damper * Hearth * Gas Igniter * Chimney Cap * Chimney Crown * Flashing * Masonry

Chimney Sweeping is an unregulated industry. There are no certifications for inspectors, so it is important to hire Certified Chimney Sweeps. For a Level 2 Chimney Sweep – get someone who is CERTIFIED. Here are some facts about the industry and different levels:

  • National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) holds the Certified Chimney Professional (CCP) Certification. Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), along with NCSG & CCP all follow the (NFPA 211) Standards for Chimney, Fireplace, Vents & Solid Fuel Burning Appliances.
  • Level 1 Inspections include readily accessible portions of the chimney exterior, interior and accessible portions of the appliance and chimney connections. It also includes a basic chimney sweep.
  • Level 2 Inspections are required when there are changes made to the system such as fuel type, flue relining & replacement of a new type of appliance & more. Level 2 Inspections are recommended with the sale or transfer of property. This includes a video scanning or similar means to inspecting the liners within the chimney. It also includes an inspection of the attic and roof.
  • Level 3 Inspections include levels 1 & 2 and are needed when access is necessary to reach concealed portions of the chimney areas. Removal or destruction of portions of the chimney or structure may be required.

There are many, MANY Chimney Sweeps in our area. There are fewer CSIA or CCP Certified Sweeps. I made several calls to find out a few recommendations:

  1. Get the Level 2 Chimney Inspection scheduled ASAP! Companies are already into their busy season – getting a Level 2 Inspection performed during your Inspection Notice time frame right now is difficult. Companies are scheduling 30 days out & even into the New Year.
  2. Sellers should consider performing a chimney inspection as part of their due diligence when getting a home ready to sell. Sellers usually want to protect their home and they want the new owners to love it; that includes loving the use of a safe fireplace.
  3. The best time to annually perform maintenance on the chimney is after use of the fireplace has ended for the season. The inspector will make sure the chimney cap and crown are intact at that time so the possibility of debris entering the chimney is limited. If the home sells in the fall or winter, it has already been inspected for safety & you can feel at ease that thei fireplace is safe. You should still have it cleaned prior to the first use.
  4. Whether buying a new home or maintaining your home’s fireplace, annual cleaning is needed.

Please consider researching the CSIA & NCSG/CCP Chimney Sweeps in the St. Louis Metro Area. It could be one of the very first things scheduled when your contract is accepted, along with the home inspection. Waiting for the Home Inspector to suggest a Level 2 Inspection may be too late for the inspection period. Our office maintains a referral list of CSIA & NCSG/CCP Certified Sweeps that we can share with you. Share this with your friends and family to remind them of the importance of a Chimney Sweep so their home will be safe from heating related house fires.

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