Company Blog

Spring Checklist for Your Chimney

Why Springtime Is The Right Time for Chimney Service

Spring has come! Time for your fireplace and chimney to rest from all the hard work they put out during the cold months. It's also time for you to have them inspected, cleaned, and if necessary, repaired.

Spring has come! Time for your fireplace and chimney to rest from all the hard work they put out during the cold months. It’s also time for you to have them inspected, cleaned, and if necessary, repaired.

Spring in upstate South Carolina is an ideal time to get your chimney in perfect working order. Here’s why:

  • Spring follows a winter during which your fireplace or woodstove worked hard and likely accumulated creosote buildup and potentially experienced some wear and tear. It’s advisable to address these problems before they worsen over time, inflicting more damage on your chimney and the surrounding areas of your home.
  • Spring is optimal for chimney maintenance because chimney sweep companies are less busy during this time. In fall, on the other hand, our schedules tend to be jam-packed with customers wanting us to get their chimneys ready in a hurry for the winter. You’ll find it easier to get onto our schedule immediately if you schedule your work done during our off-season.
  • Another added bonus: If your chimney is cleaned during the spring, then the stinking heat of summer won’t bake your chimney so that it releases icky campfire-like odors into your home. These odors are usually the result of built-up soot and creosote or even mold and mildew—all issues that are addressed and corrected during one of Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps’ inspections and cleanings.
  • Furthermore, if you take care of your chimney in the spring, at the first sign of fall you won’t have to hesitate before lighting a fire in your fireplace. You’ll be completely confident that a fire can be safely lit.

One of our C.S.I.A. certified sweeps will be able to thoroughly inspect your chimney for signs that a cleaning or repair is necessary, but there are ways you, too, can identify potential problems with your chimney or heating appliance after a long burning season.

Your Chimney Checklist

If your answer to any of the following questions is yes, we advise you contact one of our chimney professionals to address changes or updates that may be necessary to keep your chimney operating safely and efficiently.

  1. Has your chimney been swept in the last year? Almost all national chimney and fire safety organizations recommend that a chimney be professionally swept once a year.
  2. Did you install new energy efficient doors or windows? Many of our customers are surprised to find how drastically these changes can affect chimney draft—something our chimey sweeps can easily remedy for you.
  3. Do you still have a throat damper? If your old chimney still has a damper located just above the firebox—known as a throat damper, which is notoriously leaky—we recommend you update your chimney with a top-sealing damper. These new state-of-the-art dampers create airtight seals at the top of your chimney and can end up saving you hundreds of dollars a year because they keep all your expensive conditioned air inside your home.
  4. Is there an unpleasant odor coming from your fireplace? If so, it will only grow more exaggerated during a South Carolina summer. The truth is that your fireplace should have little to no odor. Musty or campfire-like smells are usually a sign that your chimney either needs to be cleaned or is water-damaged. Both problems need to be addressed as soon as possible to minimize the risk of a chimney fire or water damage.
  5. Is your chimney masonry stained or showing signs of disrepair? Loose bricks and crumbling mortar aren’t just cosmetic problems. They’re signs that water is penetrating your chimney. This is a problem that only grows worse with time. One of our chimney masons will be able to make needed repairs, including brick replacement, tuckpointing, and waterproofing, shoring your chimney up from the elements so that it remains safe and dry.
  6. Are you noticing leaks? If you’re seeing leaks—or evidence of leaks—in or around your chimney, contact us immediately. It’s important to hire a chimney professional to repair your leaking chimney and not a roofer, as we know chimneys and chimney flashing, and roofers know roofs. Call the right person for the job the first time, and you’ll be assured the problem will be fixed for good.
  7. Do you have a “funny feeling”? If you have a feeling that something is just not right with your chimney or heating appliance, give us a call. We are more than happy to take a look at your chimney and advise you about whether or not everything is operating efficiently and safely.

Schedule an appointment with Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps today by using our online appointment form.

Levels of Chimney Inspection

Why Are There Different Levels of Chimney Inspection?

What do you know about chimney inspections? It's good to have a little know-how on what certified chimney technicians do to ensure that your chimneys are safe and efficient.

What do you know about chimney inspections? It’s good to have a little know-how on what certified chimney technicians do to ensure that your chimneys are safe and efficient.

The first time you schedule a chimney inspection, the terminology we use might take you off guard. If you’re not a chimney technician or a longtime fireplace/stove user, hearing “Level 2 chimney inspection” probably puts you in the market for a little explanation.

Short answer: Those levels come via the National Fire Protection Association — the authority on fire, electrical and building safety in the U.S. — and they’re outlined in NFPA 211, the standard that guides professional chimney sweeps’ work. (As CSIA-certified sweeps, Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps technicians, of course, follow this standard.)

The more detailed answer: Before 2000, when NFPA 211 came into being, the process of chimney inspection was largely left up to individual sweeps’ discretion. That could be fine — plenty of experienced and diligent sweeps likely did a good and careful job, even without guidelines to ensure it. But a thorough inspection, based on the individual chimney and the circumstances surrounding it, certainly wasn’t a guarantee — and when we’re talking about a system that does work that’s as important to safety and comfort as a chimney’s, guidelines that ensure a thorough, proper job are key.

With NFPA 211’s Levels of inspection, certified chimney technicians follow a roadmap that ensures we’re taking the proper steps to find any issues that might be hiding in your system.

Different Levels Of Inspection Are Chosen For Different Circumstances

The three levels of NFPA-guided chimney inspection include different processes, but the reason for those processes are based on different circumstances. It doesn’t make sense to follow the exact same process to inspect a brand new factory-built chimney system as an older one that’s experienced a chimney fire and/or had a new appliance attached to it. The different approaches are based on needs and circumstances.

When A Level 1 Inspection Makes The Most Sense

Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps technicians will likely recommend a basic Level 1 chimney inspection in these cases:

  • Nothing has changed in your system over the past year — you’re using the same appliance, burning the same fuel under the same conditions
  • You have no plans to make any changes to your chimney system
  • We’re performing an inspection during a routine chimney sweeping appointment

A Level 2 Inspection Is More Likely When Changes Are Made

A Level 2 chimney inspection, as you’d probably assume, is more thorough — we’ll take a look at the chimney in attics, basements or crawlspaces and use a special video camera to get closer and more complete images of the state of your flue. We’ll recommend this if:

  • You’ve added a new appliance
  • You’re burning a different type of fuel
  • Your flue has been relined
  • The property is being transferred, bought or sold
  • A problem (like a fire or weather event) makes it possible that some damage has occurred

A Level 3 Inspection Is The Most Thorough

Blue Sky techs won’t recommend a Level 3 inspection unless there’s a very real possibility of a hidden hazard, either because we found indications of a problem during a Level 1 or 2 inspection or because outside damage has occurred (like, say, a lightning strike or seismic event) that makes it increasingly likely that a hazard is present. We perform these inspections when it’s necessary to get access to areas or parts of the system that require the removal or destruction of portions or components, or if specialty tools are needed to gain closer access to covered areas.

The intent, with all of these levels of inspection, is to ensure that you’re getting the most accurate indication of the state of your system, so that you — with help and guidance from our experienced technicians — can make the best decisions about its maintenance.

If you ever have any questions about inspections and why and how we do what we do, we’re always glad to help. Give Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps a call!