Scheduling an annual chimney inspection and cleaning is essential for keeping your home and family safe when using a fireplace or heating stove. The National Fire Protection Association, along with other fire safety experts, encourage all homeowners to have an annual chimney inspection and sweep. Even if you are no longer using the fireplace or chimney, an inspection is still recommended to maintain the structural integrity of the chimney and your home. But before you hire a chimney inspector or chimney sweep, ask the following five questions to make sure they are qualified to do the work:
1. Are you licensed and insured?
Professional, reputable contractor will have the required licensing as well as liability and workman’s compensation insurance. Many chimney contractors display their license numbers on their vehicles, website, and advertisements. For your protection, you should not allow any unlicensed or uninsured contractor to do any work in your home. Otherwise, you can be liable if they get hurt and for any property damage, they may cause, even if they are negligent.
2. What type of training do you have?
The chimney professional should be able to clearly explain the type of training they have mastered under their belt. If they are trained and certified by one of the national industry trade associations such as the Chimney Institute of America, National Chimney Sweep Guild, or the National Fireplace Institute, the provider will gladly show you their credentials.
3. How long have you been in business?
It’s also a good idea to ask the chimney service provider the length of time they have been in business. Hiring an experienced contractor to inspect and clean your chimney will give you peace of mind that potential fire hazards don’t get overlooked and that they have the necessary skills to safely and correctly perform the work.
4. What does your service cover?
You will want to know if the service provider you hire will be performing a chimney inspection, cleaning, or both. A chimney inspection and sweep are two separate services, but they can be done at the same time. Typically, you will first have a visual inspection to look for any potential problems that would make your chimney, fireplace or heating stove unsafe, such as spalling bricks, excessive creosote, and obstructions, to name a few. The inspection should include a top-to-bottom visual review of the chimney interior/exterior structure and any connected heating appliances. The inspector will also determine the extent of the cleaning that will be necessary based on the level of creosote and other stains or debris found in the chimney during the inspection.
5. Do you make repairs?
When you hire a chimney inspector, you want to make sure their company can repair any problems they discover during the inspection. A full-service chimney provider will be able to show you the areas that need repair and give you a written estimate for any necessary work. They should also have experienced masons and chimney experts who are qualified in repairing and restoring chimneys. Also, make sure that their employees will be performing the chimney repairs and are not outsourcing the job to another company.