Book Your Annual Chimney Inspection
Before the Start of Every Burning Season
Booking annual chimney inspections is one of the best things you can do to keep your fireplace and chimney functioning safely and efficiently. In fact, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) strongly encourages this practice, and any reputable sweep will recommend the same.
Fortunately for folks living in the San Antonio and Austin area, our team of experts is here to help with all of your chimney and fireplace needs. Book your next inspection with us by calling or reaching out online now.
Why Are Chimney Inspections Important?
Chimney inspections are important because it gives sweeps the chance to spot and eliminate threats in your flue before you put your system to use. If you have clogs, creosote buildup, or any cracking, gaps, deterioration, or other damage, your fireplace will not be fit for use – and lighting a fire can put your entire household at risk.
The problem is, unless you’re looking at your chimney with a trained eye, many of these issues can go unnoticed – hence the need for professional chimney inspections.
Apart from safety, though, chimney inspections are important for a number of other reasons, as well. They’re also needed to ensure optimum efficiency. If you own a fireplace, you want it to work well, providing enough heat, light, and comfort to keep your family happy. And if it’s not delivering, getting the appropriate professional services completed is a must.
This also plays a part in maintaining the value of your home. Come time to move down the line, a chimney and fireplace that’s been regularly inspected will be a huge selling point.
Finally, inspections are an affordable piece of maintenance that can prevent the need for expensive and time-consuming repairs later on. Small issues, like a damaged cap or some cracks in your masonry, can get worse quickly, eventually leading to big damages throughout the entire system. Spotting these things early, though, is key – which is why getting those annual inspections books is so encouraged.
We Offer 3 Levels of Inspections
Every fireplace is different and will need different levels of care. For instance, a system that is regularly maintained and hasn’t undergone any recent changes won’t need as thorough of an overview as one that has recently experienced a chimney fire or other damage. But which level of inspection is right for your needs? Here’s a brief rundown of each.
What is a level 1 fireplace inspection?
A level one chimney or fireplace inspection is your most basic overview – meant to check for blockages in the flue, excess creosote deposits, or any damages.
We’ll complete the following:
- identify potential issues (blockages or obstructions, creosote buildup, damages, etc.)
- ensure all chimney components are working as they should be
- inspect both the inside and outside of the chimney flue
- examine all exposed and readily accessible areas of the system
A level 2 inspection is more thorough and exhaustive than a level 1. During these, you can expect us to do everything in a level 1 inspection, as well as the following:
- use internal cameras to examine normally inaccessible areas of the flue
- use common tools to remove doors, panels, or coverings to get a more accurate assessment of the chimney’s condition
- ensure proper clearances are being adhered to and are in place
So, when should a homeowner opt for a level 2 inspection, rather than a level 1? If it’s been over a year since your last overview, then a level 2 inspection would be recommended. They’re also necessary when buying/selling property, after a natural disaster (flood, hurricane, tornado, etc.), or after a major system renovation (appliance upgrade, change in fuel type, etc.).
What is a level 3 fireplace inspection?
A level 3 chimney or fireplace inspection is the most detailed and comprehensive, but they aren’t done nearly as often as a level 2. Why? Because they require disassembling or removing chimney parts – or sometimes parts of your home’s walls – to find the root of an issue you’re experiencing.
Level 3 inspections are completed only when we have reason to believe that there are issues beyond the normal wear and tear of a system that are putting your home at risk and need investigating. We’ll always consult with you before completing one of these.
What Can Occur if Annual Inspections Are Avoided?
Without regular inspections being performed, a number of problems can occur within your fireplace. Some of these include:
- creosote buildup
- an increased risk of chimney fires
- smoke backup in your living space
- an increase risk of carbon monoxide exposure
- damaged or cracked brickwork
- failing mortar joints
- animals and other pests in your flue
- debris buildup
- clogs and blockages that lead to poor airflow
- fire hazards
So, when you ask yourself… Are annual chimney inspections really worth it? The answer is clear and easy – yes!
Do Regular Chimney Inspections Save Me Money in the Long Run?
First things first, these keep your system running more efficiently. This results in more heat in your living space, which gives you the power to crank down your thermostat and save money month-to-month on your energy bills.
Chimney inspections also empower you to save money on bigger damages down the line. Here are some specific examples of this:
- We go in for an inspection and observe that your chimney cap is damaged.
This is an easy fix! We can replace it with an affordable and reliable model. But if this inspection was avoided and your cap remained damaged, you would eventually experience water damage to your liner, masonry, metal components, and more. Which means a simple cap replacement has now evolved into brick replacement, tuckpointing, relining, and more.
- We go in for an inspection and spot creosote buildup.
Again, this is fairly easy to resolve. We’ll just go in with our chimney sweeping tools and get everything cleared out. But if the inspection was avoided and the creosote remained put, you may experience a chimney fire – which means extensive damage throughout the entire flue and potential home damage too.
- We go in for an inspection and spot cracks in your masonry.
We’re masonry repair experts, so we can quickly resolve minor issues with your brickwork and mortar. But the worse they get, the more time-consuming and costly they are to address, which is why fixing them early and correctly is a must.
- We go in for an inspection and notice any issue that might put your household at risk.
Here’s the deal. You’re lighting a fire in your home, which means it needs to be done in a fireplace that’s completely safe for use. If we spot anything in our inspection that could be putting your home at risk, we’ll address it. But if we don’t have the opportunity to do this, you could experience not only chimney damage, but home damage as well – which, again, is costly to address.
Not to mention, those in your home could suffer burns from a fire, illness from smoke exposure, carbon monoxide inhalation, and more. This is devastating to go through and you can tack medical bills on top of everything else.
How Do Fireplace & Chimney Inspections Help Prevent House Fires?
Our techs are certified and trained to be able to spot any type of flaw in your chimney system. That means we can spot any issues that might be a fire hazard.
One thing we watch for is creosote buildup. Creosote forms as you burn wood fires in your fireplace, so avoiding it altogether isn’t possible. But spotting it and removing it before it reaches dangerous levels is a must. Why? Because creosote is highly flammable and can cause a chimney fire.
Chimney fires cause significant damage to your flue, which then makes your home more vulnerable. If your system is damaged, it’d be easier than ever for flames and heat to reach any adjacent woodwork, then spread fire throughout your home. But wait… if you have a chimney you’re bound to notice and stop putting your system to use, right?
Not necessarily. Chimney fires more often than not occur slowly and quietly, which means you could be putting your fireplace to use when you really shouldn’t be. This is another reason those inspections are so imperative. Not only can we spot – and remove – creosote before it causes a chimney fire, but we can watch for signs that a chimney fire has already occurred, as well.
But creosote isn’t the only thing that could invite flames to spread through your home. Any type of chimney damage can put your household at risk! Because of this, booking with us on an annual basis is imperative. Don’t start your burning season until one of our sweeps has had a look.
What Are the Parts of My Fireplace’s Anatomy?
When it comes to fireplace safety and knowledge, an important part of owning these systems is knowing about the various components that make it up. Here’s a brief rundown:
- Firebox: The firebox is the part of the chimney that hosts your fires and holds your firewood or gas logs. It should be made of material strong enough to resist direct contact with flames.
- Smoke Chamber: The smoke chamber sits above the firebox and funnels the smoke your fires produce up into the chimney. It’s shaped like an upside triangle and should be parged smooth to ensure optimum efficiency.
- Chimney Liner: The chimney liner is what lines the chimney flue to ensure smoke, heat, and fumes can safely exit your home, rather than seep back into it. Without one in place, your masonry would break down and your home would be at risk.
- Chimney Damper: The damper either sits at the throat of the chimney or the top of it. Its job is to seal the chimney when the system is not in use, then open up to let fumes and smoke out when a fire is lit.
- Chimney Crown: The chimney crown is a cement-based slab that sits on the top of the chimney and directs rain out and away from the sides of your masonry structure.
- Chase Cover: Chase covers can be installed on prefab or masonry systems, and work similarly to the crown, directly water away from the chimney opening as the well as the sides of the masonry chimney or, if it’s a prefabricated system, the chimney chase walls.
- Chimney Cap: The chimney cap sits on the very top of the system, above the crown, covering the opening of your chimney to ensure rain, leaves, downdrafts, animals, and anything else you don’t want in your flue stays out.
Depending on your setup, you may need your parts repaired or replaced from time to time, and hiring an experienced tech for the job is the best way to guarantee the long-lasting and reliable protection your home and family deserves. If you need assistance, be sure to give our sweeps a call right away.
Can Chimney Inspections Help Improve the Air Quality in My Home?
Indoor air quality is a big concern for homeowners nowadays. More of us are working from home now than ever before, and with homes being built tighter, as well, we want to make sure the air circulating throughout our spaces is safe to breathe in.
Fortunately, we can have a hand in helping with this for homeowners in Boerne, New Braunfels, Seguin, Canyon Lake, and more. By investing in regular inspections with our team, you ensure your system is always venting safely and efficiently – and that hazardous fumes, like smoke or carbon monoxide, aren’t entering back into your home.
In addition to this, we can ensure downdrafts aren’t able to swoop in when your system isn’t in use and bring in bad smells and unwelcome fumes that way, either.
Can I Perform My Chimney Inspection Myself?
When it comes to your chimney, only a trained professional should complete your inspection. Someone without extensive chimney knowledge simply won’t know where to look or what specifics they should be looking for, which means hazards can be easily overlooked.
Remember that our CSIA certified sweeps go through an exhaustive training process that includes passing a thorough examination before we can earn our certification. We really have to know our stuff!
We also have years of experience examining flues, so we can spot issues that others in the trade might pass over. In the end, trusting someone that invests in education and hands-on training is imperative to maintaining good chimney health – and keeping your household safer in the process.
I Rarely Use My Fireplace – Are Annual Inspections Still Required?
Yes – even a system that is rarely used should be inspected annually. Why? Because, well… it’s still being put to use. There are many things that can cause wear and tear to your system, whether it has fires frequently lit or not, so you should always get that inspection completed before your burning season begins.
Some examples of issues we can find in an unused flue?
- Animals living inside of it
- Buildup from outside materials being blown in
- High creosote deposits from inefficient burning
- Cracked or crumbling masonry
- Water-related damages
- Damages caused by extreme winds or poor weather
You see? Inspections are important no matter what type of appliance you use, what fuel you burn, or – you guessed it – how often the system is put to use
When Is the Best Time to Book My Chimney or Fireplace Inspection?
While most think to complete this maintenance in the fall, we recommend booking it on the earlier side, if possible. Why? Because, come fall weather and the holiday season, everyone wants to put their fireplace to use – and our schedule books fill up fast.
Booking now saves a lot of hassle, ensuring you can find a time slot that works best for your schedule.
It also gives us ample time to address repairs. If a fall inspection reveals the need for repairs, you’ll have to put off the start of your burning season until we can book additional services. And since this time of year is so busy for sweeps, this could lead to lengthy delays. Booking in the spring and summer ensures everything will be all set and ready to go when you go to light your first fire.
How Can I Keep My Fireplace Functioning Safer?
One of the most important things fireplace owners can do to keep their system functioning safer is book annual chimney safety inspections. That way, we can take a thorough look to ensure everything is functioning as it should be.
That said, we also urge homeowners to stay informed and up-to-date on fireplace safety. This means studying up before putting your system to use, checking facts on correct fireplace usage if unsure, and doing a refresh before every burning season.
Here are some great tips that we recommend keeping in mind:
Keep a 5 lb. ABC fire extinguisher on hand and easily accessible at all times.
Keep a 3-foot clearance around your fireplace, ensuring no furniture or curtains are in close proximity.
If you own a wood-burning system, don’t burn anything in your fireplace except for well-seasoned wood.
Never leave a fireplace going and unattended.
Have both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed throughout your home – by every bedroom, on every level, and synced up (so if one goes off, they all go off).
Book annual inspections with a CSIA certified chimney sweep.
Have your chimney swept regularly.
Don’t put off necessary chimney and fireplace repairs.
Do not put your fireplace to use if damages or buildup are present.
Consider a fireplace screen or some glass doors to keep sparks and embers from escaping the fireplace.
Never use gas, kerosene, or similar products to start your fires.
Keep your kids informed on fireplace safety.
Keep small children and pets away from the fireplace.
My Chimney Smells… Why?
Chimney odors can, unfortunately, sometimes occur, but what odors you experience and why can depend on a few different factors, such as how often you have sweepings completed, whether or not repairs are in order, and what the weather is like outside.
Here in the San Antonio and Austin areas, weather stays pretty warm, but we’re not immune to rainfall and the damage that can occur because of it. Oftentimes, chimney odors are related to excess moisture in the flue and, if this is the care for your household, getting an expert out for repairs as soon as possible is a must.
Why? Because water is one of your system’s biggest threats – foul odors are only one of the many issues it can invite. This means that the sooner we can tackle water-related issues, the better off you’ll be in the long run.
Another common cause of odors is buildup, which can typically be tackled by a thorough cleaning. If you notice bad smells in your fireplace here at the best action steps to take:
- Book your inspection. This gives sweeps the chance to narrow down what’s causing the odors and how to best tackle them.
- Schedule a sweeping. Whatever is causing the odors will need to come out, whether it’s nesting materials that animals brought in, creosote accumulation, or critters that made their way in and never got out.
- Invest in new components: If the issue was materials or critters in your flue that shouldn’t be there, some new components – like a well-fitted chimney cap or a top-sealing damper – may be in order.
- Assess your airflow situation. Are downdrafts causing foul outdoor odors to swoop through your living space? This is another possibility and one that should definitely be addressed before your burning season kicks off.
- Clear out your ash pile. Has it been a bit since you’ve cleared out your firebox? Ash can draw in moisture and foul odors, so if you’re done with your fireplace for the year, be sure to remove your ash once it has adequately cooled down.
One thing is for sure… When you hire us, chimney odors aren’t something you’ll have to deal with for long. We have extensive experience working with all kinds of chimney systems, so we’ll be able to get to the root of the issue – and resolve it – in no time.
Call Today – We’d Love to Hear From You
Our team takes pride in bringing homeowners throughout Bexar County, Comal County, Guadalupe County, Wilson County, and more the highest level of care possible. We’re certified, experienced, and pride ourselves on offering a high level of professional and personalized care.
Give us a call at 830-620-9130 or book online now to get started.