We Offer Professional Chimney Sweeping & Inspection Services to Minneapolis, St.Paul & More
Each home heating appliance is dependent on a chimney and/or venting system that functions properly. If the chimney does not work as designed, the heating system will not perform as it should. This situation has the potential to result in serious damage to the home and its surroundings. It can also pose a risk to the health and safety of the family living inside the home. A professional cleaning is the best place to start if you’re looking to achieve a safer, more efficient chimney.
We run into a lot of misconceptions about the chimney cleaning process – both about why it’s so crucial and what it entails. We’ll answer the questions we hear most often, and if we missed anything, you are also welcome to ask us directly by calling 763-422-0481 or reaching out online.
What To Expect During the Chimney Inspection Process
When having your chimney and fireplace swept and/or inspected by the team at Jack Pixley, you can expect the highest level of service. We’re passionate about what we do and take pleasure in helping our neighbors.
- Our technicians will always greet you with a smile, discuss your goals and problems, and answer any questions before beginning any work. We’ll explain how our cleaning system works and how we prevent dust from spreading to your home.
- Once we’ve consulted with you and explained the process, we’ll put down protective sheets in the 5-foot area surrounding your chimney and fireplace.
- We’ll do a basic inspection of the firebox, damper, and smoke shelf, before bringing in the rest of the tools needed for the chimney inspection process.
- If we are able to (safely), we’ll inspect the part of your chimney that exits through the roof. Once on the roof, we’ll evaluate the condition of your chimney’s flue, brick, mortar joints and flashing.
- If we notice that you need any minor repairs, such as a new chimney screen or chimney cap, we’ll offer to take care of these issues on the spot (unless we need to special order a specific part).
- Once the flue liner, smoke chamber, and smoke shelf have been meticulously cleaned, our technicians will ask that you be present for the remaining part of the process. At this point, we will perform a thorough inspection using a Chim-Scan chimney camera. which will allow us to get a detailed look at the interior of your chimney.
Why do I need to be present at the end? We ask that you be present so that we can explain to you what we see, as we see it, and discuss the condition and recommended repairs with you. The Chim-Scan camera allows us to take pictures of any problem areas (i.e. cracks, voids, improper construction) so that you have solid proof of your chimney’s condition and needs.
These pictures will be sent to you (typically within a week of your appointment), in addition to a proposal, so that you have all of the information you need to make an informed decision regarding repairs and future fireplace and chimney use. You can count on us to be honest and forthright about your chimney’s safety and condition – we will never pressure you to make unnecessary repairs.
How Is a Chimney Cleaned… & Is It Messy?
A chimney cleaning can be done from the top or from the bottom, but is most commonly done from the bottom. A high speed rotary brush expands and scrubs the entire flue area, as well as the smoke chamber above the damper and the firebox, using centrifugal force.
This modern technique cleans much better than the old-fashioned hand and wire brushes that are typically associated with sweeps (think Mary Poppins). We’re not covered in soot and causing a big mess in your house like these traditional depictions, either.
In fact, your house shouldn’t look any worse for the wear when we’re done. During the process, a high-powered vacuum is set up at the bottom to collect all the dust and debris before it enters your home.
And if you burn for heat or have frequent fires (we’re saying more than 3-4 times a week during the burning season), your chimney will probably need to be inspected and cleaned twice per year. There are other variables to consider as well. For instance, if you are burning unseasoned wood, you will see an increase in creosote buildup and may need more frequent sweepings. Creosote buildup is what can lead to chimney fires, and in some cases, structural fires.
And even if you don’t burn very often? Even then, the NFPA says that all chimneys (no matter how often they’re used or the fuel type) should be inspected annually. Inspections are done to check for creosote buildup, blockages, cracks, water damage, animal invasion, and any deterioration of the chimney. Some of these issues can occur whether you use the system or not.
What Are the 3 Levels of Chimney Inspections?
- Level 1 Inspections: The NFPA states that a level 1 inspection is advisable if nothing about your appliance or venting system has changed and you plan to use it in the same way you always have. During this type of inspection, your chimney service technician will have a look at the “readily accessible” portions of the chimney exterior and interior – meaning the parts that are exposed or capable of being exposed without the use of tools to open or remove any part of your chimney or fireplace. These don’t typically require a camera, but we use a Chim-Scan closed circuit camera in every inspection we do.
- Level 2 Inspections: More involved than a level 1 chimney inspection, a level 2 inspection is required when any changes have been made to your heating system or the way you use it. These changes may include fuel type, input rating, or efficiency levels. If the shape or material of your chimney flue has been changed, you will also want to seek out a level 2 inspection, as well as during the transfer of property. This inspection includes everything in a level 1, but also includes an overview of attics, crawl spaces, and basements. No demolition equipment is used to open doors, panels, or coverings.
- Level 3 Inspections: The most in-depth of all chimney inspections, a Level 3 inspection is advised when serious hazards are suspected. This inspection looks at the construction and condition of the concealed parts of your chimney and flue, and requires the removal or destruction of permanent portions of your chimney. We only remove components such as the chimney crown or the interior chimney wall when we have to to gain access to areas that need to be inspected.
Why are our inspections always superior?
Prior to the NFPA laying out its chimney inspection guidelines, chimney inspections were left largely to the discretion of the chimney service technician, but as of January 2000, three levels of inspection were adopted as a standard, so that no matter which chimney sweep company you hire, you’ll be getting essentially the same quality of sweep and inspection.
But we don’t believe in being just as good as the rest… we always aim to be better. When one of our sweeps comes to inspect your chimney, you can be assured that you’re getting a far more thorough inspection than you would get with another company.
Let us explain: In Level 1 inspections, chimneys are given a mostly superficial once-over to check for any red flags. In Level 2 or Level 3 inspections, which are recommended following any changes in your chimney or venting system, it is specified that a Chim-Scan camera be used to take a better look at the inside of your chimney.
But here at Jack Pixley Sweeps, we use a camera in all three levels of inspection, so whether you’re getting the most basic level 1 or need to dig deeper with a level 2, nothing will be missed or overlooked.
About the Chim-Scan Closed Circuit Camera
The CSIA and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) both recommend that chimney sweeps perform a Level 1 inspection of all fireplaces and chimney flues, with more in-depth inspections recommended according to various circumstances. In the Level 1 inspection, the technician is required to visually look up and down the chimney for any “noticeable” flaws within the chimney flue.
When doing this, it is impossible to see if flue tile joints are still filled with mortar. It is also very hard to detect if the flue tiles have been cracked due to a chimney fire. We don’t believe that this is enough to ensure the safety of you, your family, and your home. That’s why we choose to include a closed circuit camera inspection with every clean we do.
Some good things to note about Chim-Scan?
- Chim-Scan chimney inspection cameras and chimney cleaning tools are designed to work in flues of all sizes – from a 3” venting pipe to a 13”x18” fireplace flue – and can also be used to inspect both masonry and prefabricated chimney flues venting all fuel types.
- These chimney video inspection systems produce photos and video from inside the chimney structure so that chimney sweeps can document the general condition of the chimney’s interior or find any hidden defects.
- The Chim-Scan chimney camera is especially valuable for recording the condition of flues after a natural disaster like a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or other seismic event. This is vital for getting the insurance coverage you’re entitled to.
- Furthermore, the Chim-Scan Robotic vision system can be used to inspect residential and commercial air ducts and dryer vents.
Jack Pixley Sweeps uses Chim-Scan exclusively because it is the best sweep camera there is.
I Think I Had A Chimney Fire… Can I Still Use My Fireplace?
Quick answer? No.
Longer answer… If you think that you’ve had a chimney fire, it’s important to have a certified chimney technician clean and inspect your flue liner. When a chimney fire occurs, the flue tiles usually end up cracked and, in some cases, they collapse entirely. This means that if you continue to use your fireplace, the heat and smoke can get into the internal structure of the chimney through the cracks or collapsed tiles – and eventually get into your home as well.
Trust Us – We’ve Got Your Back
Our chimney technicians are National Fireplace Institute (NFI)-certified and have gone through extensive training to ensure we serve our customers with the highest level of care. You can feel confident that our team is qualified to service your chimney and fireplace.
If you still have questions or need to schedule your annual sweep or inspection, give us a call at 763-422-0481 or schedule your appointment online. We’re here for you.