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The Importance of Hiring a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep

Fall and winter are the busiest season of the year for fireplace use – and for chimney sweeps. While fireplaces are great for keeping our homes warm and creating a welcoming atmosphere, they need to be maintained to burn safely and efficiently. Before hiring someone to come clean your fireplace, however, it is important to ensure you are working with a CSIA certified professional chimney sweep.

What is a CSIA certification?

The mark of a CSIA certified chimney technician

The mark of a CSIA certified chimney technician

The Chimney Safety Institute of America, or CSIA, is a nonprofit organization founded with the mission of improving public and professional fireplace education. Certifications must be earned through a rigorous training, testing, and certification process. Topics include:

– Local and national building codes
– Basic chimney construction and draft dynamics
– Installation techniques for fireplaces, inserts, and stoves
– Current EPA emissions standards
– Best practices for chimney professionals

CSIA certifications are not for life; sweeps must take continuing education courses as well as pass a re-certification test every three years. This ensures that all CSIA certified sweeps are up to date on the latest technological and safety advancements in the industry.

Why being certified matters

Brushes, tarps, and a truck may help someone look the part of a chimney sweep, but they often lack the education, experience, and expertise to correctly care for your chimney system. There are a number of things that set professional, certified chimney sweeps apart:

– Code of ethics. CSIA certified chimney sweeps sign and follow a strict code of ethics. This protects homeowners as sweeps are held to strict standards; the code of ethics prevents unsavory business practices, and sweeps found in violation can lose their certifications.
– National recognition. CSIA certifications are recognized – and held by – sweeps in all 50 states. The national recognition of the CSIA certification means these sweeps are often quoted in news stories or other publications as experts in the field.
– Reciprocal trade relationships. As a widely recognized professional group, the CSIA maintains reciprocal trade relationships with trade groups such as home inspectors, realtors, and homeowners associations.

Questions to ask your chimney sweep

Before hiring a chimney sweep to work on your home, there are several questions you should ask.

– How long has your company been in business in this area?
– Will the chimney sweep who works on my home be CSIA certified?
– Can you provide references from any current customers?
– Does your company or the individual chimney sweep carry liability insurance?
– Do you have any open complaints with the Better Business Bureau?

Trust a certified chimney sweep!

Since 1977, Jack Pixley Sweeps has been providing quality and trustworthy chimney services to our friends and neighbors in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and beyond. We are proud that all of our chimney sweeps are CSIA certified; we have some of the most knowledgeable sweeps in the industry, allowing our customers to get high quality chimney services. If you are in the Minneapolis area, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps for an appointment with a CSIA certified chimney sweep today!

Common Problems Found During Chimney Inspections

During the cold months of winter, homeowners rely on their fireplaces to work day in and day out in order to provide warmth and comfort in their homes. However, few us of truly understand the inner workings of our chimney and fireplace systems; because of this, small damage or performance problems may go unnoticed for months – or years – at a time.

Because few of us spend much time on our roofs or looking up the flue, chimney damage often goes unnoticed until a chimney inspection. A chimney inspection done by a certified chimney professional can assess the state of your fireplace system, identify areas of damage or deterioration, and allow recommendation for repairs to be made.

Levels of chimney inspection

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)] and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) created three standard levels of chimney inspections; the type of chimney inspection your home needs will depend on its condition, time since last maintenance, or performance problems it may be experiencing.

  • Level 1: Level 1 chimney inspections are standard and all that is needed for most homes. During a Level 1 inspection, the chimney sweep will check the accessible interior and exterior portions of the fireplace and chimney for signs of damage or deterioration.
  • Level 2: Level 2 chimney inspections are more in-depth, typically involving the use of technology such as closed-circuit cameras. Level 2 inspections are often recommended in real estate transactions or when the fuel source of a fireplace has been changed.
  • Level 3: Level 3 chimney inspections are the most in-depth and only recommended when the structural stability of the chimney is in question, such as after a chimney fire or natural disaster. A portion of the masonry or walls may need to be removed during a Level 3 inspection.

Common issues uncovered in chimney inspections

  • Every fireplace system and every chimney inspection are unique; however, there are a number of common issues that are often uncovered during an inspection. The following are three of the most common chimney issues uncovered during inspections.
  • Water damage. Chimneys are built to withstand exposure to moisture, but it can still be extremely damaging to a fireplace system. Damaged chimney caps, cracks in the exterior masonry, or damaged flashing are just a few of the many ways water can get into a chimney.
  • Cracked chimney crown. Chimney crown damage is extremely difficult to spot without climbing onto the roof or chimney. The flat masonry of the chimney crown bears the brunt of the exposure to the elements; changes in temperature or exposure to moisture can cause the chimney crown to crack over time.
  • Damaged chimney liner. The chimney liner protects the surrounding building materials from heat transfer from the fireplace. Liners can become damaged from animal entry, leaks, lack of maintenance, or debris in the chimney.

Preventative maintenance is one of the best ways to extend the life of our fireplaces and chimneys. An annual chimney inspection done by a certified chimney professional can uncover hidden issues that many homeowners might not otherwise notice. For more information on the importance of chimney inspections or to schedule your next chimney appointment, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today!

Have Your Chimney Inspected Before The First Fire

Fall’s cooler temperatures are just around the corner. This year, make sure your fireplace is ready to use by having your chimney inspected before your first fire.

What is a chimney inspection?

A chimney inspection is an important diagnostic tool that can be used to identify the cause of fireplace performance problems as well as assess the condition of everything from the firebox to the flue. Chimney inspections are an important part of regular annual fireplace maintenance and are helpful in finding areas of damage or deterioration before they turn into major problems.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, or NFPA, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”

Three Levels of Chimney Inspections

NFPA Standard 211 created three standardized levels of chimney inspection. Your chimney sweep can help you determine which level of chimney inspection is best for your home based on use, condition, or performance problems.

  • Level I: Level I chimney inspections are the standard level of inspection for homes with fireplace in good condition that have not been modified, damaged, or experienced performance problems. During a Level I inspection, the accessible interior and exterior portions of the chimney are checked for signs of damage or deterioration.
  • Level II: Level II chimney inspections are more in-depth; inaccessible portions of the flue are checked using technology such as closed circuit cameras. Level II chimney inspections are often recommended when a home is being bought or sold. Likewise, they are also used when there have been changes to the fireplace such as changing fuel sources or installing a new insert.
  • Level III: Level III chimney inspections are the most in depth – and invasive. Because of this, they are only recommended in cases of severe damage or structural instability after natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires, or tornadoes. During a Level III chimney inspection, portions of the masonry, walls, or ceilings around the fireplace and chimney may need to be removed in order to fully assess the damage.

The Importance of Annual Chimney Inspections

“A chimney inspection is like an annual dental check-up,” says Ashley Eldridge, Director of Education for the CSIA. “It’s preventative maintenance that helps minimize potential hazards.”

After a summer of disuse, it is important to have your chimney swept before using it for the first time. Debris, water, and animal entry can all create chimney problems during the spring and summer; while these issues are often quickly recognized when the fireplace is being regularly used, they may have gone unnoticed during the summer. An inspection can identify these issues and allow them to be repaired – without causing further problems or damage to the chimney.

Make sure your chimney is ready for the first fire of the season by having it inspected. Contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today to schedule your fall chimney inspection and get your fireplace ready for fall.

Chimney Sweeping In The Summer

As temperatures soar and the sun seems to stay up forever, few homeowners would ever consider using their fireplaces in the summer. Instead of letting your chimney sit idle, however, think about having your chimney swept in the summer.

There are a number of benefits to summer chimney sweeping that cannot be found in any other season. From convenient appointments to no lag in fireplace usability, now is the best time to have your fireplace swept!

The Importance of Annual Maintenance

Chimney systems are like any other home appliance; in order to keep working its best, it needs regularly scheduled maintenance. For your fireplace, this means an annual chimney sweeping and inspection. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that all homes have their chimney swept and inspected at least once per year.

“A chimney inspection is like an annual dental check-up,” says Ashley Eldridge, Director of Education for the CSIA. “It’s preventative maintenance that helps minimize potential hazards.”

Chimney sweepings ensure your fireplace and flue are clean, free from blockages and debris, and are safe to use throughout the burning season. Having these annual maintenance items accomplished during the summer allows you to use your fireplace system worry free all winter long.

Summer – The Best Season to have Your Chimney Swept

After a long winter season of burning, few homeowners think about their fireplaces during the warm months of summer. Be prepared for the first cold snap of fall, however, by having your chimney swept now. The following are three reasons to schedule your chimney sweeping this summer.

  1. More convenient appointments. Summer is considered the low season for many chimney sweeps. Because of this, it is often easy to get the right appointment time for your schedule – and to schedule it sooner rather than later. Instead of waiting for weeks and rearranging your schedule to be home for the chimney sweep, summer often gives homeowners the opportunity to find the most convenient appointment.
  2. Remove harmful buildup. Soot, ash, and flammable creosote build up in the hearth and flue during the burning season. Removing them over the summer can help your fireplace burn more safely and efficiently; the creosote removal during a chimney sweeping can also help reduce your risk of chimney fire.
  3. Be ready for fall. Be ready to use your fireplace on the first cold day fall has to offer by having the chimney swept now. This ensures there are no harmful blockages or dangerous buildup, and you can use your fireplace as soon as you want to – not as soon as you can wait for an appointment.

Schedule Your Appointment Today

While we are in the middle of the dog days of summer fall is just around the corner. Ensure your fireplace is ready for the upcoming burning season by scheduling your next chimney sweeping as soon as possible. For more information on the importance of annual maintenance or to schedule your chimney sweeping, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today!

Trust A CSIA Technician With Your Chimney And Fireplace Cleaning

The mark of a CSIA certified chimney technician

As winter weather approaches, now if the time of year when many homeowners having their chimneys swept and cleaned. However, it is important to be wary of who is cleaning your chimney. Instead of going with the cheapest company or hiring someone who simply comes to the door, homeowners should find a CSIA certified chimney sweep.

A certified chimney sweep can do more than just clean your chimney; these highly trained professionals can make sure your fireplace system is in good condition and is safe to use all season long. This year, trust a CSIA certified technician with your chimney and fireplace cleaning!

What is CSIA certification?

The Chimney Safety Institute of America, or CSIA, is a non-profit organization dedicated to chimney and fireplace safety, education, and certifications. The CSIA is widely considered the most prestigious professional organization in the chimney industry, and chimney sweeps with a CSIA certification have had to undergo years of rigorous education and testing.

Because there are so few standards and controls on who can call themselves a chimney sweep, it is important to work with a technician who has professional certifications like those offered by the CSIA. Certified chimney sweeps have a broad knowledge of chimney topics and issues such as:

– Recommended safety techniques and practices
– Current local and national building codes
– Fireplace dynamics and construction
– Fireplace, stove, and insert installation
– EPA emissions requirements for heating appliances

CSIA certifications are not for life; chimney sweeps must retest every three years in order to maintain their certifications. Doing this ensures that CSIA certified chimney sweeps are up to date on the latest advancements in the fireplace industry.

Finding the right chimney sweep

Choosing a chimney sweep is sometimes as simple as opening up the phonebook or doing a quick search on Google. However, before deciding who to trust with your chimney and fireplace cleaning it is important to learn about their certifications along with other information about their business. In addition to having a Certified Professionals Locator, the CSIA also recommends asking questions similar to these before hiring a chimney sweep.

– How long has the company been in business?
– Can the company provide current references?
– Does the company have unresolved complaints with city or state consumer protection agencies or the Better Business Bureau?
– Does the company carry a business liability insurance policy to protect your home and furnishings against accidents?
– Will a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep be on the job site?

Working with a CSIA certified chimney sweep means that you are working with a highly trained professional, not just some guy with a truck. If you’re in the Minneapolis area, trust Jack Pixley Sweeps to take care of your chimney and fireplace cleaning needs. Contact us today to schedule your next chimney appointment!