Your chimney is critical to keeping your home and family safe. And one of the most vital maintenance tasks is periodic cleaning. A clean chimney and fireplace ensure optimum performance and safety. Fire safety professionals and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommend homeowners have a Certified Chimney Sweep clean the chimney at least once annually. While you may be thinking about cleaning the chimney yourself, here are a few reasons why you should hire a professional:
Knowledge and Experience
Chimney cleaning is not as easy as it may appear. The flue is a dark, dirty, and compact environment. Chimney professionals go through an extensive training process to receive certification by national credentialing organizations, like the CSIA and the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG), for example. It is your assurance that you are hiring a professional who has the experience, equipment, and supplies to safely clean the chimney without damaging the structure or your home.
Spot Minor Repairs
A professional chimney sweep will also be able to spot minor issues before they become expensive repairs that an inexperienced homeowner may overlook. Problems like a damper that is beginning to rust, small cracks in the masonry, and water stains may seem innocuous to a DIY homeowner but are signs of potential trouble to a trained professional. And failure to make minor repairs can increase the risk of fire and create other health and safety issues.
Prevents Accidents and Injuries
Cleaning a chimney can be dangerous work. It requires climbing on top of the roof to clean the upper flue chamber and remove any obstructions caused by small birds, pests, and debris. The American Ladder Institute reports that more than 130,000 people are injured every year, many seriously, in a ladder fall. Also, trained chimney professionals have the required protective clothing to prevent breathing in contaminants like creosote, soot, and dust that could fly around while cleaning the chimney.
Saves Time and Money
Hiring a chimney sweep will save you time and money. Chimney cleaning requires an investment in professional tools, equipment, and supplies. Without professional equipment, most homeowners may not be able to remove layers of creosote and other stains completely. A DIY homeowner may also inadvertently damage the masonry or other components that could result in an expensive repair bill. And using the wrong supplies or its improper application can result in injuries. Also, if the chimney is not thoroughly cleaned or you accidentally damage the flue liner, it can increase the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Licensed and Insured
When hiring a chimney professional, it is essential to verify that they are insured and have a valid license to do business in your jurisdiction. It protects homeowners in the unlikely event something goes wrong. Homeowners can be held liable for any damages or injuries caused by an unlicensed contractor. You can even be liable if an unlicensed contractor is injured on the job. Also, chimney professionals who are certified by the CSIA, NCSG, or other national credentialing organization have demonstrated meeting or exceeding the required competency to perform their job safely and efficiently.