Chimney Sweeping and Inspection FAQs

CSIA is an acronym for Chimney Safety Institute of America. The mission and vision of the Chimney Safety Institute of America is as follows:

CSIA certified sweeps have earned continuing education credits and/or passed a rigorous test that examines their knowledge of the codes, practices, and standards of the trade. CSIA certification is an individual credential, awarded to sweeps only after completion of the requirements set by the CSIA. The credential has an expiration, so sweeps are currently informed of changing codes, practices, and technology. Recertification is earned by continuing education credits, or by passing the latest version of the CSIA administered examination.

First check the position of your damper to verify that it is open. Try opening a nearby window for a minute or so until the fire is going well. If it only smokes when lighting the fire, then it may be due to the flue being cold. Holding a large enough burning rolled-up piece of paper near the damper will help reduce the smoke. If the chimney continues to smoke, then call us as it may be clogged by an animal’s nest, debris, an accumulation of creosote, or some other problem.

Black or brown residue that sticks to the inner walls of the chimney – it is produced by combustion, the substance given off when wood burns. Some of these include smoke, water vapor, gases, and unburned wood particles. As these substances exit the fireplace or wood stove, and flow up into a relatively cooler chimney, condensation occurs. Creosote is the resulting residue that sticks to the inner walls of the chimney. It can be crusty and flaky; tar-like, drippy and sticky; or shiny and hardened. Often all forms will occur in one chimney system. All forms of creosote are highly combustible, and if it builds up in sufficient quantity it will result in a chimney fire.

Allow sufficient air supply by proper use of the fireplace or stove damper, keep the chimney temperature warm, and burn only seasoned wood. Burning dry wood results in warm smoke to keep the chimney temperature warmer.

The National Fire Protection Association Standard (NFPA) Code 211 says, “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.” The amount of creosote that builds up from use of burning can vary with the type of wood burned and frequency of burning. Additionally, debris can enter a chimney or a deteriorating condition can occur that may compromise the safe use of the chimney.

As a CSIA sweep, we follow the inspection standards set by the NFPA Code 211. The NFPA Code 211 defines and classifies inspections as Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3, as follows:

The problem may be minor and repairing the mortar joints is all that is needed. Sometimes the mortar and bricks are so loose, that the chimney may need to be partially or completely rebuilt. We can help identify the reason your chimney is deteriorating and suggest the proper corrective measure.

Yes. All masonry chimney construction materials can suffer accelerated deterioration as a result of prolonged contact with water. Masonry materials deteriorate quickly when exposed to the freeze-thaw process. Some measures to protect your masonry chimney are as follows: install a chimney cap; repair or replace a damaged chimney crown; repair deteriorated mortar joints; repair or replace flashing; install a cricket to stop or prevent leaks; and waterproof your chimney.

As you consider your needs for protecting your family and your home, we want you to be fully informed. Please feel free to contact us directly at (920)428-3999  or visit the official CSIA website at www.csia.org