Chimney Sweep FAQ
1-Q-How can I ensure my chimney is safe?
A-Have your chimney cleaned and inspected each year at the end of the heating season by a certified professional.
2-Q-How often does a chimney need cleaning?
A-Every homeowner has different burning habits, so every system is different. Technically, the National Fire Code States that “Every chimney, flue and flue pipe shall be inspected to identify any dangerous condition annually, at the time of addition of any appliance, and after any chimney fires” The chimney and flue pipe assemblies on the appliance should be checked regularly until the rate of creosote buildup is determined. After a chimney fire, the user is usually surprised how fast the creosote accumulated in the chimney. For our customers, we do a very thorough cleaning and evaluation on the first visit, and one season after that we return to assess how often the system needs to be cleaned, based on the use and burning habits over one season. A general rule of thumb, with average use, would be once a year. We visit some of our customers twice a year, and some we only see once every three years.
3-Q-Why does every chimney sweeping company seem to have a different price of a basic sweep?
A-Because every chimney sweeping company is providing a different service. There is really no regulation of this industry, and consequently, “professional chimney sweeps” can be anyone from a fly-by-night with a magnetic sign on the side of his truck and an old Electrolux vacuum, to a truly experienced and skilled tradesman with specialized tools and equipment. I can’t say how anyone else in the business comes up with their pricing, but we have determined our prices based on our time, expenses, and the fact that we wish to continue on in this business year after year. We want our customers to have a sweep for life –not a sweep that goes out of business!! We offer a thorough service, and we care about your safety. If your primary concern is safe wood heat, then we are the right company for you!
4-Q-Are your people WETT Certified? What does that mean?
A-Yes, absolutely, we are fully Certified through WETT, or Wood Energy Technology Transfer of Canada. WETT is the only recognized certification and education body in this industry. That is, recognized by insurance companies and the government of Canada as being properly trained and experienced. WETT requires a minimum number of hours in the field be completed (80 weeks, full time in the solid fuel industry) as well as training courses to be completed before they will certify someone. The loss of work time and expense of the courses is borne by the individual. At this point in time, it is not mandatory in our industry to be trained or certified. It is voluntary program we have chosen to be a part of in order to help our industry become more regulated and accountable.
5-Q-What does my insurance company mean when they say I need a “WETT Inspection”?
A-It’s a bit misleading – it has nothing to do with water, that’s for sure! A WETT Inspection is an evaluation of your existing wood burning system, and a comparison of it against the most recent Building Code, Fire Code, and Solid Fuel Appliance and Equipment Installation Code. So, A WETT trained Inspector will visually assess the existing installation, and determine whether or not it is compliant with current Codes. That is what gives the system a pass or a fail – whether or not it is “Code Compliant”.
6-Q-How far do you travel to provide service?
A-Our area covers the West Nipissing Area, we do occasionally go west up to Noelville, St. Charles, and Hagar or North to Marten River. We also go west to North Bay, Corbeil or Astorville if we have a full day’s work lined up.
7-Q-Can I get a free estimate?
A-Yes and no. We charge a minimum call out fee of $69.00+HST up front for any visit we make to your home. We will put together a price quote and submit it back to you. If you choose to go with us for the work, and the quote is for over $500, we will refund your original $69.00+HST. So it would then become a free estimate.
8-Q-Why should I get my chimney cleaned in the spring?
A-This will identify any problems early enough to make decisions and repairs before the next heating season begins. We prefer to clean the chimney before moisture from rain can mix with the soot and creosote to form acids that eat away at the chimney structure. This also eliminates the sour, acrid odors that the fireplace can have over the summer. And of course, we are usually booked up for weeks in the fall, so if we can do a visit in our slower time of year, we can give you a discount.
9-Q-How do I stop my fireplace from smoking back into the room?
A-There’s no easy answer to this one, unfortunately. Back drafting can be caused by many things, none of which are quickly remedied. The best idea is to have our technician troubleshoot the system and come up with some solutions.
10-Q-What should I do after I have a chimney fire?
A-You should call a certified chimney professional to clean and assess the damage, if any, to the chimney. The chimney may need to be repaired or possibly relined to make it safe for further use.
11-Q-Why would my chimney need to be relined?
A-Chimney relining is the most affordable way to repair a damaged or deteriorated chimney. Chimneys can be damaged by a chimney fire occurrence, settling, or lightning. In addition, some older chimneys may have been constructed without any liner, or the liner may be deteriorated, possibly to the point where they are no longer capable of performing their intended function; to keep the flame and smoke from entering your home.
12-Q-What causes excessive creosote buildup?
A-There are many factors that can contribute to a nasty creosote buildup; poor burning habits, such as burning wet or unseasoned wood, burning trash or colored shiny papers, or severely damping the stove down to get a longer burn. An oversized or outdated stove, which would have been manufactured before the new emissions standards were in effect. A neglected flue or one that is too big for the appliance it serves. And inexperienced installations, where the system is not installed the way it was designed to. The good news is that all of the above issues have simple solutions.