Chimney Services FAQ

How often do I need to have my chimney cleaned?

We recommend every 50 fires or so. It depends on the type of woodburning system, your burning habits, and the time of year you burn wood. At the minimum, every chimney should be inspected annually and cleaned/repaired, if necessary, according to the National Fire Protection Association and the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

What do I look for when I call someone to clean my chimney?

Ask if the technician is currently certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. CSIA certification indicates the technician has passed a rigorous study course on the basics of chimney maintenance. You’d never use a doctor without credentials, so why would you trust an untrained person to inspect and maintain such a vitally important part of your home?

What is creosote and why is it important that it be removed from a woodburning chimney?

Creosote is a by-product of wood not being burned completely. The smokier the fire, the more creosote is formed. Think of it this way: “smoke is creosote.” It smells bad, is corrosive and, if it catches fire, can reach temperatures of more than 2000 degrees. A chimney fire can destroy your chimney, if not your home.

Is it OK to use the various chemical chimney cleaners and do they work?

Check labels carefully. Some cleaners have a sodium derivative that’s corrosive. Other products claim to “clean the chimney.” They may loosen or change the soot and creosote into a brushable material. This material can fall into inaccessible areas of your chimney or block the flue. Physically brushing, then inspecting, the chimney remains the best way to eradicate creosote. Note: Glaze creosote or 3rd degree creosote is a very hard, shiny creosote that can’t be brushed out. We can treat it by using catalytic compounds to remove and help prevent further buildup. We also recommend a change in the burning habits or chimney system of the woodburning owner.

What do I do when I have a chimney fire?

Stay safe. Get yourself and your family out. If possible, discharge a fire extinguisher into the firebox. Close the doors on the wood burner. Try to cut oxygen to the fire. If you can reduce the time it’s burning, the damage may be lessened. Call the fire department. Call your insurance company. Most homeowner’s insurance policies will repair chimney fire damage. Don’t use the system again until it’s inspected by a CSIA-certified chimney technician. If it’s damaged, don’t use the system until it’s repaired or replaced.

Do you provide insurance inspections?

We do this specialized inspection while assisting an insurance adjustor, fire investigator, or structural engineer to determine the causes of fire damage to a chimney or home. It may involve demolition of all or part of the chimney. It may also include an interior camera scan. It includes all other photo and written documentation.

My chimney is made out of brick or stone. It will last forever, right?

All masonry materials can be damaged by water. The freeze/thaw cycle we get here in the North Country destroys many chimneys. Moisture freezes; when it thaws, cracks form. (Sort of like area roads do and these cracks lead to potholes.) We can do a lot to help prevent freeze/thaw damage. Most chimneys will benefit from some type of chimney cover. 80% of chimneys have nothing on top.