When you are either buying or selling a home, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) requires that you have a Level 2 chimney inspection performed by a professional chimney technician. At Old Hat Chimney Service, our chimney technicians have been certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). During the CSIA certification process, our chimney sweeps were trained to inspect chimneys using the standards of the three levels of inspections defined by the NFPA and have performed many inspections of every level. If you are selling your home, we can help you assure potential buyers that your chimney and venting system functions properly and safely. If you are buying a home with a fireplace, you can trust Old Hat Chimney Service to provide an extensive inspection of its chimney. When it comes to the safety of yourself, your family, and your home, you want to be certain the fireplace and chimney system works as it should without any dangerous hazards. We are often asked by our customers what makes each level of chimney inspections different from the others, so we would like to share with you the details of each level of chimney inspection.
LEVEL 1 INSPECTION
The most basic level of chimney inspection, a Level 1 inspection is what you will typically receive during your annual chimney inspection. Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps will check the installation and connection of your heating appliance, ensure that there are no blockages of your flue, and check all of the readily accessible portions of the chimney structure and flue. Readily accessible areas mean places that can be reached for inspection without ladders or tools.
LEVEL 2 INSPECTION
The level you need when buying or selling a home, a Level 2 inspection is also required after you add or remove a heating appliance, after upgrading to a heating appliance of a different type, input rating, or efficiency, before relining or replacing the liner of your chimney, and after an operations malfunction or other event that likely damaged the chimney. This level inspects all accessible areas of the chimney, including the attic, crawl space, and basement. The chimney sweeps from Old Hat Chimney Service may have to move or open doors and panels as well as use special tools, such as a video camera.
LEVEL 3 INSPECTION
If there has been an incident such as a chimney fire that damaged your chimney and must be investigated, a Level 3 inspection is necessary for safety reasons. This level of inspection may also be needed if our certified chimney sweeps find or suspect any hazards in a Level 1 or 2 inspection that require further examination. All non-accessible areas are included in this level of inspection, and these areas may require the destruction of the chimney structure to be able to reach.
If you are buying or selling a house, contact Old Hat Chimney Service. You can be guaranteed our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps will perform a top-notch Level 2 chimney inspection for you.
In the Atlanta area Old Hat Chimney Service calls home, severe thunderstorms are a common occurrence every summer. Since a chimney extends from a rooftop, lightning is most likely to strike that part of a home. After a bad summer storm filled with lightning strikes, we typically get calls from customers who think lightning may have struck their chimneys. To prepare you for this possibility this summer, we wanted to share with you some information about the dangers lightning strikes can pose to your home and what you should do if you think lightning struck your chimney.
What types of damage can a lightning strike do to my home?
Since lightning releases an electrical current when it strikes, it can easily ignite a fire if it hits wood or any other flammable building material. Roofs and attics are most commonly affected by this danger. When lightning strikes a chimney, its current can travel through a home’s wiring system to completely burn up the wires in the home.
An explosive surge of lightning can destroy the electrical wiring system in a home and even affect non-electronic appliances that are connected to that system. Even if a lightning strike does not hit the home but does ground close by, a surge will be produced that can be large enough to affect the electrical system.
This is the type of lightning damage that most often affects a chimney. Lightning strikes produce explosive shock waves that we hear as thunder. At close range, these shock waves can easily fracture the masonry materials of your chimney and cause cracks and other structural damage which makes your chimney unsafe to use.
What should I do after lightning has struck my chimney?
If your chimney has suffered structural damage from lightning, your homeowner’s insurance will most likely cover the needed repairs. Contact Old Hat Chimney Service to schedule a professional chimney inspection to send to your insurance company with your claim. You should also take note of the date and time of the lightning strike, how you discovered the damage, and any other information and details that you feel are pertinent to the event. Being able to quickly and easily provide this information to your insurance agents will help your claim go more smoothly.
If you think lightning has struck your chimney, contact Old Hat Chimney Service as soon as possible. We can professionally inspect your chimney and give you the information you need to provide to your homeowner’s insurance company.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac weather predictions, we are in store for another extremely cold winter, and it is strongly recommended that you start preparing now for the upcoming frigid temperatures. One thing that should be on the very top of your preparations list should be scheduling important maintenance tasks to get your chimney ready for winter. At Old Hat Chimney Service, we are now entering our busiest time of the year, and if you wait too long to schedule your annual chimney sweeping and inspection, it could be a few weeks until we will be able to take care of your chimney. We would like to tell you why it is essential to have your chimney cleaned and inspected before you use your chimney regularly this winter. We would also like to share with you some things you can do to be sure your fireplace is safe and functioning properly.
Wood-Burning Fireplaces and Stoves
The most important reason you need to have your wood-burning chimney professionally cleaned before the high usage season of an extremely cold winter is to have the creosote buildups removed from the interior walls of your chimney. One of the main causes of chimney fires, creosote is highly flammable. The CSIA-certified chimney sweeps at Old Hat Chimney Service will be sure your chimney is free from creosote deposits and safe to use. We will also inspect the damper to make sure it opens and closes correctly and perform any necessary repairs to its parts, including the gasket seal. This prevents excess air from leaking into the firebox which creates an over fire condition that can permanently damage your appliance. We will also clean the blower, if your appliance has one, to clear away the dust and hair that has built up over time.
Old Hat Chimney Service will also inspect the exterior of your chimney to look for deteriorated bricks and mortar that will need to be repaired to prevent water leaks that will lead to even more damaged and spalled masonry work. We also will check out the condition of your chimney flue liner and repair any cracks or gaps. If the liner is damaged beyond repair, we can even replace it. A damaged flue liner can lead to chimney fires and leaks of toxic gases like carbon monoxide into your house. Speaking of carbon monoxide, you should also check the batteries in all of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to be sure they are working.
Gas-Fueled Fireplaces and Stoves
According to the National Association of Realtors’ home improvement website, HouseLogic, not only should you have your gas-fueled chimney cleaned and inspected, but you should also have the appliance itself inspected by a CSIA-certified technician. To be sure they are working correctly, the airways of both the pilot and the main burner should be cleaned and checked. Since there is no filtering system to keep dust and hair off its blades, your blower should also be cleaned. An accumulation of dust can disrupt the balance of the blower, which will cause the bearings to wear out prematurely. Dust also prevents the motor from cooling, which can eventually cause the motor to burn out and stop working.
As you would if you have wood-burning fireplaces and stoves, you should check the batteries in every smoke and carbon monoxide alarm. Additionally, check the batteries in any remote controls that operate the appliance as well as the receiver.
If you have not scheduled your annual chimney sweeping and inspection yet, contact Old Hat Chimney Service as soon as possible. We want to get your fireplace and chimney ready for this extremely cold winter.
When you own a house, the list of home maintenance tasks can seem never-ending. While most homeowners attempt to keep on top of everything, some areas do get neglected, and, unfortunately, the chimney commonly falls within those ignored areas. However, to be safe from the possibility of a devastating chimney fire, a deadly carbon monoxide leak, or another chimney-related hazard, you should never neglect any chimney maintenance duties. In our years of working on chimneys, our chimney technicians at Old Hat Chimney Service have seen the damage done by failure to keep up with maintaining a chimney properly. We always stress to our customers the importance of chimney maintenance, and we would like to share with you some tips from Popular Mechanics on the maintenance tasks you should do to ensure chimney safety as well as to prolong the life of your chimney.
You Can Trust Old Hat Chimney Service to Take Care of Your Most Important Chimney Maintenance Issue.
The most essential chimney maintenance responsibility you have is to call Old Hat Chimney Service once a year to schedule your annual chimney sweeping and inspection. Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps will clean your chimney to get rid of all the hazardous creosote deposits that have accumulated on the interior walls of your chimney. Creosote is highly flammable and is one of the main causes of chimney fires, so make sure your chimney is free from built-up creosote before the temperatures drop and fireplace season arrives. We will also inspect your chimneys to look for any essential repairs that need to be taken care of before winter comes. Cracks in the bricks and mortar, along with cracks, gaps, and other damage to your chimney cap, crown, or liner, can be signs of water leaks that should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent more deterioration. Damage to your chimney liner can be hazardous as carbon monoxide, smoke, and other harmful byproducts of combustion can leak into your home through cracks and gaps in the liner.
While an Annual Chimney Cleaning and Inspection Is the Most Essential Chimney Maintenance Task, There Are Other Important Chimney Safety Maintenance Tips to Follow.
As recommended by Popular Mechanics, these fireplace and chimney safety tips include:
Be sure the area around your fireplace is clear of anything flammable. You may love the look of a decorated hearth during the holidays; however, the risk of a fire is not worth it.
If your fireplace is not equipped with glass doors, place wire mesh screening in front of the fire to prevent sparks from flying out and creating a fire hazard.
Choose the best firewood to burn. The most important quality of good firewood is that it has been sufficiently dried, or seasoned. Freshly-cut wood is too wet to burn clean and creates more hazardous creosote deposits.
During the holiday season, do not be tempted to burn your Christmas tree in your fireplace. Also, do not place wrapping paper, boxes, or other trash in the fireplace to burn.
Refrain from trying to stuff your fireplace with wood. Burning too much wood at once can damage your firebox. Burn wood on a grate placed near the back of your fireplace.
If you have not scheduled your annual chimney sweeping and inspection, contact Old Hat Chimney Service today to make an appointment. We love helping you take care of important chimney maintenance tasks.
One of the most important parts of your chimney, the chimney liner serves several functions that affect the safety and performance of your fireplace. If your chimney liner becomes cracked or damaged due to water penetration of your chimney, you must take care of this repair task before you can safely use your fireplace. Scheduling a chimney sweeping at inspection with Old Hat Chimney Service allows our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps to look at your liner to see if it needs essential repairs. It could be so deteriorated that you may even need to replace the damaged liner with a new one. We would like to tell you more about chimney liners and why cracks and gaps in liners can be so hazardous.
What Are the Main Functions of a Chimney Liner?
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), chimney liners serve three important duties to prevent hazardous occurrences:
Liners protect your house from heat transfer to combustibles. In both the 1940’s and the 1980’s, the National Bureau of Standards tested masonry chimneys that had no liners and discovered that heat moved so rapidly up the chimney that the adjacent woodwork caught fire in less than four hours. Chimney liners can prevent dangerous home fires.
Liners protect your masonry work from the corrosive byproducts of combustion. If you have no liner or have cracks or gaps in your liner, flue gases can penetrate the bricks and mortar of your chimney. Since the flue gases are acidic, this penetration will eat away at the masonry work. As the mortar joints erode and deteriorate, toxic gases like carbon monoxide can easily leak into your home and possibly cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
Liners provide a correctly sized flue for the greatest efficiency of your heating appliance. Many fireplace inserts and stoves are smaller than your existing firebox, and a chimney liner can create a new flue to perfectly fit your new heating appliance. An improper fit can cause draft and combustion issues that can lead to excessive buildups of the highly flammable compound, creosote, in wood-burning units and production of carbon monoxide in gas-fueled appliances.
What Are the Different Types of Chimney Liners?
Chimney liners come in three main types:
Clay Tile Liners – The most common type of masonry chimney liner, clay tile liners are inexpensive and easily found, but they have a couple of disadvantages. The first is the ceramic-based tiles do not distribute heat evenly if a chimney fire should occur. The uneven heat will cause the tiles to crack and break. The other disadvantage is clay tiles cannot adequately contain the liquid combustion byproducts released by gas-fueled appliances.
Metal Liners – Made from stainless steel or aluminum, this type of liner is generally chosen to upgrade and repair existing chimney liners and to install with fireplace inserts and stoves. Stainless steel is the recommended metal for these liners as it is longer-lasting and much more durable.
Cast In-Place Liners – Made from lightweight castable cement, this type of liner creates a smooth, seamless, insulated passageway for the toxic gases to escape your chimney. Suitable for all fuel types, cast in-place liners are great for improving the structural integrity of aging chimneys.
Want to know more about the hazards and dangers of a cracked chimney liner? Contact Old Hat Chimney Service to ask our staff any questions you may have about chimney liners.
We've had two house chimneys inspected and cleaned by Old Hat. The older of the houses required a chimney cap, damper replacement and other services. We were most pleased with the responsiveness, punctuality and pricing of Old Hat. David showed up right on time, did a good job, and billed us what we thought was a fair price. We would not hesitate to recommend them to other folks needing fireplace services.
~ Leon Adams