Having a fireplace can improve the setting and value of any home or dwelling.  When people think of chimneys, they dream of relaxing by a crackling fireplace, with a good book and a cup of tea in hand. It’s the gathering place for families, where stories are told and marshmallows are roasted. On the other hand, your chimney could literally be a fire hazard waiting to cause problems. It’s important to have your chimney inspected at least once a year, or that very same chimney could be a major fire hazard.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that people get an annual inspection of their chimney. In addition, it’s important to choose your chimney professional wisely. There are a few questions you should ask to be sure that the person you are hiring is a credible service provider:

  1. How long have they been in business?
  2. Do they offer current references for their work?
  3. How are they rated with the better business bureau or state consumer protection agency?
  4. Do they carry business liability insurance to protect your property in case of an accident?

Other than your regular annual inspection, there are other reasons to call for a chimney inspection. If your fireplace stinks, especially in the summer, you could have a buildup of creosote deposits; a natural byproduct of wood-burning. This problem can be easily fixed with the proper technician.

Other hazards of fireplaces can be cracks in the masonry, which can lead to the fire escaping to nearby combustibles. Waterproofing your chimney is also important, and can prevent costly repairs later. You should also have the firebox checked, as it takes the brunt of the heat. The joints in the firebox need to be kept in good repair to ensure the fire is well contained.

There are many types and designs of fireplaces today, both modern and old-fashioned. Each can develop serious problems that can lead to unnecessary fires or carbon-dioxide poisoning. Finding the correct chimney sweep for an inspection is a vital part of maintaining you and your family’s home and safety.