Get Your Chimney Inspected: Finding Reliable Service Providers Nearby
Need to get your annual chimney inspection booked? If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find a top-notch chimney inspection company just by simply typing “chimney inspection near me” into your favorite search engine – like Google.
Unfortunately, things don’t always work out that way, and that search request won’t always give you the best choices. Why? Because proximity to your location doesn’t necessarily mean “great” or even “good” when it comes to the provider.
The good news is that most home service businesses travel to your home, anyway, so their location doesn’t need to be your biggest priority. A reliable company will always be more interested in giving you great service – as opposed to trying to be right around the corner on every “near me” search.
So, what should you be searching for then?
How Do I Search for the Best Chimney Company in My Area?
One of the best ways to search for a chimney sweep – or any other home service provider that comes to your area – is to search the city or town you are in, followed by the service you need. Here are some examples for those who might not know.
- Arlington VA chimney inspection
- Alexandria VA chimney inspection
- Washington DC chimney inspector
- Maryland chimney inspection company
- …you get the picture
All of these should get you some really good results – after which you can dig in from here to make sure you find the best selection for your needs.
Fortunately, it’s really not that hard to find a great, certified, and professional team of chimney technicians that will come to your home and provide you and your family with a thorough and accurate chimney inspection – all you have to do is know what you’re searching for.
What Do You Call Someone Who Fixes Chimneys?
Those of us that fix chimneys get called many things – chimney cleaners, chimney sweeps, and chimney repairmen are just a few of the more common titles we hear.
That said, we prefer to be called chimney technicians since we are highly trained in chimney physics and the anatomy of a chimney.
Here at Winston’s, we offer a comprehensive service list, ensuring every part of your system – from the firebox, which is where the fire burns, to the top of the chimney flue – is working optimally. We’ll also make sure the combustion is correct, as well as the draft, so any smoke and fumes goes out the top and not back into your home.
How do I know my chimney technician is reliable?
The chimney techs who are the best of the best will be certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), a nationally recognized organization that certifies and educates sweeps across the country.
In order to receive this credential, the CSIA requires sweeps to study various texts, take classes, engage in training opportunities, and pass an extensive examination. In addition, sweeps must recertify every three years. Rest assured, Winston’s Chimney Service holds this title – and it’s one we’re proud to work hard to maintain.
What can CSIA-certified sweeps do?
We do all the things the names imply. We sweep or clean chimneys, and we most certainly repair, replace, and rebuild fireplaces, stoves, inserts, and chimney and venting systems.
So, no matter what you need, make sure you are searching for a CSIA- certified chimney sweep company to get the best choices in your area.
And if you live in the area in and around Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland, call Winston’s Chimney Service at 703-379-5006 or schedule an appointment online today.
Is a Fireplace Inspection the Same Thing as a Chimney Inspection?
Here is another question we get a lot – is a fireplace inspection and chimney inspection the same thing?
Technically yes – if you book an inspection with us, it’s going to cover both the fireplace and the chimney. But what will this entail?
Most of us look at the opening of the fireplace and know there is a damper that has to be opened or closed, and we can sometimes see a mantel as well. However, a fireplace has a lot more components to it than what you see from the outside. You’ll also have:
- the hearth, which is the floor
- the fireback, which is the back of the firebox
- the firebox, which is where the fire is built
- the lintel, which is the top outer shelf of the firebox
Then, as you move up the chimney, you’ll have the smoke shelf, the smoke chamber, the flue, the chimney crown, and the chimney cap (if you have one). Your system might also have an ash pit and a cleanout door. All of these should be thoroughly inspected by the tech you hire.
How Do You Inspect a Fireplace?
Whether you call it a fireplace inspection or a chimney inspection, the entire system is what needs inspecting – and you can’t do that with a simple flashlight looking up and then down the flue. There are too many hidden areas that never get looked at properly when that’s the methodology used.
This is why most reputable chimney companies use cameras during the inspection process. These tools allow us to scope the flue and get a 360-degree view from the top to the bottom, so that nothing gets missed.
I think anyone will agree when inspecting a unit that people build a fire in – it’s important to not miss a thing!
Can I Inspect My Own Flue?
This isn’t something we recommend. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a long history of setting safety codes around appliances that are capable of causing fires in the home. In the case of chimney and fireplace inspections, certified technicians are trained to the NFPA 211 Standard which states that:
“…all chimney and venting systems shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances . The inspection process should be carried out by a qualified professional who is trained to follow the NFPA 211 Standard and can provide a thorough and professional inspection of the chimney system.”
The standard also provides guidelines for the installation, maintenance, and repair of chimneys, fireplaces, and solid fuel-burning appliances to ensure their safe and efficient operation.
All that said, it’s clear that a lot goes into an inspection – which is why it’s something only a qualified technician should handle.
If you break the NFPA 211 Standard down, you’ll note that, during a chimney inspection, the technician is making sure that:
- the flue and smoke shelf is free from obstructions
- the liner, brick, and mortar are in good condition
- the firebox, damper, flue, and crown aren’t showing signs of damage
- there is no presence of cracks, flaking, creosote buildup, water intrusion, rust, or any weather-related damage
To identify all potential hazards, the sweep will run a camera up the flue, looking for any signs of chimney fires or cracks that could potentially lead to carbon monoxide, heat, or flames leaking into the home.
Another thing the tech will look at is the system’s clearance to combustibles, which is the manufacturer’s recommended space between the firebox and anything that could catch fire. This is one place where we tend to discover fire damage or heat exposure to wood beams, as well as 2x4s in the walls and attics. When that happens, there are some changes that will have to be made to bring the system up to the standards of care.
Overall, the NFPA 211 Standard is about doing as deep an inspection as we can for what we are observing. Your chimney and fireplace are like pretty much everything else in that there are always early signs that things might not be going great. Our job when inspecting the chimney and venting system is to see those signs, dig a little deeper into what’s going on, and prescribe a doable solution.
If you are ready to have your chimney system inspected, call Winston’s Chimney Service at 703-379-5006 or schedule an appointment right now online.
How Do I Know if My Chimney Is Safe To Use?
The only way you can know for sure that your chimney is in good enough condition to use is by calling a reputable chimney company, like Winston’s Chimney Service, to take a look. A CSIA-certified technician can give the system a thorough inspection, then give you the go-ahead (or not) to put it to use.
Only after that inspection has been done (along with a sweeping if it’s too dirty to see the walls of the brick or flue), can we let you know if you are good to use the system.
The good news about investing in annual care is that, if you 1) have had the system serviced annually for a number of years and have kept up the maintenance and repairs, 2) have yet to burn a cord of wood, and 3) have experienced no changes and see anything that would alarm you, then you are most likely good to use the system.
However, if it’s been a few months and you don’t have a chimney cap with a screen, animals or birds may have already been in the chimney and built nests. This sometimes happens in the spring when the weather is warm, then cold, then warm again, and people take breaks from using their fireplaces. Just be aware that this can happen – and know you can call us to come out and check the system.
Another great thing to do is make sure you have a full coverage cap on the crown or top of the chimney. It’s the most comprehensive way to protect your chimney and fireplace from almost anything, including water and outdoor debris.
Finally, if you’re moving into a new home, booking a level 2 inspection is a must. One thing we can tell you with certainty is that if a previous owner tells you they “never had an issue” or “swept it every year themselves,” this is not a stamp of approval.
We’ve been serving the Washington DC, Northern VA, and Maryland area since 1978, and we’ve seen firsthand what going off of these statements can lead to – and it’s not good.
If There Is Chimney Damage, How Do I Pay for Repairs?
There are times we find serious damage behind the walls during an inspection – and other times we know there are big repairs that will need to be made due to major weather events, such as lightning strikes, floods, or tornadoes. When these types of events happen, there is a chance your homeowner’s insurance might help pay for some of the repairs.
We have a lot of experience with insurance companies, so if you’re wondering where you stand, call Winston’s Chimney Service at 703-379-5006 and schedule a time for us to come out and assess the damage. After we’ve done this, we can give you some pointers on the next best steps.
And for those times when repairs or restorations are not covered by insurance? We know chimney maintenance isn’t always the cheapest investment, which is why we have worked out several financing plans – from an interest-free same-as-cash plan to a 5-year loan. This way you can get all needed repairs you need, then get back to your life as soon as possible.
We’ve Got Your Back
We want you to know that we are here for you. If you need any chimney or fireplace repairs, or if you need to book your annual chimney inspection, call Winston’s Chimney Service today at 703-379-5006. You can also book online – we’d love to hear from you!