Wood Burning Fireplaces

Why don’t chimney sweeps wear top hats anymore?

They keep falling off. Boring but true. Nothing about a chimney sweeps’s job can be described in breathless narrative.

Well, until there’s a house fire. When that happens, folks want to know all about who  did what, when, why and how do you spell your name and how long the company has been in business. Are you licensed, insured, and so on (and on).

Fact is, it’s easy to (but important not to) forget that a fireplace is a fire in the house.

That’s why there are rules about how to keep it safe as possible.

Specifically, NFPA 211. To visit their site, click: NFPA Site

NFPA 211 requires that ALL wood-burning fireplaces have a level II inspection  when the following criteria are met:

  • When there has been a chimney fire
  • When another appliance has been added to the flue
  • Seismic activity, (remember that earthquake in Hudson? Me neither)
  • Nearby explosions
  • When the property’s title is transferred. You know, sold. Okay, this one is a big one.

(A level ll inspection is the kind where they run a camera up the inside of the flue.)

So whenever a house with a wood-burning fireplace is sold, NFPA 211 says that it HAS to have a camera inspection?

Yup. And it’s a good thing, too. In about 1902, chimneys were just a double course of brick. After that, clay tiles were used. Thing is, a lot of things can go wrong. For example; imagine drinking pop with a straw. When the straw is in good shape, it’s easy to get all the pop you want. But if the straw has a small hole, it’s hard to get the pop to move. So imagine that the clay tiles that line your chimney had a hole. If the tile itself got bumped and cracked during installation, or if the mortar between the tiles got loose and a piece fell out, there would be a hole.

Where a fire is concerned, the heat stays in the firebox, and the floor and walls get hotter and hotter.

You could have a fire in the wall and not know it.

All this to say that you should have a level II inspection  before you list your home, and a good cleaning every cord (or so) of wood that you burn from then on.

For a list of certified chimney sweeps, go to http://www.csia.org/

It’s super easy. Just type in your zip code and get a list.

It should be noted that not all jurisdictions adopt all safety codes. They usually do, but never right away. That’s why I avoid quoting code, but instead using code to guide my advice.

Still feel like reading? There is a type of wood-burning fireplace that is easy to use, attractive and very fuel-efficient.

It’s called a Ahren-fire fireplace, and it looks really good! Learn more by clicking Here

One authorized dealer is the Jack Pixley company. Click: Here.

And, no. Nobody paid for the right to be on this page. I just really like their work and product.