FAQs

Chimney fires don't have to happen. Here are some ways to avoid them:

  • Have your chimney inspected annually by a qualified professional and cleaned when necessary.
  • Use seasoned woods only (dryness is more important than hard wood versus soft wood considerations.)
  • Build smaller, hotter fires that burn more completely and produce less smoke.
  • Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or Christmas trees; these can spark a chimney fire.
  • Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures where wood stoves are in use, so you can adjust burning practices as needed.
  • Inspect and clean catalytic combustors on a regular basis, where applicable.

Information copyright Chimney Safety Institute of America. For more chimney safety tips, visit the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

If you realize a chimney fire is occurring, follow these steps:

  • Get everyone out of the house, including yourself
  • Call the fire department.

If you can do so without risk to yourself, these additional steps may help save your home. Remember, however, that homes are replaceable, lives are not.

  • Put a chimney fire extinguisher into the fireplace or wood stove.
  • Close the glass doors on the fireplace.
  • Close the inlets on the wood stove.
  • Use a garden hose to spray down the roof (not the chimney) so the fire won't spread to the rest of the structure.

Information copyright Chimney Safety Institute of America. For more chimney safety tips, visit the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

Regardless of its use, there are a number of reasons to have any chimney cleaned or inspected annually. Whether for the venting of a heater, hot water heater, fireplace or wood stove, all chimneys are subject to deterioration. Corrosion, as well as the accumulation of creosote, soot, or nesting material, can become fire hazards. Dampers, chimney caps and your chimney’s masonry should also be inspected.

Although cleaning or inspecting a chimney can be a very dirty job, we take several precautions to collect all dust and debris and prevent it from entering your property.

Clements Chimney Sweep provides free estimates on any stated repair; however, this is not to be confused with an inspection. While we do offer free inspections during certain times of the year, and with certain conditions/restrictions, inspections are typically completed with additional fees assessed.

If asked to estimate a suspected problem, we will happily inspect your chimney; however, failed certifications with an estimate do not constitute a free estimate. We charge for certifications pass or fail.

For a Fireplace Certification:

  • Chimney cap checked for proper screen in good serviceable condition
  • Chimney crown checked for cracks, separation from liner and chimney wall and holes
  • Chimney liner checked for cracks, gaps, shifting tiles, deterioration (Spalding) and overall serviceability
  • Smoke chamber checked for cracks, gaps and holes
  • Damper checked for serviceability (Is it rusted? Does it operate? Is it a proper type?)
  • Firebox checked for cracks, gaps and (if it is a prefabricated firebox) panels
  • Hearth size and distance from combustibles
  • Mantle size and distance from combustibles
  • Does the fireplace need to be swept or deglazed?
    • * This would be an additional cost, if necessary, as to ascertain any of the above

For a Heater Certification:

  • Chimney caps
  • Crowns
  • Condition and size of liner
  • Proper connections to appliances
  • Cleanliness

For a Wood Stove and Fireplace Insert Certification:

  • Wood Stove and Fireplace Insert certifications require a combination of everything above.

Normally, no. The vacuum in the immediate area can be loud, but it is only slightly louder than your household vacuum.

Annual inspections are recommended for any in-use chimney. If fireplaces, inserts or wood stoves are used heavily, they should be cleaned more often.

It’s always important to call a chimney professional. Turn off any heaters and hot water heaters - even if you don’t smell or feel anything! It can be extremely dangerous to keep an oil or gas appliance running with a blocked or clogged chimney.

If the blockage is caused by creosote or soot, a professional should unblock and sweep the chimney, and line it with an appropriate material (we use exclusively 304 and 316 stainless steel). If the blockage is caused by the internal deterioration the chimney structure, you’ll likely want to look into a chimney liner.

A chimney cap is a covering at the top of your chimney that prevents animals from entering the chimney. It also allows proper venting while protecting the roof from burning embers that can cause a fire.

Chimney caps are made out of aluminum steel and stainless steel. All should have a secure welded screen. Some only cover the flue area, while some are caps that cover the entire chimney, known as multi flue caps. Multi flues tend to be the most expensive. Masonry and white tops are additional types of caps, but they tend to be very expensive.

A flue liner is made of either clay, aluminum, stainless steel, and it protects the masonry structure of the chimney from the effects of heat, fire or the acidic nature of flue gases.

An aluminum liner is only permitted for low temperature natural gas burning appliances. They are only guaranteed for 5 to 10 years, depending on manufacturer, and tend to corrode from the outside in. They should never be used in a case where oil, coal or wood has been used in the past. They should also not be used in chimneys where an ongoing moisture problem is present.

Creosote is a byproduct of burning wood. It is a gaseous vapor given off by incomplete combustion and it condenses on your flue, smoke chamber and chimney cap. It can condense as a liquid or as a fine dust, and it is very combustible.

Proper burning of a wood stove or fireplace will minimize, but not eliminate, creosote. A sweep removes creosote; however, the liquid build up must be removed chemically or with some other mechanical method.

The chimney refers to the outside structure, while the flue describes the pipe or passageway through the chimney used to vent a fireplace or heater. Every flue is part of one chimney, but a chimney can have as many as 10 or more flues.

A chimney inspection is a basic visual inspection of a chimney and the various flues in that chimney.

A chimney certification is a more labor intensive and detailed inspection, which often requires the removal of pipes and the use of special cameras.

A Level I Certification is an inspection that is conducted visually, looking for all of the above and with the removal of pipes. An estimate is provided for any repairs in order to pass a Level I Certification.

A Level II Certification requires the use of a chimney camera if we are not able to fully see given areas. Level II Certification is now being required in most areas and does cost more than a Level I.

All certifications - Level I and Level II - have a fee that is charged whether you pass or fail and is a per flue charge. Clements Chimney Sweep reserves the right to require payment prior to any certification.

Even the best masonry will absorb a certain amount of moisture, especially above the roof line where the chimney flattens out (the crown area). Since that portion of a chimney tends to be warm on the interior, and very cold on the outside during the winter, this will cause cracking and allow more water to be introduced. In warmer climates, this is not as pronounced. Water damage can be very destructive. Waterproofing should be completed every three or four years.

A masonry chimney will be made from stone, brick, concrete block and stucco or, in some cases, poured concrete block. A prefabricated chimney will be made from galvanized steel and aluminum (this would only be for a low-temperature gas appliance), galvanized and stainless steel and are air cooled (prefabricated or metal fireplaces) or it can be stainless steel inside and out with a solid pack insulator (normally used for wood stoves).

The type of chimney, especially prefabricated chimneys, must match the appliance or use. For example, you cannot use galvanized and aluminum chimney system for a wood stove or oil heater. This would be incredibly dangerous, but surprisingly it's not uncommon.

Yes - Clements Chimney Sweep requires a deposit, which includes cost of material. Deposits are nonrefundable after three business days. We strongly advise no deposit should be made unless you are 100% certain. Clements reserves the right postpone ordering material until after the three day period of time. All final payments are due at the time of completion by check or cash unless arrangements have been made prior. Clements reserves the right to charge $60 for bounced or returned checks or credit card charges.