Chimney Sweeping, Smoke Alarms, and the Educated Homeowner
A chimney sweep is recommended at least once annually by the National Fire Protection Agency – from their mouths to your ears (or eyes, in this case) – Standard 211: “chimneys, fireplace, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”
But let us assume that this is not an industry regulation that you find necessary for the safety and functionality of your home – fine. The chimney has never been cleaned before, why start now, right?
The National Fire Protection agency recently wrote an article about why they continue to push the importance of smoke-alarm awareness. In short, the state fire marshal of Massachusetts held a press conference due to an increased amount of house fires – many of the homes reported in these fires did not have working smoke-alarms. Here’s another statistic from the article that may be mildly alarming (pun intended) – “Almost 40 percent of the fire deaths that occur in the U.S. are in homes with no smoke alarms” (NFPA-Journal). The number one cause of house fires is cooking equipment, second to this is heating equipment – that would include the chimney, or furnace – potentially both of those have flues which are exhausted by your chimney (note: we are aware that newer furnaces can and do often exhaust out the side of the basement wall anymore).
Okay, shop around and do your thing when it comes to getting the chimney swept – find the cheapest deal, and get the cheapest sweep ever, but ask if he or she is certified by the CSIA, and did you get a camera inspection done, because how is he going to tell what exactly is happening up in the flue system – are there holes, is there missing mortar between flue-tile joints, and what about the flue liner? Is that so totally free of debris, like the highly flammable creosote that builds up in the chimney flue system due to burning? What about a chimney fire – is there any indication that one of those has occurred in the flue system, because there could be serious damage done to the liner or flue tiles.
If you are not sure about any of these answers, and neither is your potentially non-certified chimney sweep, you will definitely need to ensure the longevity and active-alertness of the smoke detectors in your home. No sweep, no peace of mind – I guess you can leave it to your smoke-detector/alarm. In our minds they are sort of hand-in-hand.
How many years is a smoke-detector/alarm good for? Right – 10 years.
Take the smoke detector/alarm off of the ceiling or wall, and ensure you are not surpassing that expiration date. There are often instructions on chirps, if the smoke-detector/alarm has started chirping. And in case there was ever any confusion about the chirping – the smoke-detector/alarm was not designed with a chirp to be ignored. For the millennials, imagine the chirp is like your phone pinging you with a text message – like, “HEY! I’M GONNA NEED A NEW BATTERY, LIKE NOW.”
Getting your venting systems swept is intended to give you a peace of mind – the smoke alarm is the peace of mind’s teammate. Decreasing the potential hazards of destroying your home is always advised – we are giving you two ways to increase the peace of mind of home ownership – for free.
Get the chimney swept by a certified chimney sweep – Chimney & Masonry Outfitters – and check your smoke-detectors/alarms (or install them if you have not already).
Referenced articles: NFPA – STATISTICS