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The Importance of CSIA Certification

When it’s time to have the chimney swept, many homeowners choose to go with the least expensive company they can find. While this may save you a little bit of money in the short term, it may end up costing you more in the long run. Although a less expensive chimney sweep company can save you a few bucks, they may lack the knowledge, education, training, or expertise to correctly sweep or inspect your chimney system.

Instead of going with the least expensive chimney sweep – or the first one listed in the phone book – make sure to hire a chimney sweep with a CSIA certification. By hiring a CSIA certified chimney sweep, you can rest assured that you are working with a highly trained professional who understands that ins and outs of chimney maintenance and repair.

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What is a CSIA certification?

The Chimney Safety Institute of America, or CSIA, was founded in 1983 as a non-profit organization with the mission “to advance public awareness while educating and certifying industry professionals”. Part of this mission included the creation of the CSIA certification. This professional designation for chimney sweeps represents the highest standards in the industry; chimney sweeps who have earned this certification have had to undergo a rigorous education, training, and testing process on many different topics in the chimney and fireplace industry. CSIA certified chimney sweeps are tested on information such as:

  • Current fireplace and chimney safety practices
  • Wide range of knowledge of fireplace and chimney building dynamics
  • Local building and fire codes
  • Maintenance and installation of heating appliances such as inserts and stoves
  • EPA standards for fireplaces, stoves, and other heating appliances
    Why is the importance of a CSIA certification?

Because the fireplace industry lacks many formal regulations, anyone with a chimney brush and a truck can call themselves a chimney sweep. However, uncertified chimney sweeps often end up doing more harm than good, doing little more than pushing the soot out of the chimney and into your home.

A certified chimney sweep can do much more than just remove the soot and creosote from your flue; because of their extensive education and training, they are often able to identify minor problems before they turn into major issues. This not only makes your fireplace and chimney safer to use, but can also save you money on costly future repairs.

How to find the right chimney sweep

Finding the right CSIA certified chimney sweep is about much more than a quick Google search or leafing through the phone book. Before hiring a chimney sweep, consider asking the following questions:

  • How long has the chimney sweeping company been in business?
  • Does the company offer current references?
  • Does the company have unresolved complaints filed within the city or state consumer protection agency or Better Business Bureau?
  • Does the company or individual carry a valid business liability insurance policy to protect your home and furnishings against accidents?
  • Does the company ensure that a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep will be on the job site?

If you live in the Seattle area, trust the CSIA certified chimney sweeps at Pristine Sweeps to care for your chimney and fireplace system. Contact us today to schedule your next chimney services!

Starting A Cold Fireplace

After a long summer of disuse, many homeowners are unsure of how to start the first fireplace of the season in their fireplace. Learning how to start a cold fireplace can allow you to better enjoy your first fire – as well as the rest of the burning season. The following tips will help you better start your cold fireplace this fall.

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1. Have the chimney swept

The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that chimneys should be swept at least once per year. Having a chimney swept removes creosote, a flammable buildup created by burning wood that can lead to chimney fires; likewise, it also ensures that there is no debris or other flammable material in the chimney. By having the chimney swept before you begin to use your fireplace for the season you can ensure it is clean and safe to use all winter long.

2. Check your smoke detectors

Having a fireplace means it is necessary to have certain safety equipment – namely, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. These need to be placed on every level of the home as well as outside of sleeping areas. Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors should be tested every month to prevent the batteries in them from dying. Likewise, detectors should be replaced at least once every 10 years to ensure they meet current safety standards.

3. Fully open the damper

Opening the damper before you start a fire allows the chimney to begin drawing air in. This drafting process is what prevents ash, soot, and smoke from blowing back into the room when the fire is lit. Dampers should be fully opened during the entire burning process, from lighting kindling to waiting for the ashes to extinguish.

4. Warm the flue

A traditional throat damper seals off the firebox from flue, but leaves the rest of the chimney open to outside air. Because of this, the temperature in the chimney may be significantly colder than the temperature inside your home. Too much cold air in the flue can sink when a fire is lit; this can cause smoke, ash, and soot to blow back into your home. However, this can be prevented by warming the flue. To warm the flue, simply hold a bundle of lit kindling or newspaper under the open damper for several minutes before lighting the fire; this small amount of heat can help warm the air temperature in the flue and prevent a major blowback of cold air.

5. Choose the right firewood

The kind of firewood you use can have a major impact on how well your fireplace functions. Homeowners should do their best to only burn seasoned hardwoods in indoor fireplaces; well-seasoned wood has a significantly lower moisture content then fresh cut or green wood. This lower moisture content allows it to ignite quickly and burn more efficiently with minimal creosote creation. Likewise, hardwoods like oak or maple are preferred because they burn hotter and create less smoke than softwoods such as fir or pine.