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True or False: “I don’t have a fireplace, so I don’t need a chimney sweep.”

False. OK, maybe that was a little obvious, but we hear this line over and over. Here in the DC metro area, almost every home has some sort of system for venting the products of combustion. The vast majority of homes heat their air and water using oil or natural gas. Both of these types of fuel generate heat through combustion and produce dangerous byproducts like carbon monoxide that must be properly vented, typically through a chimney.

“But my furnace company checks the furnace every year – I don’t need a chimney inspection.”

False again. Furnace and HVAC companies work on the units and the ducting systems, they almost never work on the chimney itself. Only a CSIA certified chimney technician is qualified to inspect a chimney flue to ensure that it is properly constructed and functioning. Chimney technicians don’t work on furnaces, and furnace techs don’t work on chimneys. In this area, even if a flue was constructed properly, it needs regular inspection to ensure that it is in good repair, as well as to ensure it is properly matched with the furnace or water heater systems. Modern gas appliances are highly efficient, usually capturing 80-95% of the energy in natural gas to heat the home. While this is great for our heating bills, it can be problematic, especially in older homes that were built when much less efficient heating was available.

Because more efficient units don’t need to burn as much gas to heat the home, the volume of the exhaust is less. The temperature of the same exhaust is also lowered. When that exhaust enters an oversized furnace flue, it can have a very difficult time venting up the chimney, as it expands into the larger space, causing it to cool. The most obvious sign of this problem is a wet furnace flue. The water vapor in the cooling exhaust condenses on the inside surface of the flue, where it can seep into the chimney. While this can cause long term damage to the chimney structure [see leaky chimney blog post], the more pressing issue is that the exhaust can cool to the point where it vents back into the house, potential causing carbon monoxide buildup.

“I have a heat pump or electric heating. Do I still need a chimney sweep?”

That depends. If you have a dryer in your home, then yes. We inspect and clean dryer vents too. While cleaning your dryer’s lint filter every time will help, every dryer vent eventually needs cleaning to remove the extremely flammable lint that builds up there.

So, if you’re wondering if you need a regular inspection from a chimney technician, ask yourself these three questions:

Do I have a fireplace? Do I have gas or oil heating? Do I have a dryer in my home?

If you answered no to all three, then maybe you really don’t need the services of a chimney technician. Otherwise, call Rooftop Chimney Sweeps today!

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