Within the fireplace and chimney services industry, the 2016 scuffle between the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and Angie’s List is fairly well-known. For those of you not familiar with the issue, here’s the thumbnail version.
Angie’s List, a popular article mill, posted a piece that implied that homeowners could properly clean their own chimneys. Knowing this was false, misleading and dangerous information, the CSIA got to work and forced Angie’s List to remove the article titled “How to Clean Your Chimney.”
In a letter to the president of Angie’s List, shown here on the CSIA blog, CSIA President Mark A. Stoner wrote:
“Encouraging the average homeowner, who does not meet the (National Fire Protection Association’s) definition of a ‘qualified agency’, to perform his or her own chimney service [. . .] is not only irresponsible and negligent but could lead directly to the loss of life or property due to a chimney fire or carbon monoxide intrusion into the residence.”
Stoner continued: “By posting this article to its website and promoting it via social media, Angie’s List has effectively endorsed this content and it should be held liable for any and all damages ensuing from a homeowner’s adherence to instructions therein.”
Why DIY chimney cleaning is not recommended
Mark Stoner of the CSIA was right in pulling out all the stops to get Angie’s List to remove that article. While there are some fireplace and chimney maintenance tasks the average homeowner can perform safely and effectively (cleaning the firebox; doing a general inspection of chimney masonry or some of the chimney’s components), cleaning creosote out of a chimney is not one of them.
Professional chimney sweeps go through a rigorous process to obtain valued certifications from the CSIA and other hearth-industry agencies. These include:
- Certified Chimney Professional
- Certified Master Chimney Technician
- Certified Chimney Sweep
- Certified Chimney Reliner
Individuals who hold these and other high-level certifications have demonstrated that they understand the multiple elements of a chimney’s operation and structure and have shown specific expertise in using the tools and equipment that are industry-standard in cleaning chimneys.
Don’t let a “handyman” work on your chimney
When you allow an untrained individual to clean or do other work on your chimney, you’re setting yourself up for some potentially serious problems.
Creosote, which forms in a chimney every time wood burns, is highly flammable and is the cause of most chimney fires in the U.S. each year. Cleaning creosote out of a chimney often is a challenging job – even for a professional. Creosote can present as a flakey, sticky or solid substance. Each form requires specific actions for effective removal.
Certified chimney sweeps make use of electric and hand brushes, specialized solvents, scrapers, vacuums and other equipment to safely remove creosote without damaging the chimney’s interior masonry or liner.
Just as you would only go to a qualified physician to perform an important medical procedure, you should only hire a qualified, certified chimney sweep to clean your chimney. This professional will know a lot more about the cleaning process and chimneys in general than any “average” person.
High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is staffed with trained, experienced, certified chimney professionals. When we clean your chimney, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing it was done correctly and in accord with all safety precautions. Give us a call at (301) 519-3500 for your next professional chimney service.