We here at Mike’s Clean Sweeps always encourage our clients to do their own research. The folks who write the codes that govern this profession sit on national and international code committees and spend their time combing through the data on structure fires. It is through the collaborative effort of dedicated specialists that we have a standard of care in the chimney and venting industry. But, due in part to the scarcity of qualified technicians, realtors are reluctant to follow national guidelines with regard to requiring Level 2 Inspections, and, as a result, a great many homeowners are unknowingly operating fireplaces that are unfit for use.
That’s why we employ a variety of cutting-edge specialized cameras from top to bottom every time we service a chimney. We follow the National Fire Protection Code, which maintains that if a chimney is cleaned it must be inspected, that these guidelines represent only the minimum standard, and all technicians certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America are obligated to meet or exceed this minimum standard for fire safety. This is earthquake country. What good is sweeping a chimney if it is riddled with voids and dangerously close to combustibles? A cleaning, while useful, does not render a fireplace fit for use.
This is why a camera-based chimney inspection is the only meaningful approach to preventing structure fires related to fireplace use. We often find cracked lining tiles, large mortar voids between tiles, or, especially in older homes, no flue tiles at all. Home heating remains the second leading cause of structure fires in the United States. Technicians that claim to inspect a fireplace who do not run a camera are gravely misleading their clients about what they know regarding the condition and potential hazards of the system.
My philosophy is to be straight-up with people. I have found that, in the end, it’s always best to be honest and do the right thing, even if it’s embarrassing or leads to losing a job. What it really boils down to is safety, and, although I do not win over every potential customer, I have the satisfaction of knowing that the people who do hire me respect the specialized nature of the trade and are willing to pay for a higher quality of service.
About the Owner
Michael Carlson is the owner at Mike’s Clean Sweeps. A Bay Area native with diverse interests and talents, Mike grew up with one parent in construction and the other a second-generation realtor, helping to shape his appreciation for the hard work it takes to make a house a home.
After touring the United States several times with his high school band, Mike soon found himself studying history at Reed College. He was offered a publishing deal for his 380 page diploma thesis by Verlag Dr. Mueller, a German publishing firm specializing in undergraduate work. Following graduation Mike worked as a construction laborer for six months, saved his money, and took off to Europe for four months of backpacking.
In his spare time Mike enjoys discussing history, geography, the immigrant experience, and fields related to race and labor studies.