We at Mike’s Clean Sweeps care about what we do.
We feel it important to inform folks that ours is a challenging and diverse trade, with many sub areas and specialties, and not a whimsical janitorial service. Doing a good job in the chimney trade requires extensive training. While we all have to start somewhere, sweeps that concentrate on the cleaning aspect of the trade often give a green light to fireplaces that are not fit for use. When we run our cameras we sometimes find that the previous sweeping company has not performed a thorough cleaning. Since some technicians never run a camera, they are not always aware that their efforts are insufficient.
The dirtiest chimneys require the latest technology to be properly cleaned. We use SnapLok rods and choose a powered, rotary method that spins a brush head or whip to thoroughly scrub the flue tiles.
We no longer provide cleanings without an inspection due to the frequency with which we discover concealed defects when we run our cameras. And yet, because there is so little public awareness of the chimney trade, many realtors will ignore the National Fire Protection Association’s requirement that a Level 2 Chimney Inspection be performed with every transfer of property. Since there are so few technicians in this area who can provide a full Level 2, buyers are often left in the dark regarding whether their solid-fuel burning appliance is fit for use. Owning a functioning chimney adds significant value to a home. Yet fireplace inspection is treated by some as a troublesome tipping point that could jeopardize a sale and not a vital safety issue worthy of investigation.
We’re not just talking about the mere possibility of a structure fire related to fireplace use, what is at hand is a crisis of public awareness wherein community leaders have their heads in the proverbial sand and virtually no chimneys are being inspected per the requirements of our national standard. Most municipalities have adopted the California Residential Code but few have specifically adopted the inspection provisions of NFPA 211, the national standard governing fireplaces and chimneys. This means that, because this minimum standard is not enforceable, because, one might say, they can get away with it, folks think these rules do not apply to them.
In sum, most fireplaces were never built correctly to begin with, and almost none are being inspected per the minimum national standard, especially around here. When they are inspected, they are frequently damaged by time, lack of proper maintenance, and seismic activity. As a result, all too often we find that our clients have fireplaces that are not fit for use. Additionally, as the rising cost of home heating has many folks considering their ‘off the grid’ options, thousands of homes are being sold with the chimneys unchecked, and, since our weather is generally mild, many homeowners are suddenly looking toward their fireplace as a source of full-time, seasonal heat—unaware of concealed hazards that could be identified if we paid greater attention to how the national standards dovetailed with local requirements.
Many potentially hazardous situations could be avoided if we as a community acknowledge that the inspection provision of our national standard governing fireplaces and chimneys exists to keep us all safe from the very real threat of fire. When would be a better time than at the transfer of property to assess whether a given fireplace is up to the code already adopted by the municipality? And, more importantly, is it not the right thing to do?
We at Mike’s Clean Sweeps are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America, and are therefore obliged to meet if not exceed the requirements of NFPA 211, and we just think it is crazy that new homeowners must “try out” their fireplace and hope it is not falling apart on the inside. For us, safety of our clients is paramount, and no one deserves a false sense of security when fire is involved.
If you are new to chimneys, take a look around our website. If you have the time, you will see why continuing education is the cornerstone of our company. In 2023 we attended the Fireplace Investigation Research and Education Service six day seminar and, after 48 hours of tested instruction, we are proud to announce that owner Mike Carlson is F.I.R.E. Certified Fireplace and Chimney Inspector #FCI-396.
Thanks for your interest and we look forward to meeting you in person!