Masters Services, a Dallas chimney sweep starts video inspections.
You cannot inspect a chimney using a flashlight alone. Masters Services, a Dallas chimney sweep starts video inspections. It is impossible to see the middle of the chimney flue without using a camera.
Long before Masters Services was a chimney sweep Dallas professional most other chimney services did not use a camera. To this day most chimney sweeps in Dallas do not use a camera to inspect the chimney flue. Why? Most chimney companies in Dallas are not Certified.
What is inspected during a safety video inspection?
Going from the bottom first the camera will look at the smoke shelf. The smoke shelf is the space behind the damper. Masters Services is looking to see if the smoke shelf is clear of any leaves or any other debris. We are determining if an animal or bird has been living in the chimney OR is still living on the smoke shelf. We want to see is its sold and not cracked up of missing any lining.
Going up we then are looking at the smoke chamber. Is it parged and/or need to be lined. The NFPA 211 Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances states in 22.214.171.124 The inner surfaces of the smoke chamber shall be parge coated smooth, with an insulating refractory mortar, and not inclined more than 45 degrees from vertical. This means no stair stepping of the brick leading up to the flue.
The chimney flue. Chimney liners must be present free of cracks and a solid lining is present. Masters Services is Certified Thermocrete Installers. Here is a great before picture of a chimney that needs relining...
As you can see above the before picture shows a chimney that has clearly never been lined, ever! In Dallas this is common. The original construction crews building chimneys did not know to line the chimney. This is why our chimney sweep Dallas starts video camera inspections. Properly inspecting the chimney to get the chimney at minimum to code requirements is our goal.
The importance of chimney lining was brought to my attention only after getting some education from becoming a Certified Chimney Professional around 10 years ago.
Why is it important to be a certified chimney sweep Dallas? The simple answer is to prove you have studied the chimney industry and the current safety codes. It is not state required to become certified so hiring a company that has gone above and beyond to get certified shows that the company cares about being educated in chimney's and fireplaces.
If given the choice would you choose a non-certified professional or a certified professional?
Here is the reasons to hire a certified professional:
- Passed a professional level test in knowing the current codes.
- Passed a professional level test in knowing the current best methods of repairs.
- Passed a professional level test in knowing the current standards.
- Committed to Certified Chimney Professionals "Code of Conduct".
- Took it upon themselves to better their chimney knowledge and education above the competition.
Masters Services owner Chad Murray has earned his Certified Master Chimney Technician accreditation. As of the writing of this blog he is the only CMCT in the Dallas market.
As a chimney sweep Dallas service we started camera inspections and learned the very first day the importance of putting a camera up in the chimney flue. On a one story chimney that was less than 14 feet tall we found a flue tile liner was cracked and missing four square inches of lining. You could not see this with the naked eye. Shocked us from the first day!
Video inspections have become Masters Services biggest asset over our competition along with our relining machine. Upon doing a camera inspection we see every little fire hazardous repair needed. Masters Services has followed up other chimney services and was able to locate smoking issues they could not solve due to not having a camera.
Chimney camera inspections also are recorded and uploaded to Masters Services chimney sweep Dallas service clients estimates. This shared chimney inspection video can be a tool to gauge the condition of the flue from year to year. Seeing the video from previous years can really help analyse your usage for safety purposes.
Here is a chimney flue safety video inspection we did in Dallas recently...
In this chimney sweep video inspection you can see the exposed brick at the top and the terra cotta flue liner coming down the chimney flue. You can see the joints all looked sealed. You could not see the joints from the bottom or top of the flue with just using a flashlight.
Our video inspections have a home inspector look to them with pictures and a video. All the parts of the chimney are viewed and evaluated for safety.
Masters Services inspects these components of the chimney...
- Mortar Crown, the very top of the chimney must be sealed and solid with no cracks.
- The chimney chase needs to be a good solid structure.
- The chimney chase needs to be crack free and no missing or loose bricks.
- The flashing needs to be installed correctly to maintain a good water shed away from the chimney.
- A chimney cap must be present.
- The chimney should be waterproofed every 8-10 years.
- The chimney must meet the code height requirements.
Chimney caps are the most important item if missing that needs to be addressed. Not having a chimney cap causes water penetration into the chimney flue. Moisture creates mortar deterioration and rusting of the damper. The moisture running down onto the smoke shelf creates fire hazardous cracking in the firebox. Getting your firebox rebuilt is an expensive repair as well as relining the flue which all could of been avoided. Chimney caps slow down deterioration and stop invaders from entering the chimney flue.
The fireplace components that are inspected include...
- The Damper. It must open and close completely and easily.
- The smoke chamber must be parged and lined.
- The firebox walls mush be free of any cracks and must be solid.
- The lintel must be sealed. The lintel is the angle iron holding the window of brick over the opening fireplace.
- The chimney flue must be lined without cracks or missing mortar.
- If present the gas starter pipe must be working and rust free.
- If present the fireplace doors must be installed properly directly on the firebox.
- The firebox must meet the code for proper sizing of the flue opening for drafting.
An issue that comes up often is a fireplace door installed on a masonry fronted prefabricated firebox. This is against code because it creates an extension of the firebox outside the fireplace. It creates a major fire hazard. Doors again must be installed directly on the firebox.
Masters Services has been in Dallas as a chimney sweep for over 20 years. The video camera has allowed us to see repairs in nooks and crannies that you just cannot see with the camera. We can also prove the repair is needed by showing the client the damage. Many times we are a second opinion or the client gets a second opinion where the other chimney service doesn't do a camera repair noticing the fire hazard present. I couldn't tell you the countless times we get call backs hiring us that tell us about other services not inspecting their chimney as thoroughly as Masters Services. Brings me great joy to know we are the gold standard of chimney inspections in Dallas, Texas.
There was a time as a chimney sweep I truly believed video inspections were not necessary. I was dead wrong! Now seeing what I've seen over the years doing camera inspections on video vs not doing them I am convinced there is no other way to evaluate a chimney for safety. The usage of your fireplace being the safest possible is Masters Services goal. Its true that no chimney sweep, certified or not, can guarantee the function of your fireplace to not have a chimney fire but studies have shown by having your chimney up to code slows the fire severity.
Too many factors are out of control of the chimney companies to stop chimney fires. The absolute best way to prevent chimney fires is to have an annual camera chimney inspection with a video. Many things happen to chimneys over the course of a year. High wind storms can create chimney cap damage. High usage can create too much soot making the fireplace not draw properly.
Draw is also an inspection guess. A perfectly built chimney may not draw the smoke up the chimney. The house may have a negative pressure spot in the room of the chimney creating back puffing. Masters Services rebuilt a chimney after a tornado that did not draw properly when the windows were not yet installed. The customer was furious at us until we showed up and saw the roof was exposed, the windows were all gone leaving the room the fireplace was in not under any house pressures. This house pressure pusses out the smoke and the outside pressure pulls. An inspection typically can see the drafting issue but sometime not. For example if someone just moves in and has never used the fireplace before. A learning curve may be necessary to learn how to stat your fireplace drafting. A window may need to cracked or closed.
As you can see many factors outside the camera inspection can occur. Having the same Certified Chimney Professional inspect your chimney year after year is also a good idea. See previous video inspections could help with knowing the functions of that particular fireplace can be very helpful. Having documented the chimney over the years also could be good for resale of the house. Showing the inspection reports over the years shows you have taken care of your chimney.
Often we get negative comments on how thorough our inspects are in detail. Not everything is a code violation. Waterproofing a chimney is a recommendation, not a code violation. Having a chimney cap just cover the flue opening is not a code violation. However, having a cap cover the entire chimney top does protect the chimney much better than not have it cover the top. Be aware of what needs to be brought up to code and what is a just good preventative maintenance.
Masters Services, a Dallas chimney sweep starts video inspections to bring the best reporting to the chimney industry. Call 972-877-4650 for your video camera safety inspection