PARKERSBURG -This week kicks off National Chimney Safety Week. This year is all about helping people avoid falling prey to the most commonly used "chimney scams," officials said.
The chimney safety week comes the week before fire prevention week to remind community members of how important getting their chimneys swept is. Parkersburg Fire Department Chief Inspector Tim Flinn said it's important for people to get their chimneys checked after leaving them unused in the warmer months.
"We like to remind people to get their chimneys cleaned and inspected by qualified people," he said.
Flinn said their are local chimney inspectors in the area. If anyone is unsure of who they have hired for the job, Flinn said, it's a good idea to check references and credentials.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) will be listing the four most common chimney scams on their website all week. The organization has noted the No. 1 scam is pricing tricks.
"Rates for chimney cleaning can certainly vary from region to region and job to job," according to the website. "A basic level one chimney inspection and sweeping should cost no more than $300."
CSIA said if a chimney's venting system has not changed and the homeowner plans to use their system as they have in the past, the recommended sweep is the level one. A level one inspection checks on the venting system, technicians should look for the basic "soundness of the chimney structure and flue" and the basic appliance installation and connections. The technician should also verify the chimney does not contain any obstructions or combustible deposits.
A level two inspection is required when any changes are made to the system. The level two inspection is a more in-depth inspection. When the result of a level one or level two inspection suggests a hidden hazard and the evaluation cannot be performed without special tools to access concealed areas of the chimney or flue, a level three inspection is recommended.
The CSIA's level three inspection includes all the areas and items checked in the previous inspections, as well as the removal of certain components of the building or chimney where necessary. Removal of components (i.e., chimney crown, interior chimney wall) shall be required only when necessary to gain access to areas that are the subject of the inspection. When "serious hazards are suspected, a Level 3 inspection may well be required to determine the condition of the chimney system."
According to the CSIA chimneys should be inspected for cleanliness once a year. Cleaning, maintenance and repairs should be done when necessary.
Anyone with questions regarding chimney inspections or any other fire safety related topics in the area can contact the Parkersburg Fire Prevention Bureau at 304-482-4222. To find a certified chimney sweeper in your area, go to www.csia.org.