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Chimney and Vents Require Inspection Before Installation of a New Hearth Appliance
Date:  3/15/2000
ArticleType:  Press Release

March 15, 2000 – Indianapolis, Ind. – In an effort to protect against unnecessary fire and carbon monoxide poisonings, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that homeowners installing a new hearth appliance have their chimney and venting systems inspected by a certified chimney sweep before the installation process begins.

“Every hearth appliance has specific venting requirements,” says Greg Williamson, executive director of the CSIA. “Homeowners should always have a certified chimney sweep determine if their chimney and venting system can handle the addition of the new hearth appliance or if modifications to the system are necessary.”

Throughout the country this year, many people will be replacing or upgrading an old hearth appliance that is currently vented through an existing chimney and venting system. For example, they might add a set of gas logs to a wood-burning fireplace or install a new wood, gas or pellet fireplace insert in place of an old wood burning fireplace insert.

If the chimney and venting system is not adequate or is in poor condition, installing a new hearth appliance can result in carbon monoxide seeping back into a home, chimney fires or poor performance of the new hearth appliance.

When assessing the addition of a new hearth appliance to a home's chimney and venting system, a certified chimney sweep reviews the following questions:

  • Current and new appliance: What type of appliance and fuel is the homeowner currently using? What type of appliance and fuel is the homeowner installing? Is the chimney and venting system capable of venting the new appliance or does it require modification? For example, replacing a wood fireplace insert with a gas fireplace insert will generally mean modifications to a chimney and venting system, such as the addition of a chimney liner.
  • Condition of chimney and venting system : No matter what type of appliance will be installed, the chimney and venting system needs to be free of obstructions, cracks in the flue as well as cleared of creosote. The addition of gas logs to a wood burning fireplace requires that the fireplace is in good working order and able to burn wood.
  • Flue size: Is the flue in the chimney the proper size for the new appliance? If a homeowner is switching from wood to gas, the flue diameter might be too large and a new, smaller liner might need to be installed.
  • Liner: Does the chimney have the proper liner? If a chimney is masonry and does not have a liner, the new appliance will require the installation of a liner, regardless of what type of fuel.
  • Chimney Height : If a chimney is not tall enough to create the necessary draft for the new hearth appliance, the chimney will either need to be heightened or a different type of appliance might need to be considered.
  • Air pressure in home: If the home is extremely air tight -- like many new homes are today -- the existing chimney and venting system might not be able to handle the addition of the new appliance. The recommendation at that point might be to add a direct vent hearth appliance (no chimney required) instead of a natural venting appliance.

After this inspection process, the certified chimney sweep provides a complete analysis of the condition chimney and venting system to the homeowner. If necessary, the certified chimney sweep can meet with the hearth retailer installing the hearth appliance to determine the correct course of action for the homeowner, such as who will perform the repairs and if the information obtained during the inspection warrants the selection of a different type of hearth appliance.

Both the CSIA and the National Fire Protection Association recommend yearly chimney inspections to help prevent fire and carbon monoxide poisonings.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 1998, there were 26,900 residential fires in the United States originating in chimneys, fireplaces and residential heating equipment. These fires resulted in 480 personal injuries, 130 deaths and $251.4 million in property damage.

The CSIA also recommends that homeowners have inspections performed by chimney sweeps that are CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps. These certified chimney sweeps have earned the industry's most respected credential by passing an intensive examination based on fire codes, clearances and standards for the construction and maintenance of chimney and venting systems.

CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps also have extensive knowledge of the combustion processes of chimneys, fireplaces (both masonry and pre-fabricated), central furnaces and all hearth appliances – such as gas, pellet and EPA-certified wood stoves and fireplace inserts. They are also well versed in the characteristics of all fuels available for home heating such as wood, gas, and wood pellets. This knowledge allows them to expertly diagnose and solve chimney and venting problems.

The CSIA, established in 1983, is a non-profit, educational institution, dedicated to educating the public about the prevention of chimney safety hazards.

For more information on chimney safety, or for a list of CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps, call (800) 536-0118 or visit the CISA web site at www.csia.org. The CSIA is located at 2155 Commercial Drive, Plainfield IN, 46168

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