The Chimney Safety Institute of America is rolling out a public awareness campaign, starting before National Chimney Safety Week, to provide homeowners with facts and resources so we can reduce the number of unwanted chimney fires during the 2014-15 heating season.

Some 24,000 fires related to the chimney occur annually, costing millions of dollars in property damage.

The awareness campaign is meant to highlight the need for residents to contact their local CSIA certified chimney sweep for an inspection of their fireplace or wood stove. That’s whether they are daily users or simply want to enjoy 1 or 2 fires associated with the holidays.

The chimney is one of the least-understood parts of the home, and it’s job is to safely funnel smoke from the appliance to the outdoors. But chimneys need to be maintained and inspected annually. Our nearly 1,500 CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps can determine if the chimney is in need of sweeping and/or repair. The CSIA pros can be a help with whatever type of heating appliance that you use in your home. The CSIA pros can talk to you about the flue, and what other appliances in your house, such as your furnace, share the same chimney! The CSIA pros can talk to you about frequency of use – whether it is a primary heating source.

They are trained to look for creosote, cracks, and any problems with the venting.

“We’ve just come from what was a historic cold-weather season in 2013-14, and this year, some parts of the country — in September! — have already experienced summer snow,” said Mark A. Stoner, president of CSIA’s national board of directors. “That’s the reason for Chimney Check Plus 2014-15.”

“The theme is, ‘Don’t give your chimney the cold shoulder’.”

In the opinion of Ashley Eldridge, CSIA’s director of education, too many fires related to chimneys and solid-fuel appliances are occurring. [See our roundup of fires in 2013-14 that included a serious chimney fire in Kansas City, in Oklahoma City, in Indianapolis, and in all areas of the country. We started seeing reports of chimney fires in late October 2013.]

The problem is so widespread that in 2014, CSIA created a brochure/pamphlet to give to firefighters, “After a Chimney Fire,” who in turn provide them to victims of fires they have been called to fight.

CSIA, a nonprofit that educates chimney pros and provides homeowner resources, has devoted a page on our website to Chimney Check Plus 2014-15. On it, you’ll see loads of resources, including a special news release that is being distributed nationally in support of National Chimney Safety Week, Sept. 28-Oct. 4. (Special thanks to Orion Safety Products, makers of Chimfex, Chimney Fire Extinguisher, for supporting distribution of that news release).

CSIA is working with news media as well as providing content to consumers directly in the form of videos on our YouTube channel. All of our material is share-able both on social media and traditional media. We’re on Facebook and Twitter (see the side of this blog!)

CSIA advocates safety — get that chimney inspected as soon as you can. Use our zip-code locator on If you don’t have a CSIA sweep in your area, you can find a company that has membership with our sister organization, the National Chimney Sweep Guild.

If you don’t employ a CSIA certified chimney sweep, there’s no guarantee that they know the three levels of inspection or have knowledge of proper chimney construction or installation details. You don’t want a handyman unfamiliar with this information doing this type of work.

While CSIA has no control over pricing, we do have information on our website about what a typical inspection would include, with lots of useful info.

Be safe and inspect to protect.