I occasionally come across situations where a chimney should not be swept. Sometimes the deterioration is so bad that sweeping a chimney could actually cause a collapse of the system and only make matters much worse. Here are some good examples:

A chimney is no longer safe, the customer is aware, but wants to use the system anyway –

I will not sweep that system because first, I want the customer to realize the severity of the situation and that they are putting their life in danger.

Two is liability. Let’s say, heaven forbid, a chimney fire occurs after I swept the system. Who becomes liable? You guessed it..

A chimney is no longer safe and the customer was unaware –

While it is not a fun conversation, safety is my number one priority. This is when we go over options and hazards associated with the chimneys current condition.

A real estate professional just wants a sweep and insists on no inspection –

A level II inspection is required for the sale or transfer of a property and defers the liability away from the seller and sellers agent by doing so.

It is also imperative to know the condition of a fireplace before buying a home. Over the weekend I had a disappointed new homeowner that purchased as house with a fireplace only to find out that the fireplace was no longer in operational condition. In summary, a sweep only is not the best option when buying or selling a home.

As a CSIA certified professional, it is my duty to ensure that a fireplace is safe and that the homeowner is getting the proper level of service needed. Please don’t take it personally or think I am trying to sell you something if I will not sweep a system. I rather go home at the end of the day with no money, knowing that I protected my customer from a dangerous situation.