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Why Professional Certifications Matter

Before hiring a chimney sweep to complete your annual chimney maintenance, you should do a bit of research to find the best sweep. While recommendations from your friends and neighbors are helpful, there is one important qualification you  should be looking for. You need to know if your sweep has been certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). This certification guarantees that this chimney sweep has the knowledge and training necessary to properly sweep and inspect your chimney. You can also trust a CSIA-certified chimney sweep to treat you fairly and honestly. Blue Ridge Chimney Services is proud to have CSIA-certified chimney sweeps on our staff, and want to explain why it’s important to us.

What is the CSIA?Why Professional Certifications Matter Image - Shenandoah Valley, VA - Blue Ridge Chimney Services

Founded in 1983, the CSIA leads the chimney and venting industry when it comes to educating service professionals on the techniques, skills, and safety practices. That includes education for the public on the dangers of chimney fires and other hazards related to the operation and maintenance of chimney and venting systems. This non-profit organization developed nationally recognized certification programs for chimney sweeps as well as dryer vent technicians.

What is involved with receiving CSIA certification?

To prepare for the certification exams, chimney sweeps study three publications: Successful Chimney Sweeping, the 2016 edition of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 211 Code, and the 2015 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC). Sweeps can participate in the CSIA’s National Chimney Sweep Training School, an in-person review session, or an online review session. After completing the review session, chimney sweeps have up to one year to take two exams to receive certification. At the time of these exams, chimney sweeps must also pay fees and sign the CSIA Code of Ethics. The code of ethics includes keeping up with changes in chimney technology and building codes, and conducting themselves in a fair and honest manner. Certified chimney sweeps sign this and uphold this pledge. A CSIA-certified chimney sweep must renew his or her certification every three years.

You can trust a CSIA-certified chimney sweep to properly take care of any chimney needs you may have. If you live in the Shenandoah Valley, contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps.

By Elizabeth Guy on April 6th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

The Importance of Reviewing Your Chimney Sweep Online

Whenever you hire someone to provide a professional service in your home, it is important to know how reputable and trustworthy that person is. This helps you from possibly getting scammed by a dishonest business. In addition, it can ensure your safety when it comes to professional services. It can be easy to find out the reputation of businesses when you have lived in the same area for years. This is because you can ask your friends, neighbors, and family for their recommendations. However, when you have just moved to a new town, the best way to get the scoop on different businesses is by reading online customer reviews.

The Importance of Reviewing Your Chimney Sweep Online Image - Shenandoah Valley VA - Blue Ridge Chimney ServicesThese reviews can provide valuable information that you need in order to hire the best chimney sweep or other professional. Blue Ridge Chimney Services greatly appreciates it when our customers take the time to go to our page on Angie’s List. Also, any other website that specializes in these reviews, such as Yelp. Whether the review is positive or negative, it gives us the chance to learn more about the quality of the services we provide. We would like to tell you a bit more about the importance of reviewing your chimney sweep online.

HELP OTHER MEMBERS OF YOUR COMMUNITY

As mentioned previously, people who have just moved to a community can find hiring a chimney sweep to perform their annual chimney maintenance services to be a challenge. Having your chimney swept and inspected every year is important. This ensures your system is working safely and efficiently. Unfortunately, there are many scam artists who claim to be chimney experts. Consequently, they fail to provide the thorough service necessary to ensure safety standards. In order to protect your family and home, reading online customer reviews is essential. It helps in finding a reputable and certified chimney sweep.

HELP LOCAL BUSINESSES

Customer reviews help consumers be able to hire the best chimney sweeps in their area. Plus, reviews also give businesses the opportunity to find out what they are doing right, as well as what they need to work on to improve. Of course, businesses would love to have every customer review be positive. However, the negative reviews provide the chance to learn from mistakes. At Blue Ridge Chimney Services, we strive to always give excellent customer service. So, when we do have an unsatisfied customer, their review lets us know what we did wrong. Therefore allowing us to correct our mistakes! Also, to be sure that customer ends up with a satisfactory experience.

Reviewing your chimney sweep online is important. It benefits your community as well as the local chimney company. Contact us at Blue Ridge Chimney Services to schedule your annual chimney sweeping. Don’t forget to let us know how we did by writing an online review of our services!

By Elizabeth Guy on March 24th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Carbon Monoxide FAQ

Every time you light a fire in your fireplace, carbon monoxide is produced as one of the byproducts of combustion. This toxic gas is also present any time you burn fuel in stoves, furnaces, gas ranges, grills, automobiles, and other appliances. What makes carbon monoxide so dangerous? You cannot smell, taste, or see this gas. If your fireplace, stove, furnace, or other heating appliance has a problem that causes it to overproduce carbon monoxide, it can build up inside your home without you realizing it. This can lead to a serious health issue – carbon monoxide poisoning! At Blue Ridge Chimney Services, our top priority is customer safety. So, we would like to answer a couple of frequently asked questions about this toxic gas. By doing this, it will help you avoid suffering from this syndrome.

Carbon Monoxide FAQ Image - Shenandoah Valley VA - Blue Ridge Chimney ServicesWhat are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

If you have low levels of carbon monoxide in your blood, you may have a headache, chest pain, and an upset stomach. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You may also feel dizzy, weak, tired, and/or confused. Since these symptoms are very similar to those of the flu, carbon monoxide poisoning is often misdiagnosed. If you are suffering from these symptoms for longer than a week or two without any improvement, you should ask your doctor to test your blood for carbon monoxide levels. If you continue to be exposed to this toxic gas, you are at risk for serious health issues, including organ damage and even death.

How do I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in my home?

The most important thing to do to avoid exposure to this poisonous gas? Installing battery-powered carbon monoxide detector alarms in key spots in your home! These spots include the rooms where your fireplace and other types of heating appliances are located. Also, outside of each bedroom. If you have a multi-story home, you should install at least one alarm on each level. You can find detectors that can give you a digital reading of the levels of this gas in your home, as well.

However, all you really need to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning? Have an alarm sound to alert you of the presence of high levels in the air you are breathing. To be certain your alarms are working properly, the CDC recommends checking the batteries when you change your clocks in the spring and fall. Every five years, you should replace your detectors to ensure your safety. If your alarm should sound, you should immediately evacuate everyone from your home and call emergency authorities from outside the house.

Blue Ridge Chimney Services can also help you prevent carbon monoxide poisoning with our professional chimney maintenance services. Avoiding this health hazard is one of the most important reasons why you need to have your chimney swept and inspected annually. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps. We will make sure your fireplace and chimney are working safely with no problems. Especially problems that could cause an overproduction of carbon monoxide to leak into your home!

Closing Out Your Fireplace for the Season

It may just feel like yesterday that you were lighting the first fire of the year. However, warmer weather is on the way, and it is almost time to close up your fireplace for the season! Getting your fireplace cleaned up after the winter is part of a smart home maintenance routine. This routine makes it easier to get everything ready in the fall. Blue Ridge Chimney Services would like to share with you a few tips on how to close out your fireplace for the spring and summer. Following these steps will help you make sure you have taken care of all of the things you need to do.

Closing Out Your Fireplace for the Season Image - Shenandoah Valley VA - Blue Ridge Chimney ServicesRemove the ashes from the firebox.

You should always wait at least 72 hours after the last fire has been extinguished, before you begin to remove the ashes. With a metal shovel, scoop the ashes into a metal bucket that has a lid. Once the ashes have been removed, make sure the lid is securely closed. Afterwards, place the bucket outside on a non-combustible surface. You can dump the ashes into the trash after a couple of days. You want to give any smoldering ashes enough time to completely die out.

Schedule your annual chimney maintenance service appointment.

According to KPC News, the spring is the perfect time to have your chimney professionally swept and inspected. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps at Blue Ridge Chimney Services are trained and experienced! They will remove all of the creosote and soot that has built up inside your chimney over the winter. In doing this, we make sure to get rid of that fire hazard! It will also reduce sour smells coming from your chimney during the humid summer days. Also, we’ll take a look to see if the cold weather damaged your chimney during our professional inspection. If we find any problems, we will give you a written evaluation and estimate of the necessary repair work.

Close the damper.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you will want to close the damper for the spring and summer months. This will help your home be more energy efficient. If the damper is open, air conditioned air can escape outside through the chimney, which makes you run your air conditioner longer than necessary.

Clean the fireplace doors.

To remove the soot off of your glass fireplace doors, spray them with fireplace cleaner and wipe away with a damp soft cloth. You can then wipe down the doors with a dry soft cloth to avoid streaks.

After following these steps, your fireplace will be in good shape and ready to go in the fall. If you live in the Shenandoah Valley, contact us at Blue Ridge Chimney Services to schedule an appointment for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection!

By Elizabeth Guy on February 25th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Reduce Fire Hazards This Winter

Prevent Winter Fire Hazards Photo - Shenandoah Valley VA - Blue Ridge Chimney ServicesAs much as you love relaxing in front of the cozy and warm fireplace, you should always remember that fire is one of the most dangerous elements on earth. Knowing the best safety practices to follow is very important every time you light a fire in your home. Because safety is our top priority, Blue Ridge Chimney Services would like to help you reduce fire hazards this winter by sharing with you a few fireplace safety tips.

Only burn seasoned firewood.

Seasoned firewood has been allowed to dry for at least six months after being cut so that it has a low moisture content. This type of firewood burns longer and produces less smoke and creosote, which makes it less of a fire hazard. You should also never burn treated or painted wood, gift wrapping paper, or trash in your fireplace.

Make sure the damper is completely open.

Before you start a fire, you must check to see that you have opened the damper. If the damper is closed, smoke, gases, and the other byproducts of combustion will not be able to exit out of your home through the chimney. You should leave the damper open until the fire has been fully extinguished to avoid carbon monoxide leaks.

Keep the area surrounding the fireplace clear.

You will want to place furniture, books, curtains, rugs, and any other combustible items at least three feet away from your fireplace to avoid the risk of an accidental fire. However, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends setting up a metal fireplace screen to prevent hot sparks and embers from jumping out of the fireplace and to keep kids and pets away from the fire.

Install smoke and carbon monoxide detector alarms in your home.

In case of an accidental fire or carbon monoxide leak, these alarms could save your life. You should install one of each type on every floor of your home and outside each bedroom. Change the batteries when you change your clocks in the spring and the fall for Daylight Savings Time.

Have your chimney professionally swept and inspected every year.

To ensure your fireplace and chimney are working efficiently and safely, the NFPA, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), and other national fire safety organizations recommend scheduling an annual appointment with a certified chimney sweep for this important maintenance task.

If you live in the Shenandoah Valley, Blue Ridge Chimney Services can help you with your fireplace and chimney maintenance needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection.

By Elizabeth Guy on February 11th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment