What’s the difference between a fireplace and a wood stove insert?

A fireplace, usually of brick construction, is typically built as part of the house when the home was built. They can have just a screen to keep sparks out of the room or they can have glass doors as well. A wood stove insert can be constructed of cast iron or steel that is placed into the opening of an existing fireplace. The insert is lined with a new metal flue to isolate it from the existing chimney. Wood stove inserts are more efficient than a normal fireplace and are a better source of heat for the home.

How often should I have my chimney swept?

The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom of deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” NFPA 211 is the national safety standard and is the proper way to address this question. It takes into account the fact that even if you do not use your chimney regularly, animals may build nests in the flue and there might be other potentially unsafe conditions such as deterioration from moisture.

I have a gas-burning fireplace. Do they need to be inspected and cleaned also?

Absolutely! While natural and propane gases burn very clean, their vents can still become blocked with bird’s nests and other materials. Inspecting the burn tray of a gas burning appliance as well as all electrical and safety parts on the unit will ensure that your winter is spent warm and cozy.

I am buying a home. Should I have my chimney inspected after I move in and before my first fire?

According to the National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 (NFPA 211) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America, it is recommended that the inspection of a chimney be completed before the sale or transfer of a home. Many times through an inspection/cleaning, repairs can be completed for safe operation upon ownership. An inspection report will show the status of the chimney system and level II inspection (video scan) can be completed.

What does it mean if I have cracked flue tiles??

If you have been told by Goodrich Chimney or another professional chimney company that you have cracked flue tiles, you should not be using your fireplace until this potentially dangerous situation is addressed. The gasses from a wood burning fire are meant to pass through the tile flue and exit the chimney cap. When there are cracks inside the flue, this is allowing the gases to pass through the tile and enter the structure of the chimney chase. The dangerous part of this is that the buildup of creosote in this space can cause a structure fire, as opposed to a chimney fire (which would be contained inside the flue liner itself). Goodrich Chimney recommends replacement of these older tiles with a metal class A chimney system or relining the fireplace with a stainless steel liner connected to an EPA certified wood burning insert if wood burning is the goal.