Unsure of using your fireplace? A chimney inspection can help

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A student tries his hand at sweeping in the customer’s home as CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Joe Sauter (arms folded) looks on, with CSIA Instructor Tom Urban looking on.

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CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Joe Sauter shows one of the students photos that had been taken of the home.
CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Joe Sauter shows one of the students photos that had been taken of the home.

Beech Grove, Indiana resident Keith Marshall bought his home in 2006, but one feature he has never used was one of the prettiest parts of his residence: the wood-burning fireplace. And Keith estimated that it hadn’t been used at all in the past 14 years.

The n-shaped cherry red brick, topped by a white mantel, has precious keepsakes such as framed family photos and a clock.
Keith had always been curious about using his fireplace for more than just a place to put pictures, and so Keith volunteered his home to students of the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s National Chimney Sweep Training School in near Plainfield, Indiana. These “field day” homes are real residences that are in need of an inspection and/or sweeping, where the students shadow a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep and get to apply lessons that are taught in the classroom.
Speedway, Indiana chimney sweep/instructor Joe Sauter led this field day assignment to Keith’s home in late September. One of the CSIA instructors, Tom Urban, also was there to provide insight and instruction.
“I thought they were very thorough,” Keith wrote about the CSIA National Chimney Sweep Training School group. “The class structure was very well organized and professional. After they left there was no sign it ever took place. Good Q&A session between the instructors and the students.”
The inspection revealed that his chimney liner was in good condition and the chase was rust free. All he’d really need were relatively inexpensive: a new grate (to hold firewood securely) and a smoke guard, to help the fireplace funnel the smoke up through the chimney, instead of into the living room.
Keith said Joe told him that “if it were his (fireplace/chimney) he would use it with no fear,” Keith told us. That allayed concerns Keith had suspected or worried about for many years. “So (I’m) going to get some wood and fire it up,” Keith told us.
That’s what we LOVE to hear. As CSIA Director of Education Ashley Eldridge points out, when you reduce your fear or uncertainty of using your fireplace, you increase the likelihood of wanting to use it.
And a chimney inspection, provided by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep, is one great way of providing that confidence.
Keith says he’ll keep us posted on his new era as a homeowner who uses his fireplace as more than just a place to put mementos!
(By the way, if the idea of becoming a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep is appealing to you, the first class of 2015 meets in Plainfield, Indiana March 23-28, 2015.)

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