Photography by Kevin A. Roberts
With 30 years of experience, Gregg Boss knows chimneys inside and out. He’s the owner of English Sweep (257 Treasure Cove, 636-391-2226, englishsweep.com) and a director of the National Chimney Sweep Guild. Often neglected, chimneys need just as much TLC as the rest of your home—and sweeping involves way more than a musically talented guy with a broom.
• Homeowners will replace their dryers, but neglect to get the line cleaned out. That’s where vent fires come from. It’s the same issue with chimneys.
• The most common problems we run into are maintenance and performance issues, like dirty flues and leaks around the chimney.
• Most homeowners don’t have the equipment to contain the products of combustion… Some people put tar down if they have a water leak; all that does is put a Band-Aid on the problem.
• If you’re considering adding a fireplace, make sure there’s enough makeup air introduced into the house.
• Never install a gas-log system yourself. If you’re going to get gas, have the chimney inspected by a certified sweep.
• A good rule of thumb: Do an annual chimney inspection, and sweep after a cord of wood has burned.
• Be sure your chimney sweep is CSIA-certified. Check them out on Angie’s List or the Better Business Bureau, and make sure they’re a National Chimney Sweep Guild member.
• The age of the house doesn’t matter: We find problems with houses that are 10 years old. We went to a house recently that was 160 years old, and it was in immaculate shape. It just depends on how the chimney was built and maintained.
• Do your homework. Most of the fireplace shops just want to sell you a system, but they don’t check your house to make sure it’s the right choice. That’s what a chimney sweep does.