The Coast News Group
Chimney Sweeps Inc. wants homeowners to include safety inspections and cleaning services as part of their home improvement checklist before winter arrives. Courtesy photo
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Prepare your fireplace for the holidays

San Diego is known for having great, temperate weather, but even Southern Californians need an interior source of heat during the cooler winter months.

Many homes have fireplaces and chimneys that are turned on around the holidays, and for those homes in the mountains where it snows or for those without central heat, fireplaces are a necessity.

Because fireplaces and chimneys are used so rarely, homeowners often don’t think about the maintenance needs for such utilities. Julian Margo, executive director of Chimney Sweeps Inc., wants homeowners to include safety inspections and cleaning services as part of their home improvement checklist before winter arrives.

According to Margo, approximately 40% of San Diego homes have fireplaces and chimneys. Every year, there are approximately two to four chimney fires in the region.

The main reason most chimneys catch on fire is because of a buildup of creosote, though that isn’t always the case for chimneys here. Though classic chimneys are often built with brick, many of San Diego’s chimneys are prefabricated metal boxes surrounded by wooden frames. “The contractors who build those chimneys make errors quite often, and though maybe not in the first year or four years but over the course of time those chimneys turn into fire hazards,” Margo said. “Half of chimney fires are not caused by creosote igniting but by the structural malformation that caused the system to overheat and ignite the wooden frame that surrounds the fire box.”

Additionally, a lot of fireplaces are gas powered now, which can lead to a carbon monoxide leak. Margo noted carbon monoxide is odorless and tasteless, and can be quite deadly.

San Diego Gas & Electric as well as the National Fire Protection Association recommends annual inspections of chimneys and fireplaces.

If maintenance is put off on a chimney or fireplace, it can end up costing tens of thousands of dollars to repair or replace.

“In San Diego we like to take care of our homes because they are one of our biggest assets,” Margo said. “The chimney is often a weak and exposed point that gets overlooked.”

Chimney Sweeps Inc. offers chimney cleaning services as well as inspection, repair, relining and rebuild services.

Every year, Chimney Sweeps is inundated with service calls around the holidays when people start turning on their fireplaces and using their chimneys for family gatherings and chilly nights. It isn’t until then that many homeowners find an issue with their fireplace or chimney.

Margo suggests homeowners call the business well in advance for services, and right now is the perfect time.

Chimney Sweeps Inc. is offering some great specials to incentivize homeowners as well.

Right now, a full chimney cleaning and inspection costs $99 instead of the usual $199, and an inspection service currently only costs $59.

“Make sure the chimney and fireplace are on your list as a must-have inspected and serviced,” Margo said. “It’s really important — we want to have a chimney fire-free winter this year.

Call Chimney Sweeps Inc. at 619-593-4020 or visit www.chimneysweepsinc.com to schedule a service.