WETT Inspections – Chimney Sweeping

Shane Serra - Friday, October 16, 2015

Quite often during a WETT inspection the client or homeowner will ask us when is the best time to have the chimney swept. While there is no perfect simple answer for this, if we apply a little bit of common sense and consider the follow, it should help you decide when is the right time for you to have your chimney swept.

Here are some simple things to consider when trying to figure out when is the best time to have your chimney swept:


How often does your fireplace or woodstove get used? Some homeowners will only use their fireplace during the holidays or at family gatherings, mostly for the “feel” or ambiance, some will only use their woodstove during really cold periods to supplement their main heating source. The bottom line here is, the more often the fireplace or stove gets used, then the more often it should be cleaned, this includes the chimney and its flue or liner.Also, if the unit is used sparingly, then you better do a cursory inspection of the chimney flue if it’s been sitting idle for some time to ensure there are no obstructions (critters) which can lead to spillage back into the home.

Fuel Type

Most people just assume that you burn whatever wood you have and that’s the end of it. WRONG! Anyone that is well versed or experienced in using wood heat will tell you it’s a bit of an art choosing which fuel to use. Ideally you would only burn well seasoned hardwood, for some of us this isn’t feasible, so mixed wood may be used. It’s important to understand how burning soft or unseasoned wood (or other undesirable items such as garbage, a big NO NO!) can lead to excessive creosote buildup which can lead to a chimney fire. Bottom line here is if you have less than ideal fuel, you should consider more frequent inspection and cleaning of the chimney to prevent excessive creosote buildup which can lead to expensive and potentially life threatening situations.


Here is where a bit of experience comes into play. Ideally you want to get a good flame established quickly and get the chimney up to operating temperature to prevent smoldering and spillage into the home. Once the fire is established, it is best to maintain a steady and slow burn of the wood to prevent excessive wasteful heat while still maintaining high enough chimney flue temps that creosote will be less likely to accumulate.

So when is the right time to have your chimney swept? It depends on how often you use your wood burning unit, what type of fuel used and the burn cycles the unit sees. For most users, a chimney sweeping once a year in the spring will be the ideal. For users that burn lots of wood and depend heavily on wood heat then a bi-annual cleaning may be the best idea. Units that are used rarely may only need cleaning every few years, but these units should be checked regularly to ensure critters haven’t got into the chimney during periods of dormancy.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. offers WETT inspections for all wood burning appliances in Barrie and across Simcoe County.


How to Prepare For A WETT Inspection

Shane Serra - Friday, May 15, 2015
How to Prepare For A WETT Inspection

Quite often we get asked what is included in a WETT Inspection. The details and list could potentially be very long, but here are a bunch of common items that homeowners can easily check themselves prior to their WETT Inspection to ensure their fireplace or woodstove passes inspection.

Fireplace Inspection

  • Check the firebox for cracked firebricks or lining material. Replace any cracked firebricks to keep the firebox in good shape and prevent overheating which can warp steel components and turn the unit into scrap.
  • Check the operation of the damper. Quite often dampers are seized or broken which can lead to unsafe or poor operating conditions.
  • For masonry chimneys, replace any deteriorated or spalling masonry and caulk flashings as needed.
  • Ensure rain caps are present to prevent water leakage inside chimneys and their liners.
  • Clean the unit so a proper inspection can be performed.

Woodstove Inspection

  • Check the firebox for cracked firebricks, replace any cracked firebricks to keep the firebox in good shape and prevent overheating which can warp steel, crack welds and turn your woodstove into a pile of scrap metal.
  • Ensure flue pipes are properly secured with three screws per pipe connection or equivalent pipe clamps installed as per mfg. specs. Ensure the pipe fittings are oriented correctly and the pipe is also sloped correctly.
  • Check the damper operation, door gasket for deterioration and the door glass for cracking.
  • Ensure any heat shielding is secured and in good condition.
  • Keep wood storage and combustible materials at least 4 feet away from the wood stove in all directions at ALL times.

These items listed above are common items found during WETT inspections that homeowners can easily deal with themselves prior to the WETT inspection to ensure their unit will pass.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. provides WETT inspections (inspections of wood stoves, fireplaces, chimneys and wood burning appliances) in Barrie and across Simcoe County.


Common Chimney Inspection Issues

Shane Serra - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Common Chimney Inspection Issues

A chimney that is properly installed and in good condition is of paramount importance when dealing with any wood burning appliance. Here are some common problems encountered while performing a WETT inspection on a woodstove or fireplace and its chimney.

WETT Inspection Common Chimney Defects

  • Flue tile or liner rain caps missing
  • Missing, cracked or improper masonry chimney rain cap with no drip edge
  • Chimney height too short, does not meet 3-2-10 rule
  • Chimneys over 5’ high off roof deck missing proper bracing
  • Tree or vegetation growth too close to chimney
  • Spalling or cracked bricks and mortar joints
  • Damaged or missing flashings
  • Metal chimney outer shell corroded
  • Flue liner cracked or deteriorated, excessive creosote buildup

The items noted above are just some of the typical or common defects observed during a WETT inspection. If you are about to have a WETT inspection performed, it’s always a good idea to have a quick look at the unit and it’s chimney to ensure nothing obvious is defective or damaged. Have repairs performed by a qualified professional prior to having your inspection completed.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. provides WETT inspections in Barrie and across Simcoe County.