Dear PoPville – Chimney Help

Photo by PoPville flickr user JoshBassett|PHOTOGRAPHY

“Dear PoPville,

I live in a three-story rowhouse rental unit with a fireplace on each floor (the living room and two bedrooms). In our lease, it states that the tenants are responsible for chimney upkeep/maintenance. The chimneys have not been inspected or cleaned in the two years I have lived here, and I highly doubt they had been checked for a number of years prior to that. I would like to know if PoPville has experience with reputable and ideally inexpensive chimney maintenance companies.

My chimney knowledge only goes as far as Mary Poppins. How much is a reasonable quote for inspection and cleaning in DC? As the fireplaces all share the same chimney track, does this technically count as one chimney, or would they charge additional costs for each fireplace/floor? Are there any particular questions you’d recommend asking, or specific conditions to be aware of? As we begin to approach fall, it would be great to have the option for a cozy fire. Thanks!”

6 Comment

  • As in all these issues, talk to your landlord before you do anything else. They may want to take care of it themselves (as I would do) and there is no need for you to do this work. If they give an unsatisfactory response then you can look into other options but you can’t get workers in there without their permission anyway. Don’t take the third and harder step before you take the easy first step.

  • I totally agree with the first commenter. But whether its you or your landlord who goes ahead and gets the work done, I would recommend ‘My Chimney Sweep Service.’ We used them recently for our home. Jim is the owner and is very nice. He charges $150 for a cleaning. The other reason I recommend him is because he does not install liners, so he will inspect the chimney and give you an honest assessment about whether or not you need a new liner. Other companies may say you need a new liner when you really don’t, in order to get you to pay the $3,000 it costs to install a new one. Jim does not have an incentive to do that.

  • I used Rooftop Chimney Sweeps and they provided an honest assessment and the chimney cleaning was quite reasonable. I used Priddy Clean to put a liner in my furnace flue and they did a great job.

    It’s highly likely that you’ll be told that the inside of your chimney is in a poor state and it’s not safe to use. My house is 90 years old and there had been numerous fires in the chimney over the years and the masonry was in bad shape in various spots. Our response has been to stop using the chimney 🙁 We’re thinking about getting a gas insert.

    • Second the “talk to your landlord” advice; does not seem the type of thing a tenant should be handling. Even if it is, you might want to be sure of how much you should really be responsible for, especially if there is anything not “routine” found in your inspection.
      Then second the Rooftop Chimney Sweep advice. They are a great family owned business that’s been around a long time, don’t try to up-sell, & the head person they send out is certified. (Yes that’s important!) They will charge you for an inspection (I think less than $100) but they explain its to pay for their technicians time, so they don’t feel obligated to sell you anything to cover their cost of coming to your place. I find that reasonable & honest. They seem to go above & beyond – even putting cloths down to protect the floors & furniture, something I’ve had problems with in other companies in the past. Great work.

  • Interesting clause in your lease. It seems like something way beyond basic tenant maintenance (lawn mowing, snow clearance, etc.), and something a landlord would want to make sure is done correctly.

  • Mary Poppins…LOL!

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