Why it is important to “scan” a flue and what does that mean?
First, what is a flue? Basically a flue is a chamber in which smoke, hot gases, and byproducts of combustion exit the home. A flue comes in many different sizes, materials, and shapes and requires regular maintenance and inspection for safety. The purpose of a flue is to ensure these products of combustion vent properly and do not back up into a home. Most flues vent vertically sometimes with offsets in them.
Due to the importance of a flue, it is critical that a proper cleaning and inspection is performed annually. It is difficult, sometimes impossible, to properly inspect the entire flue without the aid of a video inspection system. A video inspection system allows the inspector to see the flue internally from a horizontal perspective. This becomes very important when a system has offsets in it.
The use of a video inspection system most often should be done after a proper cleaning has been performed. Once the deposits from combustion are removed from the flue, the camera is used to ensure that the cleaning was done properly and no defects are found.
Defects in a flue can be caused by several things. A chimney fire will often cause vertical cracks in a masonry flue due to thermal shock of the system. Water entering a flue will deteriorate the mortar joints and the clay tiles. Another defect in a flue could be improper construction.
What does it mean to “scan” a flue? Scanning is simply using a camera to inspect the inside of a flue. This is done by attaching a camera to sweep rods then sent up the flue. A closed circuit system uses a cable that sends the images back to a screen. Another type of system uses a wireless camera that sends the images via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection back to a screen. Both systems need a light source and a method for attaching to sweep rods.
We here at Clean Sweep have used several systems including the Chim-Scan from the Estoban Corporation. The Chim-Scan is a closed circuit system. We are currently using the Smart-Scan made by Lindemann Chimney Supply. This type of inspection system uses a smart phone connected wirelessly to a tablet. We try to scan each and every flue we clean or inspect. It is preferable to have the home owner present during the inspection so that any defects or issues found can be addressed immediately.