Chimney Cleaning: What to Look for in a Chimney Sweep

Before you call for Chimney Cleaning experts, make sure you have the right equipment. The basic tools include a brush and rod, a vacuum cleaner, and goggles or a safety mask.Chimney Cleaning

Use a pulley rope system with a partner to get the job done safely. One person climbs a ladder to the roof, and the other holds the brush. Then, the partners pull the brush together up and down and scrub the flue.

Creosote is one of the unwanted byproducts of burning wood. It’s a black, tar-like substance that can build up in your chimney and cause a number of problems. It’s important to understand how it builds up and why you should have your fireplace and chimney swept regularly.

Creosote buildup is usually divided into three stages, with each stage being more dangerous and difficult to remove than the previous one. Stage 1 is a thin coating of soot that will probably require a simple brushing to remove. If you clean your chimney on a regular basis, this should not be an issue.

Once creosote reaches stage 2, it will have the appearance of tar and may be more difficult to remove than stage 1. At this point, a chimney sweep will need to use rotary tools to remove it from your chimney. The more tar-like creosote is, the more likely it is to ignite and cause chimney fires. It can also be toxic to your family’s health if exposed to it for long periods of time, causing respiratory issues and itchy eyes.

If you don’t get your chimney swept and allow the creosote to build up to stage 3, it can be very costly to remove. It is also very dangerous, as it can damage your chimney lining and lead to a chimney fire that could spread to the rest of your home.

Chimney sweeps will generally have to scrape the thick creosote from the lining of your chimney with rotary tools, vacuum it up, and sweep the remainder of the soot off the bottom of your chimney. This is why it’s so important to have your chimney swept annually and before the beginning of the burning season.

If you want to minimize the amount of creosote that builds up in your chimney, you should ensure that your wood is properly seasoned and kiln-dried. You should also make sure that your chimney or flue is properly ventilated. This will help to prevent the accumulation of unwanted byproducts such as ash and other harmful substances that can be released during the combustion process.

Damaged chimney liners

Your chimney’s flue liner is designed to be a sturdy barrier between hot embers and the combustible materials inside your home. If the flue liner is damaged, your family could be exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning and a house fire. If you are offered a bargain price to clean your chimney and a sweep mentions that the chimney has a broken liner, it is worth getting a second opinion or asking them to show you the damage before committing to any work.

Improper construction or installation of the chimney and flue liner can accelerate the deterioration of the lining. The acidic, corrosive byproducts of combustion that pass through the flue can hasten mortar joint deterioration and cause creosote to build up more quickly than normal. When moisture mixes with creosote, it combines to make the liner more fragile and susceptible to cracking and dissolving.

The flue liner can also be damaged by water infiltration. When water penetrates a clay tile liner, it can erode the masonry, leaving holes in the liner. These holes expose combustible material to excessive heat and can lead to a chimney fire that damages or destroys the masonry.

Cracks and holes in the flue liner also increase your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. This is because the carbon monoxide leaches through the gaps and cracks in the chimney liner, exposing your family to this deadly gas. It’s important that you have an operational carbon monoxide detector to detect the dangerous gas before it’s too late.

Before the advancements in chimney technology, a chimney liner repair usually involved tearing down the entire chimney and rebuilding it from the lowest damaged flue tile upward. This is an expensive and time-consuming project that may not always be necessary.

A newer product called HeatShield can be used to repair cracked or damaged clay tiles. This is accomplished by placing a specialized coating over the damaged tiles, which seals them to prevent heat and moisture penetration and restore the integrity of the chimney structure. There are several other flue liner options available, including poured cement liners, stainless steel flue liners, and a flexible metal chimney liner. Your chimney technician can help you choose the best solution for your chimney and the appliances you use to vent it.

Fire Hazards

A dirty chimney contains a flammable byproduct of burning wood, coal, and other fuels called creosote. It can build up to dangerous levels, posing a fire hazard. Chimneys should be cleaned regularly to prevent a chimney fire. The CSIA suggests having your chimney professionally swept and inspected at least once each year or after every cord of wood burned in your fireplace.

To inspect your chimney, a professional may need to climb ladders or even go onto your roof. They’ll shine a flashlight into the chimney flue and look for signs of creosote. The flammable substance can come in three forms: flaky and dusty, crunchy or tar-like, and glazed or gummy. A chimney with the latter form is most hazardous, as it can easily spark into a chimney fire that threatens your home and property.

Chimney sweeps will also use a brush, scraper, and shop vacuum to clean the chimney walls and other components of your fireplace. They’ll also check the chimney rain cap for damage and ensure that airflow is unobstructed and in the right direction. If the chimney is leaking, a sweep will repair the leaks with mortar and repoint the brick.

Aside from reducing the risk of fire, chimney cleaning will reduce the amount of harmful fumes in your home. The Telegraph explains that carbon monoxide from furnaces and wood stoves can build up to toxic levels in your house if the chimney is not functioning properly. Carbon monoxide can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and even unconsciousness. A chimney that is not functioning properly will vent the gas outside rather than inside, increasing the danger to your family.

If you’re planning to have a chimney sweep clean your fireplace this fall or winter, be sure to hire a professional. Check their credentials by visiting the Better Business Bureau and looking for reviews on reputable home improvement sites. Also, ask to see their CSIA certification.

Before the chimney sweep arrives, clear away any ash and coal left in the fireplace and cover your furniture with plastic or a drop cloth. Also, make sure that your pets and children are out of the area while they’re cleaning. Cleaning a chimney is a messy job that involves dealing with ashes, soot, and burned logs. It’s also possible that a sweep will need to remove animal nests and debris from the top of your chimney.

Insurance Requirements

If you are looking for someone to clean your chimney, it is important to find a qualified and licensed professional. You should always check their insurance coverage and make sure they have a minimum of $1 million in liability, workers’ compensation, and auto. Chimney sweeps should also be members of the CSIA or NCSG, which promote professionalism and safety in the industry.

It is also a good idea to ask for references and check reviews online before hiring anyone. Before the chimney sweep arrives, it is a good idea to move anything that could get in the way of the work they are doing, such as rugs and other decorative items. It is a good idea to cover furniture with plastic or a drop cloth as well. If you want to be even more prepared, move your firewood to a safe location away from the fireplace and chimney.

A chimney sweep will use brushes, extension poles, and a vacuum cleaner to clean out the flue of the chimney. They will also inspect the chimney, noting any cracks or deterioration. They will also look for animals and birds nesting in the chimney, twigs or pine cones that may block the chimney, or any damage caused by high winds or driving rain. Chimneys that are frequently used should be inspected more often than those that are infrequently used, as the combustion process deposits an acidic substance that can deteriorate the masonry or metal and cause structural problems with the chimney and the house itself.

The National Fire Protection Association recommends having a chimney inspected at least once a year and cleaned as needed. It is especially important to do so before winter starts, as chimney fires are one of the most common causes of home heating fires.

When hiring a chimney sweep, it is also a good idea to ensure that they have general liability insurance, workers’ compensation, and a commercial umbrella policy. This type of policy will protect you against lawsuits brought by customers who suffer property damage or injuries caused by your business.