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Whether your chimney is gas- or wood-burning, it needs to be swept regularly. When a chimney is not swept, creosote buildup can accumulate and create a fire hazard.
Chimney sweep uses a variety of tools to clean fireplaces, chimneys, stove flues, and other structures. They are also trained to remove drafting obstructions, such as leaves, twigs, and animal nests, that narrow the chimney and block smoke and carbon monoxide from entering your home. They are able to identify and remove late-stage creosote glaze and clean chimney flues with specialized brushes, rods, scrubbers, and cleaning solvents.
In addition to cleaning, they may be able to repair damage to your chimney and fireplace components. This can include repairing or replacing your chimney cap, grate, and firebox liner, as well as a chimney liner replacement.
A chimney that is not regularly swept can accumulate creosote deposits that are extremely flammable. If they reach the chimney liner, they can ignite and cause chimney fires that can destroy your house or endanger your family’s health. Regular sweepings will reduce your risk of chimney fires and extend the working life of your fireplace and home heating system.
Before your chimney sweep arrives, be sure that the fireplace is completely cold and that you have cleared the logs, grate, and any other obstructions from inside the fireplace. Likewise, make sure the area surrounding the fireplace is free of furniture, toys, or decorations that could get dirty or be harmed by creosote splash or spillage.
It is best to hire a qualified, insured chimney sweep. Look for a sweep who is certified by the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG). Membership in these organizations signifies a commitment to high professional and ethical standards, as well as ongoing education and training in chimney sweep techniques and services.
A chimney sweep has the training and tools to inspect your fireplace, stove, or chimney for problems such as cracks, deterioration of the chimney lining, or leaks. These problems should be addressed before they become more serious. If left untreated, chimneys can deteriorate over time and cause structural damage to your home.
Chimneys also provide a warm, cozy place for animals such as birds to build nests. Chimney sweeps are trained to safely remove animals and nests from the chimney. If animals are not removed from a chimney, it can create a fire hazard or allow carbon monoxide to enter your home. Chimney sweeps can also assess your home’s heating efficiency and recommend upgrades if necessary.
Over time, your chimney will accumulate a flammable residue called creosote from burning wood and fossil fuel. A chimney sweep can scrape this coating away from your flue and chimney lining using brushes and scrapers. This will make your chimney more efficient and safe for lighting fires.
A professional chimney sweep will evaluate your chimney to determine whether it needs a level I or II inspection. A level I inspection includes a visual examination of the chimney structure, fireplace components, and flue from both inside and outside your home.
A level II inspection is more extensive and includes a detailed examination of the chimney interior, flue, smoke chamber, and chimney components. Your chimney sweep will use a video camera lowered into your chimney flue to get a close-up look at the interior conditions of your chimney. This will help your chimney sweep find a problem early and prevent the need for more expensive repairs in the future.
Some chimneys are built in such a way that it is impossible to perform a visual inspection. In this case, your chimney sweep will use a video camera inserted into the chimney to evaluate the chimney’s conditions.
A chimney is a part of your house, but it also serves to protect you and your family from the elements. Keeping your chimney clean and free of flammable creosote and other debris is essential to your safety.
In general, chimney sweeps will need easy access to your fireplace and the interior of your chimney. This means that you should clear the space in front of your fireplace and mantle to make sure they can get to work without having to move anything. Additionally, you should remove any logs or unused fires from your fireplace to help speed up the process and ensure that your sweep can get to all parts of your fireplace and chimney.
Once the sweep has gained access to your fireplace, they will begin the chimney cleaning process by running a brush along the entire length of your chimney and flue. This will dislodge creosote glaze and other flammable particles that have collected inside your chimney and can potentially cause house fires. During this time, the chimney sweep will also take note of any damage, cracks, and other issues that may need to be addressed with masonry repair or relining services.
As part of the chimney inspection, the sweep will look at your chimney damper and firebox to make sure they are working properly. If there are any issues with your fireplace and chimney, the sweep will be able to provide you with recommendations for professional repairs that will improve the efficiency of your fireplace and reduce the risk of future chimney problems.
The final step in chimney sweeping is to vacuum up all the dust and debris that has been removed from your fireplace, flue, and chimney. A chimney sweep will use special tools and a high-powered vacuum to ensure that as much debris as possible is removed from your home. This will prevent ash and soot from escaping into living spaces during the sweeping and inspection process, so it is important to remove any rugs or items that could be covered in ash and dust.
Ideally, you should have a tarp placed over your floor in the area in front of your fireplace to protect it from any messes that might be made. In addition, you should also consider covering furniture that is close to your fireplace or mantle in case ash or other debris gets on it.
As with any job, there are risks involved in cleaning chimneys. Chimney sweeps are trained to recognize hazards and follow specific guidelines that guarantee a safe and thorough cleaning. They also have specialized knowledge of fireplaces, chimneys, and flue pipes. They can repair a chimney’s firebox, damper, smoke chamber, and flue liner.
When a chimney sweep is on your roof or working around the chimney, they will cover the surrounding area with plastic or drop cloth to protect the floor and furniture in the room below. They will also use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to keep the ash and creosote dust away from their bodies. They will wear safety goggles and a mask to avoid soot and creosote inhalation, which can be dangerous.
They will inspect the chimney lining for damage or deterioration and recommend replacement if necessary. Damaged or deteriorated chimney liners can allow sparks and hot embers to escape the flue and ignite combustible materials in walls, ceilings, or attics. They can also cause structural damage to the chimney.
Chimney sweeps can identify problems such as cracking mortar joints, animal nests, voids, or other obstructions in the chimney. They can also check for deteriorated or damaged flue liners and chimney caps. They can also recommend new dampers, inserts, and other chimney components if needed.
The NFPA states that chimneys, fireplaces, and vents should be inspected at least once a year to ensure they are sound and free from deposits. This is a good idea, even if you only use your fireplace occasionally. A dirty chimney can lead to dangerous chimney fires, which destroy and injure homes.