The Tools of Professional Chimney Sweeps
If you use your fireplace, you have a chimney that needs to be maintained. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends getting your fireplace inspected annually, and annual cleaning is also usually needed. Some homeowners opt to try and save a few bucks by using home remedies to clean their chimneys, but there is a very good reason to resist that option: Safety! The primary reason only professional chimney sweeps should be used for chimney cleaning, repair, and maintenance is because of the possibility of a house fire.
Creosote: The #1 Chimney Hazard
All of the biggest dangers to using your chimney are usually linked to creosote deposits. Every time your fireplace is used, some creosote deposits are left behind in the flue lining. Even when the best wood is burned and when the fire burns cleanly, there are still deposits. Creosote has three forms, and they are all highly flammable and could start a chimney fire, which leads to other dangers.
Anyone with a fireplace should understand soot and creosote as well as how creosote takes different forms. Here are some basics:
- Creosote is a dark brown or black tar that is deposited on the lining of the chimney and that is highly flammable.
- If creosote is not removed from the chimney, a chimney fire can easily start.
- Soot is a black carbonaceous substance that is produced when there is incomplete combustion of wood, oil, coal, and other organic substances. The fine particles of soot adhere to the flue lining as they rise up the chimney.
- Creosote is caused by wood smoke. Less creosote is produced when wood burns cleanly. The worst type of firewood to burn is green or wet firewood, which produces a lot of wood-particle-filled smoke.
- Creosote can damage the flue lining, particularly when mixed with moisture. A flue lining that is damaged exposes combustible parts of the home to fiery heat and can result in an extremely dangerous house fire.
- If there is a large amount of creosote, it can become a chimney obstruction, which prevents the chimney from operating properly. This can expose your household to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
- The second and third levels of creosote are more difficult to clean and remove than the ones before. Third-level creosote is very dangerous and sometimes must be removed by replacing the flue liner.
Home Remedies: Not Recommended!
Some chimney cleaning home remedies which are rumored to help with chimney cleaning but are NOT RECOMMENDED include:
- Running the top of a pine tree down the chimney.
- Attempting to soften the creosote by burning potato peels.
- Tossing salt onto logs as they are burning.
- Dropping a burlap bag filled with bricks down the chimney.
- Intentionally starting a chimney fire. WARNING: Chimney fires are intensely hot and can easily damage the chimney and start a quick-spreading house fire.
Modern Chimney Sweeping: Tools of the Trade
Our chimney sweeps are equipped with all of the modern cleaning supplies, which have been developed through technological advancements through the centuries. That being said, it’s interesting that the original designs of chimney cleaning tools are the prototypes for modern equipment, such as the following:
- Brushes. Various brushes are used for cleaning chimneys. The primary brush is a long wire brush that is both strong and flexible and allows for tight spaces to be cleaned of all chimney deposits. Creosote in glaze form is more challenging to remove; a stiff flat wire bristle brush is used. Hand brushes are used to clean the tightest spaces, such as the smoke chamber and chimney caps.
- Vacuums. Vacuums are effectively used to prevent a sooty mess from entering the home and to remove pollutants which enter the air during the cleaning process.
- Chemical Cleaners. Chemical cleaning agents are used to tackle the job of cleaning level three creosote, which is very difficult to remove.
Bonus Tip: Beware of Telephone Campaigns for Chimney Sweeping
A common type of scam that unsuspecting homeowners fall prey to involves phone calls offering discounted chimney cleaning services. Chimney sweeping is an unregulated industry, which means that anyone can work as a sweep, with or without any training or equipment whatsoever. Scammers offer a special deal and will either take the money and run or falsely claim that a very expense repair is needed and then charge top dollar for bogus repairs. It can be dangerous on many levels to let the wrong people into your home to clean your chimney, including exposing your home to being burglarized.
Our professionals are serious about chimney safety. Contact our chimney sweeps today to schedule an inspection and cleaning.
Chimney Solutions, Inc.
1155 McFarland 400 Drive, Alpharetta GA 30004
Office 770-255-1300 / Toll Free 877-697-9337