Chimney Sweeps clean chimneys and flue systems to remove accumulated soot and creosote. They also inspect and check the condition of the chimney and flue system for possible safety hazards and blockages. Children were commonly used as chimney sweeps in earlier centuries. They suffered many health and psychological problems from this cruel trade.
Chimney Sweeps are trained to inspect chimneys for safety and to perform the cleaning necessary to keep a fireplace and chimney in working order. They must be able to identify issues that need repair or that could lead to danger, such as a fire or chimney and fireplace backups that can threaten the safety of home occupants or even the structure itself.
The most important reason for having a chimney and fireplace regularly cleaned is that dirty chimneys are dangerous. Fire hazards from a clogged chimney are the number one cause of house fires in America, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America. These fires often start because of a buildup of creosote, a byproduct of wood burning that doesn’t burn completely. This can appear as a flaky or sticky substance on the inside of your chimney flue. If it’s not removed, it can block smoke and air flow, leading to a chimney fire that may destroy your home or even kill you and your family.
A chimney that’s blocked by soot and creosote is also dangerous, as it can prevent the flue from venting properly. This can lead to toxic carbon monoxide poisoning, which is difficult to detect without a detector. The chimney sweep will clear out any obstructions in your flue so it can vent the fireplace and the rest of your home properly, keeping you and your family safe from these dangerous substances.
When you schedule an appointment with a chimney sweep, expect a thorough inspection and clean. They will likely take a camera down the chimney to see what’s going on inside. They’ll also lay down sheets to protect your floor, and they’ll carefully place their equipment on top of the sheeting. They’ll be careful not to let any soot from their chimney sweeping brush fall on the ground or other surfaces in your home, and they’ll clean up all debris before leaving.
Depending on the type of work your chimney needs, it might require them to go in the house or on the roof, or both. They’ll use specialized brushes and tools to remove soot, creosote, and other contaminates from your fireplace, chimney, and flue. It’s a dirty job, but it’s a crucial one. Many chimney sweeps are independent contractors, so they’ll need to be able to handle all the duties of running their own business. This includes generating new clients through marketing efforts, such as door-to-door sales or local advertising. It’s also essential for them to have a steady income so they can meet the demands of their business and pay their bills during busy times, such as winter.
Chimney sweeps must be able to use their tools and specialized brushes to clean all parts of the chimney system. This includes the chimney liner, chimney cap and the flue itself. The chimney sweep will also need to be able to clean all sides of the fireplace, including the smoke shelf and firebox. The chimney sweep may have to use special chemicals to break down creosote (the tar-like byproduct of smoke) and remove it from the chimney system.
Creosote is one of the main causes of chimney fires and a major reason for having your chimney swept on a regular basis. It can cause the chimney to heat up and smolder, or it can coat the walls of the chimney with a sticky and flammable substance that can easily ignite when a fire is lit inside. Chimney fires can damage the chimney liner, causing it to crack or crumble. The combustible creosote can also ruin the masonry of the chimney, making it unsafe for fires to be lit. A professional chimney sweep will be able to identify these risks and keep your home safe from chimney fires.
Another important function of a chimney sweep is to inspect the structure for signs of deterioration. They will be able to see any problems that need to be addressed, such as a damaged or missing chimney cap or loose or cracked mortar. Chimney sweeps can also recommend repairs to the chimney that will make it safer for fires, such as new flashing or a damper upgrade.
A chimney is a great place for birds, rodents and other creatures to build nests and raise young. It is not uncommon for a dormant chimney to become clogged with animal nests or debris such as twigs and leaves. Chimney sweeps are experts at removing these animals and their nests and will ensure that the chimney is clear for use before the fire burning season begins.
If you have any concerns about a chimney sweep’s qualifications, it is best to contact the CSIA or NCSG to find a certified sweep. Chimney sweeps must pass a rigorous examination and be bound by a code of ethics in order to be certified by these organizations. You should also ask to see a certificate of insurance from the chimney sweep before hiring him or her. This will protect you in the event of an accident that occurs during the chimney cleaning process.
Imagine a cold winter night in front of the fire with your family, enjoying a warm and relaxing time, until a blocked chimney pushes carbon monoxide back down the flue into the room. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a very real and potentially deadly danger. Luckily, it’s almost entirely avoidable with regular chimney sweeping.
Chimney Sweeps are trained to look for and remove potential hazards in your chimney such as debris, flammable buildup and animal nesting. They are also skilled in removing obstructions such as bird nests, creosote glaze and soot. They may use a camera to digitally inspect your chimney cavity and flue. Depending on the level of inspection requested, they may also need to climb up on the roof to assess the condition of the chimney.
If your chimney is in need of repairs, a qualified and licensed chimney sweep can usually handle the task within the same day. This includes the installation of a new chimney cap, liner repair or mortar replacement. Chimney sweeps are often certified by the CSIA or the National Chimney Safety Guild (NCSG). Certification is proof that they have undergone a thorough background check and training to work in the field of chimney sweeping.
When it comes to cleaning, many homeowners assume that they can do the job themselves. Unfortunately, a chimney sweep is highly trained in handling the tools and equipment required for a complete chimney sweeping. It’s not a job for a novice and the improper use of equipment can lead to serious injuries.
Besides the physical dangers of soot inhalation, chimneys contain dangerous chemicals including creosote which can cause respiratory distress and even chemical burns to the skin. Chimney sweeps are equipped with masks and protective clothing to protect themselves and their customers.
One of the best reasons to hire a professional chimney sweep is the peace of mind they can provide. They can reduce your risk of smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation as well as other hazards associated with a fireplace or fuel-burning appliance. They are also trained to inspect chimneys for flammable deposits, blockages, cracks and other structural issues which could cause costly damage in the future.
In addition to helping prevent chimney fires, a yearly chimney sweep helps keep combustibles and creosote from destroying the bricks, mortar, and flue. A chimney that is swept on a regular basis also requires less repairs than a neglected chimney. A Chimney Sweep will find small problems like loose or missing bricks, cracks in the mortar, and chipped bricks, which can all be repaired inexpensively before they become major issues requiring expensive repairs.
It’s a bit of an urban myth that chimneys with flue liners don’t need to be cleaned on a regular basis, but even these systems should be inspected and swept according to the same schedule as a chimney without a liner. A chimney with a flue liner can still become blocked by creosote and other combustibles, and it can still suffer from water accumulation which can lead to musty smells and cloudy fireplace glass.
Chimney sweeps use brushes attached to flexible rods to clean the inside of a chimney. They usually start from the bottom up or from the top down and may put down a drop cloth and a shop vac to decrease soot levels in the home. They also wear a mask and goggles to protect their eyes and nose.
Many Chimney Sweeps will also do a visual inspection of the chimney to check for potential hazards and recommend any necessary repairs. This can include checking to see if there are animals nesting in the chimney, checking for cracks in the masonry and mortar, and looking for leaks in the flashing.
It’s best to hire a Chimney Sweep during the spring, summer, or fall so the chimney is ready to use when cooler weather rolls around. A chimney that’s not swept before you start using it for the winter can cause serious problems. The chimney could be damaged by the accumulation of combustibles and creosote, or it might become a death trap for pets or children. In addition, the chimney will be much more likely to leak water or smoke into the house if it’s not dry.