If the extent of your knowledge of chimney sweeping starts and ends with Mary Poppins, then you are not alone. Most homeowners are not familiar with the ins and outs of caring for a fireplace and chimney. The following should give you a better understanding so you can stay safe and take proper care of your chimney.
How often does a chimney need to be swept?
The Chimney Safety Institute of America suggests having your chimney inspected every year to determine if it needs cleaning. Typically, your chimney should be cleaned if it has 1/8 inch or more of creosote build-up.
Why is it important to have your chimney swept?
Creosote, a by-product of burning wood in a fireplace, builds up inside walls of the chimney over time. It is very flammable and can cause a chimney fire, which can easily spread to other areas of a home. Furthermore, the fumes from burning creosote are presumed to be carcinogenic to humans by the Centers for Disease Control.
What does a chimney sweep look for during an inspection?
In addition to checking creosote levels, your chimney sweep will be inspecting your chimney to make sure the flue (the interior part of your chimney that carries the smoke outside) is not cracked or damaged. They will also look for loose bricks, missing mortar, and animal nests.
How do you prepare for a chimney sweep?
Cleaning a chimney is a messy job. While the chimney sweep will lay tarps down in the area surrounding your fireplace hearth, you can help. Remove any decorative objects and furniture from the area directly in front of your fireplace. This gives the chimney sweep more room to work and protects your belongings from the soot.
How does a chimney sweep clean the inside of a chimney?
Chimney sweeps use a brush to clean the chimney's flue. It loosens the creosote lining the walls and allows it to fall below into your firebox. Chimney sweeps also have access to cameras to see the inside of your chimney's flue in detail during an inspection. When a chimney has excessive creosote build-up, chimney cleaning services may use a chemical cleaner to help with the removal process.
While cleaning your chimney is not a do-it-yourself job, it is always important to have a firm understanding of how everything works.