What Does a Chimney Sweep Do?
Chimney sweeps must climb ladders and work on roofs to clean flues. They use various tools to perform their job, including drop cloths and dual HEPA filters to protect the home during the cleaning process. A dirty chimney can be dangerous because it increases your exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning. It can also cause chimney fires.
Chimney Sweep uses various tools to remove soot and creosote from flues and smoke chambers. This process is messy, but the chimney sweep will take precautions to protect the carpet and furniture from ash and debris. They will put down a drop cloth and utilize a shop vac to decrease dust in your home. They may also wear masks and goggles to protect themselves. They will begin either from the inside of the fireplace or the outside of the house, depending on the conditions.
In addition to removing the creosote, the chimney sweep will look for and remove any obstructions that can inhibit the proper drafting of gas and smoke into the chimney system. Debris such as leaves, twigs and animal nests can narrow the flue and block the passage of smoke and carbon monoxide. The chimney sweep will also check the smoke chamber for flammable deposits and the firebox for any signs of deterioration or structural damage.
After the sweeping and inspection are complete, the chimney sweep will provide a written report that includes any recommendations for maintenance or repairs. The report will also include a bid for any work that needs to be done. The homeowner should take this professional advice seriously and act upon it. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys, fireplaces and vents be inspected at least once each year.
It is important to hire a reputable chimney sweep that is certified by the CSIA, and is a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild. These credentials indicate that the chimney sweep has been trained in the best practices of the industry. It is also a good idea to find out whether the chimney sweep is insured and bonded. In case of any problems or injuries, the insurance will cover the cost of repairing the damage caused by the chimney sweep. This will protect the homeowner in case of an accident or injury that occurs during the chimney sweeping and inspection process. The chimney sweep will also be covered in the event of property damage or loss due to negligence or faulty workmanship.
While working on a chimney is a dirty job, a qualified Chimney Sweep is trained to protect their own health while completing a clean-up and inspection. They use a number of tools to remove soot and creosote from flues and smoke chambers. They also use a vacuum and a mask to decrease the amount of soot they inhale. They may need to work in small spaces where they are exposed to flammable gases, including carbon monoxide.
Chimney sweeps are also a vital source of information for homeowners regarding safety and preventative maintenance issues related to fireplaces, wood stoves, and gas or oil furnaces. They provide basic tips and advice on using the correct fuel, testing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, storing logs properly, cleaning fireplaces and chimney stacks and terminals, and maintaining fire safety precautions.
A Chimney Sweep is also a valuable resource to those looking for help with chimney problems, such as deteriorating mortar or structural damage. Many chimney damage incidents go unnoticed, but the gradual effects of wind, rain, and snow can cause masonry to crack or crumble. The resulting leaks and water penetration can wreak havoc on the integrity of the chimney structure, leading to expensive repairs and potential fire hazards for the homeowner.
If a chimney is in need of repair, the Chimney Sweep will make a detailed inspection to determine the nature and extent of the damage. They will often offer a variety of repair services, including relining the chimney, tuckpointing or rebuilding the chimney crown, repairing dampers and fireboxes, and installing chimney caps to prevent unwanted debris from entering the chimney system.
Those interested in becoming a Chimney Sweep can take a variety of courses that will provide the necessary background knowledge and technical skills for this career. Taking science courses will teach the principles of chimney chemistry, while business courses will teach about marketing, budgeting, insurance requirements, and other essential aspects of running a small business. Additionally, computer courses will give you experience with database and spreadsheet programs to assist in record keeping and billing.
When wood or fossil fuel is burned, it creates creosote – a sticky tar-like substance that adheres to the chimney liner. Over time, creosote can accumulate to the point where it is a fire hazard and must be removed. Chimney sweeps have a variety of tools for this task, including brushes, scrapers and vacuums. The type of equipment a chimney sweep uses depends on the type and severity of creosote buildup. The price of the service can also vary, depending on the shape of the chimney and whether animals such as birds or raccoons have made their home in it.
When the creosote is in its first stage, it has a flaky consistency and is easily swept off a flue tile with a brush. In its second stage, it has a more wax-like consistency and can become crunchy. In its third stage, it forms a hard-as-a-rock glaze on the chimney liner and requires chemical treatment to break it down.
The sweep can use a tool that resembles a giant bottle brush to scrape the creosote off the inside of the chimney, making sure not to damage the chimney lining. In more serious cases, the sweep may use a spinning wire whip or chemicals to soften the creosote so it can be removed with a brush. The chemicals can be caustic and require a lot of work to clean up.
A more environmentally friendly option is to use a special creosote sweeping log. These logs cost between $16 and $25 each and work by converting the thick, tar-like creosote into a more ash-like consistency, which then easily falls off the chimney as it cools.
Getting the best value for your chimney cleaning service is important to ensure safety and prevent costly repairs. Research multiple chimney sweep companies and obtain at least three in-person quotes. Look for a company that is licensed, insured and has a good reputation on social media and in your community.
Keeping your fireplace and chimney in good working order is vital to the health of your home. Make sure the area where you’re cleaning is well-ventilated and open windows, and wear protective clothing such as long pants and a mask to reduce the risk of inhaling soot particles. Lastly, cover furniture and floors with a drop cloth or tarp to keep soot from staining carpets and other surfaces.
Chimney sweeps can be messy by their nature. Using a variety of tools they deal with soot, ash, debris and even burnt logs. In addition they are constantly climbing ladders and going on steep roofs. For this reason it is important to choose a sweep with a good customer service focus. Certification has nothing to do with this, it is all about how a sweep makes you feel when they come into your home and interact with your family.
The most common chimney fires are caused by the flammable creosote that accumulates in the flue over time. The build-up blocks ventilation causing the creosote to heat up and burn the chimney lining or bricks. These fires can also spread to construction materials around the fireplace putting your house at risk.
A chimney sweep can help prevent these fires by cleaning the flue and removing any combustible deposits that have built up. Chimney sweeps will also inspect the masonry of the chimney for cracks, gaps and code violations. They are trained to spot these issues before they become serious chimney fires.
During the chimney inspection a sweep will use a brush with metal bristles to scrub the inside of the flue. They will remove any twigs, leaves and debris that may have fallen down the chimney as well. A sweep will also check the damper and flue cap to make sure they are in good working order.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends having your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once per year. However, the CSIA recommends sweeping it more often, particularly if you use your fireplace frequently or if there is glaze present in the chimney.
In addition to having a clean chimney, regular maintenance can also save you money on your heating bill. Dirty chimneys block air circulation, which causes smoke to rise inefficiently and can cause stains on your furniture and carpeting. A clean chimney allows more of the hot gases to escape, which reduces your fuel bills. In addition, having a clean chimney helps to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and chimney fires.