The chimney sweeps are favorite, for example in the UK that it is considered good luck for a new bride to see one on her wedding day. But for all the popular folklore, is a chimney sweep even needed in today’s electronic world? The answer is a certain “yes,” and you need a good chimney sweeping more often than you realize.
Aside from dancing around and singing with Mary Poppins, what exactly does a chimney sweep do? The art of chimney sweeping was once one of the most hazardous jobs around – and one of the most poorly paid. Small boys were often apprenticed to a chimney sweep to do the actual cleaning and chimney repair services as they were the only ones who could fit inside the narrow, multi-angled chimney to clean it.
Buckingham Palace was even known to have one flue with 15 separate angles and a minute width of nine by nine inches!
Today, however, chimney sweeping, and chimney repair services are performed by certified professionals in a well-regulated industry. At its most elemental, chimney sweeping cleans ash and soot out of your chimney. When fire burns in the fireplace, creosote, a hard, flammable and toxic coating collects inside the chimney, and this is what your chimney sweep cleans out.
Over the last several decades, the industry has expanded from only wood-burning fires to include many home heating appliances that use natural gas, pellets and heating oil. Some chimney sweeping organizations can even provide maintenance and repairs on furnaces and space heaters.
The creosote build-up can restrict airflow or catch fire, leading to dangerous house fires. Chimney sweeping removes this build-up. What’s more, burning fossil fuels produces a gas called carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is odorless and toxic, and unfortunately, hundreds die every year because of carbon monoxide poisoning from improperly functioning fireplaces and appliances. Regular chimney sweeping ensures that your chimney and flue are clear, ensuring this gas can be channeled outside.
Finally, when you are not using your chimney during the warmer months, birds, critters and other wildlife love the dry, safe confines of a chimney and will make themselves right at home. Nests are highly flammable and need to be removed immediately. On top of their troublesome nests, these furry friends sometimes are eating a hole right through the chimney into your home, creating dangerous conditions that require chimney repair services immediately. A chimney sweep can clear these menaces out before they become a problem.
The NFPA recommends that you should employ the services of a certified chimney sweep, sweeping at least once a year. It will not only ensure better air quality inside your home, but it will also get rid of creosote build-up, reducing the risk of chimney fires and avoid the need for unnecessary chimney repair services.
Chimney Sweep Certification
A chimney sweep can be certified by many organizations like the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), Certified Chimney Professionals (CCP) and others. A CSIA certification in chimney sweeping is nationally recognized by related industry organizations, insurance companies, government agencies at all levels. The certification aims to confirm the level of expertise a chimney sweep has when evaluating and maintaining chimneys.
CCP offers several levels of chimney sweep certification. A Certified Chimney Professional™ designation acknowledges that the chimney sweep has attained professional knowledge of required codes and industry standards. The CCP also offers chimney repair services certifications, such as a Certified Chimney Re-liner™ and a Certified Master Chimney Technician™. This last certification is for a veteran chimney sweep with at least eight years of experience and who has been certified for six or more years.
When hiring someone to do your chimney sweeping, recommend asking them to provide references as well as checking if there are any unresolved complaints against them. Before hiring, confirm that they will guarantee their work, including any chimney repair services that might be needed. We advise confirming that the chimney sweep, repair service pros that will be onsite at your home carries valid liability insurance and is a certified chimney sweep.
Before getting a chimney sweep, sweeping service, be sure to prepare the area to facilitate the work. Remove all furniture, other items from the area so that it is easily accessible. You might want to cover any permanent fixtures to prevent dust build-up.
Chimney sweep, sweeping services are by nature a dirty, dusty process, and proactive measures will protect your house while the chimney sweep does his job. Upon arrival, the first thing a professional chimney sweep will do is place a drop cloth in front of the fireplace for protection of your home and furniture. Then, a typical chimney sweep will use two primary tools for thorough cleaning. It is usually a long rod with a sturdy brush at the end that has metal bristles coupled with a vacuum. A chimney sweep can also use even camera to peer inside your chimney and have a first-hand inspection of every inch of your chimney. Additionally, chimney sweeps should wear a protective mask to keep dust out of their eyes and nose while chimney sweeping or completing any chimney repair services.
While a chimney sweep can start from either the top or bottom of your chimney, most chimney sweeping begins at the bottom. It is safer for the chimney sweep, and it also prevents dust and debris clouds.
After a thorough chimney sweeping usually takes about one to two hours, and should include servicing the fireplace itself, the damper, the chimney liner, and the smoke chamber and smoke shelf. After completing the job, your chimney sweep can make recommendations for improving the overall performance of your chimney.
Because of the extreme heat and sparks produced when using your fireplace, it is essential to have your chimney inspected annually to ensure there is no damage hiding in the stack. A chimney sweep should be trained to spot hazards and provide chimney repair services when needed. Essential chimney repair services might include damage to the damper and smoke chamber. A chimney sweep can also insulate and fit the flue to improve efficiency. An expert chimney sweep can also take on more complicated chimney repair services, such as flue repair, rebuilding or repairing crowns, masonry repair, or chimney re-lining
In houses built since the 1940s, chimneys have been constructed using clay tiles as liners. These liners are designed to seal the chimney and ensure that all that heat and sparks your fire produces are channeled outside. However, over time, this clay lining can crack and break due to prolonged exposure to the elements, warranting immediate chimney repair services. If this happens, the chimney sweep will almost certainly advise you to install a new lining. Chimney repair services providers usually install the most popular stainless-steel liner.
If you find that animals have been nesting in your chimney, you can request that your chimney repair service person install a chimney cap. That can not only keep out all those critters but also prevent excess water from getting in your chimney and causing more damage.
Another sign that you need chimney repair services is when the smoke comes inside. Your chimney sweep can tell you if this happens because of poor ventilation resulting from a damaged damper or if your liner is leaking.
Other signs when calling out chimney repair service professionals are necessary is when you see the rust in the fireplace or on the damper, deterioration in the mortar joints at the roofline, small pieces of masonry droppings into the fireplace, and water stains on the wall near the fireplace or chimney.
To help minimize these sometimes-costly chimney repair services, some experts recommend burning citrus or potato peels in your fireplace. The citrus pees are supposed to hinder creosote build-up, and the potato peels dry it out, helping to avoid chimney fires. Industry veterans also recommend that the best time to seek out chimney cleaning and chimney repair services is during the “off-season.” During this time, a chimney sweeps have more availability.
Fireplaces bring warmth, comfort and even camaraderie into a home. When properly maintained with regular chimney sweeping and chimney repair services, they can be a joy to have. Find a certified chimney sweep near your location, schedule annual inspections and chimney sweeping services, and your fireplace will bring you years of enjoyment.