Cleaning Your Chimney

Cleaning your Chimney tips and advice

Cleaning your chimney is typically done by a chimney sweep is an individual who removes soot and built up creosote from chimneys. In England boys as young as four were used to clean chimneys. Chimney sweeping was also one of the more commonly difficult, hazardous, and low-paying occupations of the era, and consequently has been derided in verse, ballad and pantomime.

Chimney fires can occur if you allow the build up of creosote. The smoke produced by your fire has tiny un-burned but flammable solid particles and oils from the wood which adhere to the walls of your chimney flue called soot.

Over time the soot in your chimney is refined by heat and becomes an extremely flammable material called creosote. A lot of people don##Q##t realize the creosote in their chimney is flammable, and all it takes is a tine spark or ember to ignite the creosote and start a chimney fire, where the actual walls of your chimney flue are on fire. Chimney fires burn at over 2,000 degrees and can easily spread to the rest of your house.

You need a chimney sweep to remove the creosote from your chimney flue. Chimneys and pipes like the ones on wood stoves are designed for smoke to pass through at relatively low temperatures; they are not built to withstand chimney fires which can burn at 2,000 degrees. A chimney fire can collapse a masonry chimney by destroying the mortar. In a pre-fab chimney the high heat can cause the metal to warp or separate allowing the fire to spread to the rest of your home.

Besides allowing a harmful build up of soot in your chimney, the air flow could become restricted causing smoke to come back into your home. The soot, if not removed, will e eventually turn into 3rd stage creosote which is extremely flammable. Always use a professional chimney sweep to clean your chimney. Only a chimney sweep can remove your creosote build up from your chimney.

Along with cleaning your chimney a chimney sweep will also perform an interior and exterior chimney inspection. It is a good practice to have the condition of your chimney checked every year by a WETT Certified chimney sweep to make sure your chimney is in safe condition and that the top seal of your chimney is in good condition to protect your home from the elements. The chimney sweep will make sure that your chimney##Q##s damper properly closes your chimney and doesn##Q##t  allow air conditioning to escape out of your chimney. An open, broken or missing chimney damper is like leaving two windows wide open.

Chimney sweeping is still a busy industry, as venting systems for coal, heating oil, natural gas, wood and pellet burning appliances need to be maintained. There is a greater understanding of the dangers of flue deposits and carbon monoxide and gases from combustion. The standard chimney brush is still used, along with more modern tools (such as vacuums, cameras and special chimney cleaning tools). Most sweeps are done from the bottom of the chimney, rather than the top, to prevent the dispersion of dust and debris.

In the US, there are two professional organisations that help to regulate the industry are the Chimney Safety Institute of America and The National Chimney Sweep Guild. Certification for chimney sweeps are issued by two organisations: Certified Chimney Professionals and The Chimney Safety Institute of America. Certification for chimney sweeps who reline chimneys are issued by Certified Chimney Professionals. In Canada the WETT (wood energy technology transfer) certifies Chimney Sweeps.