A chimney clean is someone who removes soot and ash from chimneys to ensure they are working properly. The chimney draws the air over the fireplaces or coals causing a damp draught to push the soot out and away from the fire. A chimney also uses the pressure difference created by hot coals to generate a draught and pull air over the open coals or burning wood allowing continued combustion. A chimney can be straight or have several bends. Most chimneys will be straight but some older ones can have slight bends.
There are many different methods of chimney cleaning, although the traditional way of manually sweeping logs is still used by some people. A creosote board is placed below the flue to catch the creosote which flows out into the living space. A chimney sweeping log cut in an S shape at the top of the chimney collects and sorts the creosote before it falls inside. It is advisable not to use sharp-pointed tools to remove creosote as this could prove fatal. The best tools to use are long handled broom handles with a long handle in conjunction with a long flexible brush for cleaning the creosote out.
The best time for cleaning is in the late spring after the last snowfall and early fall. Do not start cleaning chimneys in the summer as you may expect the cleaning to get dirty rather quickly as the summer heat makes everything dry out. If possible inspect the chimney before you start your monthly chimney inspection service to check for any signs of a fire hazard which could cause serious damage to your home. If you notice any discolouration, discolouring, blackening or general damage to the chimney walls, flashings or other parts of the chimney it is advisable to call in a chimney sweeping service immediately.
The most obvious sign of a fire hazard is the presence of creosote in the flue; black streaks and spots will indicate that there is a fire, but you should also check other areas of the chimney as well for any other possible signs. Black smoke is one of the worst signs of a chimney fire, if you see black smoke coming from your chimney at all you should contact your local fire station and request assistance. Another sign of a fire hazard is the presence of water seeping up through the chimney cracks and into the living space; if water is found in the creosote you should have the chimney inspected by a professional chimney sweep company to identify the source of the leak.
The best way to keep your home clean and chimney fires at bay is to maintain a regular cleaning schedule using either a commercial chimney cleaner or DIY firewood cleaner. A commercial cleaner is recommended if you have a large family or pets, as the chemicals used are more potent than those found in a household cleaner. If you have a wood burning fireplace, you may prefer to clean it yourself, though this task can be hazardous if you do not have the right equipment or practice proper safety precautions. Any surface that comes into contact with the flue must be swept and cleaned with a safe device or by a qualified chimney sweep technician.
Sweeping and vacuuming are among the first items you should consider when cleaning your chimney. These steam and dust treatments are designed to remove any debris that may be sitting on the inside walls and roof of your home, though they also deal with any buildup of creosote that may develop as a result of your heating and cooling practices. If you have an older wood stove, you may also want to consider using regular sweeps to keep this kind of flue clean, as the buildup is very hazardous. Chimney sweeps are available commercially and are easily found at home improvement stores, such as Home Depot and Lowes.
The best way to effectively clean your chimney is through a professional inspection. Though there are plenty of DIY products out there, these usually do not have the power of a trained professional sweep or inspector. Instead of using DIY products, it is often a better idea to have the flu inspected by an inspection company. These professionals will be able to identify dangerous flue build ups, as well as inspect and repair damage that has already occurred. A chimney inspector can also recommend ways to reduce the likelihood of a disastrous fire from happening.
As stated above, chimney cleaning is a necessary part of chimney maintenance. It is important to remember that your flue is the foundation of your home, and must be properly maintained to ensure the safety of your family and home. By sweeping and vacuuming your chimney on a regular basis, you can significantly decrease the risk of fires and other damage that can occur down the road. In addition, by hiring a professional chimney sweep and inspector, you can be guaranteed that your fireplace is working properly and safely. However, it is also important to remember that chimneys do not have to be swept or inspected on a yearly basis; in fact, some people choose to clean their chimneys only once a year. This decision is up to you and dependent upon how often you wish to have your chimney professionally cleaned.