Having your chimney swept may sound like a thing of the past, an old-fashioned job that surely hasn’t survived to our modern era. The fact is, if your home has a chimney, you do need to hire a professional chimney sweep to conduct a proper cleaning and inspection. A professional chimney cleaning protects your home and ensures the health of your chimney so you can safely enjoy fires all season long.
In addition to the sweeping, an inspection is included, so on top of an initial cleaning, your professional chimney sweep will be examining your chimney, flue, furnace, and heat venting system (if connected to the chimney). Here’s what you can expect when it comes time to have your chimney swept:
Preparing for Your Chimney Sweeping
Before the chimney sweep professional arrives, there are a few things you should do to prepare for the appointment. The company you’ve contacted will also reiterate these steps when you call to set up the appointment so the site will be prepared when they arrive.
- Clear your fireplace mantle and surrounding area: obviously, the chimney sweep will be spending a lot of time at the base of the chimney near and in the fireplace. You want to clear this entire area off for them so it makes it easier to work and so nothing gets knocked off and broken. Remove fireplace tools or anything else that surrounds the fireplace that could be knocked over or in the way.
- Clean inside your fireplace: don’t forget to gather any unburned or leftover wood that remains in the firebox so you can clear the way for the inspector.
During Your Chimney Sweep Inspection
When your chimney sweep professional arrives for the appointment, they’ll first begin by setting up a work area. This includes placing a tarp around the fireplaces to prevent your living spaces from being covered in soot and dirt. Other items may need to be moved out of the way like furniture, which you can assist the technician in pushing these items away should this be required.
Next, your chimney will be evaluated for inspection and cleaning. Special tools like a dust collection vacuum are used and will be run during this process. Your damper may be removed, and your chimney’s flue will be cleaned. A flexible rod with a brush head is used to clean the interior of the chimney, and with the soot and ash vacuum running, there will be no ash or soot escaping into your living areas.
The chimney sweep will clean the flue liner either from the roof or if there’s a viable opening at the appliance. The firebox—where you actually hold your fires—is cleaned by hand. It’s helpful to at least remove the large chunks of wood, either unused or those remaining that can be safely taken out—for the chimney sweep. Taking out the wood in the fireplace can help speed along the chimney sweeping process and cut down on the labor involved.
The chimney sweep will clean the fireplace smoke shelf as well as the smoke chamber. Any glazed creosote and tar buildup along the chimney will be noted. If there’s a large amount of buildup, your chimney sweep will need to do more than a regular cleaning, but they’ll let you know beforehand what needs to be done.
When inspecting the interior of the chimney, certified and trained chimney sweeps have a specialized camera to detect any hazards or problematic masonry. This careful inspection can help illuminate problems within the chimney structure that you wouldn’t be able to see with the naked eye. This information then is compiled into the chimney report.
The report is given to you, the homeowner, when the inspection and chimney sweeping is completed. Any issues found during the sweeping will be listed out in this report, as well as the professional advice given to you by the chimney sweeps themselves. Take this advice seriously, and certainly act upon it. Using your chimney and its fireplace is playing with fire, and if there are any issues within your chimney system, it can put you, your family, and your home at serious risk.
Finding a Chimney Sweep
Initially, you might believe that a professional chimney sweep is a profession left to the days of the early 19th century in the days of Mary Poppins but considering that most modern homes (at least in the Midwest and colder regions) boast one, if not two fireplaces, and a furnace/water heater chimney, a chimney company is an essential business.
You’ll find the best options in the same place as any other need: The Internet. Scroll through reviews and find the best local professional chimney cleaning company near you. Keep in mind that cheaper isn’t better in this equation, and you’ll want to make sure that the company is certified, bonded, licensed, and insured.
When is the Right Time To Get a Sweep Done?
According to the National Fire Protection Association chimneys and other devices in which fires are started need to be inspected at least once a year. This means that homeowners should be diligent in scheduling a chimney sweep or at least an inspection once a year if not more for those who use their fireplaces often.
A fireplace is a wonderful thing for any home. It allows you to have cozy, warm nights and romantic moments of peace. In exchange for what a fireplace offers, however, you need to ensure that you take care of it just like any other amenity in your home. For that reason, it makes sense to schedule your inspection and sweep before winter so that you’re able to use it as much as possible.
When it comes to chimney inspection and sweeping, the #1 company in Chicago and Suburbs is Vertical Chimney Care. We have helped thousands of homeowners with cleaning out the flue of the chimney and removing the creosote. In return, many homeowners have recommended our services to their friends and family. Contact us to speak to a specialist today.