If you use your fireplace regularly, have it inspected and cleaned twice per year. Regular sweeping helps keep soot, creosote and wood bits from damaging the chimney structure, flue, and firebox masonry.
Chimney sweeps work with specialized brushes and shop vacuums to remove deposits. They usually cover the work area with tarps or plastic to protect your home from dust.
Chimney sweeps can provide feedback on the condition of your fireplace and chimney. They also offer tips to help you use your fireplace more efficiently and safely. They can help you make a plan for cleaning and maintenance of your fireplace and chimney and suggest ways to reduce the need for sweepings by using less wood, burning well-seasoned firewood, and buying a newer more efficient chimney appliance.
The chimney sweep will put down a drop cloth and start by visual inspecting all accessible areas of the chimney, structure and flue from the ground or roof. They will note and document their findings.
They will then remove any blockages and clean your chimney and fireplace. The chimney sweep will use special tools to scrape the coating of creosote from the inside of your fireplace lining and from the sides of the flue. This is a dangerous job and is why professional chimney sweeps are trained in this skill.
The cleaning process involves scraping soot, creosote, and blockages from the chimney walls. If a chimney hasn’t been cleaned in several years, the sweep may have to scrub off thick layers of soot. This can be a messy job, so it’s important for homeowners to clear the fireplace area of any decorations or items that could get swept up. Chimney sweeps also need a clear path to the chimney and room to work inside. Roofs with acute peaks or steep pitches can be more difficult and dangerous for the chimney sweep to access, which may increase chimney sweep cost.
Chimney sweeps typically use either a wire brush or rods to scrub the interior surfaces of the chimney. They may clean the flue with a vacuum system as well. Chimney sweeps take proactive measures to minimize mess, both inside and outside the house, and should clean up all debris before leaving the property. Some sweeps use tarps to cover the fireplace and firebox, and some choose to work from the top down rather than from the bottom up.
When the flashing is damaged, it can allow water into the chimney, leading to leaks and roof damage. Chimney sweeps typically replace or repair the flashing as part of the chimney sweeping process.
The flashing is a series of L shaped pieces of metal that extend up the side and top of your chimney. There is also a large piece of metal called counter flashing that covers the step flashing.
Occasionally, the flashing can be hacked by animals or wind, leaving open holes. Sweeps will often replace the flashing when they find this type of problem, and they may install a metal cover over the open hole to protect the chimney from wind and weather. Chimney sweeps also use specialized creosote sweeping logs, which cost about $16 each and convert thick, tar-like creosote buildup into a flaky consistency. These logs can help prevent chimney fires and keep a home safer. Lastly, chimney sweeps will remove any animal debris from the fireplace and the surrounding area.
Raccoons, squirrels, birds, bats and other wild animals love to take shelter in chimneys. They think they’re safe, quiet spots away from the elements and a good place to raise their young. If the animals aren’t removed in a timely manner, they can cause significant damage to the chimney structure and fireplace.
Chimney sweeps use their years of experience and humane removal techniques to coax animals out of your chimney. They can also install chimney caps designed to keep critters out and prevent them from entering in the first place.
The price of animal removal can vary widely depending on the species and the difficulty of getting it out of your chimney. The longer it stays inside your chimney, the more damage it can do and the more bugs that may move into your home as a result of the decaying carcass. A bug exterminator can help you get rid of any insects that have moved in as a result of dead animal decay.