The Importance of a Chimney Sweep

When it comes to chimneys, a lot of legend surrounds them. One story states that if a bride passes a chimney sweep on her wedding day and he plants a kiss on her cheek, she will receive tremendous luck throughout their marriage. The chimney-sweeping trade has gone through a long decline, but some of the bravest are still out there. Photographer Pete Hawk captured them at work, toiling above treetops in Paris.

Chimney Sweep

Soot and creosote, which form byproducts of burning wood in fireplaces and stoves, are common causes of chimney fires. They’re also dangerous to your health and the structure of your home, so it’s important to keep them at a minimum. Chimney Sweep CT can remove creosote deposits from your chimney. They’ll use brushes, extension poles, and a vacuum to clear your chimney of soot, creosote, and other hazard-causing residues.

Chimney sweeping is necessary to ensure your fireplace and chimney operate properly, and it’s also a good idea to get it cleaned annually. Soot and creosote can clog up the inside of your chimney and flue, making it more difficult to use. ACS Anti-Creo-Soot is an environmentally safe liquid catalyst that converts dangerous creosote deposits into harmless ash. ACS is safe to use in appliances with catalytic combustors, reducing ash accumulation and clogging in pellet stoves. Spray on interior surfaces of your fire-chamber, on your wood, and under low fire conditions to help break down glazed creosote buildup in preparation for a professional cleaning.

Level Three Inspection. A certified chimney sweep will use a flashlight, brushes and extension poles to examine your chimney for any damage, obstructions or creosote buildup. They will also ensure your chimney is clean and free of soot and other combustion byproducts. Level one inspections are a basic checkup of the readily accessible parts of your chimney such as your fireplace, firebox and flue opening. The technician will check to see if your chimney is free of soot, creosote and other debris and that it is safe for continued use.

A level two chimney inspection takes a bit more effort because the technician will examine not only the same accessible parts of your chimney but also attics, crawl spaces and basements. This inspection is recommended for homeowners who have changed their venting system such as adding an insert, switching fuel sources, having a flue relined or experiencing damage from a natural disaster.

Sweeping the firebox is an important part of any chimney-sweeping job. This cleaning removes ash and soot that accumulate over time and helps to protect the flue liner. Chimney sweeps use a large brush that resembles a bottle brush to sweep the inside of the chimney. The brush is a heavy rod with metal bristles on top.

Starting at the opening of the chimney, they work their way up or down to scrape away the coating that has built up over many fires. The goal is to have a smooth and clean chimney for safe burning. To prepare for your chimney sweeping, cover any furniture that will be in the way with drop cloths or plastic tarps (Image 3). You may also need to move other items out of the way if they block access to the fireplace.

Carbon Monoxide Testing. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that any fuel-burning appliance can produce. This includes your furnace, chimney or venting system, dryer, and grills, stoves, campers, cars and more. Carbon monoxide is produced when carbon-containing fuel, like coal, wood, liquefied petroleum gas (LP), natural gas, oil, and propane, doesn’t burn completely. This is known as “incomplete combustion.” CO is highly toxic because it combines with the blood and blocks oxygen from reaching the body’s cells. It can also cause a number of symptoms, including headaches, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, confusion, and even heart irregularity or breathing difficulties.

The CDC estimates that 400 Americans die from CO poisoning every year, while 20,000 people suffer hospitalizations and thousands more experience emergency room visits. A few proactive steps and a few professional inspections can help protect your family from this deadly threat. Invest in quality CO detectors, prioritize annual chimney inspections and use a chimney sweep for any cleaning or repairs needed.

Richard Stark