Chimney Sweeping Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Are problems like sooty glass or drafts in the room related to the chimney? A. Sooty glass is almost certainly related. Drafts may be related to poor fireplace or stove venting, flue controls to the chimney itself, or even gaps in the brickwork and masonry. Schedule a Level 2 inspection for a full evaluation that includes a live video feed of the chimney all the way to the top.
Q. Why is an inspection necessary? A. If there are problems with the proper functioning of the fireplace or stove, an inspection will find them. If creosote, bat guano, or animal nests are restricting the airflow – or causing fire hazards – the inspection should spot them. The same is true if the flue is damaged or the metal chimney cap is not working correctly. The National Fire Protection Association recommends annual inspections to catch and address these types of problems.
Q. Is sweeping necessary if we don’t use the fireplace or stove very much? A. Many homeowners have little documentation on the maintenance and repair of their heating appliances. Even if there was a cleaning a few years ago, the intrusion of animals or even weather-generated water into the system can create problems. In the same way, many damper controls are stuck in the wrong position and allow air to move both up and down the chimney even when unused. An inspection, sweeping, and/or repair work can correct these issues.
Q. Can’t I keep the chimney clean with a good brush and some strong cleaner? A. Just like you would trust a mechanic with taking care of your engine, trust an expert chimney sweeper to take care of your home. We know how to effectively and safely remove things like tarry creosote, animal nests, and more. What’s more, we have the equipment and training that allows for a full flue cleaning that is impossible for homeowners to perform. Add to that our ability to spot damages that require repair, and it becomes clear that you shouldn’t put your home at risk with partial cleanings.
Q. What does it take for a chimney fire to occur? A. Chimney fires are devastating and can turn into desperate, life-endangering situations. Fire risks climb when materials build up inside the chimney system. Those include tar-like creosote and other burning by-products, animal nesting debris, and the animals themselves. More than one fire has been caused when attempting to “smoke them (live animals) out.”
Q. Does Fresh Sweeps show up with top hats and coats or is something entirely different? A. Sorry – no Mary Poppins here. While old-fashioned hats and long brushes used to be the main (and only) tools of professional chimney sweeps, that’s not true any longer. The technology, both for inspecting and cleaning, has progressed dramatically. Fresh Sweeps arrives prepared for the toughest of cleaning jobs with new processes to complete the job.
Q. How long does a sweeping take and can I be in the house? A. Following a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection that runs from 15 to 60 minutes, the sweeping begins. Sweeping ranges from 60 to 90 minutes or more for taller or more extensive, interconnected chimney systems. Expect a total time at your home between 90 minutes and two and half hours. Unless there’s a significant safety concern, you are welcome to be in the house during the process.
Q. When’s the best time of year for a chimney sweeping? A. It is important to be confident in your home’s comfort, safety and security. A pre-heating season inspection is well advised in case there are true health concerns (such as production of carbon monoxide) and fire dangers. Any time is the right time if warning signs appear or sale of the property is planned.
Q. Can a home buyer really require a chimney inspection, cleaning and even repair? A. Wise home buyers are genuinely concerned about all of the systems built into a home. A wood or pellet-burning fireplace along with gas and oil-fired appliances are part of a home’s comfort. As a result, many will require an inspection, with documentation about a recent sweeping or maintenance calls being mandatory. More than a few real estate transactions have been complicated, or even halted, because of a lack of resolution about the safe operating condition of a fireplace or stove.