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Articles > What Your Chimney Professional Offers

9 Oct 2006

About Chimney Sweep Professionals

Why do I need my chimney swept?  
What else does a chimney professional do for me?

When wood is burned, not all the smoke escapes from the chimney. Some will cool down and become solid, producing creosote. Sweeping the chimney removes this flammable residue. Further, creosote is corrosive to the flue tiles in the chimney and can cause unpleasant odors in your home. Ideally, the chimney should be swept in the spring time just after the winter burn season is over.

Does a chimney fire
clean out the chimney?
As these pictures demonstrate, creosote can expand into a “popcorn” consistency seen in the top photo that can actually block the flue. Note that the chimney fire suffered by this chimney broke a chunk out of the flue tile liner. After sweeping the chimney, cracks were noted in each tile liner section.

This wall thimble, where the black pipe enters the chimney, has wood panelling butting up against it and is a severe safety hazard! Would you be aware of safety problems such as this without the advice of an expert, professional chimney sweep?
The photos at
right show a chimney
the day after a
chimney fire occurred
(top photo) and after
sweeping. This
chimney was damaged
in the fire and had to
be relined. These
pictures also demon-
strate why a chimney
often needs to be swept in order to perform an inspection, as the creosote in this chimney prevented our seeing the cracks in the clay tile liners.

A truly scary aspect of chimney fires is that they often occur without the homeowner’s knowledge. Chimney fires tend to happen most often within a short time of adding wood to a burning fire or upon lighting a new fire. Often people heating with wood are adding fuel to the fire before going to bed or leaving for work and are unaware that the chimney has caught fire.

All chimneys need to be inspected yearly and cleaned when needed. Oil soot is less flammable than wood residues but can cause blockages that allow carbon monoxide and other fumes to back up into the living space of your home. Gas appliances can also cause soot but are more prone to cause damage due to moisture condensation that can cause rapid chimney deterioration. Improperly sized gas flues are a leading cause of severe damages to chimneys and walls which also can allow deadly fumes to enter your home. Leaves, birds, animals and other intruders can also cause blockages that can inhibit proper draft.

As chimney sweep professionals, we also check other components of your home’s heating system. We look for visible damage, structural design problems, signs of deterioration and check proper clearances for the appliance and venting system. We advise you on fire safety, proper maintenance and habits of use to help make sure your chimney serves its function to keep your home warm and safe. When repairs, renovation or upgrades are needed, we’re prepared to provide most any type of chimney related services you could need.

You should expect these services from your local professional chimney sweep. In the absence of other criteria such as references from friends and relatives, ask if your local chimney sweep company is a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild and/or if they're certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).  While many fine companies and chimney sweep technicians may not have either credential, having them shows their knowledge has been recently tested and that they met the training standards for accreditation.


Education & Certification: