Tag Archive for: chimney cleaning services

A stack of wood in front of a proper fireplace and chimney serviced by a chimney professional

What to Ask a Chimney Professional Before Hiring Them

Poorly maintained chimneys and fireplaces can cause all sorts of problems. Seemingly minor ash and debris in the fireplace can indicate the start of serious problems building up on chimney walls, such as toxic creosote and soot. Creosote is highly combustible and causes chimney fires. To stop this, specialist cleaning of chimneys and fireplaces is essential. So, here is a little advice on what to ask a chimney professional before hiring.

How Often Do Chimneys and Fireplaces Need Cleaning?

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) urges homeowners to get their chimneys cleaned at least once a year. Heavily used wood-burning fireplaces may need chimney sweeping done more often. A hint that you may be overdue for chimney sweeping is strong fireplace smells, debris falling into the fireplace, or smoke blowing back into the room.

Assess Your Needs Before Calling Chimney Professionals

So that you know what to ask before hiring a chimney sweep, you should do a basic visual check first. Check outside to see whether there appears to be any damage around the chimney cap and the immediate roofing surround. Also, see if there are any signs of animals appearing to live within the chimney or on the cap. Bird’s nests are a prime example.

Then check inside around the fireplace. Debris and heavy soot deposits falling from the chimney walls can be signs of animal life or structural damage. The tell-tale black tar signs of creosote are another sign that cleaning is due. You should discuss these issues with chimney cleaning companies when you seek quotes from them.

What to Look for When Hiring Chimney Cleaners

Two of the most important things to look for are good customer reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations. If the organization fails in this area, it can indicate poor service. Asking friends and family about local chimney professionals is a good start. Online review sites may also prove helpful.

Once you’ve lined up two or three potential cleaners, you can compare their experience, rates, and availability. A checklist can be a useful tool to assess their services.

Your Checklist of Questions on What to Ask Before Hiring a Chimney Sweep

1.  Do you have experience with the type of fireplace and chimney I have?

Chimneys come in various shapes and sizes, so you’ll want to ensure the cleaner you hire has experience with your type of chimney.

2. How much will it cost to have my chimney and fireplace cleaned?

This is an essential what to ask before hiring a chimney sweep. You don’t want a nasty surprise when the bill is handed over. A good local company won’t hesitate to come to your property for a free quote.

3. My chimney is way overdue for a cleaning. Will it cost more to sweep?

Again, you don’t want any surprises here. If you’re upfront with them on how long it has been between sweeping and how heavily the fireplace is used, they may need to quote a little more. When they do their inspection, unanticipated problems may come to light. Ask them how they will deal with this type of scenario as well.

4. Do you have any discounts or promotions for first-time customers?

This is worth asking for. After all, they want your repeat business.

5. What if something goes wrong during the chimney cleaning process?

Check whether they are fully insured for any likely mishaps. Don’t just take their word for it—ask who their insurer is and get details of the process if any structural damage occurs.

6. Is your work guaranteed?

Check what their service guarantees cover, including how long they last.

7. Can you provide references from past clients?

If you’re the cautious type, it’s worth looking at a couple of their previous clients.

8. I work away from home. Can you provide a definite day and start time to do the work?

Is there anything more irritating than waiting around all day for tradespeople that don’t turn up? You will want to know that they are guaranteed to turn up when they say they will. And in case they do have to reschedule at short notice that they will let you know at least 24 hours beforehand.

Your Local Chimney Cleaning Professionals in Northern Virginia

Six Penny Chimney provides high-quality fireplace and chimney inspection and cleaning services. We also repair damage to concrete and brickwork and remove animal and insect pests. If you’re a local Northern Virginian, we will readily visit your property and give a free estimate.

We will happily guide you around what to look for when hiring chimney cleaners.

Avoid Chimney Cleaning Logs, logs burning in indoor fireplace

6 Reasons to Avoid Chimney Cleaning Logs & DIY Fireplace Care

When money’s tight, homeowners look for savings, and cooling and heating costs are generally a significant component of the household budget. At such times considering DIY fireplace care can be tempting. Homeowners often think chimney cleaning logs will help reduce maintenance costs. When the logs are set in the fireplace and burnt, they reduce creosote, a significant culprit in chimney fires. But is this a false economy? And are there hidden dangers in this fireplace cleaning method? Here are six reasons to help explain why you should avoid chimney cleaning logs.

1.  Loose Creosote Goes Undetected

Chimney cleaning logs work by releasing chemicals into the fireplace and up through the flue as they burn. The cleaning compounds interact with creosote, helping loosen this flammable tarry substance from the walls of the chimney and fireplace. After a week or so, the creosote flakes off the chimney lining, falling into the fireplace where you can sweep it up.

The problem with this method is two-fold. First, many chimneys are not wholly vertical open stacks. Instead, chimneys may be constructed with elbows or bends and have other nooks and crannies within their structure. These areas within the chimney can allow ash, soot, and creosote to fall from the sides into small heaps that go undetected by the homeowner. These heaps then actually raise the risk of a creosote fire.

Secondly, chimney sweeping logs only work on relatively new creosote deposits. Called Stage I, this thin, flaky layer of creosote can be brushed or cleaned away without too much effort. Chimney cleaning logs cannot remove hardened creosote that has gone beyond Stage 1.

2. Why You Should Avoid Chimney Cleaning Logs for Built-up Creosote

Aged, hardened creosote is probably the number one reason to avoid using chimney cleaning logs. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security that cleaning logs reduce Stage 2 and 3 creosote. In Stage 2, the creosote is becoming a solid tar, requiring hard scrubbing and possibly rotary tools to remove it.

In Stage 3, the creosote is so hard and thick that it is extremely difficult to remove and is a serious fire hazard. Professional chimney cleaners may have to use heavy-duty tools with chains or highly specialized chemical treatments to attempt the removal of the hardened tar-like substance. At worst, they may have to replace the chimney liner.

3. Are Chimney Cleaning Logs Dangerous?

Cleaning logs contain toxic chemicals. Therefore, they should be handled carefully, used strictly according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and kept a careful eye on while actually burning.

You should also exercise caution when removing the fallen ashes. These may still contain full-strength creosote, which is harmful to breathe in. In addition, the creosote is still highly flammable, so it must be carefully handled.

4. Fireplace Cleaning Requires Specialized Tools

Professional chimney sweeps use specialized fit-for-purpose tools, including wire chimney brushes and connectable long flexible cleaning rods. They also use cameras or inspection mirrors to identify where creosote has been collected. If you have to buy this equipment, up go your maintenance costs.

5. Obstructions and Damage

Unlike chimney sweeps, cleaning logs can’t check for obstructions such as bird and rodent nests within the chimney structure. Unfortunately, neither will inspection of the chimney’s physical structure occur so that you will be unaware of any damage and necessary repairs.

6. Experts Advise Chimneys Should be Professionally Cleaned Every Year

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) clearly states that professional chimney sweeps should be engaged every year to inspect solid fuel venting systems. Experts also caution that chimneys should be swept and repaired whenever needed.

National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 reiterates the requirement for yearly inspections for chimneys, fireplaces, and vents.

So are Chimney Cleaning Logs Worth Using?

Let’s look at where you could end up if you’ve opted for the DIY fireplace care option. Well;

  • You may have missed finding some of the creosote deposits.
  • You have to clean the filthy and toxic creosote out yourself.
  • You’re unlikely to have the right tools to clean the chimney thoroughly.
  • The cleaning chemicals from the log are toxic.
  • You can’t confirm the physical state of your fireplace and chimney, and
  • You’re going against the advice of experts in the fire prevention field.

Given these circumstances, perhaps you should avoid chimney cleaning logs and leave this dirty chore to the professionals.

Northern Virginia Chimney Sweeping and Fireplace Cleaning Services

The professional chimney cleaning services of Six Penny Chimney will leave you with peace of mind, knowing that your fireplace has been cleaned to exacting standards. We make life much easier for you than the DIY experience.

We’ve been providing Northern Virginia homeowners with chimney cleaning and repair services since 1980.