Chimney Sweeps Q&A, Part 1

Today, Chimney Sweeps of America would like to present Chimney Sweeps Q&A, Part 1. Here we answer a few questions that we often get from customers and pass this valuable information along to you. With our help, there’s no need to be a chimney expert. We have all the expertise you need. 


Is it Necessary to Have My Chimney Inspected?

The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys be cleaned or at least inspected once a year. A good time for this is summer or at the latest early fall so that you know that your chimney is in good shape for the coming winter.


Your chimney performs an important function and malfunctions can spell disaster in the form of expensive repairs or even house fires. Most homeowners are not experts in chimney function and will not catch the potential problems that an expert chimney sweep will. Often with chimneys, early detection can end up saving you a lot of money, so it pays off in the end. 


How are Chimneys Cleaned? Is it Messy?

You should always look for CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) certified chimney sweeps when contracting a professional sweep. Of course, our staff here at Chimney Sweeps of America are all certified and maintain a high level of professionalism while working on your chimney.


It’s true that chimney cleaning is messy work but good sweeps will ensure that they don’t leave a mess behind. Special equipment keeps any ash or dust from blowing back into your home, and clean floor coverings protect your floors during the cleaning process.


What is Creosote? Where Does it Come From? And Why is it Dangerous?

Soot is a natural byproduct of burning anything, whether it be wood or gas. It gets carried up the chimney with the smoke as it rises, but some of it is deposited on the chimney walls leaving behind a sticky tar-like substance, creosote. This stuff is pretty flammable which can make it quite dangerous.


The CSIA recommends that you have your chimney cleaned when there is as little as ¼ inch buildup present. Depending on how often you use the chimney, this might mean you’ll have to have it cleaned a couple of times a year. Burning as little as one cord of wood can leave enough creosote to start becoming dangerous depending on the efficiency of your system. And don’t think that you can escape because your system burns gas. Burning anything will leave buildup.


How Often is it Necessary to Have my Chimney Cleaned?

This is highly dependent on the frequency of use and what type of fuel you use. The age of your chimney and its condition also have an effect–even the weather can affect how quickly it gets dirty. Mild winters are actually worse for chimneys than cold ones.


For wood-burning fireplaces and chimneys, plan to have it cleaned once or twice a year, but if you burn green wood or burn a lot (more than two cords of wood in a year), you should have it cleaned even more frequently. Natural gas is, of course, cleaner burning but it still causes its own set of problems and should usually be checked once a year. 


How Long Can I Expect a Chimney Cleaning to Take?

The time required to clean a chimney will vary depending on what services you have requested. A simple cleaning usually takes about an hour whereas cleaning plus inspection will naturally take longer. It also depends on the type and size of your chimney, of course.


With a Gas Furnace Does the Flue Need to be Cleaned?

As we mentioned earlier, of course, gas is a cleaner burning fuel, but that doesn’t mean it leaves no buildup, it just comes with a different type of issue. As gas burns water vapor and other gases from the air and burning process condense together to form hydrochloric acid that begins to build up inside the flue. This acid is, as you may imagine, corrosive and can start to eat away at the interior of the flue if allowed to build up too much.


Another common issue with these types of flues is small animals or birds getting into your chimney and building nests. These blockages don’t allow for the air to flow as freely as it should and gases can get trapped inside and start creating dangerous conditions.


Are All Chimney Sweeps Basically the Same?

That’s a resounding no! Just like car mechanics or virtually any other field of service some companies have knowledgeable employees offering top notch service, and others do not. The government does not have a hand in regulating this industry, but there are industry standards regulated by the CSIA that we’ve mentioned previously and also the National Chimney Safety Guild or NCSG.


Always be sure that the individual who comes to your home has these certifications to ensure a high quality of service. It just makes sense, when you consider the considerable danger you and your family members can be in if something goes amiss with your chimney. Keep in mind that sometimes companies will have one or two certified employees and advertise themselves as certified, but the individual that they send to your home is not personally certified. Reputable companies will be sure to send out their employees with the proper certification and proof to show you, so it’s a good idea to ask for it.


Chimney Sweeps of America has been operating in the Denver area for over 33 years, and our reputation within the community is strong. We have the proper certifications and are dedicated to providing a level of service that fully satisfies our customers and keeps them using our services year after year. We hold an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and we are actually the only company in the Denver area with a Master Hearth Professional.


We hope that this Chimney Sweeps Q&A, Part 1 has been helpful to you. We can’t stress enough the importance of regularly cleaning, inspecting, and if needed, repairing your chimney to ensure that your home is safe from fire and poisonous gases. Be sure to be on the lookout for the Q&A, Part 2 to get even more answers to common questions.

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