A chimney sweep’s main job is to clean creosote and other debris out of your home’s chimney. The scope of this job may also include visual inspection and the use of chimney scanning video cameras. During the actual chimney cleaning, the sweep may use brushes and rods from the roof, operate a high-powered vacuum from inside, or a combination of both chimney sweeping methods. It is recommended that you have your chimney swept annually, after each cord of wood you burn in the fireplace, or if you smell smoke inside the house.
Chimney inspections uncover safety hazards and structural issues in your home’s chimney before they become a major problem. Leaks, cracks in the masonry, and water or fire damage will slowly worsen over time until the chimney finally fails. A small yearly payment to a certified chimney inspector can save you a massive home repair expense in the future.
A good chimney inspector can also identify areas where the airflow of your home’s chimney and vent system could be improved. This could be as a result of clearing blockages or making structural improvements to change the interior of the chimney. Making these small changes can save you hundreds of dollars a year on utility bills.
Chimney inspection standards are set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Many chimney sweeps are also qualified to perform masonry repairs to correct damage from fires, weather exposure, and moisture. Masonry repairs may also be needed if your home’s firebox and smoke chamber are poorly designed and do not allow smoke to flow freely through the chimney. If the damage is extensive or the design is simply too inefficient to handle the volume of smoke your fireplace produces, you may need a complete chimney rebuild and restoration.
Fireplace and Chimney Troubleshooting
Troubleshooting your home’s chimney, ducts, and vent system helps chimney sweeps identify problems with airflow and exhaust. A qualified chimney sweep can adjust the pressure and temperature differences within the system for the best possible airflow. During his troubleshooting session, he may also find that the chimney damper is damaged or stuck. This is a simple fix that can drastically improve the performance of your home’s chimney and vent system. A chimney sweep performing a complete troubleshooting can also find blockages causing excessive smoke in the home, cracks in the masonry, and other damage to your chimney or fireplace.
Chimneys are vulnerable to damage from rain, snow, fog and other moist weather conditions because of their exposed position on the rooftop. Water seeps into the pores of the masonry and rots the chimney from the inside out. This can be a serious problem if you live in a climate with repeated freeze and thaw cycles. The water will expand and contract inside the masonry, causing it to weaken and fail over time. If your home’s flue liner is not made from stainless steel or another rustproof material, moisture inside the chimney may cause it to corrode and fall apart.