The process of sweeping a chimney may look simple, but it involves more than just shoving a long-handled brush up a chimney to dislodge soot and debris. Regular sweeping of chimneys is essential for safety because a chimney clogged with soot can easily catch fire. A blocked chimney also prevents smoke from escaping from the fireplace, leading to smoky rooms and unpleasant odors. Homeowners or tenants who use real fires or wood burners should get chimneys swept annually.
The first part of the chimney sweeping process is for the chimney sweep to thoroughly inspect the fireplace and the chimney. If the sweep notices any damage, he will usually quote a price for repairs. The sweep looks inside the chimney to see if it needs cleaning. If there's more than a 1/4 inch of accumulated soot, he will clean the chimney.
Sweeping a chimney is a messy job that produces soot and dust. To protect your home, the chimney sweep spreads large drop cloths over floors and furnishings in the room. She will cover the fireplace opening with a plastic sheet and tape this to the side of the fireplace. The sweep sets up a high-power industrial vacuum cleaner and inserts the vacuum hose under the fireplace cover. The vacuum sucks up soot and debris as it is removed from the chimney with the sweep brush. The sweep dons protective gear, including goggles and a dust mask.
To sweep the chimney itself, the chimney sweep inserts a wide, specialty nylon fiber sweep brush into the fireplace and up the chimney. The brush comes in flexible sections, and the sweep adds a new section as necessary while pushing the brush head up and down the chimney to dislodge soot and debris. During this process, the chimney sweep cleans all parts of the fireplace and chimney, including the flue, damper, smoke chamber, smoke shelf and firebox. The process takes between 45 minutes and one hour.
After sweeping the chimney, the sweep should carry out a smoke test by lighting a small fire in the fireplace. This verifies that the chimney has been cleaned properly with all clogs carefully removed. Keep a written chimney cleaning record and ask the chimney sweep to sign it each time the chimney is swept.
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