You wouldn’t perform a tonsillectomy on a friend simply because you’re pretty good with knives and enjoy cutting things. But you’d be amazed at how many people think that because they like cleaning and getting a little dirty, they’re qualified to clean their own chimneys. Some jobs require a trained professional who has the knowledge and hands-on skill to perform the work safely and correctly.
Fortunately, chimney cleaning is a lot less risky than taking out someone’s tonsils. Or is it?
In America each year, there are more than 20,000 chimney fires. Many of these become catastrophic house fires. Most are started by creosote igniting within the flue. We can’t say how many of these chimneys were “cleaned” by an amateur, but we can say it’s unlikely any of them received regular cleaning and inspection services by a technician certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
Special tools + specific knowledge = clean and safe chimneys
Licensed and insured chimney sweeps and chimney sweep companies use a variety of brushes, scrubbers, cleansers, vacuums and other tools to address creosote and soot buildup in their customers’ chimneys. It’s true that in some cases, creosote exists as a soft, flakey substance that’s fairly easy to remove – assuming you have the tools to reach it. But in many other cases, creosote is gummy and sticky and often solid, making it very difficult even for professionals to safely remove.
Cleaning out glue-like or hardened creosote without damaging the chimney liner requires experience and training. A novice might go in and start chipping away and without realizing it seriously damage the chimney liner. Now that the liner is damaged, chimney masonry and parts of the home are at risk of a fire.
A good chimney inspector knows what to look for
The average homeowner can perform visual inspections of a chimney and fireplace – and this is encouraged. You can tell there’s a problem when you notice water inside the firebox, crumbling masonry on the roof or a chimney that’s tilting to one side. Spotting more subtle clues that chimney damage exists is something only a certified technician has the ability to do.
A professional chimney inspection covers both the chimney structure and all connected components such as the chimney cap, chimney crown, flashing, chimney liner, throat and top-sealing dampers, smoke chamber, smoke shelf and more. A person who inspects chimneys for a living will know what to look for in all these areas to determine what kind of problem exists, why it has happened and how to fix it.
You may only make things worse
Finally, when you attempt to do your own chimney cleaning and inspection, you may end up making a problem worse. You could inadvertently damage components – including the chimney liner, as noted above – install replacement parts incorrectly, and overlook signs of early stages of damage that a professional would quickly spot.
Allowing your chimney to go year after year without cleaning and inspections performed by CSIA-certified technicians is asking for trouble. And don’t we usually have enough trouble already without asking for more?
Northeastern Chimney of West Hartford, CT, wants to help you enjoy your fireplace and chimney in safety and with peace of mind. When our licensed professionals clean or inspect your chimney and fireplace, you’re assured that the job will be done right. If it’s time for a cleaning or inspection, give us a call at (860) 233-5770 and let us exceed your expectations.
This post first appeared on https://www.mychimney.com