Is Chimney Cleaning a DIY Job?

You know that your chimney needs to be cleaned regularly, but maybe you find yourself wondering whether hiring a chimney sweep is really necessary. You maintain and clean the rest of your home, so how hard could chimney sweeping really be?

The reality is, however, that cleaning your chimney really is not a DIY job. Not only do you require extensive experience to know what to look for when inspecting your chimney, but sweeping a chimney can actually be quite dangerous if you have not received proper training. Chimney maintenance is an important part of keeping your home safe, and hiring a professional is a worthwhile investment. Read on to learn why you should hire a professional chimney sweep.

Dangers of Sweeping a Chimney

There is a good reason chimney sweeps receive professional training: sweeping a chimney can be pretty dangerous business. There are physical dangers that come with cleaning as well as the potential for dangerous fires if the chimney is not swept correctly. Because of this, hiring a professional is the way to go when your chimney needs to be cleaned.

Potential for Injury

Although sweeping a chimney is much safer than it was centuries ago thanks to modern techniques, attempting to clean a chimney without taking proper precautions can be dangerous. Oftentimes, sweeping a chimney requires climbing onto the roof, and dealing improperly with soot and creosote can lead to respiratory problems. Professional chimney sweeps are trained to clean a chimney thoroughly while also keeping themselves safe.

Potential for Home Damage

In addition to the potential for injury, attempting to sweep your own chimney will probably not result in actually having a clean chimney. Maybe it seems simple enough: check for debris and clear creosote from the walls. But, what professional chimney sweeps do entails much more than you might think. Here is a glimpse of all that chimney sweeps are responsible for when cleaning your chimney.

  • Before determining if your chimney needs a full sweep, a chimney sweep will need to perform a chimney inspection. There are three levels of chimney inspections. During the inspection, chimney sweeps will check for internal and external damage such as cracks, creosote buildup, damaged liners, and more. Even common types of damage can be hard to recognize without having the proper training.
  • Chimney sweeps provide the correct equipment for cleaning your specific chimney. They supply the brushes and other tools needed for cleaning, making sure their tools fit your chimney’s size and particular cleaning requirements. Without the right tools, your chimney will not be cleaned thoroughly.
  • Cleaning a chimney can be messy, and chimney sweeps ensure your home stays clean during the sweeping process. They provide tarps or other materials to keep soot and other debris from ending up inside your home.
  • Chimney sweeps have the skills to repair chimneys in the event of any damage. Because they know what kind of damage to look for when cleaning or inspecting the chimney, they can point you in the right direction when deciding what the next steps might be for maintenance.
  •   Lastly and most importantly, chimney sweeps know how to tell if a chimney is clean and safe. According to a 2012-2014 report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there was an average of 22,300 chimney fires per year in the United States during the reported years. Chimney fires are almost always started as a result of improperly cleaned chimneys. Having a professional who knows how to clean your chimney effectively is crucial for safety in your home.

How to Responsibly Maintain Your Chimney

Although you should not clean your own chimney, there are effective and responsible steps you can take towards maintaining its health. These steps include day-to-day care and a commitment to having your chimney checked annually.

What You Can Do

  • Choose firewood that is safe to burn. Be especially careful to avoid treated wood. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) offers tips for choosing the right kind of firewood.
  • Keep a lookout for creosote buildup. Although you should not attempt to perform a complete inspection, it is a good idea to occasionally shine a flashlight in your chimney to look for roughness or abnormal texture on the walls. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, you probably need a chimney sweep even if it has not been a full year since your last one.
  • Practice fire safety while using your chimney. Be sure to take precautions and be aware when building and maintaining a fire. Notice whether there are any strange odors or more smoke than usual when a fire is burning. If so, you need a chimney inspection.

Hiring a Professional

The Chimney Safety Institute of America provides training and certification for chimney sweeps, and explains why their credentials are the industry standard. When it’s time for a chimney sweep, it is best to look for a trusted, CSIA certified professional such as our employees at Chimney and Masonry Outfitters. To hire one of our chimney sweeps, visit our website today!