Frequently Asked Chimney Questions
Q: How much does it cost to clean a chimney?
A: A basic open fireplace will cost $149. A freestanding stove will cost $129 and an insert $199.
Q: What are the steps to cleaning a chimney?
A: First, we set up drop cloths to ensure the cleanliness of your home. Next, we set up our industrial vacuum and turn it on as to collect debris from our cleaning. The vacuum is not for cleaning, it is meant to keep your house clean by keeping the dust and debris contained. We then go up to the roof and run brushes on rods up and down the flue, cleaning all the built up soot.
Once this is done, we begin our next process, cleaning from inside the home. A chimney can only be properly cleaned if done this way, cleaning from the roof only will not suffice and does not comply with modern chimney cleaning standards.
For a fireplace, I will run small brushes into the smoke chamber up through the throat by the damper. I then either scoop or vacuum the soot and creosote off the smoke shelf. Next, I scrub out the firebox and then further examine work and the condition of those parts of the system.
In a wood burning stove, I need to remove the baffles inside the stove in order to clean out the debris that was just brushed down the chimney. With some stoves, depending on a particular appliance, or with certain types of installations, chimney connectors may have to be taken apart from stoves to properly clean.
Finally, when the work is complete, the vacuum is turned off, and the equipment is loaded back into our vehicle.
As a convenience, and to promote fire safety, I provide a chimney system evaluation report to my customers with respect to the condition of the chimney and the system overall.
Payment is then expected, unless other arrangements have been made.
Q: Why do I need to clean my chimney?
A: The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, "Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary." This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem. It takes into account the fact that even if you don't use your chimney much, animals may build nests in the flue or there may be other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use.
Q: My fireplace stinks, especially in the summer. What can I do?
A: The smell is due to creosote deposits in the chimney, a natural byproduct of woodburning. The odor is usually worse in the summer when the humidity is high and the air conditioner is turned on. A good sweeping will help but usually won't solve the problem completely. There are commercial chimney deodorants that work pretty well, and many people have good results with baking soda or even kitty litter set in the fireplace. The real problem is the air being drawn down the chimney, a symptom of overall pressure problems in the house. Some make-up air should be introduced somewhere else in the house. A tight sealing, top mounted damper will also reduce this air flow coming down the chimney.
Q: I heat with gas. Should this chimney be checked too?
A: Although gas is generally a clean burning fuel, the chimney can become non-functional from bird nests or other debris blocking the flue. Modern furnaces can also cause many problems with the average flues intended to vent the older generation of furnaces. We suggest you check the areas on gas and carbon monoxide for more information.