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Finding a Chimney Cleaner

Chimney Sweep and Repair
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For maximum safety, experts advise homeowners to have their chimneys cleaned annually. A chimney cleaner will not only make the chimney operate efficiently, but cleaning will reduce blockages and the buildup of creosote that could result in deadly fires or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Finding a chimney cleaner is as easy as asking a friend or checking the internet or phone book for cleaning companies, often called a chimney sweeps. But homeowners also are well advised to ask a few simple questions before hiring a chimney cleaner.

  •  How long will it take for the chimney cleaner to perform the job?
  •  How long has the company been in business?
  •  Can the company provide references that the homeowner can check out?
  •  Will the cleaner also inspect the fireplace and chimney during the cleaning?

Chimney sweeps provide services ranging from cleaning and inspecting chimneys and fireplaces to making necessary repairs or even installing new components. Many chimney cleaning companies have technicians who are professionally trained and certified. Some states also require chimney cleaning companies to be licensed.

Some homeowners attack annual cleanings as a do-it-yourself job. But if you haven’t tried cleaning your own chimney you should know that it can be a dirty, exhausting chore. Bringing in a professional chimney cleaner will ensure that the cleaning is thorough, which is vital for safety.

When wood is burned it creates creosote, which sticks to the sides of the chimney. Creosote is flammable and, if allowed to become too thick, can lead to a fire inside the chimney. Each year, countless house fires are attributed to undetected creosote buildups in chimneys.

A professional chimney cleaner is also much more likely to detect potentially dangerous flaws, such as blockages or cracks in the flue or chimney liner. These defects can hamper the flow of carbon monoxide outside the home, a potentially deadly situation. Carbon monoxide, another byproduct of using the fireplace, is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill humans in large enough quantities.

Cleaners come equipped with a number of tools – brushes, ladders, drop clothes, flashlights. Sometimes donning respirators, they brush the inside the chimney, scraping away the soot and creosote. They clean the flue and grate and sweep the firebox, which is the part of the fireplace where the fire is burned. Some companies also take photographs to show homeowners the finished job or, if applicable, any defects that were documented.

A chimney cleaner typically charges from $75 to $200 or so, depending on the size of the fireplace and complexity of the job. That price, experts say, is a bargain where home safety is concerned.

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