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What is a Chimney Cleaning Log?

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Cleaning a chimney can be a real chore. If you do it yourself, you should expect to be dirty and tired when the job’s finally done. A professional chimney sweep promises a clean chimney for your fireplace and, for you, clean clothes. But a professional could set you back $100 or more. Faced with these choices, an attractive alternative can be a chimney cleaning log.

What is a chimney cleaning log?

Simply, it’s a log that promises to clean the chimney as it burns, helping homeowners stretch their dollars by extending the time a bit between visits from a chimney sweep. Sounds too good to be true? It’s not, experts say.

Chimney cleaning logs really work – to an extent. While it’s fine to use a chimney cleaning log from time to time, fire safety professionals and even the companies that produce the logs say a chimney cleaning log is no substitute for annual fireplace and chimney inspections and periodic cleanings from a trained professional.

The chimney cleaning log attacks enemy No. 1 of the chimney – creosote. Creosote is a byproduct that is produced when wood is burned in the fireplace. The creosote sticks to the sides of the chimney, in time coating it with a thick layer. Creosote is dangerous because it’s highly flammable and that risk of fire increases as the layer gets thicker. The creosote can catch fire inside the chimney, which can then spread to other parts of the home. Each year, millions of dollars in property is destroyed and lives tragically lost due to chimney fires that could have been prevented with a vigorous chimney sweeping.

There’s no real magic involved.

The processed chimney cleaning logs release chemicals as they burn. Those chemicals adhere to the creosote and then, through a chemical reaction, break down the creosote. Some of the creosote will then flake off the chimney walls, falling to the floor of the fireplace where it can be swept up or vacuumed.

The pros of chimney cleaning logs are, obviously, that they do remove some of the creosote. They’re also readily available in a wide range of stores and relatively inexpensive, at $10 to $15.

But as the packages usually say, homeowners shouldn’t allow themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security. Even with using chimney cleaning logs, a chimney should be inspected annually and at least periodically professionally cleaned.

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