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What Does a Chimney Sweep Do?

The purpose of a chimney sweep is to remove flammable creosote from a fireplace flue in order to reduce the risk of house fires, protect the masonry of the fireplace and its surrounds, inform homeowners on correct burning techniques, and minimize repair costs. A chimney sweep is trained to follow strict guidelines and procedures for each job to ensure that they provide a professional service.

Chimney sweeps use a variety of tools to perform their duties. A chimney sweep’s primary tool is a brush made from polypropylene or metal wire bristles which is attached to a rod typically 3 feet long or one meter in new money. As the chimney sweep pushes and retracts the brush inside the flue several times, it scrapes the coating of soot off of the interior walls of the flue and allows the soot to fall down under gravity to the fire appliance below. The sweep may also use the brush to wipe down the chimney and its parts including the firebox, smoke chamber damper and chimney crown.

An experienced chimney sweep allen chimney sweep will identify the type of chimney flue, i.e., rendered clay, stainless steel flexi or concrete sectional chimney as soon as they arrive at the property for the cleaning/inspection. Then they will be able to select the appropriate power sweep head that fits the chimney type and condition. A sweep should never attempt to push a power sweep head that is too large for the flue as this can cause damage to the internal bricks of the chimney (see the video above ‘Kinder to Brick Flues’).

In addition to the cleaning of the chimney and its components, a qualified chimney sweep will do a full inspection of the masonry chimney and roof. This is usually done with the help of a digital video camera called the Chim-Scan internal evaluation camera which has two independent cameras on the body and head of the unit, allowing the technician to view each part of the chimney structure.

During the cleaning process, a chimney sweep will set up a drop cloth or plastic and a HEPA vacuum in front of the fireplace opening to prevent ash and soot from contaminating your carpet. They will then attach the cleaning apparatus to a rotary drill and begin the cleaning process. As the chimney sweeping progresses, the homeowner will hear and see the ash/soot/oil being sucked away through the HEPA vacuum system which is running constantly during the entire cleaning and inspection process.

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