We all love lighting our fireplace when the cold winter comes. Watching the wood burn while we listen to the crackling of the flames as they do. It’s an idyllic scene with an irresistible romantic touch. What’s not so romantic is finishing the season and seeing how our fireplace has filled up with soot, not only inside the hearth, but also in the smoke outlet.
Before putting it back into operation, it is essential that a chimney sweep thoroughly cleans it. Especially if we don’t want to suffer the consequences, such as poor combustion, the entry of smoke inside and a series of related problems. Let’s talk a bit more about this professional.
When we talk about how to clean a chimney, we talk about what are the basic steps to follow. And although it’s a relatively simple task in certain models, in others it’s not so easy to completely clean the entire installation, so the services of experienced professionals are required. This type of professional is what is called a chimney sweep, a centuries-old task that over time has progressed, but whose goal remains the same: to keep chimneys in perfect working order.
What is a chimney sweep?
A chimney sweep is a person who is dedicated to the cleaning and maintenance of chimneys, stoves, ovens and other heating and ventilation systems that use the combustion of materials such as wood, coal or gas to generate heat.
The main function of the chimney sweep is to remove the buildup of soot, creosote and other residues that may obstruct the passage of smoke, which can generate fire risks and poor combustion of materials.
In addition, they also take care of inspecting and repairing possible damage to structures and ensuring the correct operation of heating and ventilation systems.
Why is it necessary to call a chimney sweep from time to time?
Basically, because no matter how much care we take in using our fireplace properly and strive to keep it clean, there are areas that we cannot access without endangering our own safety, partly because we do not know how to do the job.
It is true that among the usual accessories in fireplaces there are some for removing and detaching soot from the walls and tubes, but there will always be residues that require a more experienced hand.
Tasks of a chimney sweep
The tasks of a chimney sweep include a variety of functions related to the cleaning, maintenance, and repair of heating and ventilation systems. Some of the most common tasks are:
- Inspection: Reviewing chimneys, stoves, furnaces, and other heating and ventilation systems to identify potential problems, such as obstructions, structural damage, or operational issues.
- Soot Cleaning: Removing soot and other accumulated residues in chimneys and ventilation ducts to prevent fire hazards and ensure efficient system operation.
- Deobstruction: Removing potential obstructions in chimneys and ducts, such as bird nests, leaves, branches, and other materials that may be preventing proper smoke circulation and drafting issues.
- Damage Repair: Identifying and repairing potential damages in chimney structures, stoves, and furnaces, such as cracks, leaks, or wear and tear.
- Preventive Maintenance: Performing periodic inspections and maintenance tasks to prevent future problems and ensure good operation and safety.
- Protection System Installation: Placing elements such as caps, grilles, or protectors to prevent the entry of animals, leaves, and other foreign objects into chimneys and ducts.
- Consulting: Providing recommendations to clients about the proper use and maintenance, as well as offering suggestions to improve energy efficiency and safety of these systems.
- Compliance: Ensuring that the installations and heating and ventilation systems comply with local, regional, and state safety and energy efficiency regulations and norms.
How often should a chimney be thoroughly cleaned?
The frequency of deep cleaning depends somewhat on the material and characteristics of each chimney, although it is normal to do it once a year with moderate use. Even if it is used little, as a precaution the smoke outlet pipe should be cleaned before relighting the fireplace.
This prevents residues or foreign elements from blocking the draft. For example, sometimes birds nest inside the chimney, and these can be a significant problem, not because of the nest itself, but because it could be a protected species.
And when to call the chimney sweep?
It will also largely depend on the heating system you have, as well as the way we perform the chimney maintenance. Although common sense dictates that the time to call them is when you are not going to use it for a long time, or before using it again if you prefer to have everything ready at the start of the season.