Chimney Sweeps vs DIY
A seemingly harmless article about do-it-yourself (DIY) chimney cleaning was posted online on Angie’s List. The nation’s leading fire safety experts recognized that the article could give homeowners a false sense of security that results in danger. Between the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the campaign to take down the misleading information about DIY chimney cleaning was successful. Read on to learn why it’s so important to hire a qualified chimney sweep and forego efforts at DIY chimney cleaning.
Approximately 21,000 chimney fires occur in the U.S. each year, and the primary cause is a buildup of highly flammable creosote and soot. Creosote is a tar-like substance that clings to chimney linings as other combustion byproducts from wood fires exit through the top of the chimney. Hot embers can cause creosote to ignite, and the creosote in the liner feeds the fire. When there is substantial creosote buildup, chimney fires can burn white-hot, destroy the chimney lining, and cause home fires that are too often deadly.
Proper Chimney Cleaning
Cleaning a chimney properly requires know-how plus the types of tools used by chimney sweeps. There is only one type of creosote that can be removed with a chimney sweep brush. Two other types of creosote in chimneys are more difficult to remove and require the use of more aggressive tools and materials. The most stubborn creosote to remove looks almost like tar has been poured down the chimney liner. Sometimes a chemical creosote remover can get the job done. Other times, inserting a stainless-steel chimney liner inside the existing tile liner is the best way to keep a home safe from the hazards of creosote in the flue.
DIY chimney cleaning can’t replace a detailed chimney inspection by a certified chimney sweep. Damage to a liner can be nearly impossible to detect unless you call on chimney experts. Chimney technicians are able to use a special video camera during a Level 2 chimney inspection to thoroughly inspect the flue from top to bottom.
The reason it’s vital to verify that a chimney liner is undamaged is because its functions involve critical safety issues. The liner protects combustible areas of the home from the extreme heat in the chimney. Another reason a damage-free liner is a must is to prevent toxic gases from entering the home. Deadly carbon monoxide is tasteless, odorless, invisible, and it doesn’t cause any symptoms until a person has already been seriously exposed. If there is no carbon monoxide detector in the home to warn occupants of a carbon monoxide leak, those who are exposed rarely survive.
Chimneys are highly vulnerable to moisture. It usually requires a trained eye to see signs of water damage in masonry. If mortar between bricks begins to deteriorate, a procedure called “tuck-pointing” can be used to replace the expired mortar and keep the masonry protected from water damage. When water gets in through the various potential avenues, the bricks will undergo damage with each freeze and thaw cycle in the weather. Eventually, moisture-damaged chimneys begin to lean and can collapse altogether.
Call the Experts at Burlington Fireplace & Solar
There are many ways to cut costs of home ownership with DIY chores, but chimney cleaning isn’t one of them. There is no way to put a price on the safety of your family and home. To ensure that it’s safe to use your fireplace, wood stove, or another heating appliance with a venting system, contact the certified experts at Burlington Fireplace & Solar. Call 262-763-3522 today.