Be Safe: Chimney & Fireplace Cleaning
January 15, 2015
It’s hard to imagine a fireplace cleaning without an image of a sooty Dick Van Dyke popping into your mind, doing a little soft shoe and over-pronouncing his vowels. It seems like a profession from another time, but chimney sweeps are very much still around. And while modern chimney sweeps are not known for their tendency to burst into song while on the job, they still are “as lucky as lucky can be.”
More accurately, someone who doesn’t use a chimney sweep can be very unlucky indeed. Without proper cleaning, a fireplace and chimney can be extremely dangerous. Every year, approximately one thousand Ontario homes fall victim to chimney fires, which can start suddenly and spread quickly, engulfing the whole house in a matter of minutes. For this reason, we recommend getting your furnace and chimney inspected annually, and scheduling regular fireplace cleaning.
Creosote: The Fire Starter
The culprit is creosote, a chemical created whenever wood is burned. Creosote clings to the sides of the fireplace and chimney, obstructing proper airflow and posing major risks to the homeowner. It is extremely combustible: the smallest spark can cause it to burn.
Check Your Fireplace and Chimney
To check your fireplace and chimney you’ll need a small flashlight and a particle filtering face mask.
Step 1: Ensure that there is no backdraft coming down your chimney. If there is a draft, open a door to increase the pressure in your house.
Step 2: Check the hearth of your fireplace. Look for buildups of black, grey or brown soot. If you see any, don’t touch it.
Step 3: Check your chimney. Use the flashlight to look for any buildups .
If you find a small amount of creosote, there may be no reason for concern, but as little as one eighth of an inch of the stuff coating your fireplace and chimney can start a fire. If you notice anything, have your fireplace and chimney inspected by a professional.
Proper Fireplace Cleaning
There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet about how to best go about this. We recommend calling a licensed fireplace cleaner, like AirTech!
The reason we suggest this is that creosote, along with being extremely combustible, is also a known carcinogen. So, if you do attempt to clean your fireplace, please use a particle respirator face mask and protective gloves.
Do not use chimney and fireplace cleaning logs. These logs do not work nearly as well as advertised, and may make matters worse rather than better.
Step 1: gather the following supplies:
A wire brush or heavy nylon brush
A breathing mask
Step 2: Mix the baking soda and vinegar in a large bowl
Step 3: Place the newspaper around the fireplace to keep the soot off the floor
Step 4: Scrub the inside of the fireplace with a brush wet with the baking soda and vinegar mix. Make sure you’re wearing your breathing mask so none of the soot gets in your lungs.
Step 5: Clean up. Use paper towel or a sponge and rinse the fireplace with cold water
This will take care of much of the creosote in your fireplace. However, it’s very difficult to get all of it. A professional cleaner will use industrial strength cleaners and cleaning techniques and tools to ensure that your fireplace is completely clean. Consider getting your fireplace professionally cleaned at least once a year.
Chimney Sweeps & Fireplace Cleaning To The Rescue!
Cleaning your chimney by yourself is not advisable. To do a proper job and eliminate the creosote buildup requires expensive tools and years of training and experience.
A good modern chimney sweep will be able to clean your chimney without heading to your roof, with extendable vacuums and other tools to get the job done quickly and effectively. When you pick a chimney sweep, make sure that they are WETT (Wood Energy Technology Transfer) certified.
Every year, approximately one thousand Ontario homes fall victim to chimney fires, which can start suddenly and spread quickly, engulfing the whole house in a matter of minutes. Don’t be a statistic. Get professional chimney and fireplace cleaning and inspections on an annual basis. At AirTech, we work with a company whose chimney sweeps are licensed and professional. We can clean your fireplace and chimney in one visit. Give us a call to arrange your inspection or cleaning today, get rid of that nasty creosote, and sleep easier.