DIY homeowners love to jump into home improvement projects. As a homeowner myself, I usually encourage this type of adventure. One DIY project I can’t stand behind, however, is chimney cleaning. It isn’t because I don’t think you can do it or I want all of your money. It’s because I feel better knowing that a chimney has been properly inspected before and after a cleaning to ensure proper functionality and safety. Laying tile in the bathroom, painting various rooms in your home, or even creating a backsplash in the kitchen are much different tasks than cleaning the chimney. Here is why I recommend avoiding chimney cleaning kits that are easily purchased at your local home improvement center:
Chimney cleaning is seriously messy business. You have to take precautions with furnishings inside the home, the exterior of the chimney, and of course your clothing and even the air you breathe. The dust created during a chimney sweep is very dangerous to breathe, so you have to be careful. Soot is extremely difficult to remove from fabric, and most cleaners simply tell you to give up if it doesn’t come out the first couple of tries.
Accessing your flue can be dangerous. You would generally access it from the top of the chimney when you’re cleaning. You would shine a very bright flashlight down from the top to make sure there are no obstructions, and then begin the brushing process. Falls from 10 feet or less are very dangerous and often result in broken bones or fatalities. So the act of simply climbing onto the roof is dangerous.
Damage to the Flue
The brushes included in some chimney cleaning kits have sharp ends. These sharp ends can poke into the clay tiles inside the chimney and crack or break them. Any type of damage to the flue needs to be repaired as soon as possible. Flue damage can result in the improper flow of smoke and dangerous gases, creating a dangerous situation in your home.
The chimney cap must be removed for a proper chimney cleaning. It’s easy to misplace bolts and other small items while they’re unattached to the chimney. You may be able to find replacement parts at the hardware store, but be prepared to replace the cap if you can’t.
You should schedule a chimney inspection at least once per year, more often if you use the fireplace and chimney on a regular basis. Chimney cleaning kits offer you the ability to clean the chimney on your own, but they also make it possible to forget to schedule a regular inspection.
You should have your chimney inspected and consult with a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) Certified professional about the best options for repairing any damage and adding preventative measures for the future life of your chimney. Both of the licensed and insured chimney sweeps here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service are CSIA certified with experience dealing with common chimney problems as well as some more complex issues that homeowners may face with their chimney. Give us a call at 610-626-2439 to discuss your chimney problems.