The Most Common Chimney Cleaning Mistakes

Ever wonder what the more common chimney cleaning mistakes are? Here is a comprehensive list of the top mistakes:

1) I use chimney sweeping logs, salt or other chemical means to keep soot from building up in my chimney, so it doesn’t need sweeping.

These products can reduce the buildup of creosote but do not remove everything, and can actually cause massive “sheets” of creosote to loosen and fall onto your smoke shelf, piling up and causing a chimney fire. If you look at the directions for any creosote destroying log or chemical it clearly states that this does not replace professional chimney cleaning. And never ever use a chimney sweeping log in wood burning stove; you may cause irreversible damage to your stove.

2) A good chimney fire once or twice a year is all the chimney cleaning you need.

Yes, a chimney fire does burn up the creosote in the chimney, because that is its fuel. It can also crack the flue and allow the fire to spread through the walls of your home, and/or sparks from the fire can catch your roof on fire. You cannot control fires of this nature.

3) I burn hardwood only, or seasoned wood, so it burns clean.

Nothing burns clean. Some things burn cleaner than others, and may reduce the need for frequent sweepings, but if it burns it is carbon based and if it is carbon based it does not ever burn completely and perfectly. Also most firewood vendors that advertise “seasoned wood” aren’t actually delivering it. To properly season (dry) wood it must be cut, split and stacked for 1-2 years. It cannot start drying until it is split (the bark prevents that from happening). The optimum firewood moisture content is 20%. We use a very easy to use moisture meter that can give you a reading on the moisture content of any log. The best way to purchase firewood is to buy next year’s supply this year, stack it, cover it and leave it alone.

4) I clean my own chimney.

We believe that chimneys should be cleaned by professionals with experience and the proper tools. We have removed sticks, rods and brushes from chimneys that homeowners have used to clear blockages.

5) The best time to clean my chimney is in the fall.

Actually the best time is in the spring, when you are done using it. Soot has corrosive properties. Any corrosive properties are going to eat away at your chimney, in the summer when it gets humid it will have a nasty smell, and then when you need your heating system you may have to wait to get a proper chimney cleaning. It is less busy in the spring so you don’t have to wait as long for an appointment, and if the inspection does uncover a problem you have plenty of time to fix it. It is especially important to clean pellet systems annually and preferably in the spring, leftover pellets can swell and burst from summer humidity and actually shorten the life of your appliance. All pellet manufacturers require a professional service and repair at least once a year.

6) It’s too late to get my chimney cleaned once it is winter/snowing.

Chimneys can be cleaned at any time of the year; excess snow is no excuse. If your chimney needs cleaned, get it cleaned.

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