So you have a chimney at home. Perhaps you have been using it for a year or two, or maybe you’ve always wanted to, but haven’t done so because you don’t know how to maintain it. It’s a good to be cautious when it comes to chimney usage – as with anything involved with combustion, proper care and maintenance is necessary.

Chimneys function on a very rudimentary principle of air: hot air rises because it is less dense than cold air. When a chimney is filled with heated gas, the gas will rise, as it is less dense than the air outside of the house. As this hot air rises, it creates a draft, drawing out any particulates and elements of combustion exhaust into the fireplace/chimney, and expels it outside.

Why you should have your chimney inspected and cleaned

It’s important to have a functioning chimney. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends for homeowners who have a fuel burning furnace, stove, or fireplace, to have them inspected for proper functioning and serviced before each heating season to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.

During the combustion of wood, smoke is created – along with this smoke, soot and tar builds as well. If too much chimney soot is inhaled, it has the potential to irritate your lungs. Extended exposure to smoke and smoke particulates is known to cause lung diseases.

Soot or creosote buildup will affect the way a chimney functions. A blocked chimney gets in the way of  the natural draft that happens in a fireplace. This means that air will not be drawn in smoothly. This will lead to the quality of your fires in your fireplace being smokey, and cost you more fuel to keep the fire burning.

A chimney that is blocked can lead to the soot falling back into your home staining the carpet or floor. Because soot is not fully combusted, there are particulates such as tar. Tar is a very sticky byproduct of smoke, making it a really difficult job to clean up. At worst, if soot/creosote builds up in larger amounts, it can lead to chimney fires.

If you have a wood burning fireplace or stove then you should be getting it inspected and cleaned on a regular basis. The Ontario Fire Code suggests that a chimney be inspected at least on an annual basis.

The job of a chimney sweep involves some labour intensive work – depending on the state of your chimney, it can be a very messy job. Professionals who do this service will help clean your chimney on the ground where your fireplace is, and will also climb up to access your chimney flue from the top. You want a thorough job done if you’re doing this once a year – again creosote buildup can be very dangerous.

Every chimney sweep service starts with an inspection – our expert chimney sweeps will inspect your fireplace, the size of the fireplace and the size of the flue. We will also assess the situation to see the quality of the soot buildup in your fireplace. From there, depending on how the soot is – whether it is matte black and dry all the way up to having a sticky tar like appearance – it will dictate what steps to take in order to proceed.

Attention and care to your home is always a priority of ours. You can expect to have the area around your fireplace sealed off with drop mats around the ground to protect your flooring and area faround the firebox from falling soot and creosote during the cleaning process.

We may utilize equipment such as chimney vacuums, chimney cleaning brushes, creosote and other obstruction removing equipment, chimney rod and flue sweeps, smoke chamber brush, power sweeping systems, flexible cleaning rods, and any other equipment we have in our arsenal that will guarantee the best results for the job.

There is no one size fits all type of equipment for your chimney. Chimney flues can vary in diameter, and that will dictate what types of brushes we can use. It’s also best to leave the vacuum outside of your home when vacuuming up any soot and debris that has built up in your chimney and fireplace. This is good practice as not everything will get suctioned up – it may be the case that soot and creosote may get blown around.

As you can see, chimney cleaning can be very labour intensive. For your own safety, consider hiring a professional when it comes to chimney sweep and fireplace cleaning. 

It’s important to have a functioning chimney. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends for homeowners who have a fuel burning furnace, stove, or fireplace, to have them inspected for proper functioning and serviced before each heating season to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.

During the combustion of wood, smoke is created – along with this smoke, soot and tar builds as well. If too much chimney soot is inhaled, it has the potential to irritate your lungs. Extended exposure to smoke and smoke particulates is known to cause lung diseases.

Soot or creosote buildup will affect the way a chimney functions. A blocked chimney gets in the way of  the natural draft that happens in a fireplace. This means that air will not be drawn in smoothly. This will lead to the quality of your fires in your fireplace being smokey, and cost you more fuel to keep the fire burning.

A chimney that is blocked can lead to the soot falling back into your home staining the carpet or floor. Because soot is not fully combusted, there are particulates such as tar. Tar is a very sticky byproduct of smoke, making it a really difficult job to clean up. At worst, if soot/creosote builds up in larger amounts, it can lead to chimney fires.

If you have a wood burning fireplace or stove then you should be getting it inspected and cleaned on a regular basis. The Ontario Fire Code suggests that a chimney be inspected at least on an annual basis.

Clearing your chimney of other objects

It is not uncommon for a chimney to become blocked by objects unrelated to soot or creosote! It could be due to loose masonry, other debris, or animals making a home or trying to make a home in or around your chimney. Often times it will be squirrels, raccoons, or birds making a nest. We can also help with cleaning blockages outside of the standard chimney sweep. Keep an eye out for animal nests during the spring – give us a call if there is an issue, and we can help you out!

If you are using your fireplace or wood stove once or twice a week in the winter, it is essential that you get the chimney cleaned every year. We stress that you should get your chimney cleaned annually, because leaving it to the last minute can be a fire hazard!

Soot and creosote builds up quickly after a few uses of the fireplace – all of the combustion happening with wood and any other elements you are tossing into the fire will leave a lot of particulates hanging around the firebox and the chimney flue.

BRILHO’s team of professional chimney sweeps have been trained to clean chimneys safely and efficiently. A chimney sweet doesn’t just sweet the firebox, there is an element of finesse to doing cleaning a chimney well. Attention to detail, measuring out the openings to the fireplace and chimney, removing creosote build-up, performing camera inspections utilizing specialized chimney cameras to view the structure of the flue, removing blockages within and above chimneys, are just a few things.

Our professionals have learned through experience what level of cleaning needs to be done, and to look out for any damages to report to home owners. The level of inspection varies based on case specific situations. Chimney sweeps will amalgamate this information and offer you an in-depth consultation and let you know what can be done moving forward before departing.

Creosote is a highly flammable, tar-like deposit that sticks to the sides of your chimney flue. Creosote forms as the materials in your firebox burns. The process of combustion causes gases from your fuel to release particulates. These particulates travel in the fireplace travel up the flue and cool down. As the cool down process happens, matter that hasn’t gone through full combustion will collect. Often times, natural materials that burn have substances within them that create a tar-like deposit. If creosote continues to build up without regular sweeps and inspections, it could unfortunately ignite and cause chimney fire.

The length of time it takes to clean a chimney is dependent on the situation. If you chimney has never been inspected or cleaned before, it my take a longer period of time.

With the inspection aside, it also takes some time to set up the working area, block off your fireplace from the interior of your home. This is to ensure that when cleaning happens, none of the matter stuck to the inside of your firebox and chimney flue will fall into your home. If there is a blockage inside of your chimney flue, it may also require our professionals to climb up onto your roof to assess the situation from up top.

All things considered, if there aren’t any major issues, a visit from our professionals can take an hour.

You should consider hiring a professional if the build-up of creosote in your firebox appears to be a shiny glossy texture. Often times, you can clean your fireplace yourself, if you have good maintenance habits with your fireplace.

Soot is very easy to clean up. If you immediately clean up your fireplace after using it, it prevents the soot to continue to burn in future uses of your fireplace. This means that the soot will stay matte and dusty. When soot is in this form, it is much easier to utilize a brush to break apart the material from the walls of your firebox and your chimney flue.

However, it would be highly recommended to hire a professional to inspect your chimney if you have never used your fireplace before. Often times with inspection, you can expect the procedure to include a cleaning as well.