Chimney Sweep

The Importance of Chimney Cleaning

A dirty chimney is more than just a nuisance; it can allow toxic gases like carbon monoxide to seep into living spaces. Having your chimney cleaned regularly is essential to avoid these risks.

Gutter Repair Baltimore is one of the messiest jobs around and should be left to professionals who can guarantee a quality clean. Here are some things to look out for when choosing a sweep.

When fires burn inside your fireplace and chimney, they create byproducts like soot and creosote. These byproducts cool and condense into a black, sticky residue that sticks to the walls of your flue. It can look crusty and flaky, drippy and sticky like tar, or shiny and hardened to the surface. Creosote is flammable and creates a serious fire risk, which is why it is one of the leading causes of chimney fires.

The good news is, you can minimize creosote buildup by keeping your chimney well-maintained with regular sweepings and inspections. In addition, using seasoned, clean firewood and keeping the damper open to allow air flow can help reduce the amount of creosote that builds up in your chimney.

But no matter how much you try to avoid it, creosote will still build up over time. It happens in stages, and each stage is more dangerous than the last.

During the first phase of creosote buildup, it looks sooty and flaky and can be easily removed with your chimney brush. If you don’t get your chimney swept, however, it will eventually harden into the second stage of creosote. This phase of creosote looks more like tar and is not easy to remove. It’s also dangerous, as it restricts ventilation and can cause smoke to back up into your home.

As it hardens, the second-stage creosote will stick to the lining of your chimney and the bricks itself. This causes deterioration and a lack of airflow, which leads to more creosote buildup. Creosote in the second stage can also lead to toxic fumes like carbon monoxide leaking into your home.

By the third stage, your creosote is a thick, sticky tar-like substance that can be practically seen running down the interior of your chimney. It is highly flammable and requires professional removal from a CSIA-certified chimney sweep. Chimney fires ignited by third-stage creosote are extremely hazardous and can threaten the safety of your home and family.

Ultimately, you can protect your chimney and home from creosote and other harmful substances by ensuring it is professionally swept on an annual basis. A clogged chimney is not safe for your family or pets, and it can also restrict airflow, leading to other problems throughout your home.

Smoke Stains

While black and dark brown stains are certainly unsightly, they’re typically a sign of soot or creosote build-up that could pose dangers to your home. A small amount of soot on the firebox or chimney is normal, but excessive deposits could indicate a blockage or drafting problem that could lead to incomplete combustion and smoke and fumes entering your house through the fireplace.

Soot stains are a clear indicator that it’s time for an inspection and cleaning of your chimney and fireplace. A thorough cleaning will restore proper airflow and should help to prevent future soot stain build-up. While there are many soot stains removers available in stores and online, they often work only to clean the surface of the chimney. A professional chimney sweep should be consulted if soot stains persist after using these products.

Another common type of chimney stains is the result of organic compounds such as moss and mold growth, which appear green or grey in color and have a flaky or oily texture. These types of stains are usually easier to get rid of, but they also may indicate a more serious problem that requires a professional assessment and possible remediation.

A common cause of moss and mold growth in the chimney is the presence of moisture that can be caused by improper or inadequate chimney ventilation. When moisture accumulates in the chimney, it can lead to corrosion of the damper and firebox and deterioration of the lining system. If the problem is not corrected, it could eventually lead to a chimney leak and water damage in your home.

The best way to avoid these problems is to have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned before starting a burning season. A professional chimney sweep will be able to assess your fireplace and chimney for any issues, including drafting problems, that need to be addressed before you start your season of burning.

While many homeowners attempt to clean their chimneys themselves with products like scrubbing brushes and chimney erasers, these products often fail to remove unsightly stains. In fact, they can make stains worse. Chimney experts at ChimneySaver recently introduced a product called Paint ’N’ Peel that can effectively clean and remove chimney stains without causing any of the harmful chemicals or noxious odors that other cleaners can produce.

Birds Nests

A chimney filled with a bird’s nest can be both a nuisance and a fire hazard. A professional wildlife control company should be called in to safely remove the birds and clean out the chimney. Birds often carry parasites and bacteria that can infect people, pets and other animals who come into contact with them. In addition, they may also contaminate food.

Chimneys are attractive to birds because they provide a warm, dry nesting place that’s sheltered from the elements. They are especially appealing to Jackdaws, a common species that often nests in chimneys. Jackdaws are black crows that have a distinctive silvery sheen on the back of their head and pale eyes. They typically start by selecting a chimney and dropping or pushing twigs down into it. Over time they add more and more twigs until a half-saucer shaped nest is formed.

Once the birds lay their eggs, they incubate them for about a week. Once the chicks hatch they are very noisy, chattering frequently and begging their parents for food. This can be quite annoying to homeowners, but this noisy stage usually only lasts a couple of weeks. In addition, by allowing the birds to remain in the chimney you are helping to conserve a declining species.

The only time that a homeowner needs to interfere with a bird’s nest is when it’s a fire hazard or if the young chicks are hungry and can’t be enticed to leave their parents. In this case it’s best to nail a basket (an old, plastic berry basket is fine) near the bottom of the chimney and lower it down to rest on the damper. Then the bird can be removed and placed with a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.

When the chicks have grown into their wings they can be returned to their chimney. The screened opening should then be closed with a chimney cap to prevent the birds from returning next year. The homeowner should also have the chimney swept before the birds arrive or after they’ve left in fall to reduce the chances of a chimney fire.


A chimney that isn’t cleaned properly can pose serious health and safety hazards to people living in the home. It can also be a fire hazard, especially when there is a creosote buildup. Chimney cleaning involves a thorough inspection of the chimney and its components. The inspection may also reveal cracks or deteriorating mortar that need to be repaired. In addition, the inspector will look for animal nests, obstructions and other debris that could hinder airflow through the chimney.

Chimney sweeps use a variety of tools to clean the inside of your fireplace and chimney. They begin by clearing the area around the fireplace opening and covering any nearby furniture or carpet with tarps or drop cloths to prevent dirt spilling. The sweep then removes the chimney cap and secures a rotary drill to the bottom of the chimney flue. A 40-ft polypropylene rod is then attached to the rotary drill and attached to a brush head, which is inserted into the chimney. The brush is then spun and swept from the bottom of the chimney to the top, removing all accumulated soot and creosote.

When the chimney is being cleaned, it is important to keep pets and children in a separate room and away from the fireplace. This is because the rotary drill can spin the chimney brush at high speeds, which can throw debris out of the chimney. If it hits someone or anything, it can cause injury. In addition, the rotary drill can spark or burn things that come into contact with it.

A dirty chimney can increase your chances of suffering from respiratory problems, such as asthma and allergies. Inhaling soot can also lead to more serious conditions, including cancer. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, it’s important to have your chimney inspected and cleaned regularly to reduce the risk of soot deposits.

It’s recommended that homeowners hire a professional chimney sweeping company to perform annual chimney cleanings. This will ensure that the chimney is safe and able to vent toxins, smoke and carbon monoxide out of your home.