How We Sweep Chimneys
Whilst the tools are up to date, the process – using rods and brushes to thoroughly sweep the chimney – hasn’t changed much in centuries. Find out more about how we sweep chimneys below.
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Chimney Sweeping Introduction
Chimney Sweeping is the practice of passing a brush of appropriate size and strength, attached to a series of flexible rods, through the complete length of the chimney. A chimney can not be swept using a vacuum cleaner. Vacuums are only used to tidy up. When the sweep is complete the chimney sweep will undertake a smoke test to check that smoke is being drawn up the chimney and away from the fireplace.
The purpose of sweeping is to remove any soot that builds up inside the chimney when burning fuels like coal or wood and to remove any other debris that builds up in the chimney. This can include dust, sand and gravelly materials from the brickwork or lining inside the chimney, that can become loose and fall away from the inner walls of the chimney as it deteriorates with age. This can also include any debris that manages to makes its way into the chimney via the chimney stack and pot, for example twigs and material from birds nests and vegetation from growth on top of the chimney stack. Debris inside the chimney can block the chimney or interfere with airflow and can sometimes be flammable and cause chimney fires.
When burning wood, deposits of creosote or chimney tar can build up on the inner walls of the chimney. As well as interfering with airflow, creosote is combustible and can cause dangerous chimney fires if it ignites inside the chimney. Some Creosote can be removed by sweeping but it can stick to the inner walls or the chimney and be very difficult to remove by sweeping alone. There are chemical treatments that are effective at removing creosote and your chimney sweep should be able to spot signs of creosote and recommend the right course of action.
Chimney Sweep Process
On arrival at the property the chimney sweep will make a visual inspection of the chimney stack, pot and any chimney cowls that are in place, assuming they are visible from street level at the front of the property. The will look for any signs of debris on top of the chimney, obvious damage to any visible part of the exterior of the chimney and the suitability of any cowls that are fitted to the chimney pot.
Inside the property, before commencing the sweep, the chimney sweep will make a quick inspection of the fireplace or appliance due to be swept, again looking for any obvious damage, issues or concerns. Before sweeping commences the area around the fireplace will be covered by dust sheets or screens to keep dust and mess to a minimum. After sweeping is complete the area around the fireplace will be cleaned using a vacuum and appropriate cleaning tools.
Any fault or problem discovered before, during or after sweeping will be reported to the customer immediately. Whilst every care is taken to prevent damage to your property, your chimney sweep cannot be held responsible any existing damage or any damage caused during sweeping as a result of existing damage and problems including badly maintained pots, cowls, chimney lining, chimney stacks, or any other part of the chimney or property.
Once complete the chimney sweep will issue a Chimney Sweep Certificate which will include comments / feedback about the sweep and state of the chimney. This certificate acts as proof that the chimney has been swept of soot and debris. It does not act as a guarantee or warranty for any fireplace, heating appliance, boiler, flue or chimney stack.
Chimneys are affected by the way they are used, the weather and other conditions which may not be known to your sweep. If you have any concerns, you should ask your sweep for advice. Material information should always be disclosed to your sweep, e.g. recent chimney fires, fuels used, previous sweep date etc. Your sweep can only use his/her knowledge during sweeping to advise on the condition of your chimney or appliance. They are not able to fully investigate inaccessible or concealed areas.
Every time you burn solid fuel, including smokeless fuel, you are producing soot which will collect inside the chimney, hence why you should have the chimney swept regularly. Sweeping a chimney should remove the majority of soot or debris that has built up inside the chimney since the previous sweep. The brickwork and lining inside the chimney will continue to deteriorate over time resulting in more debris. Sweeping will not stop this process.