Chimney maintenance is a tough and painstaking job. Since a chimney is typically in regular use, it requires regular cleanup. One of the things that should be regularly cleaned from a chimney is creosote. Now before we get into the cleanup process, let us understand what creosote really is.
When unburned wood, volatile gases, and ash combine while burning up through the chimney, creosote is formed. It is a flammable and corrosive substance that builds up on the chimney walls. Not only does it hinder the chimney function, but it also has the potential of starting a chimney fire. One may wonder how creosote is actually formed. When a fire is lit in the fireplace, the initial emission is smoke. This smoke is made up of steam, and vaporized unburned carbon particles. Now, if the smoke that leaves the chimney is cooled to a temperature below 250 degree Fahrenheit, then it solidifies to form creosote.
It is evident that creosote buildup should be avoided, as it can lead to house fires. The only way to avoid increased formation of creosote is not to reduce the air intake while the fire is burning. If the air flow decreases, it cools the chimney and creosote starts building up. Fireplaces are mostly used during the winter, so it is wise to clean the chimney during the summer season. This is when demand is not at its peak. Getting rid of all the dirt, soot, and creosote will leave the chimney ready to function during the upcoming winter season.
The few things that a professional chimney cleaner uses are:
- a ladder
- a soft bristled cleaning brush
- a chimney brush and rod
First the rug in the room is covered, and a drop cloth is taped around the chimney opening. This keeps the mess low and prevents dirt from scattering all over the room. Once the sweep is on the roof with the help of the chimney ladder, he inserts the cleaning brush in a downward motion and scrapes all the sides of the chimney to clean the accumulations. The pipe connecting the fireplace and the chimney is also cleaned to make sure nothing is stuck there. Finally a vacuum pump is used to clean all the dirt on the carpet, and the fire damper and smoke shelf are cleansed to make sure everything is clean.