Chimney Cleaning Frequently Asked Questions


CHIMNEY CLEANING FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

HOW LONG BEFORE THE CLEANING MUST I NOT HAVE A FIRE IN MY FIREPLACE?

At least 12 hours.  Make sure there are no burning embers in the fireplace before we arrive.  Burning embers can damage our vacuums and cause other issues.

WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO PREPARE BEFORE THE APPOINTMENT?

We need an area roughly 6’x6′ space in front of the fireplace for our tools and to  do the cleaning.  It is helpful if you could move any furniture (couches, tables, chairs, etc.) out-of-the-way before we come to do the sweep.  Also, if you could clear a path leading from the entrance door to the area of the fireplace/wood stove so that we can have an unobstructed route to bring in our gear.  It would also be helpful if you could remove any large pieces of wood or stacks of garbage from the fireplace as well.

DO YOU REALLY NEED TO GET ONTO THE ROOF?

Most times we do not need to go onto the roof to clean the fireplace unless the smoke shelf or damper is constructed in such a way that we can not clear those areas and get out brushes up into the flue.  Only then do we need to go on the roof to clean the flue.  We almost never need to go on the roof to clean Zero Clearance fireplaces.  Pellet Stoves and Free Standing Wood Stoves we do need to get on the roof to clean them.

IS THERE AN EXTRA CHARGE IF I HAVE A 2 OR 3 STORY HOUSE?

No.  But do let us know when you call if you do so that we can bring the right gear.   The only time there will be an extra charge is if we have to set up our scaffolding to reach the top of the chimney to clean it from above if we can not clean it from below.  This is very rare.

IF I HAVE AN INSERT WITH NO LINER BUT AM WILLING TO PULL IT OUT AND PUT IT BACK IN MYSELF, WILL YOU STILL CLEAN IT?

No.  Inserts are the worst of a fireplace and a wood stove combined.  Inserts generate a lot of creosote.  Because there is no liner, the creosote embeds itself into the pores of the bricks and does not come out with a chimney sweep as it creates a varnish like resin that the brushes skate over.  They most times are impossible to clean with any guarantee of safety so we do not clean inserts without liners.  The difference of an insert with a liner is that the creosote is removed from a liner far more easily as there is nothing for it to bite into.

HOW LONG DOES A CHIMNEY CLEANING TAKE?

That depends on how dirty the system is, how hard it is to reach the smoke shelf area to clean it and how much soot is in that smoke shelf area.  If we do have to get on the roof to clean it, that will add time as well.  If you have a free standing wood stove, it depends on how many liner pipes leading from the wood stove into the flue that we have to take apart to reach the area to clean the bottom inside of the liner flue.  The same goes with pellet stoves.  If the chimney that is scheduled prior to your chimney appointment is taking longer than expected to clean due to complexity of the job, or it being extremely dirty requiring longer than the usual time to clean, we usually try to call 45-30 minutes notice in advance to see if we can push your appointment up that later that day, or reschedule it for another day.

DO YOU TAKE CREDIT CARDS?

Presently we take check or cash only.  We will have a credit card option available in the future.

WHY DOES IT TAKE YOU GUYS THE AMOUNT OF TIME IT DOES TO CLEAN MY FIREPLACE?  THE LAST GUY WHO CLEANED IT DID NOT TAKE AS LONG TO DO THE JOB.

Most chimney companies do not vacuum out the smoke shelf anymore to allow them more time in the day to schedule more chimney sweeps for their employees.  Not vacuuming out the smoke shelf is like getting an oil change and not having the oil filter changed.  The smoke shelf is the engine of your fireplace.  When it gets filled up with soot, the soot insulates the area, and heat does not transfer to it.  This severely impedes the inversion process which causes the fireplace to work.  It needs to be properly vacuumed for the fireplace to work correctly.  Because of the access to the area, and depending on how much soot is in the smoke shelf, it can take time to vacuum it out properly.

DO WE NEED TO LET YOU KNOW ANYTHING BEFORE THE CHIMNEY SWEEP?

On calling to schedule an appointment, let us know any existing problems you are experiencing with your system so we know what to look for it during the sweep.  If you have a Free Standing Wood Stove or Pellet Stove, it would be helpful to know the make and model as well to find out before the sweep if there is anything extra we need to know to properly clean the unit.  They usually have a manufacturer name on the front, and if you can see it, a UL sticker on the back of the unit telling you what model you have.

IF THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG, WILL YOU GIVE ME A BID FOR REPAIR?

Not at that time.  We will email you a concise bid that will fully inform you of all that is wrong with your chimney, and what needs to be done.  We send bids in email form so that we can give you you with all the detailed information about your repair so that you can make an informed decision.  If you have a zero clearance fireplace or wood stove, those systems are sent to United Laboratories for testing for each new model unit that a Manufacturer produces.   Zero Clearance Fireplace must sent to United Laboratories for testing for each new model unit that a Manufacturer produces.  When the units pass U.L. testing and are cleared for mass production, they are manufactured with a placard denoting Manufacturer, Model Number, Serial Number and Date of Manufacture that is affixed somewhere at the front of the unit.  Some are silver with black, others are copper with black, but they resemble the one see in the example picture below.

The unit is tested as one unit (with liner, damper, cap and everything installed as one complete unit that makes up that model number) for safety rating and insurance purposes.  If a part has gone bad, it needs to be replaced with the original Manufacturer’s Part (if available) to comply with UL testing and for insurance purposes.  Only if the manufacturer is no longer in existence, or they no longer make the original replacement part can we replace it with an after market part ON SOME PARTS ONLY – Caps, chase covers, dampers, storm collars and refractory (ceramic heat shield) panels on the interior of the firebox IF AVAILABLE.

NoteIt also may take a bit of time to track down the Manufacturer as many have changed hands or sold themselves off to other larger heating companies and are hard to find.  Depending on the age of the unit, some Manufactures may not stock replacement parts for that model number anymore.  Some Manufactures have gone out of business but sold their existing replacement parts stock to another company and parts may only be available in the stock they have left in the warehouse.  Many Manufacturers have gone out of business entirely and replacement parts of any kind are not available.  At that point, only some parts may be replaced with after market parts, specifically caps, chase covers and storm collars.

CAN YOU REPAIR OR REPLACE THE LINER?

No.  The Construction Contractors Board separated Chimney Contractors from that back in the 90’s.  You will need to contact a licensed Wood Stove Installer for that.

DO YOU REMOVE THE STAINS LEFT BY A FIRE ON THE WALLS OF THE CHIMNEY OR FRONT OF THE FIREPLACE DURING A CLEANING?

No.  Those are burn stains and have to be removed with strong chemicals or sand blasting and that is something that is not covered under the scope of work we are allowed to do under the Oregon Construction Contractors Board Licensing Rules.

WHY WAS YOUR CHIMNEY SWEEP WEARING A DIFFERENT UNIFORM THAN WHAT THEY ARE SHOWN WEARING IN THE COMMERCIAL

That was our old uniform.  It was too hard to keep clean and not cost-effective for this type of work so we switched to a uniform that works better and keeps him clean for the next chimney sweep in his schedule.