When temperatures drop, people love to turn to their fireplaces as a source of heating and shelter from the cold outside. Having a wood burning fireplace is a great amenity to have, especially if you love sitting in front of a fire on a cool evening.
They also help keep energy bills low by spreading a nice blanket of warmth around the home. One thing homeowners need to be aware of, though, is that using a fireplace requires upkeep. Regular cleaning and scheduled maintenance keep the fireplace working efficiently and avoid any problems from arising.
Hiring a chimney sweep to come in and clean before the season is the best way to enjoy the fireplace for months on end. It can give people peace of mind knowing their fireplace is safe to use and in good working order.
Let’s start by covering the basics of what a chimney sweep is and does,
and how much does a chimney sweep cost.
What’s a Chimney Sweep?
- On the most basic level, chimney sweeps clear ash and soot from chimneys. They maintain airflow by removing any restrictions inside the fireplace or chimney.
- They inspect fireplaces and chimneys to make sure they are safe to use. Chimney sweeps also can alert homeowners to anything inside the chimney that could affect how it works.
- They’re a do-it-all service that can be called upon to help out if anything goes wrong with the fireplace. Even if the chimney sweep can’t help, it’s a good bet they know someone who can.
Risks of Creosote Buildup
Creosote buildup is one issue that fireplace owners need to be aware of. Creosote is a byproduct of burning wood. It’s a substance that builds up when the oils in wood aren’t totally burned off.
They become vaporous and travel up the chimney in the smoke. As the smoke cools, the gas condenses into a liquid and sticks to the inside walls of your chimney.
Creosote can look like a flaky substance on the brick walls of a fireplace, or it can resemble tar. When creosote looks like tar, it can be hard to remove. When it stays on the fireplace wall for a prolonged period of time, it can harden and turn into a wax-like substance.
Aside from being a hazardous material, creosote is also a fire risk. If fireplace users light up the fire, creosote buildup can melt and damage the inside of the chimney.
Many homeowners are unaware that fireplaces are built into sections that can withstand certain levels of heat. If the creosote lights up in the upper sections of a chimney, it can cause irreparable damage to the chimney lining and could mean replacement is necessary.
If Buildup is significant, fire can also spread outside the chimney and damage other parts of the house.
Chimney sweeps specialize in spotting and removing creosote from fireplaces. It’s nice to know that starting a fire at home is safe after a season off. They have tools and expertise to make sure nothing dangerous is lurking in unseen places.
Chimney Sweeps Make Life with a Fireplace Easy
Anyone who owns a home with a fireplace knows that sometimes the fire comes easy and sometimes it’s not in cards. Failure to light a good fire can be frustrating, especially if you have guests or were counting on the fire to keep you warm at night.
A lot of factors go into whether a fire is easy to light. Something could be wrong with the ventilation that is bringing too much cold air in, or the flue or other components of the fireplace could be in bad states of repair.
Chimney sweeps make sure that air, smoke and gases are moving up and out of the chimney efficiently. No one loves having smoke billow back into the living room after lighting a fire.
Chimney sweeps inspect and clean each component of a fireplace and can test whether it’s working properly. They’ll examine vents to ensure the proper flow of air that keeps you and any family members or guests safe as you all enjoy the relaxing fire.
Most experts recommend having a chimney swept at least once a year. How often a chimney should be cleaned depends a large amount on how often the fireplace gets used.
The type of fireplace also matters. Oil and smokeless fuel require chimney cleaning less often than wood or coal. Frequent use requires more regular cleaning. At the very least, chimneys should be swept before the heavy use season, usually in the winter.
Basics of Chimney Sweep Costs
There is no standard cost to chimney sweeping. Fireplaces come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, so prices will understandably vary. Rates will also fluctuate by location.
A chimney sweep in New York City will be able to charge more than one in Tampa. However, there are some price ranges that apply to most chimneys. Regular fireplace cleaning, for instance, will cost homeowners $200 on average in the United States.
This involves regular, standard cleaning service that most homeowners will get once or two times each year.
Homes with large creosote buildups from years of going without cleaning can easily run up to $1,000. Likewise, if any components of the chimney are damaged, like the inner lining or the flue, it can cost hundreds of dollars to repair.
Some chimney sweep technicians will also use a camera to visually inspect hard to reach areas in the chimney or ventilation system which can add to the cost. Based on cost, it’s easy to see why scheduling regular cleaning makes the most sense.
Aside from basic cleaning costs, chimney sweeps can also provide repair and reparative services. They can install chimney caps ($200-$700), place chimney flashing ($200-$500), repair fireplace dampers ($100-$200), and even remove animals from inside the chimney ($200-$500).
Lining the chimney is one of the more expensive services chimney sweeps provide ($1,500-$5,000). The cost of installing new components underscore the importance of keeping up with maintenance to avoid having to replace parts.