Wood is a plentiful and renewable fuel source, but it never burns completely. Ash is usually of no concern other than regularly removing it from the fireplace or wood stove. Creosote is a much larger concern. When wood is burned often time combustion is incomplete leading to the release of volatile compounds along with smoke. When such compounds enter the chimney they cool and condense with water vapor onto the interior walls of the chimney. This presents several problems: the first being that the creosote buildup hampers the inflow of air reducing efficiency, secondly that creosote buildup insulates reducing the amount of energy actually heating your home, thirdly creosote deposits can lead to chimney fires and fourthly creosote can corrode surfaces causing damage to your home heating system. Creosote removal can be a difficult and messy undertaking when not done by a trained professional. Such individuals are members of one of the oldest professions, the chimney sweeps.
The nature of their job has not changed since ancient times, though their methods and tools have. The chimney broom is still used, but vacuums and other more modern and specialized tools have been added. Methods have changed along with the tools, chief among them the modern trend of cleaning chimneys from the bottom to reduce or eliminate the spread of dust or debris. Professional chimney sweeps are more then simply cleaners, they are able to answer questions pertaining to safe and efficient operation of the heating appliances they service. Often times in the course of their service, they also inspect the customer’s chimney to ensure it meets all safety regulations.
Chimney sweeps are a respected profession today, providing a necessary service to their clients. Not only do they clean the chimney, often times their services including a full cleaning of the whole system. From firebox to chimney cap, the sweep cleans it all to prevent any damage or risk to the home. Their services also prevent the homeowner from having to climb on teh room themselves, even going as far to replace old or rusted chimney caps with new and updated ones.