Q: "Why do I need to have my chimney swept?"
A: Anytime you burn wood, it creates smokey, exhaust gasses which travel up your chimney. Those flue gasses contain a certain amount of unburned tar vapor, which can accumulate on the side walls of your chimney. This substance is called creosote. Creosote is a flammable black substance which can be hard, flaky, sticky, or any combination. When creosote ignites, it causes a chimney fire, which can quickly reach temperatures of nearly 3,000 degrees fahrenheit. That is bad news for your home and family! Regular cleaning and inspection of your system by a Certified Chimney Sweep will help prevent creosote from accumulating to unsafe levels. Also, a clean chimney will draft better. This makes it easier to start fires, and prevents smoke from backing up into your home.
Q: "How often should I have my chimney cleaned?"
A: I always tell my customers that it is a good idea to get it inspected at least once a year. Depending on your burning habits, the type of wood you burn, and frequency of use, you may need cleaning more or less often than your neighbor.
Q: "What is the best type of wood to burn?"
A: First of all, any firewood should be DRY, and kept that way. If you cut down a tree, split it up, and stack it all in the same day, you should wait at least 8 months before burning. Just because a tree has been down for a while, it doesn't mean it is dry on the inside. If you are unsure, you can purchase a moisture meter to check your firewood supply. 15-20% moisture content is best. Some hardwoods have been known to burn a little cleaner, due to less pitch and resin, but the biggest factor in clean burning is moisture content, and your personal burning habits.
Q: "How can I avoid creosote buildup?"
A: A stove that is often shut down, or turned to low, will create more creosote than when it is burning on high, or with the damper open. This goes for any type of wood, even if it's well seasoned. When wood smolders at a low heat, it creates denser smoke, and more of it. While the stove is shut down, the stack temperature of the flue stays cooler, therefore causing the smoke to rise slower. This smoke is filled with unburned tar vapors getting sent up the chimney. The longer it resides inside the chimney, the better chance it has to cool down and stick to the walls of the chimney, causing creosote buildup. A good rule of thumb is, if your smoke is thick, soon the creosote will be too.
Q: "How much does a cleaning cost?"
A: Cleaning prices vary depending on your particular set up. But if you give me a call or e-mail, I will give you an exact price for your home, and I guarantee that is the price you will pay. It will not go up if it takes me longer than expected, or if it is extremely dirty. Certain extreme situations may require chemical treatment, and a return trip. These cannot be determined until the chimney is visually inspected, and an extra fee may be incurred for the additional work. I will be honest and up front with you about the condition of your chimney, and you can decide how you would like to proceed. You are not obligated for anything extra than the price that I quote you. With every cleaning, I perform a level 1 visual inspection, and fill out a written conditions report. When I am all done, I will give you a copy for your records.
Rees Chimney Services