What is a Chimney Sweeper?

J. Beam

A fireplace has many benefits, especially on cold winter days, but one of the drawbacks of a fireplace is the soot and creosote buildup that occurs with use. A chimney sweeper is a professional who provides a service to homeowners with fireplaces. He or she can be hired to clean the chimney and relieve it of hazardous buildups that pose a serious risk of fire if left unattended.

"The Chimney Sweeper" was the name of a poem written by William Blake.
"The Chimney Sweeper" was the name of a poem written by William Blake.

Creosote is the result of wood smoke and the deposits that build up in a fireplace chimney with each use. Over time, the buildup becomes hazardous because it is very flammable. A chimney sweeper, also called a chimney sweep, is professionally trained to clean an entire fireplace, including the chimney, and restore it to safe working order by removing hazardous buildup.

Chimney sweeps may be found in the local Yellow Pages.
Chimney sweeps may be found in the local Yellow Pages.

Improperly cleaned chimneys account for numerous house fires each year. It is a completely preventable accident, providing homeowners take the necessary measures to maintain their chimneys. Though many homeowners may attempt to clean their own chimneys instead of hiring a chimney sweeper, the effort may be wasted without proper knowledge of how to do it. There are specially designed logs that can be burned in a fireplace to remove buildup, but the homeowner should not rely entirely on creosote removal logs as chimney maintenance.

A professional chimney sweeper will get the job done correctly and can offer advice for maintaining a fireplace year to year, as well as how to periodically clean it yourself. Depending on frequency of use, homeowners with wood burning fireplaces should enlist the services of a professional chimney sweeper or clean their chimney properly themselves prior to each season.

A chimney sweeper may also offer other related cleaning services such as the cleaning of duct work and dryer vents. Many chimney sweepers are also qualified to make fireplace inspections for real estate transactions, assess damage from wear or weather, and possibly make repairs. You can find a professional chimney sweeper by searching in your phone book’s yellow pages under “chimney sweeping”.

Conversely, The Chimney Sweeper was the name of a poem written by William Blake that told the story of the loss of childhood in England in the 1700s when many parents sent their children off to become chimney sweeps at a young age.

Improperly cleaned chimneys may cause house fires.
Improperly cleaned chimneys may cause house fires.

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Discussion Comments

Vincenzo

@Terrificli -- creosote sweeping logs aren't bad, but they are meant to be used as an incremental steps between yearly cleanings and not as a substitute. Follow the directions and those things can be useful.

And, yes, clean that chimney yearly if you use your fireplace a lot during the winter.

Terrificli

No, a homeowner shouldn't rely just on creosote removal logs. In fact, a homeowner shouldn't rely on those things at all. There have been countless reports over the years about people using those instead of hiring chimney sweepers and having a fire break out because of (you guessed it) excess creosote.

A chimney sweeper can take care of all of that for you and it won't even cost you that much. There's cheap and then there's dangerous and cheap.

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