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An oil flue doesn't catch fire like wood flue does, however oil soot is full of water and corrosive chemicals that can eat away at and damage masonry and clay flue tiles. This can lead to cracks and gaps in your chimney flue system, and allow carbon monoxide into your home. Also, and more common than anyone would think, oil soot does accumulate and pile up, and can eventually block off the connection from the pipe to the chimney, causing a no draft situation. It does take many years for this to happen, but when was the last time you had your oil flue swept? (the oil service technicians do not touch your chimney).
Metal chimneys also need regular sweeping. Soot does not stick to them as readily as masonry, but it is present and does need to be removed.
On the right is an antique "New Years" postcard.
The sweeps were often shown with shamrocks and pigs as good luck symbols
1. A good chimney fire once or twice a year is all the chimney cleaning you need.
Yes, a chimney fire does burn up the creosote in the chimney. It can also crack the flue and allow the fire to spread through the walls of your home, and/or sparks from the fire can catch your roof on fire. You can not control a chimney fire, and an out of control fire in your home is not a safe way to accomplish anything.
2. I use chimney sweeping logs, salt or other chemical means to keep soot from building up in my chimney, so it doesn't need sweeping.
These still do not remove everything, and can actually cause "sheets" of creosote to loosen and fall onto your smoke shelf, piling up and causing a chimney fire. If you look at the directions for any log or chemical it clearly states that this does not replace professional cleaning. And never ever use a chimney sweeping log in a woodstove, you will cause permanent damage to it.
3. I burn hardwood only, or seasoned wood only, so it burns clean.
Nothing burns clean. Some things burn cleaner than others, and may reduce the need for frequent sweepings, but if it burns it is carbon based and if it is carbon based it does not ever burn completely and perfectly. Also most firewood vendors that advertise "seasoned wood" aren't actually delivering it. To properly season (dry) wood it must be cut, split and stacked for 1-2 years, minimum. It cannot start drying until it is split (the bark prevents that from happening). We sell a very easy to use moisture meter that can give you a reading on the moisture content of any log. The best way to buy firewood is to buy next year's supply this year, stack it, cover it and leave it alone.
4. I clean my own chimney, it's not rocket science.
Nope it isn't. However I assume you also brush your own teeth daily and yet you still go to a dentist for checkups and cleanings? Why? Because the Dentist has training to do a better and more thorough cleaning, will examine your teeth and gums for problems that may be starting, and fix them. It is the same with us. We have professional training, certifications and experience. We can clean everything well with the properly sized brush, and conduct an "exam" of your appliance and chimney to make sure everything is in good working order, no problems are developing and if there are problems, fix them before they get worse. We can also usually remove any brushes etc that you get stuck in your flue when doing your own cleaning (we have removed, brushes, rods, chains, rocks, tree branches, sledge hammers...all used to "clear" blockages by the homeowners).
5. The best time to clean my chimney is in the fall.
Actually the best time is in the spring, when you are done using it. Soot, like any dirt, doesn't get better with age so why keep it around? Any corrosive properties in it are going to eat away at your chimney, in the summer when it gets humid it will have a nasty smell, and then when you need your heating system you have to wait, sometimes weeks, to get it cleaned. Also it is less busy in the spring so you don't have to wait as long for an appointment, and if the inspection does uncover a problem you have plenty of time to fix it. It is especially important to clean pellet systems in the spring, "leftover" pellets in the system can swell and burst from summer humidity and actually shorten the life of your appliance. All pellet manufacturers require a professional servicing at least once a year, check your manual. And most specify that it should be done by someone who is NFI Certified for Pellet (both Mark and David are). However we will be happy to provide you with service any time of year, including the middle of winter.
6. It's too late to get my chimney cleaned once it is winter /snowing or you don't go on the roof in the heat of summer.
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