Thorough Chimney Cleaning Services
For a Safer & Cozier San Antonio & Austin Home
Chimney cleanings, or chimney sweepings, are an essential part of a fireplace owner’s chimney maintenance routine, and here at Wolfman Chimney & Fireplace, we have the tools, education, and training to keep your system in the best shape possible.
Not only do cleanings guarantee more efficient functioning, but they keep your household safer when your system is in use too. Remember – you’re lighting a fire in your home! This isn’t something that should be taken lightly. But by investing in appropriate care from knowledgeable and well-informed chimney techs, you can rest easier with every fire you light.
Get started by reaching out today. We’d be happy to perform your next cleaning, as well as any other chimney services you may be requiring. Count on us to be your trusted team for it all. Call or reach out to us online today.
Are Chimney Cleanings & Chimney Sweepings the Same Thing?
Not exactly – although these two terms do tend to be used interchangeably. Chimney cleanings aren’t technically a service any sweep can offer since getting a soot-filled chimney sparkling clean is pretty much an impossibility.
What we can do is a sweeping with appropriate tools and techniques. This ensures creosote levels are kept at a minimum and any obstructions (like bird nests, leaves, twigs, and other buildup) are cleared out, so that smoke can effectively escape.
That said, most of our customers use the word “cleaning,” and since we know what they’re indicating, we tend to use both terms to reference the same service.
Why Are Chimney Cleanings Important?
Chimney cleaning is an important – albeit owner overlooked – piece of maintenance that every homeowner should be regularly investing in. And it’s something that should never be a DIY job – only a professional chimney sweep should perform the task.
But why is it important?
- Chimney cleanings prevent chimney fires. As creosote and other debris builds up in your flue, your risk of experiencing a chimney fire increases too. Chimney fires cause significant damage to your system, making it unsafe for use, and they can put the rest of your home at risk too.
- Chimney cleanings improve system efficiency. The more buildup in your flue, the more airflow will be restricted. Good airflow is vital for safer and more efficient fireplace functioning.
- Chimney cleanings guarantee safer air. Indoor air quality is an important part of maintaining a safer home, and a clogged up chimney can cause smoke, carbon monoxide, and other toxic fumes to enter your home. This has a serious impact on air quality and can invite life-threatening illnesses if not readily addressed.
- Chimney cleanings can reveal hidden damage. When your sweep is cleaning out your flue, they’ll have the opportunity to check for any other hidden damages, as well. Sometimes buildup can hide bigger problems within the flue that are putting the rest of your system at risk.
- Chimney cleanings extend the life of your chimney. Creosote not only invites chimney fires – it can trigger all kinds of decay and deterioration too. Chimney cleanings are vital for keeping everything running strong for the long haul.
Are you due for a chimney cleaning or inspection? We’ve got you covered. Book with us today, so you can rest easier knowing you’re getting the safest and most enjoyable fireplace experience possible. And if we note that repairs are needed, we’d be glad to handle those too.
Can I Clean My Chimney Myself?
Chimney cleanings, or chimney sweepings, should always be performed by a professional CSIA certified chimney sweep. Despite the products and kits sold online and in stores that claim to allow homeowners to DIY this job, using these tools without the proper training can lead to oversights and damage.
A professional knows where to look, how to reach every area of your flue, and how to remove any items without causing damage to your chimney – or any of its parts – in the process. In addition to this, they can inspect the flue and report any potential damage or problem areas that may be putting you and your household at risk.
Long story short – don’t clean your flue yourself! Most of the time, this merely gives homeowners a false sense of security that their system is safe for use, when in reality there could be hazards and issues lingering. Trust our team of sweeps for a job done right, every time.
What Is Creosote? Are There Different Kinds?
When you light fires in your fireplace the smoke and fumes that are produced work their way up your flue where they eventually cool down and condense. As a result of this, a black or brown substance forms and adheres to the inner lining of your chimney walls. This substance is what we refer to as creosote.
Now, creosote can take on a few different forms. In its earliest – and easiest-to-remove – stages, creosote is typically either light and flaky or more tar-like. Textures vary based on the type of wood you burn, whether or not it’s seasoned, and how long your smoke is lingering around in your flue.
Regardless of your creosote’s nature, as long as it’s regularly removed, booking regular sweeping services should be sufficient.
However, when creosote isn’t swept out regularly and has the chance to harden, it becomes significantly more difficult to remove – this is known as third stage or glazed creosote. In these cases, your sweep will need to use specialized solutions and products to loosen it up, so it can be safely removed without damaging your structure.
Is creosote combustible?
You bet – hence its common connection with chimney fires. Because creosote forms from the byproducts of burning wood, it’s highly combustible – and the more you have of it, the higher the chances are of it igniting.
How do I prevent creosote buildup?
Once folks learn about how dangerous creosote is, their next question is usually… So, how do I prevent creosote from forming at all?
The quick answer is – you can’t. Unfortunately, if you’re burning wood in your fireplace, creosote is going to form, and you’ll regularly need to call in a chimney sweep to clear it out.
That said, you can implement strategies to reduce the rate at which it accumulates. Things like…
- Burning only seasoned firewood. Any firewood used should have been properly chopped, split, and dried out for at least 6 months to ensure it doesn’t have to burn through significant amounts of moisture. All that acidic water can increase smoke output and creosote accumulation significantly.
- Produce hotter, cleaner-burning fires. Burning seasoned wood will guarantee hotter fires, as will good airflow. This ensures smoke moves swiftly through your flue, giving it less time to linger, cool, and condense.
- Warm your flue. Like burning hotter fires, warming your flue will encourage smoke to move through the chimney quicker. It will also ensure you’re not trying to vent through a cold flue, which can encourage condensation and buildup.
- Encourage good airflow. Good airflow is imperative for safer and more efficient fireplace functioning. If you have something hindering proper draft and airflow, be sure to get it resolved quickly.
- Schedule regular professional maintenance. Scheduling annual inspections and regular sweepings, as well as promptly booking repairs when needed, is essential for keeping your system in the best shape possible for the long haul – and will help to guarantee buildup is avoided.
All of these are great practices that will both reduce the amount of creosote that forms, while producing you hotter, cleaner-burning fires in the process and keep your system a lot healthier for the long haul.
What Damages Do Chimney Fires Cause?
What damage – and how much of it – can a chimney fire cause? Most assume that their brickwork and chimney liner can stand up to chimney fires pretty well. Yet, while your firebox is designed to withstand high heat, your masonry chimney walls aren’t. These areas are meant to transport smoke – not flames.
One of the biggest concerns about chimney fires, though, is their slow-moving and quiet nature. Many times, homeowners will remain completely unaware that one has even occurred, and they’ll continue using their fireplace not knowing that they shouldn’t be.
Because of this, knowing the signs that one has occurred is important.
The most common forms of damage after a chimney fire include:
Discoloration throughout the flue
Distorted or warped metal components (cap, chase cover, damper, etc.)
Damage to TV antenna or other things on your roof
Cracked or collapsed flue tiles
Cracking or crumbling exterior masonry
Roofing material damage
Other things to watch for include:
- puffy creosote deposits – also described as “honey-combed” creosote
- signs of smoke escaping through holes in your mortar joints
- creosote flakes on your roof or on the ground near your chimney
Will my insurance cover repairs related to chimney fires?
Most of the time, damages that are caused by chimney fires are covered by homeowner’s insurance. These fall into the category of being a “sudden occurrence” (like a flood, hurricane, or earthquake would be), so be sure to call your agent and discuss your options should a chimney fire occur in your household.
We’d be happy to help with this process, providing the necessary evaluations and documentation required to get you the coverage you need. Reach out to us online or call now!
When Should I Schedule My Chimney Cleaning?
Chimney cleanings don’t always fall into a specific time frame in terms of scheduling. Here’s what we suggest – schedule annual inspections and then go from there. Regardless of your type of system, what type of fuel you burn, and how often the fireplace gets used, getting your inspection booked with a certified sweep every single year is a must.
During these inspections, your sweep can determine if a cleaning or sweeping is in order. They can also keep an eye out for any damages or missing/broken parts that need help. In the end, regular services from a certified tech reduce the risk of buildup, fire hazards, gas leaks, and other threats, and they’ll keep your system functioning more efficiently year after year.
Do Creosote Sweeping Logs Work?
Creosote sweeping logs, or chimney sweeping logs as they’re often called, can be found in most hardware stores – and even online – for around $20 – $30. And, based on their name, they supposedly clean out your chimney, so between purchasing one of these and booking a professional sweeping, the former is clearly the better option. …right?
Eh, not so fast. While creosote sweeping logs definitely have an effect on your flue’s creosote, they definitely don’t do the job of a full sweeping. These products work by chemically changing the texture of the creosote in your chimney, so that it breaks down and flakes off. So, yes, they can aid in getting your creosote off of your chimney walls.
But what happens when that creosote flakes and falls? It falls right back down into your flue – where it stays put and remains a hazard. Meanwhile, there will still be creosote on your walls that, while it may have loosened, still remains in place.
Because of this, having an actual sweep come into your home and remove the creosote is a must. Your chimney is equipped with a smoke shelf and may have offsets where creosote can linger, so ensuring a tech is able to do a thorough and exhaustive job is a must.
Keep in mind, too, that a sweep can spot any other potential issues within your flue, as well – another reason having professional eyes on the job is so important. Finally, should leaves, twigs, animals, or nesting materials be present in your flue, a creosote sweeping log cannot remove any of these.
Are creosote sweeping logs safe?
While creosote sweeping logs cannot replace an actual sweeping service by a professional, they are considered safe for use. The only danger lies in the false sense of security that their misleading name tends to promote.
But no – burning them won’t do any harm to your chimney. What is unsafe is relying on them alone for keeping your chimney clean, safe for use, and free of debris.
Will Chimney Cleanings Help Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
We’ve gone over creosote and chimney fires, but can chimney sweepings and cleanings keep carbon monoxide at bay too? Definitely.
Buildup in your flue makes your home a lot more vulnerable to the hazardous fumes your fires produce. It won’t be able to vent properly, and you run the risk of smoke and carbon monoxide backing up and entering your home. Cleanings ensure these fumes can travel smoothly and safely up through your flue and to the outdoors.
On that note, though, be sure to have both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed throughout your home.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an incredibly dangerous gas that is known for causing serious illness and sometimes leading to death. Clearly, it’s something to be avoided, but that can be challenging because it is both colorless and odorless, making it next to impossible to detect. Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of fuels like wood, oil, natural gas, and gasoline.
How does is threaten humans? It essentially reduces the amount of oxygen that can get access to the rest of your body’s organs and tissues that really need it. This leads to symptoms like:
- blurred vision
- shortness of breath
- …and more
In severe cases, the person can lose consciousness and keep breathing it in, which can then lead to death. As you can imagine, this gas is especially threatening if those living in the household are already asleep for the night. Again – this is why carbon monoxide detectors are such an important investment.
I Just Moved! Should I Schedule a Cleaning?
A level 2 chimney inspection should have been completed by a CSIA certified chimney sweep before the sale of your new property was completed. That said, if it wasn’t, then you’ll definitely want to call in a professional sweep to look things over and, most likely, perform a sweeping.
And don’t forget – a home inspection is not equivalent to a chimney inspection! Home inspectors do a brief overview of the chimney and fireplace, but they do not thoroughly inspect it. While well equipped to do their job, chimneys just simply aren’t their speciality, so they won’t be able to identify many of the potential threats that our trained and eagle-eyed techs could spot.
So, here’s what we recommend. Always get this maintenance booked before the sale of the property. That way, should bigger issues be discovered, they can be negotiated into the price of the home or taken care of long before you actually move in. No one wants to find unwelcome surprises in their new living space after they’re finally settled. Cover all your bases ahead of time, so you can minimize stress as much as possible.
And if you already moved in and the professional inspection wasn’t completed? Then, yes – call us in right away, and don’t put your fireplace to use until we’ve taken a look.
How Much Does a Chimney Cleaning Cost?
Like with most chimney services… it depends. On the size and location of your chimney, how much buildup is present, what stage creosote you have, whether animals are present, and more.
If we find a squirrel or raccoon in there, for instance, we are equipped and able to remove it, but your final cost is going to average out higher than a basic sweeping would. On that same note, glazed creosote is a lot harder to remove and requires the use of specialized products, so that would take more time and expense to address, as well.
This is a good reason why we so strongly encourage regular maintenance and inspections. If your system is annually inspected, has a well-fitted chimney cap, and the masonry is protected from water-related threats, then maintenance should be affordable, quick, and relatively easy year after year.
If you go years without investing in care, though, you can expect to be hit with some hefty repair costs, expensive replacement parts, and a longer list of required services all around. Trust our techs from the get-go, then get us in before the start of every burning season to guarantee safer and more efficient functioning for your household.
Schedule Your Next Cleaning Now
Fireplaces improve home value and add an unbeatable ambiance to any living space. That said, they need to be properly taken care of to be used with peace of mind and comfort. We’re here to ensure homeowners in Boerne, New Braunfels, Seguin, Canyon Lake, San Marcos, and more can do just that.
We’re honest, accurate, and provide personalized care to every homeowner that hires us to help them out. And on top of offering exceptional customer service, rest assured that we are fully insured, certified with the CSIA and F.I.R.E., accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), members of the NCSG, and completely ADA compliant.
There’s nothing we take more seriously than ensuring homeowners throughout our service area can use their systems with ease and peace of mind.
Call us today to schedule, or you can book with us online through our website. Either way, we’re happy to hear from you!