Chimney cleaners - what to ask?

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Old 10-11-18, 05:55 PM
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Chimney cleaners - what to ask?

I have a wood-burning fireplace chimney flue that has not been cleaned in recent times. I'm in the process of getting references and recommendations for local chimney cleaners. What questions should I ask of them? Is it important whether the tools are inserted from the roof or from the fireplace? The chimney shell is brick and the flue is fireclay tile, about 60 years old.
 
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Old 10-11-18, 07:43 PM
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When I had mine done approx 15 years ago..... I just asked that it be cleaned. I didn't interrogate them on the method as that is their job. There aren't many chimney cleaners around anymore.... at least not in my area.

My fireplace was built in 1965 and it's brick with a clay liner also. Now I've installed a gas insert.
 
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Old 10-12-18, 02:15 AM
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I clean my chimneys myself but if I were to hire it done I'd want someone that could also send a camera down the flue to inspect it after they've cleaned. How tall is your chimney?
 
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Old 10-13-18, 05:12 PM
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OK, thanks for the responses. We reached a chimney sweep that highly was recommended by a local lumber yard that sells fireplaces. They came two days later - a man and his son. I was very pleased. They cleaned from below, from the fireplace - but they were prepared to work from the roof, if necessary. Tonight, we had a fire, and the draft seems to be much better. A couple of tidbits that I was told:

They think that old clay liners (like ours) are better than the modern flexible steel liners. The steel liners sometimes become kinked. When the stuff comes out of the chimney, the black is the worst (can catch fire). The brown or gray stuff is OK.

Their price was $140, but I gave them an extra $20 bill, for their lunch. Their work is somewhat seasonal - much heavier in the fall, so the son has a regular day job with somewhat flexible hours. I gathered that the father is substantially retired, but takes telephone calls, does scheduling, and seems to be the "brains" of the operation. The son does most of the work, but the father looks over his shoulder and helps solve problems.

They hooked up a shop-vac outdoors, and snaked in the power cord and vacuum hose through a first-floor window. There was no dust or debris introduced into our house. Could I buy a tool kit and clean it myself? Maybe now, once I've seen it done, but probably not before. If those guys are still in business, I will probably call them.

Our flue probably had never been cleaned for quite a few years. Since we have been using it much more frequently in the past ten years, I'm thinking every five years or until the draft seems to be less.

They did inspect the flue with a mirror and a big light. The didn't have a TV camera.

I asked the older gentleman how he got into the chimney-sweep business. He said that his own chimney, long ago, caught on fire. He recommended that fireplace users have a thing called Chimfex, a fuse-looking thing. In the event of a chimney fire, light the Chimfex, and throw it into the fireplace. It gives off fire-retardant gasses that extinguish the chimney fire almost immediately, before the fire department even arrives. (But, call the fire department, too!) Supposedly, the Chimfex things have a long shelf-life, and don't significantly deteriorate with age, but check the label.
 

Last edited by gilmorrie; 10-13-18 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 10-14-18, 02:42 AM
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Could I buy a tool kit and clean it myself?
I have a wood stove with a masonry chimney in my house and shop. My oldest son has a similar set up. 25 or so yrs ago I bought a brush and used some old galvanized pipe to extend it. I clean our flues from the top. Doing it that way cuts out any interior mess as long as everything is closed off in the house. I assume a set up like your chimney sweep used would cost a lot more.
 
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