Chimney Sweeping & Cleaning Services: We’re the Company Houston & Beaumont Trust
Keeping up a home is a big task. Whether it’s mowing your lawn, trimming the hedges, or cleaning your gutters, it feels like there’s always something on the to-do list – and in all of the home maintenance chaos, chimneys are often overlooked. This could be especially true if you don’t use your fireplace on a regular basis, but even an unused fireplace could pose a safety risk to you and your family if it’s not inspected and cleaned once a year. That’s where we come in.
The team at Lords Chimney has been serving the greater Houston area for 20 years and counting. All of our sweeps are members of the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) and are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and we pride ourselves on providing seamless care for our customers and making chimney maintenance as worry-free as we can.
Reach out to us now online to schedule your yearly chimney checkup and sweeping, or give us a call with questions by dialing 281-497-4000.
What To Expect From Us
Lords Chimney uses a guaranteed “no mess” cleaning method. First, we place tarps on the floor in front of the fireplace and high-traffic areas. The chimney is then cleaned from the bottom, and we work our way up. We use specialized tools, including a series of rotating brushes, to clean every component of your chimney – the firebox, smoke chamber, damper, smoke shelf (located behind the damper), and flue liner.
This process can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on how much creosote has built up in your chimney and how much time has elapsed between cleanings. The recommended yearly inspection will let you know if a cleaning is necessary.
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Is There a Difference Between Chimney Sweeping & Chimney Cleaning?
Chimney cleaning and chimney sweeping are often used interchangeably, but are they the same thing? Technically… no. It’s not possible to get a chimney perfectly clean. Chimneys are meant to guide smoke and toxic chemicals out of your home and there will be some level of soot, even after a fresh sweeping.
Because of this, chimney professionals prefer the term “sweeping” because it more accurately describes what we do. We use techniques and tools like brushes to sweep out as much dirt and soot as possible.
Now, all that said, here at Lords Chimney, we understand that a lot of homeowners will refer to the process as “cleaning.” That’s okay – we don’t want you to get caught up in the terminology. We understand what you mean whether you ask for a “cleaning” or “sweeping” when scheduling your appointment. So don’t worry, we have you covered.
How Do I Know if My Chimney Needs Cleaning?
It’s not always obvious that your chimney needs to be cleaned, which is why a regular sweeping is highly recommended. If it’s been a little while between sweepings, there are a few signs to keep an eye out for.
- Something smells off. If you walk by your fireplace and get an odd or off-putting whiff, it’s likely because something is wrong. Creosote buildup can smell like a campfire – even when your fireplace isn’t in use. In addition, musty odors could indicate the presence of mold and mildew, which would mean water is getting into your chimney (and that’s never good). You should set up an inspection if you think you have a chimney leak.
- You’re having a hard time lighting and maintaining a fire. This could be a signal that there’s an airflow issue in your chimney. It could be a systemic issue that needs to be fixed or there could be some kind of blockage clogging up your chimney.
- The fireplace walls have oil streaks. Oily spots are another sign of creosote. Too much creosote significantly increases the chance of a chimney fire. In fact, creosote buildup that is an eighth of an inch or more can easily catch a spark and spread flames, according to the CSIA.
- You hear movement. Animals don’t usually announce their arrival when they move into your chimney, but they’re not exactly quiet either. Rustling or chirping sounds could mean you have company. Critters may not seem like a big deal, especially if you don’t often use your chimney, but they do carry diseases and their waste is a biohazard. It’s always best to get them out.
How often should my chimney be swept?
This can vary depending on how much you use your fireplace, but a good rule of thumb is at least once a year. Both the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and the CSIA recommend annual inspections and sweepings to keep your chimney working efficiently.
Does an Unused Chimney Need Sweeping?
It’s true – an unused fireplace will not be as dirty or have as much soot and creosote as one that’s used constantly. That said, even a sparsely used chimney needs regular maintenance.
Why is this? A pest infestation is always a risk if you have a chimney, whether you use it or not. Birds, rats, squirrels, and raccoons are the most frequent culprits – none of which you want living in your home. Animals are a nuisance, making lots of noise and increasing the risk of diseases or bad odors entering your household. In addition, they tend to use flammable materials like twigs and insulation to build their nests which block the chimney.
Animal nests aren’t the only obstructions that can affect your chimney. Leaves, twigs, and other materials could blow in and build up, eventually causing damage to your system’s interior. Cracked and spalling brick needs to be addressed as your chimney could start to lean and become a structural concern that poses a danger to your home and the safety of you and your neighbors.
What Is Creosote?
You’ve probably seen creosote mentioned a few times while reading about chimney sweeping, but what is it exactly? Creosote is a dark and sticky substance that builds up in chimneys, flues, and exhaust systems of wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. It is a highly flammable mixture of tar, soot, and other chemicals and is a leading cause of chimney fires.
There are three stages of creosote buildup:
- Stage One. At its earliest stage, creosote is a flaky soot. It can be removed with a standard sweeping at this point.
- Stage Two: Creosote starts to glaze over at stage two. When creosote is subjected to high temperatures without complete combustion, it can become sticky and glossy. This type of creosote is harder to remove and poses a higher risk of chimney fires.
- Stage Three: This is the most dangerous form of creosote and can build up into thick, hard, tar-like deposits. It is highly combustible and very difficult to remove. At this point, specialized removal products need to be used, and in some cases, you may have to replace the flue liner.
How do I prevent creosote from forming?
Creosote is dangerous and it’s scary to think about it just sitting in your chimney. Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely prevent creosote from forming. It’s a natural byproduct of burning wood, so anytime you light a cozy fire, creosote is going to form.
That said, while you can’t stop it from happening if you want to use your fireplace, there are some tips to keep creosote levels lower, minimizing the need for as many sweepings/cleanings.
- Don’t use freshly cut or green firewood. Seasoned firewood (wood that has been dried out for 6-12 months to lessen its moisture content) is the best option for your fireplace. Fires built from seasoned firewood burn hotter for longer periods and don’t produce as much smoke. Less smoke means less creosote.
- Give the fire oxygen. When you start a fire, make sure your damper is open. Without oxygen, a fire will burn at a lower temperature. If your fireplace has glass doors, it is a good idea to leave them cracked open a little so that air can circulate.
- Warm up the flue. You wouldn’t put a Thanksgiving turkey in an oven that hasn’t been preheated, and you shouldn’t use your fireplace with a cold flue. A common trick to get the flue prepped is to take a piece of cardboard or roll up a newspaper, light it, and place the burning end at the top of your firebox and directly under the flue. Once you see smoke rising, your fireplace is ready to go.
- Put your fire out when you’re done. Don’t let a fire smolder until it burns itself out because smoldering causes more smoke to rise. Lower temperatures and smoke promote creosote buildup.
- Schedule regular chimney sweepings. The best way to attack creosote is to be proactive about it. Get your chimney cleaned at least once a year by a CSIA-certified chimney technician – like one of us. Creosote is easiest to remove at stage one.
Ready to get schedule? Call or book online today.
What Could Happen if I Use a Dirty Chimney?
First and foremost, we strongly warn against using your fireplace if you haven’t had it serviced in a while. Don’t put your family and home at risk by bailing on chimney maintenance. These are just a few examples of things that can go awry by using a dirty chimney.
- Carbon monoxide exposure. Carbon monoxide is a lethal gas that is created by burning materials that include carbon like wood, natural gas, oil, and coal. It’s odorless, colorless, and impossible to detect without a carbon monoxide detector – and it’s highly poisonous, sometimes causing organ failure.
- Creosote buildup. We’ve talked a lot about creosote already, but it is a dangerous consequence of using your fireplace. Creosote is unavoidable, but it’s manageable with proper care.
- Respiratory problems. Any time you use your fireplace, you are releasing toxins into the air. A dirty chimney gives off a lot more chemicals than a well-maintained one. If a member of your family has a condition like asthma, emphysema, or COPD, a clean chimney can help maintain better indoor air quality.
- Chimney fire. According to the CSIA, most chimney fires go undetected by homeowners. If this happens, your chimney could be structurally compromised due to damage – all without your knowledge. Cleanings/sweepings are the best way to avoid this scenario.
What Is the Best Time of Year To Schedule a Chimney Inspection & Cleaning?
The busiest time of year for most chimney sweeps, including those of us at Lords Chimney, is from September through March. Therefore, we recommend scheduling inspections or cleanings between April and August. This is to avoid the scheduling backlog that often occurs because of the winter rush – and then you won’t have to delay lighting a fire on the first chilly fall day.
In addition, scheduling early gives us plenty of time to get any damages or other issues addressed long before you kick off your burning season. Again, who wants delays when the days get cooler?
Schedule your chimney cleaning appointment today by calling 281-497-4000 or by using our appointment request form.
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What Are Creosote Sweeping Logs? Do They Work?
Creosote sweeping logs are products that are specifically designed to help reduce the buildup of creosote in chimneys and fireplaces. These logs are treated with chemicals that produce a vapor that breaks down the creosote, causing it to become brittle or flaky. In theory, the creosote will loosen and fall into the firebox where it can easily be removed. But theory doesn’t always lead to perfect execution. Some creosote might fall into the firebox as intended, but a good chunk of it will remain stuck to your flue. While you may have taken care of the problem partially, it’s still a fire hazard.
Creosote sweeping logs are widely available and it’s easy to see why homeowners might give it a chance. They’re supposedly easy to use and at a max cost of $30, they are cheaper than an inspection or sweeping. It’s a great idea in concept, but these logs aren’t effective against later stages of creosote buildup. They also can’t spot chimney damage or inform you when you need repair work.
To sum up… creosote sweeping logs are fine to use in between annual inspections, but they should definitely not be viewed as an acceptable substitute for professional chimney sweeping.
Speaking of DIY Chimney Sweeping…
Home maintenance can be costly and we understand that homeowners might want to explore options to cut back on expenses. We know what you’re thinking: I could buy a chimney sweeping kit, watch a few Youtube tutorials, and take on this chimney cleaning on my own to save a few bucks, right?
In the short term, maybe. The more likely result is a poorly swept chimney that’s still dangerous to use – and that you’ll have to spend more money on repairing down the line.
The fact of the matter is that there are parts of your chimney that are harder to get to, so you’ll likely end up leaving creosote in some delicate spots or miss signs that trouble is brewing in a section of your chimney system. You don’t have to worry about that with a professional chimney technician, like any of the members of our team. We have the correct equipment, tools, and plenty of experience to get the job done right. We like doing the dirty work so that you don’t have to.
How Much Does a Chimney Cleaning Cost?
This is always a tough question to answer because, as with most chimney services, it really depends on what we find during an inspection. We have to consider the amount of buildup (for instance, stage one creosote is far easier to deal with than stage three), the possibility of animals, and the size and location of your chimney. So, can we offer a clear price point right off the bat? Not so much.
But no worries – we won’t move forward with any work until we’ve gone over costs with you.
A good way to keep expenses down long-term is to stick with an annual inspection and sweeping. Routine maintenance lets us find problems before they’ve escalated. Taking a proactive approach to chimney care is your best bet to save money.
How can chimney sweeping impact my insurance?
Your homeowners’ insurance company might help cover the cost of damage done if a chimney fire occurs. However, you might need to show that you’ve kept up maintenance on your chimney and fireplace regularly, which includes chimney sweeping.
Call Lords Chimney Now To Schedule Your Next Sweeping
If you’re a resident in Houston or Beaumont, give us a call at 281-497-4000 or schedule an appointment online now. A member of our customer care team is standing by and ready to help you get started. You can trust Lords Chimney for all of your chimney needs. Your health and well-being are our top priority, and we want to keep your home and chimney safer.