Imagine a Sweeping Goose… a chimney sweeping goose. Years ago, (I’ve been told) live geese were used to clean chimneys. A rope was tied around the bird and then thrown down the chimney flue. The frightened goose would flap his wings and clean the chimney.
Now, for those of us without a goose, calling a reputable chimney cleaner to inspect and clean our chimney is the most civilized, safest and best thing to do. An un-swept chimney can burn. Soot and creosote deposits accumulate in the flue until, worst case scenario, they burst into flames causing a chimney fire.
Chimney maintenance is the number one line of defense against chimney fires. All wood stoves and flues should be inspected each year and cleaned as necessary. Common inspection procedures include:
- observing creosote build-up. A 1/8″ layer around the damper or in the chimney indicates a need for a complete cleaning with brushes designed for that purpose.
- looking for deterioration of mortar between the bricks and in the back and sides of a fireplace. If a screwdriver or ballpoint pen can dig out the mortar, ALL of the mortar should be replaced.
- examining stovepipes and stoves for metal corrosion. Corrosion or rust will occur over time, but it is accelerated by burning trash containing plastics and by condensation of wet creosote.
- checking pipe connections for tightness. Metal bands should be tight as should any screws or bolts holding together pipe sections.
- cleaning ashes from the stove. These must be stored in airtight, fireproof containers for at least one week. If placed in a cardboard box, paper sack or plastic bag, a fire may result.
Other maintenance procedures that you can do on your own include:
- inspecting fire extinguishers for broken seals or low retardant levels on an annual basis.
- replacing smoke detector batteries at the beginning of each wood burning session.
- holding fire drills for all family members. This is a practical way to build home-fire safety awareness.
So give us a call. Because chimney fires are for the birds.