What Does a Chimney Sweep Do?
The primary reason to hire a chimney sweep is to have the chimney and fireplace cleaned. This is a messy job that requires the chimney sweep to be wearing protective clothing. The chimney sweep will also have tools to minimize the mess in your home. The chimney sweep will put down a drop cloth and use a vacuum to decrease the dust dispersed throughout the home. Clean Chimney Sweep Charleston will also remove debris from the firebox, including animal nests and discarded ephemera.
Besides cleaning, a chimney sweep can also repair the chimney or fireplace. They can also install or replace a chimney cap, chimney liner and even repair the mortar of the fireplace. Finding a chimney sweep with the proper certifications and experience is important. The National Fireplace Institute and the Chimney Safety Institute of America certify professional chimney sweeps and host searchable databases. Personal recommendations and paywalled sites such as Angie’s List are also good sources for finding local sweeps.
A reputable chimney sweep will not only clean your chimney, but they will also do it well. They will ensure that your fireplace and chimney are clean, safe and ready to be used again for fire burning season. In addition, they will give you expert advice on how to use your fireplace and chimney properly so that it does not pose a risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
It is important to hire a chimney sweep that follows the guidelines set forth by the CSIA. The CSIA recommends that an open masonry chimney be swept once per year, or more often if there is a build-up of creosote glaze. Creosote is the soot byproduct of wood burning in a fireplace and can be dangerous to chimneys and homes. It can block the flue and reduce air flow, causing smoke back up into the house or, worse yet, chimney fires that can burn down homes.
During a level three inspection, a chimney sweep will be going into concealed areas of the chimney and flue system to look for signs of damage or hazards that are not easily observed from outside. They will likely require a ladder or scaffolding to get into the hidden spaces and will need to be working on a dry day. The homeowner should prepare the chimney area by moving any furniture away from the chimney and covering it with plastic or a drop cloth to protect it.
Chimney sweeps are often self-employed, so they must generate their own client base through word of mouth or other marketing. They are also required to keep up-to-date on the latest codes and standards for chimneys and fireplaces, as well as have the knowledge to assess chimneys and fireplaces for stability and other problems.
Being a chimney sweep isn’t for everyone, as it can be extremely hazardous. It involves climbing near power lines, working with flammable substances (soot and creosote), and being out in all weather conditions, which can include ice and snow. Additionally, chimney sweeping can be physically exhausting as you are constantly climbing up and down ladders. You may also be exposed to toxic fumes, including tar and other volatile chemicals. It is recommended to wear a face mask at all times to avoid breathing in these harmful toxins.
It is recommended that you only hire a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep to work on your chimney system. These professionals have the training and tools needed to clean a chimney without damaging it. They know how to remove a chimney cap and can use special tools like rotating brushes, hand brushes, vacuums, scrapers and powerful cleaning solvents to get the job done. They are also aware of any hazards that may be present in the chimney, such as flammable mortar or dangerous bird nests.
Additionally, the chimney sweep will leave your home cleaner than it was when they arrived. They will set up a protective drop cloth or plastic in the area where they will be working and ensure that all of the soot, creosote and other debris are contained in their work area. They will also use a dual HEPA filter vacuum to keep dust levels down while they are working.
Another thing that a chimney sweep must be prepared for is to encounter various creatures living in dormant chimneys. Animals such as raccoons, birds, squirrels and bats can build their homes in a chimney, which is an ideal spot to escape the cold. The chimney sweep will be able to safely remove these animals from the chimney and encourage them to find a safer place to live.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colorless, odorless gas produced when fossil fuels such as wood, coal, kerosene or oil are burned in an unvented stove, furnace or fireplace. CO enters the human body when a chimney or flue is blocked or has a leak, and replaces oxygen in the blood, leading to tissue and organ damage. Exposure to high levels of CO can lead to unconsciousness or death within minutes.
During the 1700’s, young boys were often employed as chimney sweeps. These poor boys climbed the chimneys of large Victorian houses, using tools that could cause serious burns, or even death from soot inhalation. They also worked in soot-covered conditions, which caused lung diseases such as soot pneumoconiosis and acrobronchitis. The boys were not paid very well, and many went home hungry. They were also prone to chimney sweeps’ carcinoma, a form of skin cancer.
Today, most professional chimney sweeps have a safer work environment. They wear face masks, gloves and rubber boots to protect themselves from breathing in soot and chemicals. They will cover the ground with a drop cloth to decrease soot in the home, and use a shop vac to reduce CO levels inside. They will start either from the bottom up or the top down and scrape away the build-up of a black, sticky substance called creosote that forms from burning fires in a wood-burning fireplace. They will also clean out the chimney and remove animals and nests that have made their homes in the chimney.
There are still some chimney sweeps who do not follow best practice and have not complied with the Guild’s CO protocol, but the vast majority of the industry has now adopted the Guild’s guidance on CO safety. Most members advise customers on CO awareness, and supply and fit CO alarms and record the presence of an alarm on a sweeping certificate for every job. Many also make financial donations to the UK’s leading CO charity, CO Gas Safety.
The most important thing you can do to ensure your family’s health and safety is to have a regular chimney sweep inspection and maintenance. This, together with a working CO alarm in each room where a solid fuel appliance is used, will help to avoid the tragic effects of CO poisoning.
As a business owner, it’s critical to have the proper insurance coverage in place. Chimney sweeps are exposed to a number of risks including property damage, bodily injury and carbon monoxide poisoning. Fortunately, there are several types of commercial insurance that can help protect your business.
General liability insurance is a must for chimney sweeps, as it can help cover the costs associated with third-party injuries or property damage. For example, if an employee falls off a ladder while cleaning a chimney and breaks their leg, this type of insurance can help pay for medical treatment and any legal fees that may arise from the incident. General liability insurance can also protect your chimney sweep business if someone is injured by the chemicals used during the cleaning process.
Workers’ compensation insurance is another essential piece of chimney sweep business insurance. This type of insurance will help cover the cost of medical treatment and lost wages for employees who are injured on the job. This is especially important because the work can be dangerous, and employees may be required to climb or get into tight spaces.
Professional liability insurance is also a great addition to any chimney sweep business insurance policy. This type of insurance can help cover the cost of any legal fees and damages that might arise from a lawsuit brought against your business due to negligence or error. It’s important to have this coverage in place because it can help keep your business running smoothly even if you’re facing a legal battle.
Another type of insurance that chimney sweeps should consider is commercial auto insurance. This type of insurance will cover any vehicles that your company uses for business purposes, including rented or owned cars. It’s essential to have this type of insurance in place because it can help protect your business from financial losses if an employee is injured while driving for work or if one of your vehicles is damaged or stolen during a job.
If you’re looking for chimney sweep business insurance, it’s important to talk with an experienced agent who can help you find the right policies for your needs. A reputable independent insurance agency will be able to simplify the search for the best coverage and walk you through each handpicked option until you find the right policy for your business.