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Common Misunderstandings People Have About Chimney Sweeping


Most people’s ideas of chimney sweeping come straight from Mary Poppins. That’s definitely a romantic image, and it does reflect something of what this job was like in the Victorian era, when combustion fires were used everywhere and had such efficiency problems that cleaning was an almost continual job.

Chimney sweeping is still necessary today for homes with fireplaces, but unfortunately most people have a limited understanding of the job, how it’s done, why it’s done, and when it needs to be done. 

We’re long-time experts when it comes to chimney sweeping in Minneapolis, MN, and we’d like to go through some of the common misunderstandings people have about this job.

1. “You don’t need chimney sweeping if you don’t use the fireplace.”

First, get some use out of your fireplace if you have one! It’s a great luxury to have. But if you aren’t using the fireplace, this doesn’t mean you can bypass having it cleaned altogether. Your chimney is exposed to the elements, and with the extremes of Minnesota weather, plenty of debris and moisture can get trapped in it.

Freezing and thawing are one of the big ways chimneys can suffer damage. Animal nests and pest infestations are another source of chimneys needing cleaning, and chimney damage can allow mold and mildew to get inside them.

2. “If you have a metal chimney liner, you don’t need regular sweeping.”

This comes from the assumption that chimney sweeping is just done to scrub away soot that clings to bricks. However, the major reason to have regular chimney sweeping is because of the build-up of creosote, a material that results from incomplete combustion.

Creosote is highly flammable and without regular sweeping it can create a major fire hazard inside the chimney. A metal liner is easier to maintain, but it will still collect creosote and require regular sweeping.

3. “Chimney sweeping is a DIY job.”

We’d hope that knowing that chimney sweeps were a regular part of Victorian society would make it clear this isn’t an amateur job! However, the “do-it-yourself” mindset many homeowners have makes them believe that they can clean their chimneys themselves with a hose vacuum, a long-handled broom, and getting up on the roof.

No household tool can effectively clean a chimney, and we don’t recommend you get up on your own roof for any reason—it’s not worth the safety risk. You need to have a certified chimney sweep do this job. It’s faster, better, cleaner, safer, and ultimately a money-saver.

4. “Some wood creates less creosote than others.”

You may have heard that burning pine and other soft wood creates a greater amount of creosote inside the chimney, so avoiding this type of wood means the chimney will need less sweeping. But all types of burning wood create the same amount of creosote. If you use your fireplace to burn wood, you’ll need regular chimney sweeping.

5. “All chimney sweeps know how to sing and dance.”

That would be great if it were true. And some of us aren’t bad at either. Just don’t expect this from our chimney sweeps when they come. Do expect them to do a great job at cleaning your chimney, however.

2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. serves Minneapolis, St. Paul and the Surrounding Communities. Call us to schedule chimney sweeping.

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