The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that homeowners hire a certified professional chimney sweep to inspect and clean their chimneys at least once a year. Maintaining a regular home maintenance routine can make yearly cleanings more efficient and easier. It's important to be aware of the main threat, creosote, which is an unavoidable and highly flammable byproduct of burning wood that goes through three stages. Creosote can cause environmental or age-related damages if not properly managed.
Performing regular chimney maintenance tasks, such as utilizing creosote removers, brushing in between sweeps, and conducting periodic inspections, can prevent the buildup of stage three creosote. This can save you both time and money on future repairs, while also ensuring that your chimney operates safely and efficiently.
The necessary tools, equipment, and supplies for cleaning your chimney include a chimney brush of appropriate size, chimney brush rods or rope and pull rings (depending on method used), a fireplace cover (for use with an ash vacuum or to contain dust), a canvas drop cloth or other kind of covering for furniture and rugs, tape, metal bucket, small shovel and broom, vacuum cleaner, powerful flashlight, and a face respirator or mask to protect yourself from creosote and ash particles. It is important to note that the chimney brush should be of the correct size, as an incorrectly sized brush will either be ineffective or difficult to maneuver. More information on this topic will be provided in the next section. Additionally, safety equipment such as harnesses should be utilized if cleaning the chimney from the roof.