Why You Shouldn't Clean A Chimney Without A Professional

Cleaning your chimney is an incredibly important chore, especially if you're planning on using it regularly or during the colder months. However, this task is often one that's overlooked by many despite its importance. According to FEMA, the insides of chimneys are often left with a dark, sticky, hard residue known as creosote, which is combustible. Creosote buildup can eventually lead to a chimney fire.

So, do you hire a professional or clean your chimney yourself? While it may be tempting to do it yourself and save some money, it's better to let the professionals handle it. This is because the task can take a considerable amount of time and require the right tools, including heavy-duty vacuums and safety harnesses. A professional should also be called if there's a significant amount of creosote buildup. Read on as we take a closer look at the top reasons why you shouldn't clean a chimney without a professional.

It Isn't Very Cost Effective

Cleaning your chimney yourself may seem like a great way to save money, but it requires you to make a considerable investment. According to Lowes, you'll need a heavy-duty shop vacuum, ladder, dust mask, work gloves, fall protection equipment, safety goggles, and so much more. So, if the total amounts to what you would pay a professional, it can be better to go with someone who knows what they're doing.

Plus, if you mess up during the cleaning process, it can cost you more than you bargained for. By hiring a professional, you can avoid having to spend even more of your hard-earned cash for them to fix your mistake. Before starting your DIY project, compare how much it'll cost to do it yourself vs. working with a pro. It's also a good idea to compare different rates offered by professional chimney and fireplace cleaners to get the best deal.

You Can Fall Off the Roof

Cleaning the chimney requires you to get on the roof to remove the creosote buildup in the flue, which is the long neck of the chimney that extends toward the top of the roof. So, cleaning a chimney on your own may not be suitable for individuals with a fear of heights or those that don't have the proper safety equipment. After all, a hard fall from the roof can cause you a lot of pain, leave you with permanent injuries, and even cause death. According to the Spruce, it's crucial that you know how to stay safe on the roof and have an assistant with you at all times to monitor the ladder in case accidents happen.

On the other hand, chimney sweepers have years of experience under their belt and know how to safely work on your home's roof. Hiring a professional can help you avoid having to get on the roof in the first place.

You Can Miss Structural Damage

The Spruce also recommends you hire a professional if you notice any structural damage while cleaning. Possible issues that require immediate professional attention can include cracks, moisture, erosion, and broken or spalling brick. Moreover, flaky or glazed creosote also needs to be addressed by a professional. This is because chemicals need to be used, and a knowledgeable chimney sweep will know how to apply and dispose of these chemicals correctly.

By hiring a professional, you can guarantee your chimney is ready to be used as soon as it's cleaned. Plus, doing so can save you thousands of dollars if damages are caught early. It's recommended that you get your chimney inspected and swept annually. It's also a good idea to have it cleaned prior to regularly using it again. For example, a month or so before winter. This ensures your chimney is good to go for the colder season ahead.

The Buildup Can Be Too Much to Handle

Besides cleaning your chimney, professional chimney sweeps are also trained to look into areas that you may otherwise overlook. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), trained chimney cleaners have extensive knowledge regarding chimneys and venting systems. So, they can clean hard-to-reach places and properly clean your chimney. They'll also be able to spot damage caused by creosote buildup or moisture. In fact, moisture can wreck your chimney and cost you a pretty penny (via CSIA).

According to Lowes, if your chimney has a significant amount of buildup, it's time to put your DIY tools away and call a professional. This amount is typically ⅛ inch or more of buildup, which includes creosote. A large amount of buildup can occur if the chimney hasn't been clean in a long time. Repeatedly lighting your chimney without properly cleaning it can be dangerous for your health and safety since creosote can accumulate to threatening amounts.