Chimney sweeping is a process during which your chimney, flue, smoke ducts and damper are cleaned thoroughly. A chimney sweep is a trained individual who is ready to clean the interior of your chimney and look for any potential hazards that are within. A buildup of creosote is common if your chimney hasn't been cleaned in a number of years, and small animals often make nests in this warm, dry space. Your chimney should be cleaned by a professional chimney sweep once a year, preferably at the end of the heating season to remove all debris.

Removing Creosote Requires a Professional

Creosote builds up in your chimney when you use your fireplace frequently. Creosote is toxic and is a byproduct of burning wood. This is a combustible substance, and it must be removed once a year to avoid a chimney fire. The process to remove creosote requires using a bristle brush and scraping the interior of the chimney until the creosote is removed.

Cleaning Out Your Chimney and Fireplace

Many chimney sweeps will start at the top of your chimney, scraping off the creosote into the fireplace itself. Once the creosote is removed, the chimney sweep cleans it up when they clean out your fireplace. Some chimney sweeps will clean your chimney from the fireplace itself, wearing protective gear as they scrape the walls of your chimney and creosote falls down. Any dirt, debris, or small animal nests will be removed to reduce your chances of a chimney fire.

Planning For Your Chimney Cleaning

There isn't a lot you need to do to prepare for your chimney cleaning. Avoid having a fire in your fireplace for about 24 hours prior to the chimney sweep arriving. You want the chimney to be cool when the cleaning is done. Remove any potential hazards from the front of your fireplace to give the chimney sweep easy access to the chimney. Make sure you are going to be home at the time of your chimney sweep's arrival, and plan to be home for an hour or two while they get the work done.

Your annual chimney cleaning will help to protect your home against the potential for a chimney fire. Creosote builds up quickly, and it is a toxic substance that needs to be removed. When you like to have fires in your fireplace, invest in annual chimney cleaning to keep your home safe.