Do Chimney Cleaning Logs Work?

Many homeowners in the Bay Area depend on heat from their fireplaces and wood stoves to stay warm during the rainy months. But regardless of how cozy and efficient your fireplace is, there comes a time when you have to make sure it’s properly cleaned. Bay Area chimney cleaning is an important maintenance service that helps to keep your home and family safe. But you may be questioning why you need to call a professional if you’ve seen chimney cleaning logs in the store.

So, what are chimney cleaning logs and do they work? Here’s what you need to know.

What are Chimney Cleaning Logs?

Unfortunately, homeowners often buy chimney cleaning logs believing that they will help loosen up that thick layer of dirty creosote. Creosote is the byproduct that occurs from burning wood in your fireplace. It lines the inside of your chimney. While this may seem like a quick, cheap fix that’s more convenient than a Bay Area chimney sweep, that’s just not the case. The reality is that these logs aren’t an effective option, or a safe replacement.

How They’re Supposed to Work

What may have made chimney sweeping logs more popular over the years is the supposed ease of their use. You just unwrap the log from its package and light it in the fireplace.

When these logs are lit, the smoke is supposed to rise into the chimney, loosening the creosote and causing it to fall down into the fireplace. In theory, you can then remove the buildup. The general idea is that it should be a simple, tidy process, so you won’t need to spend the whole day scraping the inside of your chimney.

Related Content: How Long Does a Chimney Sweep Take?

The Reality

The bad news? Chimney sweeping logs can create an even bigger mess than you started out with. Often, chimneys aren’t designed with perfectly straight flues. What this means is that you can actually end up with trapped creosote in the bends of your fireplace’s flue.

The Risk of Fire

It’s important to note that creosote is highly flammable, so you can imagine the dilemma these homeowners find themselves in. Not only do they run the risk of a chimney fires, but blockages are also a problem. Further, a chimney that can’t properly vent gas and smoke is a hazard to your health as well.  If it sounds too good to be true, it often is.

Safety, of course, is a top priority for homeowners. Not only is your house a huge financial investment, but we all want to feel safe in our homes. In fact, that’s the number one reason why it’s so important to schedule Bay Area chimney cleaning services. Burning these logs can also create fumes that you can’t avoid breathing.

The Mess

When you hire a Bay Area chimney cleaner, you don’t need to worry about a mess. This is because they take special precautions to protect your carpets and furniture. On the other hand, if you attempt to DIY your chimney sweep, you will most likely end up with soot, ash, and creosote all over your house, and yourself.

Related Content: Is it a Risky Idea to DIY Chimney Sweep?

Hiring a Chimney Cleaner is the Best Solution

It’s clear to see that professional chimney cleaners provide essential services. Here’s a little more information on what they have to offer homeowners…

1) Chimney Inspection

If you’re a new homeowner, you may not realize it’s important to have your chimney inspected from time to time. This is even true if you rarely use your fireplace. Scheduling regular chimney and fireplace maintenance can help you save money on repair costs because it’s best to correct minor issues before they become a problem. A pro can inspect your chimney for things like water damage and nesting animals.

2) Effective Cleaning

Since we’ve learned that chimney cleaning logs are no substitute for professional services, it’s a good idea to schedule your appointment every six months to be on the safe side. Hiring a Bay Area chimney cleaner will guarantee that all the flammable buildup is removed from your chimney. Your house won’t be covered in soot. And, it will be safe to use your fireplace all year long.

3) Reduce Repair Costs

Again, chimney sweeping is also the best way to reduce the need for costly chimney repairs. There could be structural issues with your fireplace or chimney that you’re completely unaware of. It’s important to check for seismic and structural safety, especially in California due to the likelihood of earthquakes. All in all, regular chimney maintenance can provide you with greater peace of mind.

The Takeaway

Even if you are able to remove some buildup from your chimney with commercial creosote logs, it’s just not worth the risk they pose to your home or your family.

When you hire a licensed chimney cleaner, you won’t need to worry if there’s any flammable material left inside your chimney. Peace of mind is money well spent. In fact, it’s priceless.

Schedule an Appointment Today

We hope you found this blog post helpful and learned something new along the way. Part of our mission is to educate Bay Area residents in order to reduce the fire risk in our communities. We also adhere to national standards, such as the National Fire Protection Association. Chimney cleaning is actually considered an essential service, and you can rest assured that your safety is our top priority. Special precautions are being taken during the pandemic to protect the health of our customers as well as our team.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Questions are always welcome. You can call our office at (510) 521-4088, or feel free to fill out a contact form by clicking this link.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chimney Cleaning

Fireplace chimney cleaning is an important maintenance task in order to ensure your chimney is clean, safe, and functioning at its best. Scheduling your appointment early in the season prepares your home for the cold months ahead and gets it out of the way, so you can focus on the holidays with your loved ones. But if you’re wondering what fireplace chimney cleaning entails, here are some of the most frequently asked questions.

Why does a chimney need cleaning?

One of the reasons a chimney needs to be cleaned regularly is that burning wood produces a combustible product called creosote. This buildup of creosote poses a fire risk for your home.

How often should my chimney be cleaned?

According to national standards, a chimney should be cleaned at least once a year, even if you don’t use your fireplace often. For peace of mind, it’s best to have it checked annually.

How long does it take to clean the chimney?

There are certain things that can cause a fireplace chimney cleaning to take longer. For instance, damage to the flue, the presence of nests, or a heavy layer of creosote. The time it takes depends on the inspection. But, in general, expect a technician to be on the job for about an hour.

Will there be a mess in my house?

A professional chimney company will take special precautions when they’re in your home. It’s helpful if you move furniture or personal items away from the fireplace, but a pro will bring their own tools and materials to protect your living space.

What do chimney sweeps do?

An experienced chimney sweep will check the condition of your fireplace and chimney. This includes things like the condition of the flue, and whether or not there are any nests. Your chimney will be inspected for buildup, structural damage, or any interior obstructions, and also cleaned.

Should I worry about carbon monoxide poisoning?

As you probably already know, carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that is especially dangerous because it’s odorless. It’s always a good idea to keep a carbon monoxide detector in your home. This safety hazard can be caused by poor ventilation due to a clogged chimney that isn’t properly expelling toxic fumes.

Is it still necessary to clean the chimney if I use Duraflame Logs?

Even if you only use packaged wood products, the chimney still has to be cleaned. This is because creosote is still being created.

My fireplace contains a set of artificial gas logs. Does my chimney need cleaning?

Due to flame impingement, carbon builds up on the artificial logs, and that carbon is also spread into the smoke chamber, as well as the chimney. This carbon deposit is flammable and should be removed in order to prevent a chimney fire.

When is a good time to clean the chimney?

It’s best to schedule fireplace and chimney cleaning before the winter cold sets in. We recommend cleaning your chimney before the busy holiday season.

Fireplace Chimney Cleaning

To schedule your annual fireplace and chimney cleaning, contact us at The Irish Sweep. Our experienced team is available to answer all of your questions. Give us a call at (510) 521-4088, or fill out this quick contact form.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I plan on sharing some day-to-day experiences with you because I live in an awesome world, I get to be in nature all day, I meet some very interesting people and have some amazing adventures.

But first there is some information that I want to present so that this information can be found on the world wide “interweb” as we call it at my house.

Let’s start with the most frequently asked questions.

People ask me all the time,

“How often should I have my chimney and fireplace professionally cleaned?”

The rule of thumb is once every 75 fires or every cord of wood.

“How much is a cord of wood?”

It is a stack of wood 4 feet high X 8 feet long X 4 feet deep.

“Do I need my chimney cleaned if I am using a manufactured log instead of real wood?”

Yes, anything you burn will leave debris in your fireplace and on the walls of your chimney. All of that debris is a flammable substance known as creosote.

“What is creosote?”

Inside chimneys and stovepipes deposits originating as condensed wood smoke having three stages:
1st stage is soft soot
2nd stage is lumpy and crisp
3rd state is like roofing tar and is smooth as glass

“What is a damper?”

A damper is a moveable blade located in the throat of the fireplace that is designed to impede airflow in the chimney. During the colder months of the year, it is important to keep the damper closed when the fireplace is not in use because the damper will keep the exterior cold air from sinking down the chimney and entering your home and prevent your expensive PG&E heated air in your home.
If you live with air condition, the same is true when using that option to cool your home.

A glass fireplace enclosure also impedes airflow.

STRIKE WHILE THE IRON IS HOT AND YOUR CHIMNEY IS COLD…

Seize the moment!

Those with wood-burning fireplaces take note! Have you heard about the most recent new proposal to be mandated by the (BAAQMD) Bay Area Air Quality Management District? In a nutshell, there is a strong push toward the elimination of fireplaces.

As a result, if you are considering the installation of a set of artificial gas logs or a gas-burning fireplace insert, seize the moment NOW, especially if you are considering relocating in the near future.

The Time is NOW!

As we move toward September, Bay area retail stores and professional chimney installers will be overwhelmed and those dreams to have an installation completed by the Holidays may not become a reality. This is YOUR MOMENT to be pro-active. So before that little cold nip of fall air puts a shiver in your spine, start planning.

4 Guidelines to help with your Chimney decisions

  1. Any time a fuel source is changed in a fireplace, for example, wood-burning to a gas conversion, the chimney must be cleaned.
  2. If the plan is to install as set of artificial gas logs, an inspection of the interior surfaces of the chimney is required to determine the worthiness of the clay liners inside the chimney and their related mortar joints.
  3. If the chimney fails the inspection, you might want to consider your options which could include installing a stainless steel liner in the chimney that will support that set of logs or installing a gas-burning or wood-burning fireplace insert.
  4. It might also be time to consider the seismic liability of your chimney.

The BAAQMD is on the move. There is a proposed mandate coming down the pipeline and all Bay Area residents who love their open wood-burning fireplace should take notice. If the proposal is approved, this will be a requirement on all home sales; Please check our website www.theirishsweep.com regularly for updated information.

The Irish Sweep offers complete installation of artificial gas logs or fireplace insert. Contact us today to schedule your install at 510-521-4088.

UPDATE TO REGULATION 6, RULE 3, PROPOSED AMENDMENTS

Information gleaned from www. baaqmd.gov

Sole source of heat:
A wood-burning device may be used during a mandatory burn ban if the device is the only source of heat in a residential dwelling and the device is EPA certified. A person claiming

this exemption is required to register the EPA certified device in the District’s registration program and submit records to the District for verification.
(Effective November 1, 2016)

Non-Functional, Permanently Installed Heating Device:
Residential dwellings (excluding commercial and residential rental properties) that have a non-functional, permanently installed heating device may receive a temporary exemption from a mandatory burn ban if repairs are completed in 30 days and submission of all repair documentation is submitted to the District within 10 days of completion.
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Loss of Electric Power and/or Natural Gas:
The use of a wood-burning device is allowed during a mandatory burn ban when there is loss of electric power and/or natural gas as determined by the utility service providers.
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Mandatory Burn Ban:
A mandatory burn ban is declared to prevent regional wood smoke accumulation when a PM2.5 level is anticipated to exceed an unhealthy level within the next 3 days.

Update to the above:
A mandatory burn ban is declared when a negative impact upon public health is anticipated resulting from PM2.4 levels forecast to exceed 35 mg/m3. “Mandatory Burn Ban” will replace “curtailment period.” (name change)
Staff determined that Rule 6-3 already allows the District flexibility to declare Winter Spare the Air Alerts 2 – 3 day sooner to prevent unhealthy air from occurring and it is not necessary to amend the regulatory requirements of this section.

Sales and Manufacturing of Wood Heaters:
All new EPA certified wood-burning devices manufactured and sold must meet or exceed new NSPS standards:
• Effective 60 days after new NSPS standards are published in the Federal Register:
o 4.5g/hr for catalytic and non-catalytic stoves using crib test or cordwood test. If cordwood testing is conducted, the manufacturer must supply the emissions test method to EPA and the test method must be approved.
o Effective 5 years after the date of the final rule, the following new NSPS standards apply:
2.0 g/hr for catalytic and non-catalytic stoves using crib test.
2.5 g/hr for catalytic and non-catalytic stoves using cordwood test. The manufacturer must supply the emissions test method to EPA and the test method must be approved.
Wood stove retailers will be allowed to sell existing inventory of EPA certified devices rated 4.6 g/hr – 7/5 g/hr until December 31, 2015.

Sale or Transfer of Real Property has been changed to Disclosure Requirements for Real Property:
Real estate property may not be sold or transferred if it includes an uncertified wood-burning device. The seller may decommission the uncertified device or may replace it with gas-fueled, electric, or EPA Certified devices that meet or exceed new NSPS standards.
(Effective November 1, 2016)

Update to the above:
Removed Proposed “Point-of-Sale” Requirement
The “point-of-sale” requirement has been changed to require disclosure documents upon sale or rental of real property to disclose health hazards of PM2.5
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Fireplace or Chimney Remodels:
Upon remodeling a fireplace or chimney, an uncertified wood-burning device must be replaced with a device that is gas-fueled, electric or EPA certified that meets or exceeds new NSPS standards. This requirement is triggered by any fireplace or chimney remodeling activity that requires a local building permit.
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Update to the above:
Upon remodeling a fireplace or chimney, an uncertified wood-burning device must be replaced with a device that is gas-fueled, electric or EPA certified if the remodel cost exceeds $15,000 and requires a local building permit.
(Effective November 1, 2016)

Commercial and Residential Rental Property has been changed to Rental Properties with Natural Gas Service:
All commercial and residential rental properties must have an alternate form of heat that does not burn solid fuel and all wood-burning devices must be EPA certified or be replace with gas-fueled or electric devices.
(Effective November 1, 2016)

Update to the above:
Removed proposed requirement that all rental properties must replace wood-burning devices with gas-fueled, electric or EPA certified devices.
All rental property in areas with natural gas service must have an alternate from of heat that does not burn sold fuel.
(Effective November 1, 2018)

New Building Constructions:
New building constructions may only install gas-fueled or electric devices. Installation of devices that burn solid fuel is prohibited.
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Update to the above:
Only the date has been changed.
(Effective November 1, 2016)

Visible Emissions Limitation:
Following a 20 minute start-up allowance for new fires, visible emission of grater than 20% opacity and aggregate to 3 minutes in any hour is considered an exceedance of the standard.
(Effective November 1, 2015)

Registration:
Registration – All residential properties claiming Only Source of Heat Exemption must have a registered EPA certified device.
o Type of Device(s)
o # of Device(s)
o Make, Model and Serial # of Device(s)
o Manufacture Date(s)
(Effective November 1, 2016)