Chimney Sweeping

What should I know about chimney sweeping?

Are your sweeps certified professionally?

Absolutely! All of Wooden Sun’s sweeps are certified certified by the National Fireplace Instituteand/or the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). We are also members of the National Fire Prevention Association, the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association, and the National Chimney Sweep Guild. Our sweeps regularly attend seminars put on by these professional organizations. Keeping our sweeps up to date with the latest information provides better value for our customers and ensures that the safest best practices are being utilized. Education for excellence is a company value of Wooden Sun! Learn more from the CSIA about how to hire a chimney sweep.

How often should I sweep my chimney?

How often depends on several factors: what type of appliance (wood stove or open fireplace), the wood you burn (unseasoned wood produces more creosote), your chimney (how strong is the draft), how you burn (very hot, wide open damper or low, mostly closed damper), and how often you burn (every day or only a few times a season). A wood stove burned daily during the cold season that has no secondary burn (not EPA rated) capability, burning unseasoned wood, with a poor drafting chimney and burned as slowly as possible might need to be swept several times a burning season. A open fireplace with a very strong draft, well seasoned wood, only a few times a year might not need to be swept more than once every five years.

Generally we recommend wood stove wood stove inserts and high efficiency fireplaces be swept and inspected annually if they are used on a daily basis. Open fireplaces can generally be swept once every two or three years. If we have not swept your chimney before, we will recommend an interval based upon information gathered on site.

How much is a chimney sweep?

Please see our pricing page for our chimney cleaning rates.

A masonry chimney must be lined with either:

  • Terra cotta flue tiles, or,Flue liner composed of individual fired terra cotta clay tiles.

  • a full stainless steel flue liner, or Flue liner composed of heavy duty flexible stainless steel pipe.

  • a poured ceramic liner.Flue liner composed of high-temperature concrete poured in place inside a masonry flue.

A chimney can also be a “Class A” high temperature metal chimney
Double-walled stainless steel chimney with insulation.
or or air-cooled chimney

Double-walled or triple-walled metal chimney with air gaps between the walls.

How does Wooden Sun sweep a chimney, and what does it involve?

We prefer to sweep the chimney from the top down (that allows us to perform an inspection and it is also easier to contain the mess). We also remove the damper, and clean the firebox and smoke chamber. We make sure that no mess gets into your house, and we always leave the place as clean as when we started (and sometimes cleaner!).

Can you sweep an unlined masonry chimney?

No, unlined chimneys
Flue built from brick, stone, or concrete block only, which does not contain a liner.
Recognizable by the numerous gaps and mortar joints.
cannot be swept; they are not safe to use. Learn more about re-lining unlined chimneys here.

Are there any extra fees if the chimney is tall or difficult to access?

There can be. If a chimney is particularly tall, and/or the roof is particularly steep or difficult to access (e.g. slate shingles), then safety equipment or scaffolding or in rare cases a man lift might be required. We always try to sweep chimneys in the most cost efficient and effective manner—but sometimes safety equipment or scaffolding fees may apply. The minimum safety equipment fee is $50, when necessary.

Do you charge for mileage?

Only if your home is more than 20 miles from our shop. For locations more than 20 miles from our showroom, we do apply a nominal trip charge to cover vehicle expenses and travel time. That trip charge is $4/mile for addresses 20-30 miles away from our showroom, and $6/mile for addresses more than 30 miles away. For example, a job 24 miles from Charlottesville would incur a $16 trip charge, while one 34 miles away would incur an $84 charge. Neighbors can schedule sweeps together to split the charge (although due to limited office staffing, we do request that you and your neighbors coordinate that with one another).

What is a rotary sweep and how much does it cost?

Third degree creosote (a black, shiny, tarry, and highly flammable coating on the flue tiles that can be quite thick) cannot be removed with a regular chimney brush. It requires a device that rotates chains rapidly to break up the glazed creosote. This process does not harm tiles in good condition, but can cause previously damaged liners to separate.

When a rotary sweep is necessary, we charge our regular sweeping price, which includes an hour of labor, plus an additional wood service charge (in quarter hour increments) to cover the additional time a rotary sweep requires. Rotary sweeps are generally necessary for direct connect installations, a direct connect is when an insert
or a woodstove is installed into a masonry fireplace without a full liner.
Instead it will have a short length of stainless liner (usually an oval or
rectangular shape) extending just to the bottom of the flue (the terra cotta tiles).
or for shiny, glazed creosote
Also called third degree creosote, this type of creosote catches
fire relatively easily and burns very hot and very fast.

We cannot give a precise estimate for a direct-connect installations without knowing more about the installation. For example, is it an insert or stove? Can the insert or stove be moved by one person, or will it require two? Other factors are the height of the chimney, the roof, the type of stove, and how the stove is burned (seasoned cordwood burned hot = a lot less creosote; or green wood burned slowly = a lot more creosote). Generally the price of a direct connect sweep is around $300, but it can be higher or lower depending on the previously mentioned factors.

How do I know if my woodstove or fireplace is a standard installation, or if I’ll need a rotary sweep?

A standard sweep would apply to almost all woodburning fireplaces, and woodstoves installed with either a full stainless steel liner (all the way to the top of the chimney) inside a masonry chimney, an insulated metal chimney, or a thimble into a properly sized terra cotta lined masonry chimney. How to determine if the flue is properly sized for the stove.

My insert or woodstove isn’t installed either of those ways you described – it just sits in the fireplace with no pipe coming out at all. Why didn’t you mention this type of installation?

That kind of installation is referred to by fireplace professionals as a “slammer,” and it does not meet building code. We cannot work on installations that are in violation of code. We’d be happy to work with you to bring it up to NFI standards.

I don’t need a sweep, just an inspection. How much do you charge for that?

For an inspection, the chimney needs to be very clean in order to see if there are cracks or damage. If your chimney is clean enough, we can do an inspection without sweeping it. In most cases we bill inspections as regular service calls. Please see our pricing page for our rates for service calls.

What kind of inspections do you offer?

We offer three inspections: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3.

  1. A level 1 is a full visual inspection of the entire chimney system, from top to bottom.
  2. A level 2 is a video inspection, where we send a special camera down your chimney to take images of the inside.
  3. A level 3 inspection involves taking apart the chimney to look at the inside. This work is done on an hourly basis.

If you are not sure what kind of inspection you need, please call us at 434-760-8659 and we can help you figure it out. Please see our pricing page for our rates for different inspection levels.

What is your lead time on sweeps?

February through September, our lead time is usually about two weeks. During the busy autumn and winter season, October through January, lead times can be as much as 4-5 weeks. We recommend having your chimney swept or fireplace serviced in the spring or summer, so it will always be ready to use when it gets cold.

If it rains, sleets, or snows, can you still sweep my chimney?

In most cases, no. Because we need to get on your roof to clean and inspect your chimney, it is generally too dangerous. If we determine that we cannot sweep your chimney that day, we will call you to reschedule.