Cleaning Chimney... should I DIY

I think my chimney needs cleaning.... at times I don't get a good draw... Yes, it could be the chimney itself and how it's designed... or the fact that it hasn't been cleaned for a godd 2 or 3 years - though I don't use it untill winter, and I wouldn't say it was under constant use. In the past, a good draw of course came when it was a windy day...
Just curious, there's only 1 guy in our area who cleans chimney... actually a brother team... they want $175.00 to do the job... not sure if that's HIGH! It does include perhaps removing the insert - I have a fireplace with an INSERT, and cleaning that as well...
I do remember the las ttime I had it done it was $100.00 and all the guy did was get a shop vac up into the opening and suck the stuff out after sweeping.
ANY advice would be appreciated... I was going to go to HOME DEPOT and see what they got for the "weekend warrior"... perhaps I'll tackle that this weelend!
Thanks Dano
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Dano wrote:

I paid someone once to do mine - not that I could not clean the chimmney but could not figure out how to take the inside upper section of my wood burning insert out / in. Watched him 1x and now do it myself 2x a year. I have a steel liner and have this inspected (camera) 1x every 5 years after I clean it myself - camera inspection $30.00. Regular sweep, cleaning is around 80.00 here. I'd do it myself if I were you - and frequently. Once every few years I would get someone in to inspect the liner - especially if it's not metal.
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Dano wrote:

I tend to shy away from DIY projects that can involve fire hazards or other threats to life. A good, licensed chimney sweep, with verifiable credentials, would be my choice. One major issue would be inspection of the chimney to make sure it is sound, and to make sure there is no chance of chim. fires. If you have burned soft wood, or don't know the home's history, I would have a pro do it at least the first time. If all that you hire him for is sweeping, that is likely what you will get. Inspection and repair are likely extras.
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- Norminn wrote:

Not a bad idea. When I worked in the industry, a sweep included a full visual inspection. A camera inspection of the flue was an additional charge. Repairs are certainly an additional charge.
To the OP: You may be able to get the necessary equipment to sweep your flue, but do you know what glazed creosote looks like? Do you know what burned creosote (a likely indicator of a flue fire) looks like? Can you identify compromises in your fireplace's integrity? Is your flue lined based on the recommendations of the insert, or is the insert just slammed in the fireplace opening? If it's the later, I'd strongly suggest getting an inspection, as it can lead to improper venting and creosote build-up.
Sweeping a chimney isn't a huge deal. Inspecting a chimney and making sure it's up to code is a big deal, and the consequences of an error can be catastrophic. I would strongly discourage fireplace maintenance for most DIYers. For more information, check out the Chimney Safety Institute of America's section on wood stove and inserts:
<http://www.csia.org/homeowners/instwood.html
Mark
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Mark Cato wrote:

Instead of discouraging fireplace maintenance for DIYers, maybe you should encourage wood stove user to become educated. I would bet that I know more about wood stoves, chimneys, and their maintenance than 95 percent of the "so-called" chimney sweeps. And I'll bet I would clean the chimney better and more often, without a bunch of silly BS and urban myths from a sweep. Cleaning and inspecting a chimney isn't rocket science, just a little dirty.
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On Sat, 14 Jan 2006 00:04:16 GMT, "George E. Cawthon"

Yeah, Yeah Yeah
Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda. Put your money where your mouth is. If you are that great, start your own business and practice what you preach. Come back here in a year (if you still have a business) and tell us how well you AREN'T doing. Bubba
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You should do both. Annual inspection and cleaning by a pro, but a sweeping between is a good prevention method too, depending on how much wood you burn.
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Bubba < wrote:

I think you totally missed the point! I'm not starting a business and have no intention of cleaning anybody else's stove pipe. I'm a DIYer and grew up with wood stoves. But you one doesn't need to grow up with stoves, just read literature about how to operate and maintain a stove.
My point was that the DIYer can do as good or a better job than most chimney sweeps and be confident that the job is done correctly. The DIYer can also do a chimney sweep several times in a season, which may be required depending on amount of use and other factors, and no one is going to hire a sweep to do the job 3 times in a winter.
So exactly what is your point? Wait, I think I know, "Leave all the maintenance and installation stuff to the professional." Spend $50 for a plumber to come do a 50cent and 5 minute job. Or call an appliance repairman for an $80 house call to plug in the clothes washer. Because we all know that it takes years and years of experience to learn how to fix anything, right? And besides, every repairman is way smarter than we DIYers and knows more about every single job that we need to have done.
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George E. Cawthon wrote:

I agree. I've been around woodstoves all my life. As a kid in my parents house and currently in my own. I do have the camera inspection every 5 years and i'll be damned if i'm gonna hire some "professional" to go on my roof and clean the thing out. 2x a year I do it. Each cleaning - and a damn good one each time results in about a cup full of residue - why? cause the thermostat on the flue lets me know the safe and proper burn temp. range and I use seasoned wood and following the stove directions most of the gases are burnt before it hits the flue resulting in little or no smoke. 45 years at it - 0 chimney fires and 1,000's of dollars saved by doing it myself. This is supposed to be a DIY format but becoming more a soapbox where professionals tell you why you should hire them and not DIY.
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- snipped-for-privacy@nf.sympatico.ca wrote:

I read your earlier post, and didn't have a problem with it. It sounds like your stove was properly installed, that you clean it regularly, and you have it periodically inspected. These are all good things. You have to realize that in my experience, you are outside the norm.
There are some things I think the average homeowner can tackle. I also think there are some things it's necessary to seek consultation for. A bit off-topic, but I also climb rocks. Like cleaning a chimney, it's not rocket science. However, it's not recommended that people teach themselves. The learning curve can be steep, and the penalty for error can be high. Fireplaces in bad repair can kill. That's not "BS and urban myths from a sweep," as George may claim. Do what you can to save a buck, but make certain you're doing it right. Be safe.
Respectfully,
Mark
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Mark Cato wrote:

Wow, Mark, you do extrapolate. I did not say that it was "BS and urban myths from a sweep" to say that "Fireplaces in bad repair can kill." In fact I didn't say anything about fireplaces in bad repair and killing. I said I didn't want to listen to a bunch of BS and urban myths from a sweep. Examples are "Black helicopters are coming to spy on us," a bunch of racist sayings, idiotic statements about the economy, milk is killing everyone, sugar is bad for you, etc. I'll also bet that not one in 10 sweeps has any idea about the number of home fires or causes in the U.S. for any recent 5 or 10 year period.
With 45 years experience, I'll bet that the OP knows more about what is safe and not safe than most inspectors that he would hire.
BTW rock climbing is nothing like cleaning a chimney (which regardless of your wording is what you implied).
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- "George E. Cawthon" wrote:

In my first post, I stated that physically cleaning a chimney isn't a big deal. It takes a little attention to detail and knowledge of the system, but it's not rocket science (as you stated). If you want to sweep your own chimney, knock yourself out. In my opinion, that doesn't mean you're the right person to take over inspection and repair.
Most people I've encountered wouldn't know how to inspect their chimney. They may not be comfortable getting on their roof to inspect the crown, mortar, etc. They may miss gaps around the flue tiles, not recognize the signs of a flue fire, and will certainly lack camera equipment for a close-up inspection of the flue.
While my initial language may have been harsh, I still can't say it's a good idea for the average homeowner to start maintaining his or her fireplace. If you are comfortable cleaning your own chimney, I would still recommend the occasional inspection by a certified chimney sweep. They see hundreds of systems, while you're only dealing with your own. I'd also recommend learning about your fireplace, which is why I linked to the CSIA site in the first place:
<http://www.csia.org/
Respectfully,
Mark
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Mark Cato wrote:

You are right, "wants" have nothing to do with having knowledge about inspection and repair. However the desire to learn may well have. BTW, I intentionally gave no information on my experience or qualification.

I have books (several, in fact) that show exactly what sparkplugs look like with various faults . Do you really think that there are not books articles and pamphlets by manufactures and others that show pictures to describe various flue problems. BTW, that is what books are for, so that you don't have to relearn through experience what other have learned. Learning from several teachers is often far superior than learning from one, which is probably what most sweeps have (i.e, one teacher).
Camera inspection sound good, but, my oh my, what did they ever do before cheap video and digital cameras.

Biggest logic error used by those who like control. A government type of that logic is, "you 10,000 people really don't know what you are doing so we will make just 1 person responsible for controlling that action."
The home owner does have only one system (or maybe just a few) and can therefore can be very familiar with that system and keep very exacting track of changes and problems. The sweep can not keep that information straight for 100s of systems (otherwise he/she wouldn't be a sweep). Besides just because the sweep seek hundreds of system, doesn't mean that he know more about what he is seeing than someone who has only one system.

There are lots of people who have no mechanical qualifications and strain that capability in getting out of bed. They certainly should not be cleaning or inspecting a flue and probably would never attempt it. At the opposite end there are a lot of people have the desire and the ability to learn almost anything and quickly surpass the knowledge and capability of those who may have been engaged in their "profession" for years. Barring a few, most of those on a newsgroups fall on the capability side than on the utterly incapable side.
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You'd have to have a hugely dirty chimney to affect the draft.
Cleaning will remove built-up flammables, unless they've been deposited into a hard shiny coating. Even the removable stuff will generally take a pretty stiff brush to dislodge.
Periodically running a hot fire will generally keep deposits from getting really set into place, with any sort of wood-burner, and is advisable for your long-term safety.
So long as the flue is in good condition.
Most of the value in the sweep's service is in his safety inspection, if he's competent.
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The hard part is getting the crud off the smoke shelf after brushing. After doing that, I found a good deal on a newer CERTIFIED insert and stainless steel chimney liner. Now, I don't have to move the insert. I remove a few fire bricks and metal supports from the inside top 'shelf' of the stove, line the stove with newspaper, close the door, then go up on the roof and run the brush down. Most of the crud ends up on the paper after a little scrapeing off a ledge at the back of the stove. Wrap up the crud in the paper and throw it out Replace the stove parts. Done. No heavy lifting involved.
Bob
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Dano wrote:

What kind of chimney? brick or is it a double/triple wall steel? How much wood do you burn in a season? How hot does the stove register?
What needs to be done, depends on how the insert was installed. If the insert outlet (where the stove pipe is normally connected) is sealed to the stack, you don't want insert to be moved.
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i reccomend doing it right after summer is over. the creo is flaking off by then and its pretty easy..i used to pull a balled up blunket thru mine and the stuff just fell off, but i guess a brush is best.
http://www.minibite.com/america/malone.htm
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