Chimney cleaning is a dependable business with repeat customers. All chimneys should be cleaned annually, to prevent fire, because creosote deposits inside them are combustible. That’s true for woodstoves as well as a chimney for a central heating system. In addition, once you have the equipment, you can branch out from chimney cleaning. You can clean dryer vents, for example.
The chimney cleaning business is not regulated, but you’ll begin to build a good reputation by earning NFI (National Fireplace Institute) certifications from the Chimney Sweep Institute of America. Those certifications will get you licensed.
You’ll also need to be bonded and insured to run a chimney sweep business. Being bonded means that a surety bond has been purchased to protect the customer against financial loss. You need to be bonded and insured because you’ll be working inside and outside customers’ homes.
Why Is Quality Chimney Sweep Equipment Important?
Remember the old adage, You get what you pay for. It’s very true with chimney sweep equipment. If you scrimp on chimney sweep tools you’ll only end up repurchasing items.
Cleaning a chimney is hard on equipment. To get the job done, day after day, you’ll need cleaning equipment that can handle that sort of use.
Professional Chimney Cleaning Tools List
One of the most important pieces of chimney cleaning equipment you’ll buy is a chimney vacuum system. When you clean chimneys, the creosote buildup in a chimney can trickle down the smoke chamber and create a real mess inside the house. That doesn’t help in the customer satisfaction category!
The mess isn’t the worst of it. Soot buildup includes very small particles, which are harmful to breathe. Let’s get started with a chimney cleaning equipment list to help you do the job.
Chimney brushes come in two main types. You’ll need a wire chimney brush and a polypropylene brush. Brushes are used with rods.
Why the difference? For metal chimneys, you can’t use a wire brush, which would scratch and damage the inside of the chimney. Same with clay flues. For masonry chimneys, you’d use a wire brush.
A chimney brush also comes in different shapes and diameters. For example, to clean a chimney for a pellet stove, you’d use a 3-inch diameter chimney brush. A chimney brush – both a polypropylene brush and a wire brush – comes in diameters from 3 inches up to 12 inches.
Wire brushes and polypropylene brushes can be round or rectangular. For example, the standard size for a fireplace flue has an inside diameter of 13 x 18 inches. For those chimneys, you’d need a rectangular brush.
Chimney Brush Rods
Round or rectangular, brushes don’t work without chimney cleaning rods. Nylon is the material used for a flexible chimney cleaning rod and should be part of your chimney cleaning kit.
Brush systems may also use steel stem rods. Both the steel and nylon rods come in sections, which snap together as needed as the brush is propelled up through the flue and begins to clean the creosote.
Brush rods can be fed manually or you can use a power sweeping system, propelled by a rotary drill. Both polypropylene and wire chimney brushes can be paired with rods and used in this type of system.
By the way, the 3-inch polypropylene chimney brushes can be used to clean dryer vents – a great way to “upsell” your service.
Chimney Vacuum Systems
As previously mentioned, this is the most important piece of equipment you’ll buy. You need to vacuum all the creosote and soot. Without one, you can’t properly clean the fireplaces and please the homeowners. An efficient chimney vacuum system is an important part of your kit.
The best chimney vacuum system for the job uses a HEPA cartridge and can be adjusted to provide a tight fit, from small openings to large openings.
Chimney Sweep Camera Kits and Inspection Gear
This is another piece of equipment where you can increase sales to include other areas of the house. Chimney sweep camera kits will provide quality images from inside the chimney, before you start the job, helping you find any defects and pinpoint the locations of built-up creosote, cracks, or other problems such as bird nests that are obstructing airflow.
You can increase sales by using the same equipment to perform HVAC duct inspections, which are often required for home sales/purchases. The camera kit can also be used after the job is complete, showing homeowners the results of your work.
You and your workers must wear a full-face respirator. You’ll also need work safety gloves. Many chimney sweep business owners use gloves that go to the elbow. You can also consider wearing a safety harness while up on the roof – the harness can be tethered to the chimney.
Other Chimney Cleaning Tools
Here’s a list of other items you’ll need as part of chimney cleaning solutions:
- Ceramic glass cleaner
- Masonry sealant
- Canvas drop cloth – you need more than one canvas drop cloth since you can’t take a filthy one to use on your next job.
- Slip on protective boot covers – So you don’t track dirt and debris into the home.
- Ladders – extension ladders are an excellent choice.
Should You Clean Your Own Fireplace Chimney?
That truly depends on a couple of things. Is your chimney outside the house, and no more than a single story high and straight, such as a metal chimney? Does it have a clean-out? Yes, you can probably do it and purchase limited supplies, such as a polypropylene brush and rod systems for tools. You’ll have that cost at the outset but the next year, your investment will be free.
However, if you need access to your roof to clean the chimney, give the job a little more thought. With the average cost of chimney flue cleaning less than $500, wouldn’t you rather trust elevated work to a professional chimney sweep?
Which is the Best Chimney Vacuum System?
Remember you need a system with a HEPA industrial grade filter and an adjustable fit end. Here are some trusted names:
Soot Master, BacoEng, Elswood, Sturdy Vac and Tacklife.
Which Brushes Are Used for Cleaning Chimneys?
Both steel and polypropylene brushes are used, in various diameters, round or rectangular.
What Is the Most Important Chimney Cleaning Tool?
The chimney vacuum system is the most important tool. You can expect to spend about $4,000 on a quality system.
Stick to buying quality gear, and that gear will carry your business for many years without the need for replacement purchases.
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