13 Must-Have Chimney Cleaning Tools for Service Techs in 2020
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The career of a chimney sweep seems like a never-ending episode of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe—soot-coated hands in all their glory. But any chimney cleaning professional knows it takes more than a steady pair of diligent hands to get the job done right—it also takes the best chimney cleaning tools.
As chimney sweep technology continues to improve, so does the well-stocked chimney cleaning kit of a professional chimney sweep. From the quintessential wire brush to industry-leading cleaning agents, let’s take a look at the best chimney cleaning tools for a chimney sweep to deliver superior results safely and effectively.
Here’s an overview of what we’ll cover:
Chimney sweep brushes
Chimney vacuum systems
Chimney cleaning tools
Chimney sweep camera kits
Essential Chimney Sweep Brushes
1. Wire chimney brush
Every chimney sweep relies on the most faithful of chimney sweep brushes—a trusty wire brush to attack hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. These are especially effective for cleaning masonry chimneys with clay flues.
Wire chimney brushes come in round, square, rectangle, and U-shapes to fit every corner of every chimney. The Master Sweep Wire Chimney Brush—outfitted with a heavy-duty, double-spiral spindle design—remains a top-rated choice for a wire brush in 2020. This type of chimney sweep brush may be enough to knock off the glazed or tarred creosote deposits along a flue, but sometimes you need to bring in the big guns of chimney sweep equipment for any chimney you know hasn’t seen the business end of a bristle for years.
2. Power sweeping system
When it comes to one of the most effective chimney cleaning tools, we nod our caps to the SnapLok Power Sweeping Flue System. This rotary cleaning solution delivers the motorized capability of a power tool, with the durability only solid nylon rods with a button-lock system can offer. Its long, interlocking wire handle proves exceptionally strong and adjusts to conquer just about any kind of flue.
With customizable cleaning head options, this power sweeping system delivers just the right cleaning method needed to sweep an encrusted flue. Whether the job calls for a rotary mole brush or the Death Star PowerWhip, this remarkable piece of chimney sweep equipment offers one of the most trusted solutions currently on the market.
3. Polypropylene brush
Counter to the wire brush, a polypropylene brush offers a gentle alternative for more delicate chimneys, such as those lined with stainless steel. A soft poly brush ensures the warranty on the homeowner’s steel liner doesn’t get deemed null and void because of needless scratching and scuffing.
The Rock-Pro Poly Chimney Flue Brush serves as an excellent choice for all of your stainless steel challenges. Its polypropylene bristles allow it to withstand the acidic effect coal, oil, and gas flues can inflict on your chimney sweep equipment. You’re going to want to keep this brush handy for when you come across the round, metal chimneys most commonly found in prefab units.
4. Smoke chamber brush
The flue lining isn’t the only part of the chimney susceptible to creosote buildup. Stocking your chimney cleaning kit with the right kind of smoke chamber brush to break up deposits of creosote ensures the smoke chamber doesn’t pose any hazards for homeowners. The Stiff Smoke Chamber ButtonLok Spin Brush provides an exceptional range of motion—ideal for reaching cracks or tricky corners of chimneys.
5. Flexible chimney cleaning rod
Not quite a brush, but the ProFlex Flexible Chimney Cleaning Rod fits a variety of brushes. This 3-foot rod’s flexibility provides an ideal solution for cleaning chimneys with turns. A chimney sweep needs a variety of rods to which they can affix brushes, so they can swap out as needed—depending on the chimney’s size and material.
Chimney Cleaning Agents: When Tools Aren’t Tough Enough
When heavily glazed creosote and soot deposits cover the walls of the flue lining, pros know to turn to tried-and-true chimney cleaning agents proven to lift off even the densest layers of creosote. These professional-grade chemical cleaners, such as Chimney Rx Creosote Remover, remove glazed creosote when conventional cleaning methods aren’t up to snuff. Plus, they won’t harm any catalytic converters installed in stoves.
Industrial-strength chimney cleaners offer a safe, quick solution without costing an arm and a leg—or sacrificing a working arm by scrubbing indefinitely. Choose a cleaning agent that’s non-toxic and environmentally friendly to prevent poisonous fumes from contaminating the homeowner’s air quality.
6. Powder-based creosote remover
For a chemical cleaner that works with airtight fireplaces, A.W. Perkins Co. Creosote Remover remains a go-to choice for chimney cleaning professionals. Zero-clearance fireplaces are common in newer homes and traditionally built with a metal flue. A powder-based formula will improve the overall performance of the fireplace by removing any accumulation of ash and soot, directly enhancing airflow.
7. Ceramic glass cleaner
Not all fireplaces and chimneys are made of the same standard building materials. When you encounter ceramic glass, you must use a cleaning agent specifically designed for it. A hearth and grill conditioning liquid allows you to clean up creosote or soot buildup, and prevent future accumulation on the ceramic glass itself.
Rutland® Hearth Glass Cleaner comes specially formulated with micro-scrubbers, which won’t damage the surface of ceramic glass. It also leaves an invisible coat of silicone as a preventive measure against future buildup. This way you eliminate any fire hazard, while simultaneously revealing a crystal-clean finish.
Beyond Cleaning: Chimney Sweep Tools of the Trade
Professional chimney sweeps also require a few tools to protect themselves, customers and their homes. These are the key protective chimney cleaning tools, and why they matter.
8. Full-face respirator
As a professional service provider constantly exposed to carcinogens, your health is critical, too. Use a full-faced, powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR)—especially when you are face-deep in a homeowner’s chimney.
This type of respirator uses a commercial-grade HEPA filter that removes contaminants while providing clean, fresh air to breathe. The OptimAir® MM2K PAPR comes complete with a state-of-the-art facepiece and a nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery for eight hours of continuous use.
9. Canvas drop cloth
You should never use a plastic drop cloth when chimney sweeping, because the static electricity produced by the plastic attracts particulate matter, and it will stick to the drop cloth instead of going up and out the chimney for good.
Instead of plastic, use a professional-grade canvas drop cloth. An absorbent and reusable material, canvas offers maneuverability without the mess. This resilient, versatile drop cloth works for both indoor and outdoor projects. It’s well worth the upfront cost of a canvas drop cloth to avoid an awkward situation with a customer when you aren’t the only thing in the house covered in soot.
10. Industrial-grade chimney vacuum system with multiple stage filters
When you’re in someone’s home performing chimney maintenance, it can be difficult to keep your workspace clean and contained. Employing the right chimney vacuum system prevents messes as well as removes any pollutants released throughout the cleaning process. To preserve the integrity of the home’s air quality, use a vacuum with professional-grade filters.
The SootMaster® 641M offers the double filtration required to stifle pesky debris and indoor pollution, and includes a flexible hose for greater reach. The 6-gallon canister and metal hose provide superior resistance to hot coals, so your vacuum doesn’t accidentally combust in the house—a foolproof choice for the savvy sweeper.
11. Chimney sweep camera kit
Chimney sweep inspection camera kits require quite the upfront investment, but they’re well worth the cost. The Wöhler VIS 400 Visual Inspection Modular System offers a top-of-the-line chimney sweep camera kit that allows you to easily inspect flue gas systems in detail. Its intuitive design includes must-have features, such as a crystal-clear screen, LED illumination, and a waterproof camera head.
This comprehensive choice might even help you convert sales by allowing homeowners to see for themselves—in high-definition—the condition of their flue lining before they hire your chimney sweep services.
12. Masonry sealant
Masonry chimneys deteriorate quickly when exposed to water or moisture. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, this can cause serious damage to your home, including:
Rotting adjacent wood
Water stains on walls and ceilings
Hidden mold damage behind walls
Deteriorated central heating system
Decayed exterior mortar
For cracks and minor leaks, brushing on a masonry sealant can help protect the homeowner’s chimney and avoid further damage. CrownCoat Brushable Sealant does not require a bonding agent and dries to the touch within 30 minutes to an hour. As an added bonus, this environmentally friendly product comes with a 15-year warranty. CrownCoat also makes a cold-weather version that can be applied in temperatures as low as negative 40 degrees.
13. Lights for chimney sweeps
Oftentimes a chimney sweep needs to conduct a thorough inspection or show a problem area to a homeowner, but that’s difficult to do inside the cramped, dark recess of a chimney. Powerful lights made for the chimney sweep and repair industry, such as the Redline Blast 1400 Lumen Flashlight or the Larry Light, will help guide the way.
Chimney Sweeps: Heroes of Homes that Pose Fire Hazards
Chimney cleaning professionals keep families safe from the unexpected dangers lurking in homeowners’ chimneys. With improper chimney maintenance causing more than 25,000 residential fires each year—amounting to over $100 million in property losses—chimney cleaning businesses provide an essential service to countless homeowners.
But, as any home service professional knows, you’re only as effective as the jobsite tools you pack in your chimney cleaning kit. Keep your truck stocked with the proper chimney sweep equipment to ensure your technicians get the job done properly the first time and see your referrals go through the roof.
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