The career of a chimney sweep is like a never-ending episode of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe—soot-coated hands in all of their glory. But any chimney cleaning professional knows that it takes more than a steady pair of hands to get the job done—and as chimney cleaning technology gets better and better, so do the tools of the trade. From the quintessential wire brush to industry-leading cleaning agents, let’s take a look into what chimney sweep equipment a chimney sweep should have in order to deliver superior results safely and effectively.
Essential Chimney Sweep Brushes
Every chimney sweep has a trusty wire brush they rely on to attack hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. These are especially effective for masonry chimneys with clay flues. A top-rated choice for a wire brush is the Master Sweep Wire Chimney Brush outfitted with a heavy-duty, double-spiral spindle design. This type of brush can be enough to knock off the glazed or tarred creosote deposits along a flue, but sometimes you need to bring in the big guns for the chimney you know hasn’t seen the business end of a bristle for years.
Power Sweeping System
When it comes to one of the most effective tools of the trade, 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 is exceptionally strong and adjustable to conquer just about any kind of flue.
With customizable cleaning head options, you can deliver just the right cleaning method needed to sweep an encrusted flue. Whether the job calls for rotary mole brush or the Death Star PowerWhip, this cleaning system is one of the most trusted solutions currently on the market.
Counter to the wire brush, a polypropylene brush is a gentle alternative for chimneys with certain linings. When a chimney is lined with an expensive metal like stainless steel, you want to make sure the brush does not scratch or damage the steel. A soft poly brush ensures the warranty on the homeowner’s steel liner doesn’t become null and void due to needless scratching and scuffing.
The Rock-Pro Poly Chimney Flue Brush is an excellent choice for all of your stainless steel challenges. Its polypropylene bristles mean it can withstand the acidic effect coal, oil, and gas flues can have on your tools. 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.
Smoke Chamber Brush
The flue lining is not the only part of the chimney that is susceptible to creosote buildup. Having the right kind of smoke chamber brush to break up deposits of creosote will make sure the smoke chamber does not pose any hazards. The Stiff Smoke Chamber ButtonLok Spin Brush provides an exceptional range of motion—ideal for reaching cracks or tricky corners.
Industrial-Grade Chimney Sweep Vacuum with Multiple Stage Filters
When you are in someone’s home performing maintenance on their chimney, it can be difficult to keep your workspace clean and contained. Having the right vacuum is essential to prevent mess as well as remove any pollutants that may be released throughout the cleaning process. To preserve the integrity of the home’s air quality, a vacuum with professional-grade filters is a must.
The SootMaster® 641M has the double filtration required to stifle pesky debris as well as a flexible hose for greater reach. The 6-gallon canister and metal hose offer superior resistance to hot coals, so your vacuum doesn’t accidentally combust in the house—a foolproof choice for the savvy sweeper.
Cleaning Agents: When Tools Aren’t Tough Enough
When creosote and soot deposits are densely glazed onto the walls of the flue lining, pros know to turn to tried-and-true cleaning agents proven to lift off even the densest layers of creosote. These professional-grade chemical cleaners, like Chimney Rx Creosote Remover, are formulated to remove glazed creosote where conventional cleaning methods are insufficient. Plus, they do not harm any installed catalytic converters.
Industrial-strength chimney cleaners offer a safe and quick solution without costing an arm and a leg. Choose a cleaning agent that is non-toxic and environmentally conscious to prevent any kind of poisonous fumes from contaminating the homeowner’s air quality.
Powder-Based Creosote Remover
For a chemical cleaner that works with air-tight fireplaces, A.W. Perkins Co. Creosote Remover remains a go-to choice for chimney cleaning professionals. Zero-clearance fireplaces are commonly found in newer homes and traditionally built with a metal flue. This powder-based formula will improve the overall performance of the fireplace by removing any accumulation of ash and soot, which will directly enhance airflow.
Ceramic Glass Cleaner
Not all fireplaces and chimneys are made of the same standard materials. When you encounter ceramic glass, you must use a cleaning agent specifically designed for it. A hearth and grill conditioning liquid will allow you to clean up creosote or soot buildup and prevent future accumulation on the ceramic glass itself.
Rutland® Hearth Glass Cleaner is specially formulated with micro-scrubbers that won’t damage the surface of ceramic glass. It also leaves an invisible coat of silicone as a preventive measure against buildup. This way you can eliminate any fire hazard while revealing a crystal clean finish.
For a profession that constantly exposes you to carcinogens, it is critical to your health that you 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 from the air while providing you with 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.
Canvas Drop Cloth
You should never use a plastic drop cloth when sweeping because the static electricity that is caused by the plastic will attract particular matter to stick to the drop cloth, instead of up and out of the chimney. Instead, use a Professional-Grade Canvas Drop Cloth. Canvas is an absorbent, reusable material that offers maneuverability without the mess. This resilient material is versatile for both indoor and outdoor projects. It is well worth the up-front cost to avoid an awkward situation with the homeowner when you are not the only thing in the house covered in soot.
Chimney Sweep Inspection Camera
Chimney sweep inspection cameras are quite the upfront investment, but it's well worth it—especially if you get one that delivers superior results. The Wöhler VIS 400 Visual Inspection Modular System is a top-of-the-line camera solution that allows you to visually inspect flue gas systems with ease. Its intuitive design includes must-have features such as a crystal-clear screen, LED illumination, and a waterproof camera head. This comprehensive choice can even help you convert sales when you are on routine calls. Homeowners can see for themself—in high-definition—the condition of their flue lining.
The Unsung Heroes of Homes
Chimney cleaning professionals keep families safe from the unexpected dangers lurking in homeowners’ chimneys. With improper chimney maintenance causing over 25,000 residential fires each year—amounting in over $100 million worth of property losses—chimney cleaning businesses continue to provide an essential service for countless homeowners. But any home service professional is only as effective as his toolkit. Keep your truck stocked with the proper equipment to ensure your technicians get the job done right the first time.
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